The Second Essential Virtue
Friends. To describe how we enter meditation, I often use the simile of
the bee seeking honey. He buzzes and buzzes, just as when we are
beginning meditation, our thoughts go buzzing around in our heads. Then
the bee selects a flower, as in concentration we need a word, or thought,
or object. However, when the bee penetrates the flower and finds honey,
the buzzing stops. Now, the bee is all absorbed in what he has found, in
his union with what he has discovered. In the same way, when we reach
meditation, beyond all thoughts we find joy, ecstasy, and bliss at our
we will enter meditation by concentrating on the virtue I call
appreciation. We first concentrated on amity. Now we will concentrate on
appreciation, the second of the four virtues that are essential if we are
to grow to our full stature. In the words of The Immortal Song, “Many my
heart sing with ecstasy at the sight of the virtuous, And may my life be
an offering at their feet.”
life appear meaningful without those in the past who incarnate human
potential beyond aggression, self-interest and ignorance, and the present
enablers and exemplars who show us something of what life can and shall
be? The great prophets, such as Adinath, Mahavir, Buddha, Zarathustra,
Christ, cast their light of hope and human glory far in time and space,
but few of us have learned how to exalt life as they did! Too often we
profane it instead. Yet how impoverished this planet would be if we did
not have before us the example of those who have followed different
imperatives than the poor souls who struggle merely to survive, or those
who live merely to get ahead in the rat race, to acquire a few more
possessions, a little more external good fortune and status than their
neighbors – not caring whom they harm in the scuffle!
how distorted our vision would be if only the conquerors, or he rulers, or
the richest were held up before us! Alexander the Great once went to see
Diogenes, the celebrated philosopher. “What can I do for you?” asked the
conqueror of the world wishing to patronize him. The philosopher thought
for a moment, and then replied, “Please step aside, so you won’t come
between me and the sun.” A person of power blocks the rays of the sun and
casts a shadow. A wise man receives and gives light. We need the great
of the past who gave light, and also the great who have cast light in
today’s world, such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. We need to show
appreciation for those who put practice before preaching, who have the
caring commitment and courage to confront current practices which conflict
with the dictates of light and love.
However, appreciation begins with those nearest to us; as you want
appreciation, give it. Children, in their efforts to grow, need
appreciation. Husbands and wives, in their dedications to each other,
need appreciation. Parents, whatever their shortcomings, need
appreciation. The mechanic who does an especially good job on our car
deserves appreciation. We must learn to appreciate and to show
appreciation for the virtues and talents and efforts of all others. And
our appreciations must be the kind that flows from the heart, not the
flattery which falls easily from the lips. And when we meet a greatly
accomplished person, a highly evolved soul, we must offer our time and
services for the good causes he or she wishes to further.
unfortunate people, in the grip of the small ego, tend to deny another’s
progress and accomplishments. Especially if the talented ones are only a
few steps ahead, the envious are prone to berate and disparage them. If
someone sings better than one of them, he thinks, “Well, he sings, but
really he has no rich tone in his voice.” If someone dances better, he
thinks, “Well, this man dances, but really has no grace.” If someone gives
a donation, the jealous one says, “He is hiding his ego behind a mask of
humility.” If someone is outspoken and forthright, the envious one calls
him blunt and impolite. This is how envy and pettiness get in the way,
although perhaps the envious are people who did not receive enough
appreciation themselves when they were small. Ask yourself whether you
have any of this envy. When we reach the larger Self, envy and
competitiveness are gone. Then we wish the whole world could be filled
with the enlightened ones! These sometimes are called the super-human, but
I regard them as humanity realized.
age there is no dearth of people who run after wealth, power, or physical
beauty. Those who care for truth, love, meditation, commitment to
changing their own lives know it is not our worldly success or physical
existence but, first of all, what we are inwardly that counts. Yet it is
only these who throw a ray of light on the dark path to guide the
misguided, the ignorant, the weak, and the seekers. These few are the
Torchbearers. Appreciate them . . . those who have realization of
Self; those who are working to turn the world into a living paradise.
hearts should feel joyful at the sight of those who are some steps ahead
of us. Also, we must draw from them inspiration for our own progress.
Appreciation implies that as the other has found his purpose in life, his
mission, we must find ours. If we can avoid the snare of inferiority – of
putting ourselves down – as well as the snare of envy. And approach the
outstanding ones with softness of heart, then we can bring forth our own
virtues and talents, and shine with perfection. Only we must be astute in
selecting the guide in ourselves or in society that will help us realize
our Essence. Pseudo-saints and Pseudo-yogis flourish in this era! A
piece of sugar and a piece of alum look exactly alike; both are white,
both have the same shape. But a fly will never be deceived by the
similarity. Likewise, a man whose Inner Light is active will reject the
false guide. Ultimately we must all depend on the master within; but
before we can generate enough enlightenment, we need guidance of outside
Friends. Those whom you feel are such outstanding and accomplished people
are really not different from you. Night and day, unnoticed, you are
growing. From a single cell, you have developed a physical form comprised
of countless individual cells. In the same way, an unnoticed process is
going on in your inner life- it’s working on your, building within you.
Give yourself to it. Let appreciation nourish it … and in the quiet of
your meditation you will see your mission clearly.
Appreciation – we have been concentrating on its meaning, what effect it
can have in our own lives. And now we will go beyond intellect into
meditation. . .
silence, your awareness climbs to the moon, to the sun, and beyond. . . .
. Now that you are in meditation, you are open to the whole universe;
there is harmony between you and the Cosmos; you are getting in touch with
your divine Self. . . . . And you will return to your time and place with
fresh insiration. . . .
In order to grow
to our full inner stature, we must appreciate the great human beacons
of the past, present and future.
Let us show
appreciation to those nearest to us-our children, our parents, a husband
or wife, our friends and associates. Let us also show appreciation to
those whose labor gives us our habitat – not only the artists and
architects and poets and musicians – but those who drive the buses,
those who grow the grain and fruit we eat, those who clean the streets.
Let us show appreciation to those whose
practice even more than their preaching helps us find our own mission.