The Four Virtues are Honesty, Humility, Patience and Sincerity.
These virtues are learned from direct experience and from the heart, not just from intellectual exercises. One strives to practice them at all times, in- and outside of the classroom. No one is perfect; just recognize that for every time one “fails,” one can learn what to do differently next time and get back up (again).
Why would the Four Virtues be a cornerstone? Before any martial (or health) practice, one ideally should first understand and come to terms with this code of ethics. The rationale is this: it is hard to concentrate if one is dishonest and therefore having to scramble to keep various lies straight (lack of honesty), or filled with remorse for being arrogant and treating others poorly (lack of humility) or being overly driven by desires (lack of patience). “When we are honest, humble and patient we can open our hearts to others without fear” (on Sincerity, by Shifu John Painter).
Thus, the practice of the Four Virtues is not only the code of ethics (Wude), but a health practice (Qigong) as well, because the powers of the mind and emotion are balanced. This balance is the basis of health and longevity, and the ancient Daoist concept of Wuhuo, translated as, “no fire,” i.e., being free of too much (emotional) fire.
In every one of Shigong John Painter’s writings on the Daoqiquan martial, health and spiritual practices, one will find his lessons on the Four Virtues:
Honesty – to myself and others at all times
It is very difficult to be totally honest with yourself. We all create little falsehoods that we tell ourselves about our friends, lovers, family or other people. It is very easy to lie to others even in small ways. One should be careful because small falsehoods grow into larger ones and then you have to keep track of whom you have told one thing and to whom another. This creates fear and tension which inhibits correct functioning of qi and longevity energy. Being true to the self allows you to be able to notice your faults and work on them. Being dishonest with yourself keeps you in the dust of illusion /Huan Chen.
Humility – to all people in thoughts words and deeds
Being humble means to avoid arrogance and be simple in action and deed. When we lack humility we suffer from Zida, a state of inflated self-importance. The person of humility will not rest on his present abilities no matter how far they develop he will always feel there is more progress to achieve. It is a never ending journey.
Patience – I serve others according to their needs
Patience is the ability to wait until the time is right and to act out of a need for correct action not influenced by personal desires. When you fail, learn to rise again like the phoenix and do better the next time you practice. Understand that you are human and that making mistakes is a part of life, not an indication of your lack of ability.
Sincerity – is the foundation of my every action.
Sincerity training comes from the heart and a deep need to achieve a higher standard. The virtue of sincerity means one does things because they need to be done and not for a thought of reward. Sincerity means to be honest in the expression of ones true deep feelings. When we are honest, humble and patient we can open our hearts to others without fear. Insincere people want to impress others and so set unrealistic goals they can never reach and are soon discouraged.”
Attempt to put these concepts into your daily life and see how they can change your world it certainly made a difference in mine.