For everyone’s success in life and especially for an aspirant’s success in spiritual life, it is essential that he should develop certain cardinal virtues. Virtue is strength, power and the key to peace. A virtuous man is ever happy, peaceful and prosperous. People ask me for the specific mention of the virtues that one should develop. The Song of Eighteen “Ities” enumerates the virtues that one should cultivate.
Take up any one virtue and develop it to a very high degree of perfection; eradicate in to its opposite evil quality even in its most subtle form. Meditate on these virtues, on their benefits and the methods of cultivating them. Here is the Song of Eighteen “Ities”:
Be tranquil within. Let that inner peace and joy radiate through a serene countenance. A serene countenance is peaceful, smiling and serious and does not betray any violent emotions. It is like the surface of a still lake.
Be regular in your daily habits, and in your work and spiritual practices. Get up at a particular time. Be clock-like in your daily activities. You will be free from worry, fear, anxiety, haphazard and shabby work. You will do the right thing at the right moment.
3. ABSENCE OF VANITY:
Do not boast of your birth, position, qualifications and spiritual attainments. Praise others. See good in all. Treat even the lowliest creatures as your equal and with respect.
Let your words agree with the thoughts; let your actions agree with your words. Let there be harmony among your thoughts, words and actions.
Be artless. Be simple in your speech. Do not twist words and topics. Be plain; avoid diplomacy, cunningness and crookedness. Be simple in your dress. Be simple in your food.
Be truthful. Stick to your promises. Do not exaggerate. Do not twist facts. Think twice before you speak. Speak truthfully. Speak sweetly. Be precise in what you say.
Be calm. Bear insult patiently. Bear injury, suffering, failures and disrespect calmly. Do not be elated by praise, pleasure, success and honour. Look upon both with equal vision. Behave alike towards friends and foes. Never let anything disturb your inner peace.
Remember that you cannot achieve anything if you are fickle-minded. Choose your goal or ideal and remember it always. Never let it go out of mind even for a moment.
Irritability is the precursor of violent outbursts of anger. Watch carefully for the disturbance in the mental equilibrium. Watch for the ripples of anger that might rise in the lake of the mind. Quell them then and there. Do not allow them to assume greater proportions. Then you will attain peace.
Understand well the nature of people with whom you come into contact. Adjust your mode of approach to them. Adjust yourself in such a way as to be pleasing to them. Joyfully bear with the eccentricities of others. Always react in a harmonious manner. Serve all and love all. Have the feeling that the Lord dwells in the hearts of all as the Self of all.
Respect everybody. Bow with folded hands before all. Do not talk in a loud voice before elders and venerable persons. Look at the toes while you walk. See the Lord in all and feel that you are His servant and so the servant of all. Consider none as inferior to you.
This is the natural friend of fixity. Once you have fixed your aim and chosen your path, stick to it. Do not waver. Be steadfast. Never compromise on your fundamental principles. Have the attitude: “I may give up my life but I will not swerve from the path; I will not break my vows.”
Develop an integral personality. Tie all the loose ends of your character. Become a man of high moral principles. Lead a life of righteousness. Let righteousness waft its sweet fragrance from you. Everyone will trust you, obey you, respect you and revere you.
Shun mean-mindedness as dung and poison. Never look into the defects of others. Always appreciate the good qualities of everyone. Be dignified in bearing. Never stoop to ignoble thoughts, words and actions.
Take a broad view of things. Ignore the faults of others: Be great and noble-minded in whatever you do. Avoid silly talk and childish prattle. Let not the mind dwell on little things and insignificant things.
Give, give and give. This is the secret of abundance. Radiate thoughts of goodness and love. Forgive the faults of others. Bless the man who injures you. Share what you have with others. Disseminate spiritual knowledge to one and all. Use the material wealth, knowledge and spiritual wisdom that you possess as a divine trust.
In whatever you give be liberal. Have a large heart. Do not be miserly. Take delight in the joy of others, in making them happy. Generosity is a sister-virtue of charity. It is the fulfilment of charity, magnanimity and nobility.
Be pure at heart. Eradicate lust, anger and greed. Be pure in your thoughts. Think of God always. Think of the well-being of all. Be pure in your words; never utter harsh, unkind words. Be pure in body. Keep it clean and healthy. Let the dress and surroundings be clean. Observe the rules of physical, moral and spiritual hygiene.
~ Swami Sivananda