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Virtue

Jump to the following topics:

  1. What are virtues? 
  2. The positive and negative aspects of virtues. 
  3. Techniques for dealing with virtues. 


What are virtues?

  1. Virtues are particular qualities which we attribute to our thoughts, energy tones (i.e., emotions, feelings), and actions.
  2. Virtues are qualities which exemplify whatever we consider to be "moral goodness."
  3. Virtues are qualities which are "other-oriented" rather than "self-oriented." We are focusing on the well-being of other people or things. However, we can also exhibit virtues toward ourselves; for example, we can exhibit forgiveness toward ourselves -- but while doing so, we are viewing that forgivable part of ourselves as though it is separate from the part of us which is doing the forgiving.
  4. Virtues are "ideals" toward which we strive in our image of ourselves and our behaviors.
  5. Virtues are behaviors such as generosity, helpfulness, forgiveness, kindness, empathy, respect, compassion, discipline, patience, service, cooperation, tolerance, etc.


The positive and negative aspects of virtues.  

  1. The positive aspects of virtues.
    • Virtues provide guidelines for behavior when we are not aware of our intuition. We can ask ourselves, "What would be the virtuous thing to do?" The resulting behavior might be appropriate in this situation.
  2. The negative aspects of virtues.
    • Virtues do not always provide appropriate guidance. For example, in our desire to be a "generous person," we are generous whenever possible, even in inappropriate situations, e.g., giving money to a panhandler who will use that money to sustain an alcoholic lifestyle.
    • Virtues are perfect "ideals." Therefore, when we use them as standards of our behavior, we might become perfectionistic, which is a destructive, neurotic condition. And when we inevitably fail (because ideals are unattainable by humans), we might become shamed.
    • Virtues dwell on the other person instead of ourselves -- and often at the expense of ourselves. Therefore:
      • If we try to cultivate the virtue of helpfulness, we might become codependent.
      • If we try to cultivate the virtue of service, we might experience burnout.
      • If we try to cultivate the virtue of tolerance, we might weaken our ego boundaries.
    • Virtues are unreliable as guides, because each virtue has an "equal and opposite" virtue. For example, generosity is a virtue, but so is frugality. Therefore, when we try to be "virtuous," we are confronted by innately contradictory guidelines.
    • Virtue can become the basis for repression. For example, if we try to cultivate the virtue of generosity, we repress our awareness of our desire to conserve our resources.
    • Virtue can become the basis of a sense of "moral superiority." When we choose one virtue as important, we judge and condemn other people by that standard. And yet, because the ideals are unattainable by us, too, we are being hypocritical.


Techniques for dealing with virtues.  

  1. Archetypal field-work.  
    • Self-talk. For example: "I explore virtues, and I also explore my my own needs."
    • Directed imagination. For example, we can visualize ourselves enacting particular virtues.
    • Energy toning. We can generate the energy tones which correspond to a virtue which we are enacting; for example, while enacting kindness, we generate warmth.
    • The "as if" principle. We can act as if we have a virtue which we are exploring.  
  2. Intuition. We allow intuition to guide us in the creation of thoughts, images, energy tones, and actions. While obeying our intuition, we notice that we act in ways which would be considered "virtuous"; however, the virtue is only a tangential side-effect of our action rather than our motivating force or our goal. Because we realize that virtues are merely a default when we aren't aware of intuition, and because we have studied the negative aspects of intuition, we believe that there is no point in self-consciously developing virtues (although virtue-development is one of the main points of religion); instead, we simply follow our intuition.
  3. We examine the components of virtues. For example, "patience" is a virtue, but it is not a thing-in-itself; instead, it is a constellation of particular thoughts, images, energy tones, and actions. Instead of trying to develop a virtue per se, we implant the particular thoughts, etc.
  4. We balance our virtues with our own needs. One way to achieve this balance is to apply the same virtues to ourselves and to other people; for example, when we explore the virtue of generosity, we are generous to ourselves, too.

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