The Art Of Virtue (Exercise Book)

Yesterday I promised myself that I would prepare an exercise book in the manner described by Benjamin Franklin. He conceived this as a means of developing in himself the habitude of virtue.

In a time where we as a nation and a world are being divided, where brother is being pitted against brother, and where insult, accusation, and blame are the first responders to real and even contrived (aka “fake”) circumstances, I feel strongly that we must unite in the resuscitation and consolidation of individual and collective virtue.

Here it is!

Week one is ready to begin on Sunday, and I’m so excited to share it with you.

Join me?

Virtuosity

Does virtue in others inspire you? Are you desirous of acquiring the habitude of virtue? Do you like working with others to mutual improvement? If so, I’d like to invite you to join me in a 13 week exercise contrived by Benjamin Franklin nearly 300 years ago. It’s quite simple, really, and I’d love to work with you on it.

Here’s how it works. We will work with a list of 13 virtues and spend one week focusing on the mastery of each one. I will distribute a table for you to print and use, so that you may keep track of your progress along the way. All that I ask is that you share your experiences regularly, either directly with me via email or in comments to this and  future posts on this exercise.

If you are interested in moving through this exercise with me, please complete the form below. I look forward to sharing and living more virtuously with you.

One more thing: I encourage you to invite others whom you feel might enjoy doing this with us!

A Serving Heart

Every instance of good service ever given came about because of the serving heart of someone who was genuinely interested in promoting the well-being of one of his or her fellows.

The serving heart is not concerned with self-service or self-aggrandizement. Moreover, the serving heart realizes that fulfillment comes only as others are assisted in the discovery and realization of their fulfillment.

Isn’t this how true love works? If you are deeply in love with another person, you are more concerned with their fulfillment than you are with your own. You think about their needs constantly and seek to provide for them in any way possible. You don’t do it because you are told to do it or because you feel you will get something from it if you do; rather, you do it because you are compelled from deep within to give of yourself without any concern for pay or reward.

The serving heart is available to each and every person on earth. You need not be in love to be of service, but you must be willing to submit yourself to love’s command, that is, to the will of love.

What qualities are often attributed to love? Radiance, warmth, generosity, forgiveness, compassion are but a few, and the will of love is the golden thread which weaves through all of these qualities of character and expression. It is easy to see, then, why letting love command your expression leads to a life of fulfilling and meaningful service.

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

Ready

“All things are ready, if our mind be so.” -William Shakespeare, Henry V

A few brief thoughts for you this morning on how to mentally prepare for what is to come, whatever that may be:

  1. Regarding the unresolved or worrisome elements that hide like muggers in the shadows of your mind, say to yourself (and to them directly) with the full force of your mind and heart: “you matter not to me.” Attention gives weight and assigns importance.
  2. Regarding your present circumstances, acknowledge and give specific thanks for the starting points at hand. Again, attention gives weight and assigns importance.
  3. Regarding #1 and #2, your mind will either be a pristine showroom or a junkyard based on how you deal with the present and the past. Give weight and assign importance to what truly matters and not to what is no longer relevant or beyond your control.
  4. Regarding those around you, remember that you would worry far less about what they think if you realized how infrequently they think of you.
  5. Regarding the unknown, dare to risk curiosity and more importantly, dare to act. Action catalyzes courage and courage is the basis of all forward movement.

Get yourself ready, my friends. Opportunity knocks!

The Spiral of Life

The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,—
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,—
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:—

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

The earth is not flat; it is round. You do not fall off into an abyss of nothingness when you pass the horizon. Likewise, life does not end when you leave your body, your chambered cell. You continue onward to lands yet unknown.

If you are waiting for death to be free, you’ve missed the central purpose of your incarnation entirely. Live now, dear reader, live now.