The basic virtue for any human being is to be true to oneself. When somebody is really true to himself, then functioning in the world is just a question of adjustment; adjusting to the situations that we have chosen to live with.
What is virtue? Only when you are truly empty, you are virtuous. Your idea of virtue is if you do this, it is virtue, if you do not do that, it is something else – this is not life virtue, this is social virtue. Society’s virtues are different, they serve society; life virtues serve life.
Virtue means that which takes you beyond in a certain way. You can go beyond only if you are no more a limited being. If you are a vast emptiness within you, every thought that you get, every emotion that you get, every feeling that you have, if you are not really associated with it, that is virtue. If you are identified with your sensations, thoughts, opinions or emotions, then you cannot be virtuous because you will be biased with life. If you are truly virtuous, you must be beyond all bias.
When you are identified with something, either body or mind or emotions, there cannot be any virtue. In Tamil Nadu, in ancient times, one of the greatest titles used to be conferred on those who killed a thousand elephants. Now, our values and virtues have changed. Today, if you kill even one elephant, you are a criminal.
When you are not identified with anything, you will be absolutely virtuous, only then you are truly capable of compassion. When you are compassionate, you are always virtuous. People being sympathetic to certain causes, with certain people, is not compassion. When you are passionate about everything, when your passion has become all encompassing, then you are compassionate. It is not about having a little pity or sympathy for something. Compassion is always the highest virtue. Only when you are able to just look at life as life, only then you can be compassionate.