Is 'Character Building' the Right Phrase?

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  • 'Character Building' is a fairly widespread phrase within the subject of character and the virtues. For me it incorrectly implies that the virtues are created 'built' behaviours. In my understanding each individual contains all the virtues as natural qualities within. 

    When someone seems to have a bad character it means that that their natural qualities are being suppressed and blocked from expression. It is like dark clouds covering the sun. The sun is not destroyed by the clouds but only temporarily obscured. So character improvement is more about removing defilements and blockages, freeing the virtues from repression, rather than 'building them up'.

    Outer virtuous habits can be built up. This is useful, however habits are only semi-conscious behaviours. It is more important to free up and awaken the natural virtues within.

    Imagine someone from Victorian times brought up very strictly. On the surface they may seem to be acting with good character but actually it is not a healthy situation. They may have been mistreated as a child and they are acting from fear based semi-conscious habit with the wonderful natural virtues being repressed within.

    The ideal character is where the universal natural virtues from within us are allowed to radiate outwards into our everyday life uplifting our thoughts, speech and actions.