Lesson 5: Virtue And Understanding
- The Reward Of Virtue – Spiritual Understanding
- The Virtue Of Purity
- A Personal Assessment of Virtue
- Relativity of Virtue
The Reward Of Virtue – Spiritual Understanding
True understanding is beyond the reason of the senses. It is the power to experience and interpret the laws that govern the expression of Creative Force, or God, in and through the physical, mental, and spiritual bodies of humanity. Where there is virtue there will be understanding, for one follows the other. Understanding is the reward of virtue. (A Search For God, Book I)
Being virtuous or doing virtuous acts so that others can witness your virtue is a function of personality in a social context. For example, Jesus observed that the Pharisees prayed in public to be seen of others so that they would be regarded as virtuous. Such pretentious "virtuous" behavior in the service of the ego has the quality of insincerity and lack of authenticity – even manipulation.
Like Jesus, the Cayce readings often suggested keeping virtuous acts hidden to others to avoid such conflict of interest. This is virtue as an offering to the God within. Thus virtue is truly its own inner reward.
There is another level to selfless virtue that reflects the presence of universal law – like begets like. Thus, living the fruits of the spirit towards others with no strings attached, simply for its own sake, does have consequences. You will create in your own life that which you give away or express to others.
This profound truth is a manifestation of universal law which has the paradoxical quality of wisdom that confounds the worldly wise, much as the parables of wise teachers such as Jesus. Thus in the application of virtue you attain spiritual understanding that transforms or even transcends the personality in its mundane role. In this sense, understanding is the reward of virtue.
But keep in mind that although you may only have what you give away, that does not necessarily mean that every time you do something virtuous that it will immediately payback. Other individuals have free will as well. How they choose to respond to your virtue is their choice. And if you are only trying to manipulate the response of someone with your “virtuous” action, it will probably not work anyway since that is insincere.
In the Search for God there are no extraneous incentives for being virtuous. However, the inner rewards are many including the spiritual understanding that we gain and will be exploring in much greater depth and detail in future lessons on Knowledge and Wisdom.
Application: As you work at living a virtuous life, avoid social display of virtue simply for the laudation of others. Then notice the immediate emotional impact on how you feel about yourself and your life. As you consistently apply this exercise, notice the longer-term effects of like begets like and the way unpretentious virtue increases spiritual understanding of universal law and attunement with God.
Resource: Personality and Individuality (Reply)
The Virtue of Purity
To establish a common ground, let us say that to be true to that which is pure in our purposes is virtue… Virtue is pureness of heart, pureness of soul, and pureness of mind that come through His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit. (A Search for God, Book I)
(Q) Please lead me more into the way by which I may get true virtue and understanding.
(A) In the application of that as has been gained comes the understanding. Be true to that that is pure in thy purpose, for THIS IS virtue. In virtue comes understanding; for they are as the tenon and the mortise, they fit one with, one to, another. (262-18)
In certain respects, purity can be regarded as a meta-virtue – a core virtue that encompasses and includes other virtues. For example, if you have been practicing meditation on a regular basis you will have encountered this virtue in terms of purification in preparation for meditation.
Purification applies at all levels: Physical cleansing by various means such as bathing, diet, and virtuous action; cleansing the mind of impure thoughts and attitudes through mindfulness and prayer; spiritual purification by releasing selfishness in its diverse manifestations in your social relationships and dealings with others.
Application: Focus on the virtue of purity in your daily life as you put these lessons into practice and gain understanding. Keep the body clean – inside and out as you prepare for meditation. Keep the mind pure of negativity and doubt. Practice pure love in all your dealings while setting self aside for the benefit of others.
A Personal Assessment of Virtue
Virtue is full cooperation that prepares the way for enlightening and uplifting humanity. Virtue is keeping ourselves in tune with Creative Force, enabling us to know ourselves as we are known by others. Virtue is holding steadfastly to the Ideal that is set in Him, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings… Virtue is the seasoning of faith, the essence of hope, and the crowning element of truth – an attribute of God. (A Search For God, Book I)
The readings encourage each person working with this material to assess the application of virtue at this point based on previous lessons. Thus attunement to God (prayer and meditation), cooperation, self-knowledge, ideals, and faith are all essential virtues in the search for God.
Application: Assess within yourself how you have applied each lesson thus far in terms of virtuous living. This is not to be an exercise in self-condemnation or self-judgment in a negative sense. Rather, use it to measure your own soul development. Celebrate any progress gained and find ways to fill out any voids that may have been overlooked thus far.
Relativity Of Virtue
(Q) Please tell us how we should define virtue?
(A) As that is applied in the daily life of individuals as respecting the cooperation, self, the ideal, and the faith, to each it is given; for each individual is an entity in itself, and all work together for the proper understanding and definition – but to EACH is their OWN approach. Not that God is many, but the attributes OF the creative forces RESPOND according to the development OF that entity. (262-11)
Well that this be understood, that virtue and understanding deals primarily with self and self's relationship to the Creative Forces, or God, and that virtue and understanding in self is REFLECTED in self, rather than a JUDGEMENT upon another. Judge self by thine understanding and thine own virtue, NOT another – for these are of the spirit and must be judged by the spirit. "Judge not that ye be not judged." (262-19)
What is virtuous to one individual may not be virtuous to someone else. Each individual is an entity in itself with its own ideals, its own attunement to the divine within.
God without is impersonal with regard to universal law. But God within is personal in the response to the development of each individual. Thus there is relativity with regard to what is virtuous, how virtue is applied, and the understanding of virtue at the individual, personal level.
This is why personal judgment of others is so counterproductive. It only creates barriers with others and boomerangs on the one who judges. “For what is truth today may be tomorrow only partially so, to a developing soul!” (1297-1) Thus as truth changes to a growing soul, the awareness of the relativity of personal virtue leads to a humble spirit and a deeper understanding of soul development.
Application: As you work to apply your understanding of virtue at the personal level, allow others that same latitude – free from judgment or condemnation.
Resource: Judge Not (Reply)