The Virtue of Mindfulness
A friend asked a question: What's the most important virtue? Many may consider love and compassion at the top. Some may say, it’s faith or service. In the past, valor and duty were considered very high. Those who look at the whole thing deeply, might consider discipline, perseverance, patience or restraint as the important virtue. Epicurus considered prudence as the supreme virtue. Confucius considered humility as the solid foundation for all the virtues. In any case, all virtues are inter-connected and everything depends on everything else.
As Buddha recognized, our usual attachment based love – which is based on our neediness – is the source of both happiness and deep suffering. Love without awareness can be harmful. Understanding is the foundation of true love and compassion. To understand, we need to bring awareness and pay attention. To pay attention, we need to respect and appreciate and have patience. Respect, appreciation and patience are true marks of love. So, waking up and paying attention is the key. Such wakefulness is mindfulness.
Mindfulness gives the solid foundation for all the virtues. Without mindfulness, we cannot properly guard our mind and restraint skillfully. Without mindfulness, our love and faith might be blind. Without mindfulness, our compassion and service might be unskillful. Without mindfulness, we may not clearly know when to wait with patience and when to act with courage. Hence Buddha taught mindfulness as the foundation of all practices.