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Fri Apr 13, 2012, 04:07 AM

The Meaning Of Virtue And Virtuosity

Tsoknyi Rinpoche
Author, 'Open Heart, Open Mind'
Posted: 04/12/2012 7:20 am

The Buddhist path is often described in terms of steps one takes to lead what is commonly referred to as a "virtuous life" -- an idea that strikes a chord of anxiety into the hearts of people new to Buddhism (and quite a few long-term practitioners).

The meaning of virtue has been debated and defined in various ways by different schools of Buddhism-- as well as other religious and philosophical traditions-- over the centuries. There are many stories, for example, about Buddhist monastics who, in the centuries following the Buddha's passing, took exceptional precautions to avoid stepping on insects or the possibility of inhaling them. So it's quite natural that people might wonder what virtue means in the context of modern life, with its abundance of choices and challenges. At various times, people have asked, "Do I have to become a vegetarian?" "Do I have to give up sex, alcohol, or good food?" "Do I have to stop watching TV?" "Do I have to stop going out with my friends?"


Likewise, in order to become virtuoso human beings, we have to begin by understanding our basic nature -- the clay, so to speak, with which we're given to work.

And that, to me, is the essence of the Buddha's teaching. It's within our power to become virtuoso humans. The process involves a step-by-step examination of the ways in which we relate to ourselves and the world around us. As we integrate this examination into our daily lives, we begin to realize the possibility of living each moment of our lives with a previously unimagined richness and delight.

More: HuffPo Story

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Reply The Meaning Of Virtue And Virtuosity (Original post)
ellisonz Apr 2012 OP
Ruby Reason Apr 2012 #1

Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:40 AM

1. I like the idea of examining the clay from which we are made.

I feel better when I look deeply at the things which frustrate or upset me. My husband is quite ill with a variety of problems. I was feeling frustrated while he slept and I worked either at work or around the house. After sitting alone and quietly to think through the frustration, I realized that it was not that I minded the work or that he was unable to do it. I accomplished a lot and had plenty of time to get projects done. But what I did realize was that I was lonely. I was missing conversing with him.

Now I often sit at the edge of the bed to chat with him when he can't get up. He is more mentally alert and sleeps better at night because he is awake more during the day. Sometimes I have to keep up the talk when he is feeling tired, but even half an hour of chatting gave me a chance to get worries off my chest and become interested in what he was doing when awake (DU is one of the things which I joined so we could share discussions). And he makes an effort to be where I am while I work. He sits outside in a lawn chair while I weed or on a bench in the kitchen while I cook and we talk. Sometimes we are just in the same place at the same time, but it helps.

But if I hadn't looked at who I was to begin with, "examined the clay", I would not have known where my anger was springing from. It is just a small step toward bettering myself, but it was certainly a manageable one. If that is what I need to do to become more virtuous, then I'll keep trying. And if I can do it, anyone can, without fear. Do I seem to be on track with your description? or am I off base?


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