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On Life, Human Character, and Virtue

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in As a Teacher

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1. When an animal dies, it is forgotten and its burial place is lost. However, this is not the case with people. Are people who do not preserve the memories and tombs of their ancestors aware that they reduce them to the rank of animals? Respect for the dead is a security granted to the living for their own future.

2. One of the most important ways to conquer people's hearts is always to seek an opportunity to do good to them. Once such an opportunity appears, make use of it without delay. If only we could set our hearts on always doing good to others!

3. Good morals and sound conscience, and good manners and virtues, are like a universally acceptable currency unaffected by changes in the value of other means of exchange. Those provided with such qualities are like merchants with the highest credit, who can do business wherever they want.

4. The more people suffer in life and are conscious of their life, the more profound their feelings become. Those who are unconscious of the meaning of life and events and have experienced no suffering cannot develop their feelings and faculties or feel part of existence.

5. Those with strong will-power and good, sound character will lose none of their virtuous essence, even if they suffer thousands of pains and sorrows and are forced to change their views and ways. What shall we say about those weak ones who, without provocation, change their thoughts and ways every day?

6. Ignorance is like a veil drawn over the face of things. Those unfortunate ones who cannot remove this veil will never penetrate into the truths of creation. The greatest ignorance is unawareness of God. If it is combined with arrogance, it becomes a kind of insanity that cannot be cured.

7. A sensible person is not one who claims infallibility and therefore is indifferent to others' ideas. Rather, a truly sensible person is one who corrects his or her errors and uses others' ideas in acknowledgement of the fact that human beings are prone to error.

8. Life blossoms during childhood. During youth it grows through inward tension and spiritual struggle on the way of truth. During old age it holds its vital energy with the desire to reunite with the beloved ones who have passed away already. How wretched it is for atheists, who experience life sometimes as comedy and sometimes as tragedy, and thereby stifle the instinct for ardent hope and gratitude in humanity. [Criteria or Lights of the Way, 12th edition, Izmir 1998, Vol.2, pp.118–23]