“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.”
I have noticed a trend among superhero movies. The plot goes something like this. The hero is a being of great moral character. He or she elects to use his or her superpowers battling the forces of darkness. The superhero’s fellow citizens-and the audience- cheer him or her on! Everyone is on the edge of their seats….
Then everyone realizes the hero is not perfect. Perhaps she has a dark past. Perhaps he chooses to handle a situation in a way that does more harm than good. The citizens are shaken. The hero suffers losses in public opinion and morale.
Humans like heroes, whether they are superheroes or super humans. High school athletes and weekend warriors look to Olympians. Writers struggle to emulate, without plagiarizing, their muses. The fashion industry even has a policy that allows people to openly copy the greats! And let us not forget the truly courageous heroes who inspire all people who care about creating a peaceful and just society… Angelina Grimke Weld, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Heroes sometimes make mistakes. How quick we are to abandon our hero when he or she fails to live up to our expectations! We have excuses at the ready! She is too loud. He is too old. They are idealists and their agendas just won’t work in the “real world”.
The Yoga Sutras say that we are to take delight in the Virtuous, not the Perfect.
Gandhi knew a thing or two about how to appropriately approach perfection. From his perspective, only God is perfect. Human beings practice perfection with the understanding that we will never get there. Perfection in human beings is like perfection in our asana practice. Each pose has qualities that identify it and distinguish it from other poses. When we are on our mats, perfection in a pose cannot be defined by anyone other than who we are in that moment.
We may not be able to achieve perfection, but we can certainly participate in practices of perfection. To be a virtuous person is to be a person who actively attempts to be the best human being he or she can be. In essence, a virtuous person is practicing the art of perfection.
Awe belongs only to the Divine, however we experience It. We are all humans. When one of attains a level of virtue that warrants delight, our natural state is to feel joy. One person’s virtue lifts up the whole human race! They set the bar to what we are all capable of being. The ego can feel the light of the virtuous burning out our need for it to exist. It is up to us to cultivate the innate delight we feel in the virtuous. That delight is nothing less than the Light of the Divine recognizing its own Self in another human being.