Practice

Vice and virtue, therefore, may be compar’d to sounds, colours, heat and cold, which, according to modern philosophy, are not qualities in objects, but perceptions in the mind: and this discovery in morals, like that other in physics, is to be regarded as a considerable advancement of the speculative sciences; tho’, like that too it has little or no influence on practice.

Self-knowledge leading to self-hatred and humility, is the condition of the love and knowledge of God. Spiritual exercises that make use of distractions have this great merit, that they increase self-knowledge. Every soul that approaches God must be aware of who and what it is. To practice a form of mental or vocal prayer that is, so to speak, above one’s moral station is to act a lie: and the consequences of such lying are wrong notions about God, idolatrous worship of private and unrealistic phantasies and (for lack of the humility of self-knowledge) spiritual pride.

Like gluttony or drunkenness, hatred seems an agreeable vice when you practice it yourself, but disgusting when observed in others.

When we practice the ridiculous habit of judging by appearances, we cut ourselves off from the good which the situation or person holds for us.

Everybody ought to do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.

Who studies with a view to teach will have opportunity to learn and to teach; who studies with a view to practice, will have opportunity to learn, teach and practice.

Most men are more willing to indulge in easy vices than to practice laborious virtues.

Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory; as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others those attempts which he neglects himself.

The practice of a totally unreserved awareness is the road to absolute inner acceptance. This acceptance unblocks the space where selfless love and fearlessness are revealed. And the inner peace from which they arise is the way to effective outer peacemaking.

Those who have arrived at any very eminent degree of excellence in the practice of an art or profession have commonly been actuated by a species of enthusiasm in their pursuit of it. They have kept one object in view amidst all the vicissitudes of time and fortune.

Humor simultaneously wounds and heals, indicts and pardons, diminishes and enlarges; it constitutes inner growth at the expense of outer gain, and those who possess and honestly practice it make themselves more through a willingness to make themselves less.

Learning consists in adding one’s stock day by day. The practice of Tao consists in subtracting day by day: subtracting and yet again subtracting until one has reached inactivity.

The only conclusive evidence of a man’s sincerity is that he gives himself for a principle. Words, money, all things else, are comparatively easy to give away; but when a man makes a gift of his daily life and practice, it is plain that the truth whatever it may be, has taken possession of him.

Man is in his actions and practice, as well as in his fictions, essentially a story-telling animal. He is not essentially, but becomes through is history, a teller of stories that aspire to truth. But the key question for men is not about their own authorship; I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question, ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’ We enter human society, that is, with one or more imputed characters - roles into which we have been drafted - and we have to learn what they are in order to be able to understand how others respond to us and how our responses to them are a part to be construed... Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious strutters in their actions as in their words. Hence there is no way to give us an understanding of any society, including our own, except through the stock of stories which constitute its initial dramatic resource. Mythology, in its original sense, is at the heart of things. Vico was right and so was Joyce. And so too of course is that moral tradition fro heroic society to its medieval heirs according to which the telling of stories has a key part in educating us into the virtues.

Vices are often hid under the name of virtue, and the practice of them followed by the worst consequences. I have seen ladies indulge their own ill-humor by being very rude and impertinent, and think they deserve approbation by saying, “I love to speak the truth.”

Love hates people to be attached to each other except by himself, and takes a laggard part in relations that are set up and maintained under another title, as marriage is. Connections and means have, with reason, as much weight in it as graces and beauty, or more. We do not marry for ourselves, whatever we say; we marry must as much or more for our posterity, for our family. The practice and benefit of marriage concerns our race very far beyond us. Therefore I like this fashion of arranging it rather by a third hand than by our own, and by the sense of other rather than by our own. How opposite is all this to the conventions of love!

The unhealthy gap between what we preach in America and what we often practice creates a moral dry rot that eats at the very foundation of our democratic ideals and values.

Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times and under all circumstances.

A teacher should give his pupil opportunity for independent practice without suggestions from himself, and thus set upon him the stamp of indelible memory in its purest form.

The thing that must survive you is not just the record of your practice, but the principles that are the basis of your practice.