Dirty or pure. These are concepts we form in our mind.
In the City of Mani there are many young prostitutes, some of them only fourteen or fifteen years old. They are very unhappy young ladies. They did not want to be prostitutes. Their families are poor and these young girls went to the city to look for some kind of jobs like street vendor, to make money to send back to their families. Of course this is not true not only in Manila, but in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, in New York City, and in Paris also. It is true that in the city you can make money more easily than in the countryside, so we can imagine how a young girl may have been tempted to go there to help here family. But after only a few weeks there, she was persuaded by a cleverer person to work for her and to earn perhaps one hundred times more money. Because she was so young and did not know much about life, she accepted and became a prostitute. Since that time, she has carried the feeling of being impure, defiled, and this causes her great suffering. When she looks at other young girls, dressed beautifully, belonging to good families, a wretched feeling wells up to her, and this feeling of defilement has become her hell.
But, if she had an opportunity to meet with Avalokita, he would tell her to look deeply at herself and at the whole situation, and see that she is like this because other people are like that. "This is like this, because that is like that." So how can a so called good girl, belonging to a good family be proud? Because their way of life is like this. the other girl has to be like that. No one among us has clean hands. No one of us can claim it is not our responsibility. The girl in Manila is that way because of the way we are. Looking into the life of that young prostitute, we see the non-prostitute people. And looking at the non-prostitute people and at the way we live our lives, we see the prostitute. This helps to create that, and that helps to create this.
Source: The Heart of Understanding
by THICH NHAT HANH: