Twelve Great Virtues


By Richard Kieninger


As you make a conscious effort to set yourself on a path leading in the direction of human perfection, a certain amount of emotional turmoil results. This turmoil can be distressing and difficult to surmount, but it is important to remember that other people have faced the same problems and have ridden them through to a happy conclusion. Most likely you have observed someone who made a change in his life and eventually mastered the feelings of insecurity and confusion that always seem to follow personal change. Knowing that others have succeeded and knowing at the same time what happens to those who do not try or who fail, you have both inspiration and incentive.


A tried and true technique for starting on the road to successful change and diminishing the anxiety of self-doubt is to gradually build your confidence. Bit by bit you gain confidence simply by trying one small thing and being successful at it and then trying another small thing and again succeeding. With each success, regardless how minor, you can say that something has been accomplished, that a change in your life has taken place. You will begin to grow confident that you can change yourself from being what you are today into something greater tomorrow. As you gain confidence in small ways, you can begin to tackle bigger things. Soon your successes will outnumber your failures, and you will have gained considerable confidence and self-esteem. Confidence and success are mutually dependent upon each other, and they grow together. But remember, success is not always immediate and always requires effort—sometimes the effort having to be repeated over and over. Each lack of success is educational.


It is a person's emotional maturity which allows him to sustain his effort despite the strains he puts upon himself as he grows from what he is to what he strives to become. His growing sense of well-being and happiness makes him increasingly immune to influence from lower entities. Acquiring emotional maturity corresponds to finding the way to satisfy your desires and ambitions without causing harm or pain to other people.


Making the Great Virtues a part of one's consciousness develops emotional maturity, and the measure of how well one is maturing is reflected in how one responds to various life situations as they arise. Not knowing how to cope with life's situations produces frustration and the feeling of being out of control—blown about by the whims of chance.


Personal acquisition of the Great Virtues is an inherently slow process requiring considerable patience and a boundless sense of humor! The ongoing reward is that it builds character, integrity and morality bordering on greatness and results naturally in the intensification of extrasensory perception.


Twelve Great Virtues
Thumbnail definitions of the twelve Great Virtues are given below. There is, of course, much more to be said about each of them, but these abbreviated versions can serve to give an appreciation of what lies ahead for the sincere student. The person who would like to consciously acquire the virtues can start by concentrating on just one per week and each evening reviewing the events of the day and one's responses and actions in light of that virtue. Setting up a chart and grading oneself on each success or failure to live up to that virtue instills a habit of disciplined progress.


Tolerance is the wisdom of not making judgments on fellow men since we can never be sure of their true motivations, trials and personal problems. Criticism of others' beliefs, habits and personalities is unwarranted, self-righteous and inexcusable. The tolerant man does not measure others only by their errors; rather he asks himself how he would have reacted under identical circumstances. Instead of having a critical, irritable attitude toward another, which can only add to the cross he must bear, the tolerant person is slow to speak and act lest he detract from his opportunity to spread happiness and peace into the lives of those with whom he comes in contact. To detract from the reputation of another by gossip and hearsay is karmically disastrous.


Patience is the willingness to await the outworking of natural processes. Patience stresses calmness or composure under suffering or provocation or in performing a demanding task. Impatience with another person arises from lack of tolerance and a selfish peevishness to have one's own way. To fail to take the time to explain to a child or an employee what is to be done and then jump down his throat because the task was not performed as desired is a typical example of impatience. Impatience is a major source of irritability in our world, and much of this is due to desires which cannot be realized realistically.


Kindliness is the sincere desire never to bring hurt to another. It is consideration of the feelings of others as well as gentleness, sensitive benevolence and sympathy expressed in word and deed.


Forbearance is self-possession and serenity of mind under any provocation and conveys the patient lack of a desire for retaliation. It is the overcoming of revengeful reaction to personal affronts and injuries. The nursing of grudges only breeds bitterness and psychosomatic illness. Forbearance is an attitude of nonresistance and a bending with the situation. Knowledge of karmic law provides the comfort that one's desire for retaliation against an offender is pointless in light of the natural law of action and reaction. The offender will suffer karmically without our engaging in destructive thoughts; thus forbearance breaks the circle of repercussions typical of feuds. Forbearance becomes an exercise in humility, for personal pride and the need to uphold self are common causes of retaliatory instincts.


Charity stresses brotherly love, clemency, leniency and an interest in the welfare of others to the extent of giving of oneself. It is wholehearted sympathy toward the suffering which man must endure until he begins conscious advancement. Charity precludes criticism of others.


Humility connotes absence of arrogance, snobbishness, pride, boastfulness and self-satisfaction. Humility does not imply weakness; rather it is the result of strength, power and true personal completeness so that one need not feel he must contend for a place in the sun. Similarly, meekness is the absence of wrath, and it stems from a sense of complete control over one 5 environment. Humility is the awareness of one's own shortcomings in view of the knowledge that virtue always recedes from one's present standing and that one has far to go to achieve even the First Degree of Brotherhood.


Devotion is the consecration of oneself to an ideal or a cause such as to the service of God. Devotion implies singleness of purpose which supplies an interest so great that serving the object of one's devotion is a joyful, untiring experience. The finer emotions of allegiance, faithfulness, loyalty, steadfastness and reverence are involved in devotion, but to this is added zeal in service due to love of and personal attachment to the object of devotion.


Sincerity conveys the absence of hypocrisy, affectatiousness, sham or deceit. The sincere person is genuine and straightforward in his desire to learn and practice what is right. Conscientiousness and honorable conduct are closely associated with sincerity, but sincerity should be practiced with knowledge of right thoughts and actions; most of the evil and wrongheaded errors brought upon the Earth have been the result of sincere though misinformed persons. The acquisition of the other virtues is impossible without sincerity and the depth of application it affords.


Courage is quite distinct from bravery, which is usually an instinctive response to a perilous situation and implies lack of fear and bold recklessness. Courage, on the other hand, carefully takes into account the dangers of a situation in advance of action and is the product of reason sustained by marshalling one's powers of moral determination in the face of personal fear. Resolution, tenacity and determined morale are associated with courage. It is the noble quality of character which enables one to stand firmly for his convictions in spite of persecution.


Precision involves exactness, accuracy and definiteness as opposed to purposeless activity, careless work and hazy thinking. Forethought, dependability, punctuality and thoroughness are hallmarks of the precise person. To remain a virtue, however, precision must not become piddling fussiness, or a display of meticulousness which intolerantly compares those of lesser preciseness and strips away all beauty from every situation in order to exhibit precision.


Efficiency is the ability to deal effectively with one's environment with a minimum expenditure of energy, time and materials. To become more efficient requires an alert interest in methods and techniques and the acquisition of skills through practice. Attention to organization of details and planning ahead are the marks of the efficient person. Precision is inseparable from efficiency.


Discrimination implies the power of discerning the motives of people and their character, and the ability to see the real truths below the apparent surface of situations. To discriminate emphasizes the power to distinguish the excellent and the appropriate; to judge between what is good and what is better; to weigh alternative courses of action in the light of karmic law; and to perceive the fallaciousness of teachings disseminated under the guise of all that is good and beautiful. Intuition is a natural extension of the power of discrimination.


Every positive (loving) linkage that a human being has with another seems to add more to his psychological maturity and emotional stability. When unsuccessful responses are made, it tends to tear down the personality. The strength to overcome hard knocks when dealing with others is attained by acquiring the Great Virtues through conscious effort. The capacity to enjoy rewarding and satisfying emotional responses has been built into us either as Egos or through the mammalian bodies that we human Egos inhabit. Our built-in needs constantly nudge us to be together with others and to learn to move upward.