What does it mean to be admirable?

This is a fragment. To read the full article, subscribe to the Active Dharma Newsletter.

“At Active Dharma, we strive to be admirable, noble, and heroic. We do this because we aim to improve our condition, become permanently harmless and become a portal for others to also become admirable, noble, and heroic.

In the next weeks, I will publish a series of posts that explore each concept. This first installment is about what it means to be admirable.

If you find this useful and beneficial, please share this with others.

In brief, for us, being admirable entails mastering virtue, endurance, purity, and understanding. Our base for this definition comes from the Ṭhāna Sutta, which you can read here.

Although there are many more traits that the Buddha uses to describe what being admirable is, for simplicity, we choose to stick to this brief guide.

What is admirable virtue

To have admirable virtue is to be impeccable. It is to excel through pristine conduct not for one or two days, but every day. People can rely on you because they trust your actions. They trust what you say you will do. They trust your discipline. If people can predict your behavior in a favorable way, then you are admirable.

They can do so because you’re always on time, you always deliver, you always do what you say you’ll do, you never forget your commitments. Your wholesome behavior is as reliable as the hardness of a rock, as the heat of the sun, as the impermanence of time.

Of course, many times due to external causes and conditions, we are unable to be on time, always deliver or always do what we say we’ll do.

This doesn’t mean our virtue isn’t impeccable. If we stick to our principles, even if bad weather interferes with our actions, our virtue remains impeccable because we never deviate from our precepts or intentions, and as soon as we’re able to, we act again.

The Buddha said this about admirable virtue:

“There is the case where one individual, through living with another, knows this: ‘For a long time this person has been untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered in his actions. He has been consistent in his actions. He has practiced consistently with regard to the precepts. He is a virtuous, principled person, not an unprincipled one.”

Ṭhāna Sutta  (AN 4:192)

Having pure intentions

You are also admirable when you don’t take advantage of others at every opportunity. This applies to dealings of any type, not just money-related. If you agree to do something with your partner, only to change plans at the slightest unfair pressure from other family members or friends, or when something better for you comes along, you cannot call yourself admirable.

Your word must be pure, the commitments or agreements you make with others must be unbreakable and selfless.

Speaking of self, self-seekers are never admirable.

“There is the case where one individual, through dealing with another, knows this: ‘This person deals one way when one-on-one, another way when with two, another way when with three, another way when with many. His earlier dealings do not jibe with his later dealings. He is impure in his dealings, not pure.”

Ṭhāna Sutta  (AN 4:192)

From the same section:

“There is the case where one individual, through dealing with another, knows this: ‘The way this person deals when one-on-one, is the same way he deals when with two, when with three, when with many. His earlier dealings jibe with his later dealings. He is pure in his dealings, not impure.”

Most of us don’t see ourselves as opportunists of this sort. But we are like this sometimes, especially if we’re still unawakened, untrained in the Dharma. Just revise how you unconsciously try to take advantage of loved ones when arguing with them. We lie, we deny facts, we distract, we raise our voice or even coerce, just to win and establish we are not wrong.

For all of us who accept this, our goal is to attain admirable purity. That is, abandon the practice of taking advantage of others.

Facing adversity

To endure the harshness of the world is admirable. It is an inexorable fact that living in this world implies good times and bad times. Fairness or unfairness has nothing to do with how the world operates.

We lose loved ones and they lose us. If we are born, we will surely die.”

To read the full article, subscribe to the Active Dharma Newsletter.