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  • I really like you guys.

  • I consider it a privilege to be able to drop in,

  • unscheduled, to talk to you.

  • Thank-you for making time for me.

  • I know youre busy.

  • I’m going to say a few things about the challenges of life.

  • But first I want to congratulate the new Avatars.

  • You are acquiring a set of tools that you canuse if you choose

  • to unlock your greatest potential.

  • Use if you choose…”

  • Of course you could sit back and let temptation and circumstance

  • shape your life and your beliefs and your character.

  • It’s not what I’d advise, but plenty of people do it that way.

  • And, as always, if there’s something that I say that you don’t agree with,

  • just label itanother viewpoint”.

  • Since our life experiences evoke different choices,

  • it’s not surprising that the conclusions

  • that we draw are different, too.

  • My choice is to live deliberately.

  • I feel so strongly about that

  • that I wrote a book calledLiving Deliberately”.

  • Maybe youve heard of it

  • The Avatar tools won’t do you much good if you don’t choose to use them.

  • But if you start out using them deliberately,

  • and continue using them until they become a habit,

  • you will learn to live deliberately.

  • Circumstances might get you there, but it’s unlikely.

  • And temptations which start out hot soon cool off.

  • You want another word for temptation?

  • It’s an attractive desire that promises quick happiness.

  • I heard a story about twin brothers:

  • one was a ruined bum and a drunkard,

  • and the other was happy and successful.

  • And somebody asked the drunkard

  • how he came to be where he was, and his answer was,

  • “I’m where I am today because my father was a drunk.

  • And the successful brother was asked the same question

  • how did you come to be where you are?

  • You want to know his answer?

  • “I’m where I am today,” he said,

  • because my father was a drunk.”

  • Same temptation, same circumstances

  • two different outcomes.

  • Temptation and circumstance only shape your life if you choose to let them.

  • And there will always be temptation and circumstances

  • that you have to live through,

  • but you don’t have to let them ruin your life.

  • Hard times, everyone has to deal with a few.

  • These are the challenges of life,

  • will you deliberately choose,

  • or will you let

  • temptation and circumstance make the choice for you?

  • Victor Frankel, who survived a Nazi Concentration Camp wrote:

  • Now, “because my father was a drunk

  • which brother made a deliberate choice?

  • Which brother allowed temptation and circumstances to shape his life?

  • I’m a big promoter of deliberately practicing virtues.

  • And it’s not because I’m a great paragon or model of virtue,

  • but because I think that the struggle between

  • temptation and deliberately practicing virtues

  • is the real game that we came here to play.

  • I don’t mean to sound like a Preacher, but there it is all the same.

  • It’s the ageless battle between good and evil.

  • Maybe you just believe in good and don’t believe in evil.

  • Someone once told me that the motto of evil is “I don’t exist.”

  • But without the contrast of evil you wouldn’t have good.

  • Could you be good if you couldn’t be evil?

  • I mean, which side do you want to be on?

  • Not everybody chooses the side of good.

  • There are some people who measure their success

  • by the amount of suffering they inflict.

  • I give a lecture in Wizards calledVirtues”.

  • You ought to see me, I get really steamed up!

  • And the message is that virtues are notshouldsorshouldnts’,

  • but theyre wise advice on how to live a happy life.

  • Virtues are the nuts and bolts of a spiritual path.

  • Human virtue is the courage to act like a merciful god would act

  • a merciful god.

  • Do you act toward others like a merciful god would act?

  • That’s a tough question.

  • Virtues are also good strategies.

  • Some people have virtue mixed up with judgment or suffering,

  • or living a really dull boring life.

  • That’s a wrong view.

  • Virtues are time-tested strategies

  • for dealing with whatever the world throws at you

  • and coming out of it a merciful god, an Avatar.

  • You develop these virtues by working on yourself.

  • Jim Rohn, a renowned business philosopher who I admire,

  • That’s good advice.

  • I’ve got my own version of that philosophy:

  • if you work hard on developing virtues

  • youll not only be successful,

  • youll be happy when you get there.

  • Success is no protection against depression

  • virtuous actions are.

  • Virtues are like,

  • patience,

  • kindness,

  • forgiveness,

  • tolerance,

  • compassion,

  • responsibility.

  • I once made a list of virtuous actions,

  • and I had over a hundred on the list.

  • And it’s an easy list to make because

  • you have a built-in virtue meter

  • it’s called feeling good about yourself.

  • Any action that you take out of loving-kindness

  • will register on your virtue meter.

  • Your honest intention is what moves the meter.

  • You might refer to your virtue meter as a moral compass,

  • or intuition,

  • or guidance from the higher self.

  • Virtuous acts make us noble.

  • They connect us with a divine current,

  • that in our best, sanest moments

  • we would sacrifice anything to join.

  • Here’s something interesting that you probably already know.

  • How many ends to a stick?

  • How many directions to a path?

  • Always at least two, right?

  • For every virtue there is an opposite vice

  • and virtues nurture loving-kindness,

  • vices nurture selfish fears.

  • Like positive and negative, this is a two-pole universe.

  • There’s love and kindness at one pole,

  • and fear and evil at the other pole.

  • And it appears to me

  • that the life-stream flows from the positive,

  • which is motivated by service to the universe, down to the negative

  • where it disappears into egocentric selfishness.

  • Did you know that there are no virtues connected solely with concern for self?

  • I mean, there are a few virtues that are connected with concern for family,

  • and a few connected with loyalty to a group,

  • but most are connected with love and kindness for strangers.

  • Wow, isn’t that interesting?

  • The life-stream washes around you, and you know what?

  • The virtues are always upstream.

  • And we talk about ascension,

  • rising higher, higher self, aspiring... all upstream.

  • I don’t know why it is that way

  • Maybe were meant to turn in to the life-stream, and

  • maybe the challenge is swimming into the current.

  • I mean, succumbing to temptation doesn’t take much effort.

  • Practicing virtues, ooof...

  • at least at the beginning it takes a lot of effort.

  • Maybe you think this isn’t fair, that

  • living deliberately takes effort, that life is a challenge,

  • that the best rewards are upstream.

  • But even my tilapia seem to know this.

  • Virtue is helping someone, and wisdom is knowing who to help.

  • Helping a serial killer to commit more crimes is probably a lack of wisdom.

  • Or helping a sociopath to wreck

  • the work of good people is a lack of wisdom.

  • Setting the wisdom issue aside for a moment,

  • here’s the brutal bottom-line on virtues and vices:

  • an action done with harmful intent brings suffering into your life;

  • an action done with good intent brings happiness into your life.

  • It would be wisdom if we would print that on our money

  • so it kept reminding us

  • I mean, maybe that’s whatin God we trustmeans. I don’t know

  • I do believe that an action done with harmful intent

  • brings suffering into your life,

  • and that an action done with good intent

  • brings happiness into your life.

  • And a person can get into a state,

  • mostly through transgressions and bad intentions,

  • where they feel they deserve to suffer.

  • And this is where confession and forgiveness can turn a life around.

  • I was 24 by the time I discovered the value of virtue,