Thursday, April 20, 2017
Guest writer and CAC teacher Cynthia Bourgeault continues exploring Jesus’ eight blessings known as the Beatitudes.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” —Matthew 5:8
This may well be the most important of all the Beatitudes—from the perspective of wisdom it certainly is. But what is purity of heart? This is another of those concepts we have distorted in our very morality-oriented Christianity of the West. For most people, purity of heart would almost certainly mean being virtuous, particularly in the sexual arena. It would be roughly synonymous with chastity, perhaps even with celibacy. But in wisdom teaching, purity means singleness, and the proper translation of this Beatitude is, really, “Blessed are those whose heart is not divided” or “whose heart is a unified whole.” Jesus emerged from his baptism as the ihidaya, meaning the “single one” in Aramaic—one who has unified his or her being and become what we would nowadays call “enlightened.”
According to Jesus, this enlightenment takes place primarily within the heart. When your heart becomes “single”—that is, when it desires one thing only, when it can live in perfect alignment with that resonant field of mutual yearning we called “the righteousness of God,” then you “see God.” This does not mean that you see God as an object (for that would be the egoic operating system), but rather, you see through the eyes of non-duality: God is the seeing itself.
So this Beatitude is not about sexual abstinence; it’s about cleansing the lens of perception. It is worth noting that Jesus flags this particular transformation as the core practice of the path. Somehow when the heart becomes single (undivided, whole), the rest will follow.
Gateway to Silence:
Create in me a pure heart, O God.
Adapted from Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—A New Perspective on Christ and His Message (Shambhala: 2008), 45-46.