Spirituality is not a question of morality, it is a question of vision. Spirituality is not the practising of virtues - because if you practise a virtue it is no longer a virtue. A practised virtue is a dead thing, a dead weight. Virtue is virtue only when it is spontaneous; virtue is virtue only when it is natural, unpractised - when it comes out of your vision, out of your awareness, out of your understanding.
And what does reward virtue? You think the communist commissar rewards virtue? You think a Hitler rewards virtue? You think, excuse me, if you'll pardon me, American presidents reward virtue? Do they choose their appointees on the basis of the virtue of the people appointed or on the basis of their political clout?
lf the attribute of popular government in peace is virtue, the attribute of popular government in revolution is at one and the same time virtue and terror, virtue without which terror is fatal, terror without which virtue is impotent. The terror is nothing but justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is thus an emanation of virtue.
A purposeless virtue is a contradiction in terms. Virtue, like harmony, cannot exist alone; a virtue must lead to harmony between one creature and another. To be good for nothing is just that. If a virtue has been thought a virtue long enough, it must be assumed to have practical justification - though the very longevity that proves its practicality may obscure it. That seems to be what happened with the idea of fidelity... Our age could be characterized as a manifold experiment in faithlessness, and if it has as yet produced no effective understanding of the practicalities of faith, it has certainly produced massive evidence of the damage and disorder of its absence. (pg.115-116, "The Body and the Earth")
Souls that have lived in virtue are in general happy, and when separated from the irrational part of their nature, and made clean from all matter, have communion with the gods and join them in the governing of the whole world. Yet even if none of this happiness fell to their lot, virtue itself, and the joy and glory of virtue, and the life that is subject to no grief and no master are enough to make happy those who have set themselves to live according to virtue and have achieved it.
A man that hath no virtue in himself, ever envieth virtue in others. For men's minds, will either feed upon their own good, or upon others' evil; and who wanteth the one, will prey upon the other; and whoso is out of hope, to attain to another's virtue, will seek to come at even hand, by depressing another's fortune.
And all knowledge, when separated from justice and virtue, is seen to be cunning and not wisdom; wherefore make this your first and last and constant and all-absorbing aim, to exceed, if possible, not only us but all your ancestors in virtue; and know that to excel you in virtue only brings us shame, but that to be excelled by you is a source of happiness to us.
The eyes of mankind will be upon you to see whether the Government, which is now more popular than it has been for many years past, will be productive of more virtue moral and political. We may look up to Armies for our Defense, but Virtue is our best Security. It is not possible that any State should long remain free, where Virtue is not supremely honored.
If a man of good natural disposition acquires Intelligence [as a whole], then he excels in conduct, and the disposition which previously only resembled Virtue, will now be Virtue in the true sense. Hence just as with the faculty of forming opinions [the calculative faculty] there are two qualities, Cleverness and Prudence, so also in the moral part of the soul there are two qualities, natural virtue and true Virtue; and true Virtue cannot exist without Prudence.
If then, as we say, good craftsmen look to the mean as they work, and if virtue, like nature, is more accurate and better than any form of art, it will follow that virtue has the quality of hitting the mean. I refer to moral virtue [not intellectual], for this is concerned with emotions and actions, in which one can have excess or deficiency or a due mean.
Where virtue is, sensibility is the ornament and becoming attire of virtue. On certain occasions it may almost be said to become virtue. But sensibility and all the amiable qualities may likewise become, and too often have become, the panders of vice and the instruments of seduction.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
When your heart flows broad and full like a river, a blessing and a danger to those living near: there is the origin of your virtue. When you are above praise and blame, and your will wants to command all things, like a lover's will: there is the origin of your virtue. When you despise the agreeable and the soft bed and cannot bed yourself far enough from the soft: there is the origin of your virtue. When you will with a single will and you call this cessation of all need "necessity": there is the origin of your virtue. Verily, a new good and evil is she. Verily, a new deep murmur and the voice of a new well! Power is she, this new virtue; a dominant thought is she, and around her a wise soul: a golden sun, and around it the serpent of knowledge.
if the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror. Virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompts, severe, inflexible. It is there an emanation of virtue. It is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs... is force made only to protect crime? And is the thunderbolt not destined to strike the heads of the proud?... Are the enemies within not the allies of the enemies without?...
Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks-no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.
If love is the soul of Christian existence, it must be at the heart of every other Christian virtue. Thus, for example, justice without love is legalism; faith without love is ideology; hope without love is self-centeredness; forgiveness without love is self-abasement; fortitude without love is recklessness; generosity without love is extravagance; care without love is mere duty; fidelity without love is servitude. Every virtue is an expression of love. No virtue is really a virtue unless it is permeated, or informed, by love.
If what was said in the Ethics is true, that the happy life is the life according to virtue lived without impediment, and that virtue is a mean, then the life which is in a mean, and in a mean attainable by every one, must be the best. And the same principles of virtue and vice are characteristic of cities and of constitutions; for the constitution is in a figure the life of the city.
Through inculcating the notion that sacrifice is a virtue, Christianity has succeeded in convincing many people that misery incurred through sacrifice is a mark of virtue. Pain becomes the inignia of morality - and conversely, pleasure becomes the insignia of immorality. Christianity, therefore, does not say, "Go forth and be miserable." Rather, it says, "Go forth and practice the virtue of self-sacrifice." In practical terms, these commands are identical.
George H. Smith
The Master said, "I have not seen a person who loved virtue, or one who hated what was not virtuous. He who loved virtue, would esteem nothing above it. He who hated what is not virtuous, would practice virtue in such a way that he would not allow anything that is not virtuous to approach his person. "Is any one able for one day to apply his strength to virtue? I have not seen the case in which his strength would be insufficient. "Should there possibly be any such case, I have not seen it.
According to great masters, there is no sin and there is no virtue. There is only one thing: that is awareness. If you are aware, you can do anything you want and it is not sin. If you are not aware, you may do so-called virtuous acts, but there is no virtue in them. Out of unconsciousness virtue cannot blossom. It blossoms only when you are full of light, full of love, full of consciousness.
I have observed that gentlemen suppose that the general legislature will do every thing mischievous they possibly can, and that they will omit to do every thing good which they are authorized to do. If this were a reasonable supposition, their objections would be good. I consider it reasonable to conclude that they will as readily do their duty as deviate from it; nor do I go on the grounds mentioned by gentlemen on the other side - that we are to place unlimited confidence in them, and expect nothing but the most exalted integrity and sublime virtue. But I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men; so that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.' James Madison (speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 20 June 1788)
Economists get very uncomfortable when you talk about virtue and vice. It doesn't lend itself to a lot of columns with numbers. But I would argue that there are big virtue effects in economics. I would say that the spreading of double-entry bookkeeping by the Monk, Fra Luce de Pacioli, was a big virtue effect in economics. It made business more controllable, and it made it more honest.
Do unto others... ' is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. But that's exactly what it is - a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I'm good. I just don't believe I'll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It's knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that's where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. 'Do this or you'll burn in hell.' You won't burn in hell. But be nice anyway.
If the state cannot be entirely composed of good men, and yet each citizen is expected to do his own business well, and must therefore have virtue, still inasmuch as all the citizens cannot be alike, the virtue of the citizen and of the good man cannot coincide. All must have the virtue of the good citizen - thus, and thus only, can the state be perfect; but they will not have the virtue of a good man, unless we assume that in the good state all the citizens must be good.
[... ]virtue is not some kind of mode whose value is incontestable, it is simply a scheme of conduct, a way of getting along, which varies according to accidents of geography and climate and which, consequently, has no reality, the which alone exhibits its futility. Only what is constant is really good; what changes perpetually cannot claim that characterization: that is why they have declared that immutability belongs to the ranks of the Eternal's perfections; but virtue is completely without this quality: there is not, upon the entire globe, two races which are virtuous in the same m anner; hence, virtue is not in any sense real, nor in any wise intrinsically good and in no sort deserves our reverence.
Marquis de Sade
Let the foundation of thy affection be virtue, then make the building as rich as glorious as thou canst; if the foundation be beauty or wealth, and the building virtue, the foundation is too weak for the building, and it will fall: happy is he, the palace of whose affection is founded upon virtue, walled with riches glazed with beauty, and roofed with honor.
Without virtue, it is hard to bear the results of good fortune suitably. Those who lack virtue become arrogant and wantonly aggressive when they have these other goods. They think less of everyone else, and do whatever they please. They do this because they are imitating the magnanimous person though they are not really like him.
Aristotle on the Megalopsychos
But tell me: how did gold get to be the highest value? Because it is uncommon and useless and gleaming and gentle in its brilliance; it always gives itself. Only as an image of the highest virtue did gold get to be the highest value. The giver's glance gleams like gold. A golden brilliance concludes peace between the moon and the sun. Uncommon is the highest virtue and useless, it is gleaming and gentle in its brilliance: a gift-giving virtue is the highest virtue.
Sorrow and happiness are the heresies of virtue; joy and anger lead astray from TAO; love and hate cause loss of virtue. The heart unconscious of sorrow and happiness - that is perfect virtue. One, without change - that is perfect repose. Without any obstruction - that is the perfection of the unconditioned. Holding no relations with the external world, - that is perfection of the negative state. Without blemish of any kind, - that is the perfection of purity.
By Allah, whenever I endure any adversity I gain four blessings of Allah in exchange. The first of them is, when the adversity is not caused by my sin (virtue is earned). The second, when the adversity is not greater than my sin (virtue is earned). The third, when I am not deprived of contentment (virtue is earned). And the fourth, I hope for virtues thereby.
I can understand that the man you told me about has offended you, and I am very annoyed that he forgot himself like that. However, you must not consider what he did as coming from him but rather as a trial which God wishes to make of your patience. This virtue will be even more a virtue in you who are more sensitive by nature and have given less cause for the offense that you have received.
Vincent de Paul
In its broad sense, civilization means not only comfort in daily necessities but also the refining of knowledge and the cultivation of virtue so as to elevate human life to a higher plane... It refers to the attainment of both material well-being and the elevation of the human spirit, [but] since what produces man's well-being and refinement is knowledge and virtue, civilization ultimately means the progress of man's knowledge and virtue.
when he looks at Beauty in the only way that Beauty can be seen - only then will it become possible for him to give birth not to images of virtue (because he's in touch with no images), but to true virtue [arete] (because he is in touch with true Beauty). The love of the gods belongs to anyone who has given to true virtue and nourished it, and if any human being could become immortal, it would be he.