What’s your vice? Is it food? Money? Violence? Sexual or emotional gratification? If so, you are in good company. Most people have vices, acknowledged or not. Those who acknowledge their vices are often comfortable in their expression and revel in the manifestation of their deepest, darkest dreams and desires. Those who keep their vices unacknowledged, who do what they do as deep, dark secrets to be kept from the world are uncomfortable, as the faces they present to the world are masks that skew even further into distortion as their bad habits settle in over a lifetime.
If you’ve paid attention to people with vices, public and secret, you will have noticed that their physical appearance begins to take on the expression of their vice as they live it. It shows in the gleam of their eyes, the twist of their lips, the flick of the tongue, the suggestiveness of their gaze and bodily movements. Their word choices and tone, the unconscious habits of communication and expression that we each exhibit. The subconscious ability we all possess to read body language, intonation and the psychic capacities to connect with other people’s energy bodies inform us of their orientation and we may experience discomfort in their presence, knowing something is off, even if we do not know exactly what it might be.
There is another kind of expression of vice as well. Some people’s vices are unacknowledged, even to themselves. These people engage in mentally, emotionally and physically destructive behavior and engage in stupendous psychological maneuvers whose sole design is to hide the truth of themselves, from themselves. But it is an impossible task. Even though it is possible to keep recriminatory thoughts below the level of direct consciousness, the stream of experience builds inexorably towards a culminative point, wherein we are forced to face ourselves and deal with the consequences of our actions in traumatic and destructive dark night of the soul periods of self-examination.
Every scripture and spiritual tradition in the world preaches moderation. To avoid excess in all things. From Christianity to Islam, from Hinduism to Buddhism and to include aboriginal and native traditions the world across. Indulging overly much in the pleasures of this world lead to sensual satiation and the defilement of the original Temple, the human body, the vehicle that provides for our passage through materiality and the gateway to higher understanding.
Overcoming our penchant for indulging our sensual urges is among the hardest trials to overcome in a life. Most people do not succeed. Those who come close, must continuously be on guard against shifting from one vice into yet another, the list of 7 deadly sins is as good a guide as any: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
Success, and transcendence of our psychological weaknesses that provide these states of excess with fertile ground within which to gestate, are possible for those who cultivate mental and spiritual mindsets that guide their lives in patterns commiserate with the highest stages of being that humanity can access. The list of 7 virtues is as good a guide as any: prudence, justice, temperance (or Restraint), courage (or Fortitude), faith, hope and charity (or love). Making the choice to cultivate the characteristics of one list over the other is the choice to take conscious control of your life and by so doing, manifest within your reality the highest capabilities of of human moral, ethical and spiritual development.