Original draft by Catherine.
Introduction to the Virtues
Here is a quick summary of all of the Virtues, their meaning, & the benefits they will give to your character. To take advantage of a Virtue, one must have both the experience required, and the wisdom to seek out the correct shrine and meditate there. Only in the calm of a shrine can a player meditate upon that Virtue.
Note: this is only supposed to demonstrate the ethical considerations that the Virtues represent. There is no claim that players should share, or necessarily agree / follow such moral guidelines.
Compassion is nonjudgmental empathy for one's fellow creatures. A seeker after wisdom comes to realise that all life, however ferocious its aspect or seemingly cruel its nature, is part of a holistic environment and has its own intrinsic desires, goals and relation to the world. By realising this, the seeker can begin to feel other’s pain, even those things that are not sentient, within the natural world, and gain a greater understanding of their own place - they do not seek to judge this relation, only understand it.
A seeker who meditates at the Shrine of Compassion will become more attuned to the world, being more able to perceive the underlying webs that connect all of life. This gives them greatly improved reaction times, as they come to feel events in relation to themselves more clearly.
Valor is the courage to take actions in support on one's convictions. Valor is not simply courage in battle, but the ability to stand firm in the face of adversity or external pressure and to act, even when such action could cause the seeker negative consequences. The seeker comes to realise that good intentions are only worthwhile if backed up by corresponding actions, and likewise, actions in the world only have worth if backed up by meaningful conviction, based on Virtue. When the seeker can align these two, they merge to become Valor for oneself and those around them.
A seeker who meditates at the Shrine of Valor will become more confident in their ability to tap their inner focus and to bring it fruitfully into the external world. This inner core of strength translates into a gain in external strength as the two combine.
Honesty is scrupulous respect for truth--the willingness never to deceive oneself or another. The seeker comes to realise that Truth is greater than personal gain, and is the core of a moral outlook on life. Moreover, the seeker realises that self-deception is a greater evil than deceiving others- for to be able to deceive others, one must first deceive oneself into thinking that such action has true worth or benefit. Only by being honest to the Truth, in both the internal and external realms, can the seeker achieve a meaningful relation to the world.
A seeker who meditates at the Shrine of Honesty will become more able to discipline and order their thoughts, as honesty to themselves gives greater clarity, both in their failings and the areas that they need to develop. This self-realisation leads to a gain in all intellect, as the seeker is able to perceive the Truth about the world more easily when not fogged by self-deception.
Justice is the devotion to truth, tempered by love. A seeker who studies Justice comes to realise that neither revenge nor a desire to punish should drive our interactions with what is false or evil. Although Truth is a worthy goal, it must be tempered by the ability to understand and respect the effects that it can have, if used without wisdom. Only by forging the two together can true Justice be found.
A seeker who meditates at the Shrine of Justice will be more able to act upon their convictions, but also recognise the causes and effects such actions can have. By merging the two together, the seeker is able to act without causing unnecessary pain, but still serve Truth. This ability to forge the two together results in a small gain in inner strength and perception of the world.
Sacrifice is the courage to give of oneself in the name of love. The seeker comes to realise that any relationship or charity, when not motivated by love, is meaningless and actually self-serving. By having the courage to give emotional, intellectual or materially, with no thought of one’s own gain, the seeker can have a meaningful relation to the world. Only the seeker who gives their love freely, and without expectation of reward, can truly appreciate the beauty of relationships.
A seeker who meditates at the Shrine of Sacrifice will be more able to realise the true importance of selfless giving. When such giving occurs, without expectations, what is returned is all the more beautiful. This ability to give freely is based on both an emotional connectivity to the world, and the intellectual ability to understand its importance. The seeker will see small gains in both.
Honour is the courage to stand for truth, against any odds. While Justice allows the seeker to see what the correct course of action to take is, and Valor the ability to act, Honor is representative of the self-knowledge required to act, even when that action is seemingly meaningless or destined to fail. By realising that sometimes what is more important is to represent the Truth with no chance of success, rather than to win every battle, the seeker comes to realise that moral actions cannot be determined on their chance of success. When faced with adversity or evil, the seeker realises that moral actions, whatever their outcome, have worth within themselves, and will be seen as such.
A seeker who meditates at the Shrine of Honor will be able to merge action in the world, with self-understanding, as they recognise the importance of Truth in itself, and its real worth, whatever the outcome. When faced with adversity, they will be more able to combine their inner strength with the knowledge of what they do, however doomed to fail, thus gaining both inner strength and intellectual ability.
Spirituality is the concern with one's inner being and how one deals with truth, love and courage. The seeker who realises that it is only by forging the inner person into something that perceives the truth, is able to feel love, and is courageous enough to act, is able to effect the external world in a moral fashion is one well on the road to self-enlightenment. By changing and developing oneself, one necessarily begins to treat others in a moral fashion. This change and development cannot be forced on others, and is only revealed through demonstration and example, not by force or preaching.
A seeker who meditates at the Shrine of Spirituality will focus their entire being on the problems of truth, love and courage. By realising that their own being is the only one they can change, they will begin to bring Virtue into the world. The seeker will gain inner strength, greater perception and intellectual clarity in a modest, balanced, amount.
Humility is perceiving one's place in the world, not according to one's own accomplishments, but according to the intrinsic value of all individuals. The seeker who truly learns that all living things are equal, in their sharing of life, and the shared nature of consciousness will realise that all things have value inherent to themselves. Such value cannot be measured or judged in relation to another’s, but purely from the relationship between Being and beings. The seeker who realises this will cease to act or judge their own actions in a negative fashion, competing against others, but will judge only their own actions, and how it affects the intrinsic value of all of life.
A seeker who meditates at the Shrine of Humility will become more at one with the world. By realising the inherent value of the world, all of the creatures within it, and all of the individual consciousnesses, they can begin to perceive the false illusions of those who place their own well-being above that of others. To harm another is to harm oneself, as self-deception and self-hatred can only justify such actions. The seeker will gain nothing, instead sharing their gain across the entirety of Being.