Virtue that is more talked than walked is not necessarily infertile, it may just be infantile
Suppose someone speaks big things, but doesn’t live accordingly. For example, they speak about being self-controlled, but periodically lapse into indulgence. We may dismiss their talk as big bluster: “What they speak is infertile – nothing comes out of it.”
Actually however, their virtue may just be infantile. Infants sometimes overestimate their abilities; they may believe they can run, but can just toddle. Similarly, some adults may overestimate their willpower or underestimate their conditionings. They may sincerely want to live virtuously and may therefore talk about it. But their conditionings may thwart them.
When infants can’t run, we don’t deride them; we encourage and assist them till they grow and learn. We can be similarly empathic with those who talk about virtue more than walk it. Instead of dismissing their talk as just a show, we can show them the way.
Re-envisioning talk about virtue as infantile, not infertile, can help us too whenever our actions don’t match our aspirations. Instead of dismissing virtue as impractical, we can patiently persevere.
The Bhagavad-gita recommends such patience when it states that we need to focus our mind gradually, step-by-step (06.25). Instead of expecting unrealistically that our mind will stay focused on virtue just by our declared intention, we can expect it to wander and can resolutely refocus it (06.26).
Moreover, in bhakti-yoga, which is a time-honored process for self-transformation, talking about virtue can also be a part of walking toward virtue. Talking about the virtues that the devoted manifest can be a glorification of God, Krishna. And glorification is a limb of bhakti. Practicing this limb can purify us and accelerate our growth toward virtue – provided we speak not condescendingly, but aspirationally.
By thus talking and striving to practice bhakti-yoga, we can all grow toward virtue.
Think it over:
- How may our talk about virtue be infantile, not infertile?
- Seeking talk about virtue as infantile can change our attitude toward such talk. How?
- How can talking about virtue also help us walk toward virtue?
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