Monday, May 28, 2012

Virtue - Piety

Piety is defined as the humble devotion to a high ideal.

A pious person believes in something greater than themselves.  Weather that is a deity, a specific way of living, or a noble goal it matters not.  While Piety is often understood as the constant devotion to a deity, this is not a persons only venue to being pious.  Let's look at the words "high ideal".  Now in the first sense gods and goddesses represent our highest ideal of the spirit.  We strive through ritual, through worship, and through imitation to reach the sides of our gods, to be like them.  The idea here is that as spiritual beings having a human experience we need to nurture the connection our spirit has to the divine, in whatever form we believe that to be.

The next "high ideal" could be achieved by choosing a specific way of living our lives.  This may or may not coincide with devotion to the gods.  People who choose to live "green" lives devote themselves to conservation of the planet and a healthier more natural way to live.  They humble themselves before their ideal of the right life every single day.  Their devotion becomes their sustenance and they are pious to their high ideal.

The third act of Piety can be achieved by having and journeying towards a noble goal.  A noble goal is one in which we believe that by attaining it we will have served others and become a better person because of it.  A great example of this is the Peace Corps.  When someone joins the Peace Corps they are setting themselves on the noble path of service and devoting their time and energy to helping others.  This humble devotion to service enriches their lives and they become pious in their cause.

Piety is the pure state of our hearts.  It is humble, it is selfless, and it hard yet rewarding work.  One does not gain Piety by sitting around on their butt thinking, I love my god.  One becomes pious by acting on their high ideals.  You must do more than feel you must also move and take action.  Only through active devotion and service can our heart, minds, and spirits lift us to a place of peace and love.  If you believe in something so wonderful and great then don't go out proclaim it's greatness, just live it.

I will keep close to me my high ideals
I will act upon my noble goals
I will devote my live to the service of others
I will serve my gods by my actions

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Virtue - Honor

Honor is the virtue that most distinctly defines our individual character.

Honor is a complex virtue that has many implications.  Honor is best defined by how a person acts in accordance to their own moral code.  A person with Honor is considered fair, honest, and reliable.  Honor reflects a persons true nature.  Whether we are born inherently with a sense of Honor or we learn it from the world around us, it defines us deeply to others and ourselves.  The Honorable person always tries to be unbiased in any situation and gives their thoughts and opinions honestly regardless of the popularity of those thoughts and opinions.  You also can also always count on the Honorable person, their word is their bond, and this makes them invaluable in all of our lives.

For those who truly carry Honor as one of their virtues they can find themselves set slightly apart from the crowd.  They are needed and well liked and can be counted on to give fair account.  This impartiality means that what they have to say will not always be well received, but for the most part will be respected.  The Honorable person also gives credit where it is fairly due and never takes more than their share.

Another very important aspect of Honor is to accept responsibility for your actions.  Modestly and honestly acknowledging both your triumphs and your failures and making the attempt to correct those failures.  When practiced Honor becomes your personal worth.  Are you a person who can be trusted?  Are you a person who speaks your mind without judgement and bias?  Do you strive to be reliable and show the strength of character that other people can depend on?  I think that these are very worthy traits for any person to have, and I hope someday to have them as well, as I strive to be an Honorable person.

I will be true to my virtues
I will strive to always be fair and honest
I will own my faults and modestly accept my triumphs
I will strive for this my whole life

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Virtue - Service

Service is the virtue that defines a community.

The word Service comes from the word "servitude" and means to "serve".  Historically this was applied to slaves or those who were in some way in Service to another.  Throughout history Service has been applied in both negative and positive ways, slaves served their masters but priests and kings served their people.  So if we were to extract a general definition of Service I would posit that it would be "to aid or help others".  Granted this could be willing or unwilling but the definition is good and generally accepted in our society.

So what does Service as a virtue mean?  Well it means to aid and help others, willingly.  We should always be available to serve the needs and wants of others, within reason of course.  To make yourself available and willing to help others, to serve them, not only shows compassion but is the foundation that brings a community together.  When we help those who need our time, our understanding, and our resources within the best of our abilities it creates within us a feeling of being needed and appreciated.  When we feel good about who and what we are and what we do we emanate those positive feelings from our very being.  We share our happiness and contentment unknowingly with those around us.
In Service we must not forget to serve ourselves, not selfishly but within a healthy understanding of our needs and desires.  We must take care of ourselves to be able to take care of others.  If our basic needs are not met then we are not able to honestly meet the needs of others.  We can try to serve others but when we take too much from ourselves we diminish the value of our Service as well as our own much needed health and happiness.  First and foremost take care of yourself.  Keep to your virtues, keep to your health and home peace and manageability.  For in this care your Service to others will become a byproduct of your life.  It is easier to give what you already have than to search for what you yourself desire to attain.  

As a community, if we all look to care for our own happiness and contentment and then willingly and actively go out and serve those who needs us, we will be stronger.  A people who works for the happiness and comfort of all is a strong and powerful people.  A people who can accomplish any goal they set before them.  I want to be apart of this community, so I will serve.

I will care for my own home and happiness
I will serve my interests in a healthy and productive manner
I will give of myself to those in need of me
I will serve my community to make it stronger

Friday, May 18, 2012

Virtue - Hospitality

Hospitality is a virtue has the ability to truly define a person and a culture.

Traditionally Hospitality is defined as the way a person treats a guest.  The ancient Greeks were famous for their Hospitality towards wandering strangers.  In ancient times the act of Hospitality towards strangers was taken for granted.  One could never know when a stranger was a god in disguise and did not want incur the wrath of Zeus or what ever deity was at their door.  It was also possible that someday they would be traveling the lands and would need the Hospitality of others so in hopes of someday being treated well by their host, Greeks were encouraged to be good hosts.  It is not only the host who has the duty of Hospitality though, the guest also has rules of etiquette to follow.  No guest is to abuse the graciousness of their host or to over stay their welcome.

So what does this mean for us in this modern age where strangers are feared and the guidelines of etiquette have all but disappeared from our society?  For me it means we need to rethink our society.  If we can revive the divine nature of Hospitality we will become better people for it.  To be Hospitable to those you invite into your home and your life shows a greater quality of character than is normally shown in people today.  Each person you meet is deserving of your friendliness, generosity, and compassion until they prove themselves unworthy of it.  And likewise we are not to abuse the Hospitality shown to us by others but rather be grateful and kind in return.

Hospitality is usually found in the context of a guest/host situation but I believe that this can and should be expanded to all who we meet.  If we practice Hospitality in our daily lives, everywhere we go, we become the gracious host, it becomes apart of our nature.  This is not to say that all are deserving of our generosity and compassion, but all should be given the chance to receive it from us until they prove themselves unwanted guests in our lives, that is when Hospitality ends.  And on the flip side of that coin we must at all times be aware of Hospitality shown to us and make a conscious effort not to abuse it.

If we live our lives by the right and divine treatment of others then we too shall be treated divinely.  Each of has a spark of the divine in us, each of us IS god.  Therefor when someone comes to you for aid or just for afternoon tea, they come to you as a representative of the divine, in disguise.  Treat each of them as honored and you in turn shall be honored and you will be increasing the illumination of your inner divinity.

I will always strive to be a good host
I will honor those who come to me for aid or company
In return I shall endeavor to be gracious guest
Always thankful for the kindness shown to me
And I shall never overstay my welcome

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Virtue - Compassion

Third on my list of personal virtues is Compassion.

Compassion is the ability to sympathize with the feelings and situations of others.  When we feel compassionate about the plights of others we gain a desire to try and help alleviate their pain and suffering.  Compassion leads us to a place of unrestricted giving.  Giving to others our time, our ears, our shoulders, our help, and our silence can be the greatest gift we have to offer to those in need.  While Compassion is a selfless act it does come with its own rewards.  When we are actively Compassionate towards others we receive in a turn a feeling of helpfulness and gratitude that can sustain us though our own darker times.  We then feel useful and needed which are very important for each of us to feel if we are to work with and care for others.

The goal of Compassion as a virtue is not to seek out people and situations that appear desperate and try to fix them, that would be contrary to the meaning of the word.  Compassion should come naturally to anyone who allows themselves to feel openly and honestly for their fellow creatures.  Acts of Compassion should always come from the heart and never be regretted, no matter the eventual outcome.  We are all imperfect people and sometimes our most well intentioned efforts can go awry.  This should not deter us or harden our hearts against being Compassionate beings.  Each lesson learned enriches our souls, even if the lessons are hard or painful ones.

Our Compassion is not limited to the plights of our human brothers and sisters, we can and do have great sympathy and feelings for all Terran's as well as our planet.  Being able to feel for the suffering of animals and having the desire to alleviate it is indeed a virtue and shows great strength of character.  I would caution here not to turn this virtue into a vise.  It can be too easy to go beyond our means and sacrifice our own well being in the attempt to help others, this is evident in those who horde animals.  It is not our job to go out and seek the misfortunate, it is not our individual duty to cure all of the worlds ills that is more a collective effort.

We are enriched by the love we have to offer others, our lights shine brighter when we give what we are able.  If all people felt and understood Compassion then there would be a whole lot less suffering in our world.

I will see the world around me for what it is
I will see the needs and sorrows of others
I will always offer help when I am able
I will not sacrifice my own well being

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Virtue - Integrity

The next virtue for which I extol is Integrity.

Integrity is that quality of character within a person who lives by their principals and personal ethics.  To have Integrity is to be complete within yourself, understanding and accepting your nature and then acting on it.  Most of all what this says to me is "Be true to yourself".

Each of us has a dynamic personality with both positive and negative traits.  We strive daily to bring forth that which is good within us and suppress that which we perceive as bad.  Sometimes this can go as far as trying to deny the dark or less pleasing parts of our egos.  This outlook, rather than being beneficial, can be harmful to the Integrity of our psyches.  While it is praiseworthy to always try to be and act our best we must not ignore the many different faucets of our personalities, for to do so is to deny the complete person.

To have Integrity is to actively stand for what you believe in.  This does not mean we need to be aggressive in our principals but we do need to be steadfast.  Sometimes standing up for what you believe to be right can be a very difficult thing.  We often worry about the judgement and possible condemnation of others and as a result our voices are never heard.  But there comes a time for all people when taking a stand is the only right thing they can do, weather in silent protest or vocal outrage.

Each of us has our own set of ethics and virtues.  If we can take the time to examine them, and not take for granted that they are there, but really think about them then we can learn where our own Integrity really is.  My Integrity lies in my evolving understanding of myself and my determination to be true to my beliefs.  My Integrity is in being faithful to my seven virtues which dictates my actions to my family, friends, and community.

I have something worthy to live by
I have an evolving character that I can be proud of
I stand up for what I believe
I have Integrity

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Virtue - Silence

The first of my virtues and the foundation of moral path is Silence.   

There are different ways to interpret what Silence means and how it can be applied as a virtue.  The simplest definitions are "the absence of noise" or "speechless".  But as a virtue Silence means so much more.  For the first definition as a virtue Silence is not just the absence of noise but the quietness of the inner self.  Meditation provides for us the perfect environment in which to experience both outer and inner Silence.  In a dark and quiet room we can sit or recline comfortably and breathe deeply.  At first this exercise brings about a myriad of jumbled thoughts that try their hardest to distract us from the peace of mind we are attempting to achieve.  But if we just let the thoughts flow through us, not holding on to any of them, we can find that as our minds are allowed the freedom to wonder uninhibited the thoughts will eventually take on a less harried quality.  As we train ourselves to find this Silence within ourselves we can begin to experience it in a wider range of situations throughout our lives.  We can begin to find the "absence of noise" from within us.

Another aspect of Silence is speechlessness.  When we refrain from speaking we are giving our ears a better opportunity to hear, and our eyes to see, what is going on around us.  When our attention is not focused on what we have to say next we are better able to focus on what other people are really trying to say.  To listen is the sister of Silence and we need to really listen to all that is around us so we may have a true and accurate picture of what is going on.  Those who learn how to listen to the whispers of nature and the mutterings of their own hearts are better able to listen to the true meanings behind the words and actions of others.  In this way to be Silent is to seek the truth.

The virtue of Silence also means to keep secrets.  Trust, faith, and magick are all grounded in the Silence of secrets.  The trust of a friend that you will not betray their confidence is based in your Silence.  The faith that your confidant will not betray your trust is based in their Silence.  Often we see the Silence of secrets as a bad thing, "what are they hiding?" becomes the common question, like having or keeping secrets is wrong.  On the contrary secrets can be quite beneficial when the aim is not to cause harm to someone but rather to have a private piece of mind.  In the occult magick in and of itself is no great secret, in fact magick is freely accessible to all.  But the magickal journey of the individual is a well guarded secret kept securely by anyone involved in that journey.  This Silence allows a person to explore their path both spiritual and mundane in peace and privacy so they may grow into who they are meant to become without the useless scrutiny of others.  In magick, as well as in trust and faith, Silence here is meant to love and protect and is a virtue.

In Silence we can find ourselves, we can see plainly within ourselves the demons and angels that lurk there.  In Silence there is love, trust, and beauty.  The knowledge that we are able to be open and honest with ourselves about how we feel and what we see opens the doors for us to be better people.  And as better people we have more to give to those around us, we are then able to attune ourselves to the heartbeat of Nature and to work with Her rather than against Her.  Have you stepped out to a park or forest lately?  Have you stopped to hear the songs of birds and insects or the rustling of small animals?  There is a quietness in this noise, a peace in the Silent mutterings of Nature.

When we are Silent we hear the message of our hearts and the voices of the gods.  The divine speaks to us all the time but we rarely stop to listen.  There is magick in the voice of the gods when spoken through us and the messages are clearer when we are Silent.  In meditation and prayer we find the divine is eminent, all around us and within us.  As we listen we learn, we become stronger in our minds, our hearts, and our in our beliefs, we become better people.

I shall always endeavor to quiet my mind and listen to my heart
I will not rush to speak but pay attention to those speaking to me
I will keep the secrets of my heart and those secrets entrusted to me
I will listen to the voices of the gods as they speak through me
In Silence I will hear the heartbeat of the Earth
So Mote It Be

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Virtue - Introduction

So I have decided that as an exercise in writing I am going to write about my seven virtues.  Virtue as defined by is "quality of good in human conduct ... They are to be interpreted as descriptive of conduct rather than innate qualities and are achieved through proper training and discipline." as well as "... moral excellence. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting individual and collective well-being, and thus good by definition."

Each religious or spiritual ideology espouses its own set of virtues, its own ideas of what each person or social structure should endorse as the correct way to be.  Virtues are more than personal ideals, they are guidelines on how to correctly live our lives and interact with others.  The purpose of having your own set of virtues is to help you understand how to correctly act in any situation for the betterment of all involved.

The list of possible virtues is a very long one, there are 128 listed at, and all are worthy of incorporation into anyone's personal philosophy.  But it becomes impracticable to try to remember and follow all of them.  So we each need to look within ourselves, within our own personal and social moral compass, and find the ones that we believe will help us most to live a noble and right life.

So in the next seven days I will explore in depth each of my personal virtues and how I try to live my life by them.  I hope you enjoy this journey and your comments and participation are most welcome!