Virtues

Virtues

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"Can you talk some more about virtues?"

Such a simple question, how could I not respond to it?

There are really only two things I want to share about them, as so much is written elsewhere. Why should I repeat what others have said so beautifully? If you want definitions, lists, and projects that are virtues-based, I can highly recommend the Virtues Project website.

But that is not what I'm going to write about today. Today, I'm going to offer two different points.

The first is that I believe the virtues are attributes of God to which we can all aspire. Perhaps aspire is the wrong word. What we really want to do is develop them within ourselves, make them stronger.

{josquote}Patience is a virtue, right? Sure, but a good thief is patient. And steadfastness is a virtue, but the Nazis were steadfast.{/josquote}

Another way of putting it is that if God is the All-Bountiful, we can show some bounty. If He is the All-Powerful, then we have some power in order to accomplish good things in our life. Whatever God is in the capital, we are in the lower-case.

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Reflecting on Purity of Thought and Body

Here is a reflection I reflected this morning.

When the time came for me to declare my belief, I walked to the lip of the Hamilton mountain, drew in my breath, raised my hands on high, and hesitated. A dark thought came over me. How can I call myself a believer when I fart so often? It must be a dozen times a day I perform that undignified act. I went down and lived my life as before for many years. Then I read somewhere that the average person farts an average of eighteen times a day. I felt better. Maybe I should climb up again and declare my faith. So I returned, my hands were raised, my head thrown back and I was about to commit when another thought crossed my mind. How can a person who picks his nose have a claim to holiness? Sadly, I climbed back down.

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Accepting one's own shortcomings

I think I've found a new theme to dwell on - accepting one's own shortcomings and limitations. Last week, I got, or thought I got, a parking ticket (I'm still not sure!). The meter maid was standing at the front of my car punching information into her black box when I walked up to the car. She had a stern look on her face. I smiled at her, taking it lightly, and used one of Steve's favourite expressions: "Missed it by that much!" But she was in no mood for laughing and preached to me about parking on clear ways. I missed out on being towed away. As I was driving home, I could see the meter maid's stern look in my mind's eye and thought: Surely, it should have been me looking sad and her smiling. But, I guess, she's been doing her job long enough now that it's got to her and she has taken on the persona of the gruff mistress.

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Sacred Moments: Daily Meditations on the Virtues

{amazon id='0452278112'} {josquote}"What better gift can we give ourselves than to take a few unhurried moments each day to ponder the virtues within us? Sacred Moments is our pathway to that gift."
- Janet Luhrs, Author, "The Simple Living Guide"{/josquote}

This book of daily meditations helps readers contemplate the nature of virtue with the use of quotations, affirmations and reflection questions for each day of the year. Virtues are the essence of soulfulness. They are a great mystery because they are both within us and beyond us. An act of love, or justice, or creativity or any of our other virtues is essentially an expression of our spirituality. Pulled from the world's sacred texts and from the storehouse of wisdom of intellectuals, artists, writers, and philosophers, these meditations on the gifts within are sure to inspire.

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The principle of virtues

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Some time back, I was raving on to Steve about a passage from Tablet to the Son, in which Baha'u'llah states what is the fundamental principle of his revelation. After reading this passage, I suddenly remembered how the Baha'is like to say that the fundamental principle of the Baha'i revelation is unity (never mind what that means). But unity isn't what Baha'u'llah identifies in this passage - he says it is virtue.

"Note that what appeared was virtues, of which all remained ignorant." para 8, Tablet of the Son

This statement comes in the middle of a fascinating passage, which most Baha'is are, unfortunately, unfamiliar with. In paragraph 6, Baha'u'llah is lamenting the fact that the world is full of people who imagine they have attained mystical insight into God and then imagine that God is like them. He prays that God might cause the people to recognise themselves, which would enable them to distinguish themselves from God. If they could distinguish God from themselves - which, presumably, would enable them to see God better - they would be able to work out the purpose behind the verses, and hence recognise each new manifestation.

"The people have been stricken with an illness... This epidemic consists in people believing that they have attained mystical insight, and then supposing that God is like them. Today, most are afflicted with this disease... Beseech God to render hearts pure and eyes sharp, so that they might perhaps recognize themselves, and distinguish between themselves and God. Thus might they discern God's purpose in the revealed verses. If the peoples had understood the divine purpose, they would not have remained veiled at the moment of revelation." (para 6)

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