THE ART OF VIRTUE
Tell me: how did gold come to have the highest value? Because it is uncommon and useless and shining and mellow in luster; it always bestows itself. Only as an image of the highest virtue did gold come to have the highest value. Gold-like gleams the glance of the giver…. The highest virtue is uncommon and useless, it is shining and mellow in luster: the highest virtue is a bestowing virtue.
Everybody thirsts to become sacrifices and gifts themselves; and that is why they thirst to heap up all riches in their soul. Their soul aspires insatiably after treasures and jewels, because their virtue is insatiable in wanting to give. They compel all things to come to them and into them, that they may flow back from their fountain as gifts of their love. Truly, such a bestowing love must become a thief of all values; but I call this selfishness healthy and holy….Our mind flies upward: thus it is an image of our bodies, an image of an advance and elevation.
The names of the virtues are such images of advances and elevations. Thus the body goes through history, evolving and battling. And the spirit – what is it to the body? The herald, companion, and echo of its battles and victories. All names of good and evil are images: they do not speak out, they only hint. He is a fool who seeks knowledge from them. Whenever your spirit wants to speak in images, pay heed; for that is when your virtue has its origin and beginning. Then your body is elevated and risen up; it enraptures the spirit with its joy, that it may become creator and evaluator and lover and benefactor of all things.
When your heart surges broad and full like a river, a blessing and a danger to those who live nearby: that is when your virtue has its origin and beginning. When you are exalted above praise and blame, and your will wants to command all things as the will of a lover: that is when your virtue has its origin and beginning…. When you are willer of a single will, and you call this dispeller of need your essential and necessity: that is when your virtue has its origin and beginning. Truly, it is a new good and evil! Truly, a new roaring in the depths and the voice of a new fountain! It is power, this new virtue; it is a ruling idea, and around it a subtle soul: a golden sun, and around it the serpent of knowledge.