Practice of virtue

joejo's picture



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Great stock is laid on practice and cultivation of Virtues. There is no denying that we need to have an acceptable form of outward behaviour so that the society and order is not disturbed. Yet inwardly what does it mean to cultivate virtue.
It is correctly said that our outward behaviour influences our inward attitude. If we make gesture of a smile we tend to feel good automatically. It is also true that bad outward behaviour reinforces bad conduct and therefore it is wise to refrain from bad actions. However, sanskaras or tendencies acquired over long period of time do not vanish and only (as if) wait for an opportune moment to flower. Sometimes mere outward restraint may have bad consequences too like bottling up frustration. To refrain from talking is very useful to observe oneself yet it must be undertaken in a proper setting. Doing the same in daily life creates complication or man uses sign language to communicate which defeats the purpose. True silence is an absence of 'becoming' and has nothing to do with refrain of speech.
Let us now take the virtue of Humility as an example. Can virtue be cultivated consciously. Is conscious humility true virtue. A person who is trying to be humble very easily gets hurt when he does not find reciprocation from the other. If he was humble by nature (for want of a better word) would he have felt the same. Automatic behaviour can hardly be called a virtue (like our greetings) and actions only done with conscious intent are useful in understanding Dharma. I wish to propose that humility lies in being open and not coming to a definite conclusion.