What does it mean to be virtuous? This is really quite a complex problem. If it is merely a habit, a repetition of what should be and therefore an animation of that, establishing a custom, a tradition, surely that is not virtue at all; then it is mechanical, then it has no meaning. So habit, whether it is good or bad, is not virtue and the mind function; within the groove of habit and tradition. Society has cultivated this, it has become habitual and therefore not free. So virtue goes with freedom, and one must understand the full significance of freedom; order is necessary, complete, absolute, inward order and that is not possible if there is no virtue, and virtue is the natural outcome of freedom. But freedom is not doing what you want to do nor is it revolting against the established order, adopting a laissez faire attitude to life or becoming a hippy. Freedom comes into being only when we understand, not intellectually but actually, our every day life, our activity, our way of thought, the fact of our brutality, our callousness and indifference; it is to be actually in contact with our colossal selfishness.
Talks in Europe, 1968
Rome 3rd Public Talk 17th March 1968