The Delicate Touch of Virtue

We’ve heard the phrase ‘spiritual work’ since we were children. In childhood it was often attached to religion. After religion came self-help books, occult study and psychology. Then came the time when we decided to be free, but as it turned out there was no freedom found… just people yearning, adrift and bored.

After that came new information, then service, followed by sacrifice. Then it was time to repair the damage, and heal and ask questions. Who am I again…? Have I learned anything? Yes, I’ve learned that everything is spiritual work: there is no need to go looking for what is right in front of you, and in you. Just do Life with heart.

On this journey it’s not the intellect that leads the way. Intellect without spirit is cold and very limited… no heart at all. It’s not even experience that leads the way. Experience is only valuable when properly understood and utilized. The victory goes to the spirit. Some say spirit is the only life. I tend to agree.

Is everyone born with the living spirit in potential? I suppose it’s possible. But… if everyone were born with even a potential yearning toward the light and the propensity to pursue it, would the world be as degraded and dense as it is? So I do wonder.

What I do not wonder about is the great value of those men and women whose choices have served to increase the light and the Life in all of us.

The choices are: virtue even though the world scoffs at virtue and invites to degradation; discipline even though the world invites to laziness and self-indulgence; right-doing toward others even though the world offers profit for wrongdoing; recognition of the down-pulling and uplifting magnetic quality of thoughts; observation, perception, feeling and thinking rather than ‘learning’; honoring one’s word; knowing the power of words and of silence.

You know I’m not talking about persons ‘retreating’ into spiritual practice. I’m talking about persons who live in the world and are victorious – the natural human being who has confronted the conditioning and programming of this system, and the many quandaries that can be drawn to oneself.

Sometimes the spirit in these people is so strong that it inspires others to growth just by its mere presence.

The other day I attended a demonstration of the internal martial arts arranged by a highly regarded Sifu. During his performance the physical power was obvious, but the fact that it was driven by spirit was right there to see as well. It was actually a bit shocking to me, as there were moments it seemed like the spirit of a tiger was inside a human body.

The ‘I Am’ message that the Sifu gives is freedom. He says, “I am free”, and one can see he knows what he means. Years ago I had thought that freedom means ‘freedom from responsibility’. Since the spirit is never done living, so is responsibility ever-present. Sifu is free inside the responsibility of being a master.

For me, freedom approaches alongside maturity. Free to stand on one’s own: as the imperfect, unfinished tapestry of a human being who turned their face toward the light. My tapestry is nearly 4/5 woven, and now I am able to see that the living spirit is, indeed, victory over death.

It’s an interesting thought: that the volition to grow in spirit comes with being able to see or feel the Life in others, and to honor it. In other words, if you can’t see or feel the spirit of Love, it’s probably not in you as yet. But… the pathway can be built.

For example, the pathway to Love is kindness, respect, and generosity. These things are not so hard to get a grasp of, and they build a connection to energies that are more refined. And the pathway to Truth is honesty in small things, and keeping your word. Doing this can become a discipline that gradually builds the resonance of truth within.

It’s very dense in this ocean of injured humans, so if no other feeling sense is available, always go toward the warm heart, toward making your word true, toward the helping hand, and toward responsible choices. Invigorate the spirit… this is Life.

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