When approaching the subject of Buddhism and right cultivation, you will find there are many differing opinions from many different people, be it among Buddhist laities, practitioners and teachers. But which one is the right way? What can we do to properly understand the correct cultivation concepts?
Here, Lord Buddha, also revered to as the Blessed One, shows us the proper ways to cultivate spiritual training (Hokkien: siew lian).
The Concept of Rights & Wrongs
First, we have to understand the simple concept of rights and wrongs in this world. We must have the awareness whether this is right or wrong through our own thoughts and instinct.
We all know deep in our heart that when we commit something not proper in accordance to the law, we instinctively know that we have to face the bad consequences. When we perform an action that is not right, our conscience makes us feel guilty and worried. This is of course a bad action and therefore, it is wrong to do it.
When we believe whatever we do are correct, we should be steadfast in our actions and not influenced by others commenting on our rightful actions, which gradually make us change our stance and follow their improper ways.
For instance, when we come to a temple for praying, everyone wears his or her shoes inside the temple and being exceptional to you, you feel that it is not appropriate to wear your shoe inside the temple during temple visits. Without hesitation, you take off your shoes to enter the temple but before you want to go inside the temple after taking off your shoes, the temple caretaker says it is not necessary for you to take off your shoes.
Upon hearing these words, you change your mind and wear back your shoes to enter the temple. This is called unresolved determination and doubts.
Your mind is not calm and steady but wavering upon hearing someone else’s instruction. This kind of mentality will always be a stumbling block in pursuing anything in order to be successful and fruitful, whether it is in material or spiritual cultivation.
Another wrong cultivation in our life can be seen in the situation where a caretaker points out to you not to wear shoes inside the temple but upon your observation, most people wear their shoes inside the temple and you argue with the caretaker.
You say that since everyone is wearing shoes inside the temple, you do not see any need to listen to the caretaker and then, you straight away walk into the temple with your shoes together. This is of course not only a wrong attitude but also a negative approach in life.
Why should we follow people who are going in the wrong direction just because it is a trend or already the common feature in our life? We should never be conformed to people’s way of belief if it is incorrect.— Sermon by the Blessed One
A good Buddhist will always uphold the principle of right actions even though many people no longer believe in the actions. Why should we forgo all these actions when they could bring beneficial karma, benevolent virtues and high morality in life?
The Lack of Positive Thinking
Presently, another wrong attitude of people’s character is the lack of positive thinking in their mind. Before we do something, we must have the faith, confidence and determination to do it. Otherwise, it is pointless and we would never be able to witness any successful development in our life.
We cannot simply predetermine our mind that this job cannot be done even before it is implemented. This negative attitude will never overcome our weaknesses, obstacles and failure in life.
We must persist until this matter is resolved and has achieved its objectiveness, then we are cultivating correct attitude and positive actions in life.
Some people think that spiritual training does not necessarily need to conform to certain criteria of cultivation. They would simply practise anything they believe in it whether it is logical or illogical as long as they like it and it is convenient to practise.
Consequently, this people will thrive on the wrong path without virtues and gradually, everyone also start to imitate the footstep, as it is easy and unrestrained in our effort to perform it.
Ultimately, unscrupulous people, whose intention are evil, sly and use sweet talks to influence others to follow their way of easy path to salvation, will manipulate all these people.
As a matter of fact, we all know that easy, quick and fast solution path is always a path of unending disputes, dissatisfaction and unfulfilled destination in our life.
When we undertake to do a task that is unbeneficial and non-meritorious and insist on doing it, we are only exhausting ourselves and depleting our energy because there is no virtue accrued in doing it. On the other hand, we should act on things that should be done accordingly, which are good and necessary because in this way, it will enhance our meritorious deeds and reduce our bad karmic forces.
A Benevolent Heart is Crucial in Life
We should also possess “kong teik sim” attitude or in other words, be benevolent in our character as it is meritorious and virtuous in our life. When we come across people who are in difficulty and need help, we should give them a helping hand and not standing idle and watch them being helpless or even criticise them for being useless.
Being “twa leong sim” or generous in character, we will provide the needy with food, clothing, and money whenever the need arises so as to reduce their suffering whenever possible and also, we are able to give away unused clothing and furniture.
At times, we should even equip the needy people, who may be suffering without these equipment, of the appliances required.
Practising Loving Kindness
Finally, we must practise loving-kindness in our life. When we see old people about crossing the road and finds difficulty doing so, we should assist these old people, as they are weak and feeble and need assistance in whatever form we could help them.
In addition, we should also have an empathy feeling for others, otherwise we would not understand their plights and pain in their life. When one empathises with the situation of another person, he learns first-hand knowledge on one’s enduring of pain and suffering, and instantaneously will assist these poor and needy people to alleviate their sufferings.
This is indeed a noble action which every good Buddhist should emulate.
Hopefully this sermon by the Blessed One helps to enlighten you more on your Buddhist spiritual cultivation. Comment below if you have questions!
That said, may you be well and happy.
Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu.