English Essay on “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” for School, College Students, Long and Short English Essay, Speech for Class 8, 9, 10, 12 and Competitive Exams.

Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?

The modern man believes virtue and boredom to be the same thing. Religion, as distinct from Ethics preaching virtue, on the contrary, attracts vast crowds. This is all the more evident in the case of esoteric or mystical faiths. Perhaps, man, bored by the complexities and logic of the modern world, turns to the fantasy of ritual. Bound as he is by external discipline, man, today, fears the idea of an added inner discipline necessitated by virtue. In his confusion, which he thinks is knowledge and pragmatism, man dreads being virtuous and like a small stupid child quivers before a hypodermic injection.

Virtue, or being virtuous, it is felt would mar all enjoyment or merry-making. It should consequently be shunned. For, after all, the common man’s principal business in life is to enjoy it. While there is much that can be said about this point of view, it is not wholly correct. Firstly, it is essential to know what virtue means. Secondly, what is the correlation between virtue and enjoyment ? Lastly, the real nature of enjoyment is to be known.

The lives of saints do not show they were any more worse than the common man. On the other hand, monks and priests, especially Christian, were very robust and cheerful in their dispositions. The organised clergy, dimly claiming to be virtuous, show a certain tenseness and obvious cruelty if we read about which-hunts and the Inquisition. These people were avowedly virtuous, whether or not in fact. Sannyasis in India, or even the persecuted liberal Sufis were not cases of men not enjoying life. They seemed very content, if secretive, about their paths and lives. Certainly a Yogi caught in the act of levitation would not deny he was enjoying life greatly! Even the common good man, without spiritual excellence after a virtuous day would definitely admit he was very happy. Thus, even on the face of it, virtue makes life more enjoyable for man. A deeper study certifies this and reveals why this and reveals why this is so.

Enjoyment is a positive word. It implies participation. Equally it is a much misunderstood word. ‘Bread’ may be necessary for man, but all types of bread are not the same, despite its universality. Enjoyment is universal, it cuts across race and regions: but it has different connotations for different ‘types’ of men. For the brute, enjoyment revolves around sensual pleasures. For the common fellow it means a fair amount of plea-sure with security and recognition. For the intellectual it may mean intellectual joy. For the saint it may mean joy (bliss), perfection or Godhead-these three, incidentally, are the goals of virtue. But they become essential when virtue is linked to enjoyment, and enjoyment to joy, perfection or Godhead.

The Katha Upanishad aptly differentiates between the Pleasureable and the Preferable. This is the gist of the matter: pleasure is not true enjoyment ; it may be a name for enjoyment, at its best. The difference between true enjoyment and the type of enjoyment commonly sought after, is similar to that between a thing and its appearance, or even its beguiling mi-rage. Devoid of pleasure, particularly sensual pleasure, enjoyment takes on a rather rarefied meaning. But this is a neutral position, with positive, influences. Pleasure, the virtuous argue, leads to pain, and vice versa. Peace (or joy) or perfection can be attained in this absence of both pleasure and pain : a profoundly satisfying state, the truly virtuous contend. Thus, enjoyment assumes an entirely new meaning to the spiritually realized souls. It means joy, perfection and enjoyment in its wake. Where, for instance the virtuous are also religious, virtue holds fascinating rewards which would make the mouth of the worst of sensualists to water. Imagine a Mussalman, finally in heaven, mining time with a celestial houri in a gorgeous garden, beyond all worldly cares and sorrows. The heavenly life of Hindus is even more elaborate and blissful ! In most cases, it boils down to the fact that true enjoyment seeks freedom from the tyranny of matter, senses and other human limitations, and that this freedom is, logically, blissful. The road, which leads to it, is virtue.

Virtue has a narrow, as well as a broad meaning. In its narrower sense, virtue means goodness or a positive excellence, moral excellence, and uprightness. On further narrowing the meaning virtue could mean the four natural virtues of fortitude, temperance, justice and prudence, and the three theological ones of faith, hope and charity. To these we should add chastity-for strange reasons vital for women, not so for males who went far enough to invent chastity girdles, in the jealous melodramatic middle ages, for their ladies. In its narrow sense, virtue means discipline and morality. This is in fact and practice, the other meaning is in its vision and theory. In this broader sense, virtue is a movement towards God, and a spiritual life. It is a vision which fosters faith and hope, and clinches argument. In this aspect, virtue is its own reward. Virtue takes on a delightful hue and is an enjoyment and end in itself. Finally, where virtue is perfect, and to a greater degree or less, even earlier, it showers the virtuous with joy and perfection, and the saintly with Godhead or at least a divine life. Therefore, both as a matter of policy, and for itself, virtue yields the greatest enjoyment.

If individual enjoyment were not the only criteria, then virtue in its role as political or social morality brings much happiness to the masses. Economic fair play and consideration, where applied, as in welfare states, has remarkable results. All law is an expression of virtue – of justice. A child who is taught by its parents or its school-teachers to be just and honest does better than an urchin who is shut up in a delinquent reformatory for his wild lawless ways. A non-virtuous way of life is nasty, brutish and short (even when it apparently does well for itself, like some fattened black marketers in India who have as yet been left unscathed by MISA). The idea is not to talk of God on an empty stomach, praying, as it were solely for material succour—a judicious combination of spirituality and materialism; a vision which embraces all creation and the Creator (Virtuous sceptics would have to look elsewhere for this much-needed inspiration!) and a pair of feet which rest securely on earth, until angels lift them up. Where possible, mere vision and moral training may suffice. But for lesser mortals, reality must not be estranged from a virtuous life ; it should be blended, whether by religion, political creeds or individualism. This idea of virtue and (true) enjoyment, further, is no new stuff. It is an ancient truth which has eluded man ever, while it has been taught and known in other forms-like charity, justice, goodness and so on. Virtue may bring joys after death, but it certainly does give man true enjoyment in this world. Mr. Jimmy Carter has touched this inherent magic chord to win so much support so fast-perhaps.

Virtue may have a castrating effect on a sexual pervert, who would imagine it to be an acute form of secular frigidity, but on a monk like Vivekananda it shone like the very sun and elevated him to almost inaccessible spiritual heights. In a very negative dogmatic sense, virtue may be attacked by seekers of joy. But it can be equated with non-enjoyment only by those who wish to have pleasure, and thus, pain. The smiling Buddha was wiser : he wished to enjoy life (and even a possible after life existence) thoroughly, and never to suffer. He chose virtue as his method. While life was not all beer and skittles for him it was certainly all ‘nirvana’.

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