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Cultivation and Attention in Spiritual Life

cultivationAttention cannot be produced immediately, it requires constant and vigilant cultivation, meditation being the prime implement of such cultivation. For

“those who pay attention will not die, while the careless are as good as dead already.” [see the previous Dhammapada post]

Keeping this perspective in mind daily, there is hope for our ascent to life and immortality.

“So having clearly understood the value of attention, wise men take pleasure in it, rejoicing in what the saints have practiced” (Dhammapada 22).


There are two kinds of hypocrites in spiritual life: those that when they learn what is required of the successful seeker honestly refuse and turn away, and those who sigh, mope, carp, and whine, grudging the slightest discipline or denial, dragging their feet every step of the way.

The first kind are not so bad–they go away and leave the path of dharma (and those who are traveling it) in peace.

The second type, however, are much worse. They both disrupt and exasperate the sincere and worthy who take delight in meeting the requirements of dharma, and keep hanging on like deadly parasites, doing their utmost to compromise and degrade the dharma to their level of laziness and corruption. These are enemies both to themselves and to those that come after, for if there are enough of them and they get into some position of authority, they often succeed in completely destroying the dharma for many, and sometimes for ages.

Of them Saint Jude wrote: “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 12,13) until they change direction completely.

They are always getting “confused,” “worried,” “bothered,” “disturbed,” and depressed–usually over everybody else but themselves. They spread gloom and discontent. As Yogananda said, they are spiritual skunks, stinking up wherever they go, but all the time blaming it on others. “I don’t understand” and “I don’t see why” are the javelins they are forever hurling, acting the part of the injured, the neglected, the misunderstood, and the despised.

On the other hand…

By contrast, “wise men take pleasure in” the way of truth, and gladly meet the requirements. Since they really want freedom, for them no price is too high. Knowing that you really do get only what you pay for, even in the abstract realms of consciousness, they “rejoice in what the saints have practiced.”

Yes, they rejoice! For they practice that which the saints, the true Aryas, have practiced, and get the same results.

Further Reading:

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