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.