Book One, Lesson Five

Book One, Lesson Five

Virtue and Understanding

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

Let virtue and understanding be in me, for my defense is in Thee, О Lord, my Redeemer; for Thou hearest the prayer of the upright in heart. 262-17

[Based on Edgar Cayce readings 262-18 through 262-20]

In defining virtue and understanding, we must remember that these words are used here in their fuller meaning as expressions or activities of the soul or spirit forces, not as mental or emotional concepts. To establish a common ground, let us say that to be true to that which is pure in our purposes is virtue. Virtue is full cooperation that prepares the way for enlightening and uplifting humanity. Virtue is keeping ourselves in time with Creative Force, enabling us to know ourselves as we are known by others. Virtue is holding steadfastly to the Ideal that is set in Him, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Virtue is pureness of heart, pureness of soul, and pureness of mind that come through His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit. Virtue is the seasoning of faith, the essence of hope, and the crowning element of truth- an attribute of God.

True understanding is beyond the reason of the senses. It is the power to experience and interpret the laws that govern the expression of Creative Force, or God, in and through the physical, mental, and spiritual bodies of humanity. Where there is virtue there will be understanding, for one follows the other. Understanding is the reward of virtue. With virtue, therefore, comes understanding, for the two are as the tenon and the mortise; they fit one with the other. Knowledge is not always understanding. Daily, many experience miracles of which they have no understanding. Few that have mere knowledge get understanding. An understanding of the mysteries of life comes to those only who make a close approach to the Throne. We may know the course of the stars, the intricate formulae of mathematics, and the secrets of sciences, but we cannot understand God's laws until we have experienced that closeness with the Divine that makes us realize that we are part of His laws, rather than mere observers of them. It was no miracle to those who understood Stephen when he said, "behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God." It was no miracle to the Master when He fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, for He understood the law of supply. It requires an understanding of God's law (love), when such a message is heard even today as, "Lo, I am present with you in this room-I have chosen you as ye have chosen me. Keep the way thou knowest, keep the path thou hast trod, for He is able to deliver thee in every trial, and unto that one who is faithful comes the crown of life. As I am lifted up in thy consciousness, so will I be lifted up in the consciousness of others." With such an understanding comes a finer and more sincere relationship with others, and a higher spiritual concept of self. We link virtue and understanding because they are expressions of the activities of the soul forces. Virtue built into the mind is the only sure path to true understanding. Knowledge assists when it is in harmony and in accord with the Ideal; otherwise, it may become a barrier, a curse, and a dark pit from which it is hard to escape.

Virtue and Understanding Are Spiritual
Those of us who seek virtue and understanding must walk with God. We never sink so low that we do not at some time feel a longing to look up, and to seek something higher than our own selfish desires. Often it takes only a song, a kind word, or a friendly deed to cause the fire of hope to leap and such a prayer to be uttered as "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!"

We may be counted worthy to point out the way only after we have walked the way with Him, who was tempted in all ways like unto us, yet without sin.

If our hearts are open to the consciousness that comes from abiding in Him, there will be no misunderstandings, for the power of the Holy Spirit will awaken in each of us that which was ours in the beginning. The desire for virtue and understanding is already within. Spirit cries to spirit, "Purify me, cleanse me! Give me back my first estate, my virtue, my understanding, my God!" "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, О God." May our aspirations be expressed in the following words:

О Thou divine and celestial spark, alive in some, dormant in others-Virtue, Understanding, Creative Force, God-have Thy own way in our hearts and lives, we pray!

Virtue and Understanding Are Essential to Right Living
Both virtue and understanding are essential to right living, or righteous living. They are needed in meeting the daily problems of life that arise within us as well as in our relationships with others. We sincerely desire that our standards be correct, but none of us can choose aright unless we are guided by the Holy Spirit. It is hard to know the original cause or the final result of a decision influencing another. We may not know what trial or tribulation may have caused a neighbor to err. If we know, it is because we have ourselves experienced some similar tribulation. It is then that our standards are measured by Him who abides within our holy temple, and they fit perfectly with the Ideal within our less fortunate neighbor. We have no cause to find fault or condemn.

Virtue and understanding are the requisites for spiritual work. What we do not possess we cannot give. What we do not live we cannot teach others to live. Unless we are pure, how can we expect others to be pure? Our very words and acts condemn us. We must be and know before we can direct, or before we can rightly guide others who are seeking the safe harbor.

There is a desire in each of us to live better day by day. We wish to reach a certain goal. If we are choosing the highest, the best, we will not be satisfied with anything less. It is well for us to remember that the highest goal is not reached at a single bound, but step by step-here a little, there a little. It is encouraging to know that no good deed is lost, not even a good intention; but all are built within our very souls and will bear fruits, some thirty, some fifty and some a hundredfold. It is by deeds, righteous deeds, that we rise. "We climb to heaven leaning on the arm of a brother whom we have helped." (See 281-4.)

The Way to Virtue and Understanding
The way to virtue and understanding is through prayer and meditation. The approach to all understanding must come from a proper concept of our needs in the physical, the mental, and the spiritual phases of our lives. This is the approach of the Master Jesus.

Others may point the way, but have they the virtue and understanding of Him who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life"? He proclaimed no way except the one He, Himself, had trod. He so lived the way that He could say, "Follow me." The way is open to all.

We are moving along the path when we begin to see ourselves as others see us, when no unkind thought of our neighbor is allowed to lodge in our hearts, and when we seek earnestly to be pure in heart, pure in mind, pure in body, and pure in soul.

The way is straight and narrow, so narrow that we must have no will but the Father's, that we must have no purpose but to do His work, and that we must have no aim but to reach the Christ Consciousness. This leads to virtue and understanding. "Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

Personal Experiences
"I have found the way. It is through divine love, and it is for all who desire it. I prayed seven years for divine love. It is a living thing within me, giving me strength to love those who have wronged me, giving me the sight to see good in those who would do evil. It is in me the heeding power. I give thanks that I now recognize the God within me who is helping me to express divine qualities."

If we would have virtue, then let us step out on faith-faith in the purity of self, faith in the perfection of our neighbor, and faith in the promises of God. Virtue is the reward of faith, and understanding is the reward of virtue. Through faith the veil is lifted and we can go within ourselves, within the holy of holies and be transformed into the image and likeness of the Son of God.

"I did not feel I had the necessary virtue for an upright life. After much thought and meditation, the words came to me, 'Faith is the chief cornerstone' This helped me, for I knew that I could exercise faith. I then began to give thanks that I, through faith in the Christ, had virtue, a cleansing of body, soul, and spirit. Understanding came to me."

We must have implicit faith in God and in His promises, if we would have the cleansing power of His Spirit manifesting in our lives. We must have full faith in our neighbor, if we hope to be as pure as we demand him or her to be. We must have more faith in ourselves and in the power of the Spirit ever ready to manifest in and through us, if we expect to do our greatest work. Unless we have faith, how can we expect to see the glories of God? One that doubts is condemned. It is only through faith that we are justified, for belief in God is counted unto us for righteousness.

Virtue Is a Defense, Understanding Is a Weapon
Virtue has the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit. It strengthens the spiritual quality of humankind and engenders a greater knowledge of the Maker and a greater faith in Him. The more we open our hearts as a channel of blessings to others, the more power we possess. Keeping the channel clear, open, and ready to be used, we see the seemingly impossible begin to take place and we come to realize that no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper. Happy are we when protected by the impregnable defense found in the same pureness of ourselves that we demand of others.

Virtue is a defense against all temptation to censure, condemn, or criticize-for with it we see with eyes that are looking for the pure. We see behind the vice of other souls, made in the image of their Maker. We feel that they need our love and our help along the way. With virtue within, we never retard the development of others.

As with virtue comes understanding, so with understanding comes divine light. Understanding is a strong and tried weapon whose blade is never bent. It has ever been a weapon in the endless warfare for truth. When once the enemy is conquered, it is at the same time won as an ally, for it stands in awe in the presence of a power that gives an understanding of its real intents and purposes. Only with virtue and understanding can we rise above the tumult in the battle of life, and, with the Master, pass through the midst of it and go our way. How simple when we understand! How wonderful when we are pure in heart, pure in mind, and pure in spirit!

The Effects of Virtue and Understanding on Ourselves and Others
Virtue and understanding have to do primarily with ourselves and with our relationship to the Creative Forces. They are reflected in our judgment of others, for our conduct is a reflection of our inner thoughts. To think nobly is to act nobly. It is a privilege to think, provided we think with a mind that is in tune with the ideal that is set in the Christ. We may compare the daily building of ourselves, mentally, physically, and spiritually, to the construction of a house. Are we choosing those attributes that will help our development? Are we casting aside the imperfect stones, using only the good? Are we placing them evenly in line? Are we ready to be passed on by the divine Inspector? If we can answer these questions in the affirmative, then we are hastening our development toward God. The quality of the structure depends upon us and upon us only. We are building for ourselves either hovels or holy temples.

No one liveth to oneself. How we live, act, and think not only is reflected in ourselves but also has its effect upon others. As we put into practice love, mercy, justice, patience, and forgiveness, others catch the same spirit. This is illustrated by one who came in contact with those who had received spiritual cleansing. They made me better," she said, "gave me back my living faith, instilled in me a desire to realize-that God lives and is speaking through all people. They gave me hope and new interest in life. Before I met them my worship was form; afterwards it became more spiritual and I began to reach out for the joy that seemed to be theirs."

Finally, we know we have passed from death unto life because we love. We know that new life now courses through us, and that a new and strange peace is ours that makes us in accord with divine will. What we once despised now we cherish, and the world we formerly cherished now ceases to attract. We give thanks to God for this unspeakable gift of spiritual understanding which is now ours through the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit.

Virtue and understanding
May the following words be ever upon our lips:

Let virtue and understanding be in me, for my defense is in Thee, О Lord, my Redeemer; for Thou hearest the prayer of the upright in heart. 262-17