Virtues are particular qualities which we attribute to our
thoughts, energy tones (i.e., emotions, feelings), and actions.
Virtues are qualities which exemplify whatever we consider to
be "moral goodness."
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.
Virtues are "ideals" toward which we strive in our image of
ourselves and our behaviors.
Virtues are behaviors such as generosity, helpfulness,
forgiveness, kindness, empathy, respect, compassion, discipline,
patience, service, cooperation, tolerance, etc.
positive and negative aspects of virtues.
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.
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
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
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.
dealing with virtues.
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.
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-effectof 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.
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.
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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