|Morality: Foundation For Progress - Religion is Three-Fourths Character|
Morality is the foundation for spiritual progress. It is the prerequisite for the journey, the first step. If we do not live a moral life, our pursuit of advanced practices is meaningless. Yet today many people desire quick character changes and miraculous results before developing even basic virtues. Righteousness and character are the essential qualifications for the journey.
Virtuous character is the driving force of every dedicated aspirant. However knowledgeable, devoted, or active we may be, if we lack virtue we are destined to fail. Moral strength reflects our practice of universal values and endows us with a willingness to act on what we have learned. It demonstrates a personality that integrates the various facets of our discipline. Only a strongly integrated personality is capable of great achievement.
Today many teachers present courses for "quick" spiritual development that does not address this essential first step. They prescribe breathing exercise, postures, or special meditations for new students without imposing any preliminary qualifications of virtuous character. But advanced practices cannot yield realization of our divine nature without adherence to basic standards of right conduct.
It is impossible for aspirants to seek their advanced degrees without first learning the alphabet of virtue. Higher degrees may be obtained only after first learning the basics. Living a moral life is the essential first step in reducing egoism. If we do not conquer selfish desires, there is no hope for us to expand beyond the small perimeter of ourselves. The modern cults of body and personality cater to the lower self. This trend needs to be reversed. Consideration of and service to others is required on the spiritual path.