Virtue and Vice
A practice that is common to all major religions is to act with virtue. In many situations it is easy to recognize the path which develops our virtue. If you are not charged for a product or service that you have received, and do not reveal the omission you are stealing. If you lie to manipulate a situation or person, you have not acted with virtue. Sometimes the path to virtue is quite clear, and most of us could probably agree on what would or would not be a virtuous response.
Some situations are more complicated and present moral dilemmas. An example may include manipulating a powerful person who you know steals from the poor. Would telling a lie to stop a financial predator be more or less virtuous than attempting to protect the financially vulnerable? I don’t know. I suppose I would have to know the extent of the good or bad consequences which may arise from each of these options. I would have to try and remove any part of ego which may be impacting my decision such as strong emotions, impulses, or memories. In these situations, perhaps if you respond in a manner which brings your closer to your values, you are acting with virtue.
Virtue Is Good For Mental Health
Not only is virtue and integrity a common denominator to most spiritual paths, it is also necessary for our mental health. It is not possible to kill, lie, steal, hurt or harm others and be happy. Buddhist teachings say that “Living a virtuous life makes the heart peaceful”. Non virtuous behaviors and thoughts grow the unhealthy conditions of guilt, shame, anxiety, and hate. Living a life that propagates inner-hell and turmoil has a price. It robs us from living as a human. Protecting our virtue allows us to feel proud, at ease, effective, and joyful. Not only is having reverence for all human life the right thing to do, it provides a payback. Your virtue and happiness.