“The virtues, like the Muses, are always seen in groups. A good principle was never found solitary in any breast.”

Here’s a strange one!

The virtues, like the Muses, are always seen in groups. A good principle was never found solitary in any breast.

Abhijit Ranade wrote to me with this quote, saying, “I don’t think the Buddha would use words like the ‘Muses,’ which come from Greek mythology. Your thoughts?”

Abhijit was entirely right. Based on the Greek concepts and classical English diction in this quote, this could not be from the Buddhist scriptures. And yet, incredibly, when I searched for this quote nine out of the first ten results on Google attributed it to the Buddha. Only one had the correct attribution.

This quote is in fact by Jane Porter, and comes from a commentary she wrote in a book called “Aphorisms of Sir Philip Sidney.”

Aphorisms of Sir Philip Sidney: With Remarks, Volume 2

The Buddha did talk about virtues in groups, as with the Five Spiritual Faculties of faith, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom.

Moral virtue was seen as just the start of the spiritual path, with virtues associated with meditative attainment building on that ethical basis, and with insight arising in turn from meditative virtues. A good illustration of the way that these successive factors emerge organically is in the Cetana Sutta, which begins…

“For a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May freedom from remorse arise in me.’ It is in the nature of things that freedom from remorse arises in a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue.

“For a person free from remorse, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May joy arise in me.’ It is in the nature of things that joy arises in a person free from remorse.

“For a joyful person, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May rapture arise in me.’ It is in the nature of things that rapture arises in a joyful person.

Follow this link for the remainder.

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2 thoughts on ““The virtues, like the Muses, are always seen in groups. A good principle was never found solitary in any breast.””

  1. May we all achieve freedom from remorse before it’s time for us to die.

    If Buddha didn’t say that I’d say something like that he probably could have.

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