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Archetypal Virtue


© 2000 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet Malmö 


Follow the advice of the Sages. Meditate on the anomalies and miseries of our civilization. Discover the root of its maladies. We find that the human mind has triumphed by neglecting and defying the moral forces which are at work in the universe. This is not generally perceived, and men and their leaders alike are deluded. Each presumes that he and his nation or class is following moral principles, while they are slaves of passions, prejudices and pelf.

Man, the thinker, has not been able to follow the teachings of a long line of Sages which state: allow not the force of vice to lead your mind, but so educate that mind that it follows the lead of the force of virtue. Knowledge bereft of love, of compassion, of charity, of harmony flourishes and mass thought-action stifles the voice of Spirit even in the good individual.

The Sages and Seers have warned against knowledge, reason and mind bereft of moral principles. They have always taught the superiority of moral ideas over mental thoughts. They have pointed to the truth of truths that Wisdom is Compassion, that Justice is Mercy. Our Divinity is not knowledge-formed but virtue-formed and our vices make us demoniac. Is there a better description of the modern man successful in our social order than that found in the 16th Discourse of the Gita?

Illuminated minds, like Gautama Buddha or the great Shankara, have pointed to moral principles as starting points to a life of peace, goodwill and wisdom. Jesus, the Jewish Prophets before Him, and those who followed his advice and instruction have emphasized the moral life as necessary for gaining true knowledge. St. Paul affirmed the superiority of Faith, Hope and Charity over all knowledge and in showing "a more excellent way" he exhorted us "to covet earnestly the best gifts."

Christendom knows Faith, Hope and Charity as theological virtues and there are four natural virtues – making in all seven Cardinal Virtues, to which are opposed the Seven Deadly Sins. It was probably Augustine who attempted to Christianize the four Cardinal Virtues in the teachings of Socrates and Plato. They are Higher Wisdom, Courage, Temperance and Justice. The Neo-Platonists describe them as "purifications from the lower contagion."

In the ancient Rig-Veda, virtue is given first place. In the famous hymn (X, 129) Kama-Love-Eros is said to be the first movement that arose in the One after it had come into life through the power of fervour-abstraction. In the Atharva-Veda we find: "Kama-Deva was born the first. Him neither Devas, Pitris, nor men have equalled. Thou art superior to these and for ever great." The concept of Kama-Deva has become degraded in the course of centuries, like the Eros of Hesiod. With the Seers of the Vedas, Kama-Deva personifies, says H.P. Blavatsky, "the first conscious, all-embracing desire for universal good, love, and for all that lives and feels, needs help and kindness, the first feeling of infinite tender compassion and mercy that arose in the consciousness of the creative One Force, as soon as it came into life and being as a ray from the Absolute. There is no idea of sexual love in the conception. Kama is pre-eminently the divine desire of creating happiness and love."

Kama-Deva, Eros, in their original pristine pure sense, personify the archetypal Virtue. The Sages do not reject the idea that the virtue-vices of the animal-man are relative. But those Sages teach that the relativity of conventional morality befogs the mind and keeps man tied to the kingdom of animal-man. To become truly human it is necessary to get hold of the important philosophical principle that Virtues and Virtue are as definite as metaphysical categories of Spirit, Matter, Mind; Light, Darkness, Sight; Space, Force, Motion, etc. The animal-man becomes human by discarding vicious tendencies and vices; and progresses to divinity by cultivating moods of virtue which become his vibhutis – excellencies – fixed and ever flashing their radiance of Compassion. This Compassion is the archetypal Virtue which manifests as a Trinity of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful: out of the first come the moral factors, out of the second the intellectual, and their joint action is regenerative Beauty which is Joy and Bliss.

Wisdom-Compassion is the Soul of all Virtues – be they the Christian and Greek Cardinal ones, or virtues of the divine man of the Gita or the six and ten Paramitas of the Buddhistic Philosophy. In the Mahayana Book of the Golden Precepts this archetypal Virtue is thus described: –

Compassion is no attribute.
It is the Law of Laws –
Eternal Harmony,
Alaya's Self,
A shoreless universal essence,
The Light of everlasting right,
And Fitness of all things,
The Law of Love eternal.

From "Thus Have I Heard", pages 283-85
. Utgiven av Indian Institute of World Culture, 1959.


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