Exercising when I hate it, prepping for a workshop, studying for an exam, staying up all night to complete a project… trying to work on something that needs it… I just love anything intense that requires repetition, focus and that dirty raw devotion that really gets something done.
I love making a commitment and holding myself to it regardless of how I feel. …Allowing my activities and behavior to be subject to how I feel in any given moment wouldn’t get me very far…. I’ve come to know that how I feel is unreliable at best.
I like to be walking thru my days contemplating something, chewing over thoughts, perfecting a behavior… like practicing non-judgment or listening more, talking less.
Lately I’ve been studying a teaching called the 10 perfections: Virtue, Renunciation, Discernment, Equanimity, Patience, Persistence, Truth, Determination and Good Will.
They are sorta fancy feel good words.. So I’ve been taking one word and working with it, really trying to define what it means to me, learning what others think about it and figuring out how to live my life in alignment with what I come up with.
Today’s word is Virtue.
I start by looking it up in the Google machine and I find this:
(Latin: virtus, Ancient Greek: ἀρετή “arete“) is moral excellence. A virtue is a positive trait or quality deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being.
Ok, fine. But what’s that say to me, how do I incorporate that into a practice and my life?
And furthermore, the more I practice non-judgment I find this definition troublesome.
I no longer really want to be in a position where I am deciding what’s moral for you, what’s positive for you and your life. I know amazing deep big hearted people who have certain areas of their lives that make no sense to me, that seem completely gross and fucked up and not within any range of my moral compass… but they truly believe what they are doing and feel completely comfortable with it and their lives seem to be working.
To me, fruitage is my measurement—how’s your life working? If what you are doing works for you, then who am I to judge?
So as with most things, I realize I’m going to need to create my own personal definition of virtue. But before I do, I read a little further thru the Google search and find this:
Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness.
Now this I’m in alignment with. It’s in perfect alignment with my personal philosophy that everything has to be MY truth or its just empty.
So Virtue, for me, cannot be moral excellence… cause I will never be perfect. I will never, not ever live in “moral excellence” everyday, it’s just not possible for a guy like me.
I make poor decisions often; when I’m tired, watch out.
I fall back asleep in moments, I occasionally gossip, think negatively and judge the complete fucking wreck of a person in front of me in line at Starbucks. And I shop at Starbucks.. The big mighty corporation that wipes out the wonderful locally owned coffee shops. I occasionally eat meat even though I’ve seen the what those animals went thru. I fill my car with gas, even though I’ve been to the Middle East and see how women are treated in pursuit of oil and dollars.
I know better but sometimes I do anyway, unsure or just too lazy to do or make the more “virtuous” choices.
For me, Virtue is cultivating and practicing awareness.
Awareness is everything for me; Awareness is the beginning and the end.
Once I’m aware, everything is possible. It’s absolutely the only thing that creates my “individual greatness” as the definition suggests.
So I’m going to practice awareness today and everyday, meaning, I’m going to continue to do what I must to cultivate Virtue.
To cultivate Virtue, I’m going to do the best I can, when I can, as much as I can, and I’m going to accept that that’s simply good enough, in fact it’s perfect….Perfect is doing the best I can.
I’m going to practice awareness by being quite, watching my breath, observing my thoughts and behaviors.
The last thing the Google machine says is:
The opposite of virtue is vice.