Once our spiritual training is steady and firm, then it is easier to go further into spiritual cultivation because we have already established a strong foundation in our moral values and virtuous deeds.
When our mind and body is filled with radiation of respect for others, obedient in laws and orders and discipline within ourselves, then the network of Principle, Responsibility and Integrity will come into our mind frame, leading us to a gradual path of manifestation of good-heartedness, magnanimous in outlook and finall,y arousing compassionate feelings for others.
Upon manifesting good-heartedness, magnanimous heart and compassionate feelings for others, we will automatically provide servicing to others, which require us to sacrifice our time, effort and money. Servicing to others is only one part of our spiritual cultivation.
Servicing to others could be in the form of giving free transportation to those who need transport. It could also mean giving free home-cooked food to the old folks homes.
It can be giving free tuition to poor school children. It can be also be free ready-cooked food distribution to the poor and needy. It could be also in the form of giving free domestic help to the Temple. Raising funds to help the needy and handicapped people or poor temples which give genuine spiritual and consultation to the public is another form of providing services to others.
Listening to the dharma teaching is another form of spiritual cultivation. Of course, the sermons must be practical, truthful, and down-to-earth teachings, not those theoretical and copycat Buddhist books. True dharma teachings are hard to come by these days but you need extra effort to search for a proper and genuine dharma spiritual teachers or masters.
The relaying of true dharma teachings to others is another good way of practicing spiritual cultivation. Whenever we hear of good practical dharma talks, we should impart our knowledge to others. Indirectly, we are helping those who do not know the proper way to salvation to get the chance to hear those teachings and gain the wisdom of knowledge.
Another common form of practicing spiritual cultivation is to practise charity. By practising charity, we learn to cultivate generosity. Through nurturing generosity, we learn to acquire magnanimosity outlook as well compassionate feelings for others. Donation of home-cooked food lunch to the old folks home is highly recommended as it involves careful planning and tedious effort of cooking. Any form of donation involving our physical effort and energy is more highly rewarding than simple and easy way of giving ready-packed biscuits or rice to the old folks. Provision of aids and domestic help to poor temples is also another form of generosity.
Once we have strong establishment of generosity, we will gradually step into the path of contentment. Generosity must come from our hard earned money or from our toil and soil of our services to others. Any form of generosity through just telephone calls or giving instructions only without a real helping hand will never achieve anything in closer rapport with contentment. Another wrong way of practising charity is only when one obtains windfall or any lucky winning stake which is very improper and insincere in doing charity.
Therefore only a pure and true heart of practicing generosity will we gradually destroy greed. By destroying greed, we become contented in life.
Again, we must realise it is not so simple by practicing generosity, we will overcome our greed. There is no doubt without greed, we will achieve contentment.However, in order to eradicate greed, we need to absorb three more factors of practicing it. They are being simple in life, having moderation and finally, being humble in our attitude.
In this world, trouble begins with us when we are insatiable in everything we see, taste, hear, touch and feel wherever we go regardless of our age. It is these uncontrolled senses which activate our greed. When we are dissatisfied with all earthly activities, greed will always prevail in our mind. This is the reason why after analysing the cause of discontentment, we learn the solution of being simple in life.
When we begin to live a simple life, we learn to think simple, eat sparingly, walk decently and dress simply in our outlook. We do not yearn for more food and money when our mind is simple and pure. These are the means of practising contentment in life. Contentment makes our greed vanishes. And simple living is the key to the path of contentment.
When contentment sets in, our mind and heart will become calm, peaceful and serene.
Equanimity appears in our mind and we learn the truth about life. Discontentment will always lead to attachment while attachment gives us eternal suffering and pain in the course of our living. Contentment will destroy our attachment to illusions and free our mind from the bond of the five senses’ desires.
Indeed, it is the most difficult part to achieve contentment in life for it means we must comprehend the way of derailing and curtailing the five senses’ desires. Otherwise, there is no end in our demand for betterment of our way of living. Thus the more demand we have, the more problems we will create and the less satisfaction we will achieve. This is the main reason why today landslides, flood, earthquakes, tsunamis and other disasters occurring all over the world because of the human greed in over-felling trees for timber values, reclaiming of land from sea and over-development of high rise buildings over the hills. All these activities are reflections of human greed, which eventually lead to their self destruction of lives and properties in this very near future.
At the end of the day, all these greed lead to nowhere because we will still be discontented with our possessions of wealth and properties. Upon our departure from this earth, we bring nothing and left nothing except our spiritual cultivation of knowledge.
Since greed do not bring any spiritual or material advantages, then why are people still greedy for money, wealth, fame and high positions?
The answer lies in our brought up, our informal education at home like discipline and good manners or respect. Finally, the correct companions we associate will also influence us the way we live in accordance to social regulations or otherwise. Mass media like newspaper, T.V. and computer internet play another important part in influencing us to become discontented and advertising all the wrong priorities in life.
Moderation is another aspect of our spiritual cultivation. When we have built contentment in our outlook, then moderation will automatically appear in our character. No one would believe in moderation if their brought up is wrongly prioritized. No one will ever eat moderately, spend decently and live within their means when everyone else spend like dukes, eat like scavengers and live like lords.
We have to inculcate our young ones to practise moderation in life. Spiritual leaders and parents need to lead by example the correct attitude of living moderately and simple in living. Without parental guidance of teaching children to live simple and moderately, then these younger generations of people become aggressive, greedy, have insatiable taste of life and forever chase the shadow of “wealthy and rich” status in their entire life. Today, we see a lot of young and old age people burnt out and hospitalized due to their “money-chasing” mentality which cause them to have improper times of meals, lack of sleep and rest as well as eating imbalanced diet food.
The last step to our spiritual cultivation is being humble. Humility is the painful process of crashing our egoism into plain-self. Egoism is the false outlook of our true identity. It is a barrier to our success in spiritual cultivation. We need to lower our dignity and request no superiority in our status, which will gradually destroy our egoism. By being humble, we become true self and easily accessible to everyone and become a respectable person.
Humility is the eradication of our false belief of attainment in life. Humility is the gateway to the original faith of our life and we will have no fear in loss of pride, confidence or fame in ourselves.
Being humble allows us to interact with all walks of life. It has no limitation in our friendly approach to everyone and has no barrier in sharing with others of knowledge and information. Humility makes us a shining star to everyone and most of all, make us lovable and easily approachable to anyone.
By now, everyone of us should know the proper guidance to achieve spiritual cultivation. It is necessary to study and memorise the vital points in acquiring spiritual training successfully before proceeding further into spiritual cultivation. Spiritual training is the primary foundation in fortifying our mind and body before we dwell further into higher level of learning which is to contain our mind-over-matter. If we cannot train our mind to control our urge, our yearnings and pleasurable feelings, then we will never able to subjugate any matter pertaining to our way of living.
No matter which stage we intend to start off, either spiritual training or cultivation, there should be a presence of an invisible force in us to withstand the arduous training of simplicity, modesty, and humility. This is through the insurmountable energies of perseverance, steadfast, patience, and determination in ourselves.
Perseverance is the mental ability to withstand pressure and torture inflicted into our mind and body. It makes us have no doubt of giving up even to the last straw of death. Perseverance is a constant maintenance of a positive mind which is able to withstand any form of hardships and sufferings right up to the end of our life.
In relation to perseverance is steadfast, which is another form of a “steady mind” attitude in life. It has the firmness of intending to undertake a task no matter how difficult it is to ensure its mission is completed and successful in its objective.
Finally, patience is also another utmost important character needed to pursue our completion of spiritual cultivation. Patience is the ability to withstand loss of time without losing our temper.Patience is a reflection of enduring the waiting period to achieve our objective either in human activities or in spiritual goal. Without patience, no matter how strong our character is, we will fail in vain due to our lack of tolerance in withstanding agony of waiting.
All in all, we cannot practise training and cultivation overnight but it is also never too late to start our spiritual training and cultivation because it is never too late to learn in our life. We never have the urge to practice anything good unless we see the real needs to do it. Unfortunately, there is very little time left on this earth and if we do not see any quick rationale in arousing our needs to start practicing our spiritual training and cultivation, then we are likely to be washed away in these oncoming disasters of three stages which would take about five years in completion.