SPIRITUAL CULTIVATION, MORAL EDUCATION AND RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENT
Assuming that if the spiritual cultivator cultivates correctly while aiming at Enlightenment or Immortality or Good health, she/he automatically or intrinsically will become morally upright. Why do some spiritual cultivators become evil persons or black magicians?
Dr Damian Kissey
This is an excellent question that can benefit many people. A lot of people equate spiritual cultivation with moral development. They think that a highly spiritual person is also morally upright. This is not necessarily so!
A lot of people also equate spiritual cultivation with religious development. They think that a highly spiritual person is also religious, or more frequently they think that a highly religions person is also highly spiritual. Again this is not necessarily so!
A highly spiritual person is not necessarily morally upright or not necessarily religious, and vice versa, because spiritual cultivation, moral education and religious development are three different issues, though they are connected.
The terms are self-explanatory though, surprisingly, many people are confused over their meanings.
Spiritual cultivation is cultivating the spirit, sometimes called the soul, the heart, or the consciousness in different cultures. In classical Chinese culture, for example, spiritual cultivation is called “xiu xin”, which literally means “cultivating the heart”. Here, the “heart” is not the organ heart, but the spiritual heart, which includes the emotional, the mental and the spiritual.
In modern scientific culture, spiritual cultivation is cultivating the consciousness, often resulting in developing psychic or extra-sensory powers. A psychic, for example, may be able to tell where lost objects can be found.
Moral education is inculcating high moral values. Although different cultures, peoples and times may have different moral values, certain moral values are universal.
In kungfu culture, for example, betraying one’s sifu is considered a worse crime than raping a woman. To a samurai, failing to carry out the instruction of his master was far worse than killing people. At present, consensual extra-marital sex is morally acceptable, though it was taboo in the past in both Eastern and Western societies. But irrespective of cultures, people and times, certain actions, like betraying one’s teacher, raping a woman and killing people, are considered immoral.
Religious development is developing the understanding and practice of a chosen religion. If a Christian or a Muslim now knows his Bible or Koran better than before, for example, he has made religious development. If a Buddhist or a Taoist can perform Buddhist or Taoist rituals more effectively than before, he has developed religiously.
Understanding what spiritual cultivation, moral education and religious development are, will enable us to understand why some spiritual cultivators may become evil persons or black magicians, as well as other related issues, like some morally upright persons may not believe in the spirit, and some religiously developed person may be low in their spiritual cultivation.
As an analogy, soccer, tennis and basketball are different sports. Hence, a good soccer player may not play tennis well. A good tennis player may not like basketball. And a good basketball player may criticize playing soccer.
The assumption that if a spiritual cultivator cultivates correctly, while aiming at Enlightenment, immortality or good health, he (or she) automatically or intrinsically will become morally upright, is not valid. This is because spiritual cultivation and moral education are two different disciplines.
Please take note of the following two points.
One, the invalidation of the assumption does not mean that all successful spiritual cultivators will be morally decadent. The invalidation means exactly what it says, i.e. not all successful spiritual cultivators will be morally upright.
Because spiritual cultivation and moral education are two different issues, some successful spiritual cultivators will be morally upright, and some successful spiritual cultivations will be morally decadent. Personally I believe there are more successful spiritual cultivators who are morally upright than successful spiritual cultivators who are morally decadent.
The second point is that these cultivators have been successful in their spiritual cultivation while aiming at Enlightenment, immortality or good health, yet some of them may become evil, like becoming black magicians. Some, like modern psychics, may not be morally evil, but they lead miserable lives, like attempting to commit suicide which indicates that their lives are not happy.
Please take note that they have been successful in cultivating their spirit or consciousness, but may not be successful in attaining Enlightenment, immortality or good health, though these noble attainments may be a reason for their cultivation. If they had been successful in attaining Enlightenment, immortality or good health, they would not have become evil, because becoming evil is a natural hindrance to these noble attainments. In other words, as soon as a cultivator becomes evil, he would not attain Enlightenment, immortality and good health.
Why is it that by being evil, a cultivator would be prevented from attaining Enlightenment, immortality and good health?
To attain Enlightenment, or in Western terms to return to God the Holy Spirit, not only the cultivator must not have any evil intention, he must also not have any good intention. Any intention, regardless of good or evil, will initiate the process of differentiation and abide him to the phenomenal realm. The supreme Cosmic Reality, or God the Holy Spirit, is undifferentiated. If a highly spiritual being has great compassion, for example, he will remain in the phenomenal realm as a Bodhisattva, and will not become a Buddha.
To attain immortality, i.e. to become an immortal or a heavenly being to enjoy eternal life in heaven, a spiritual cultivator must have very good karma. If he has any evil intention which precedes evil action, this will affect his good karma and prevent him from becoming an immoral or a heavenly being.
It is worthwhile to note that an immortal or a heavenly being still exists in a phenomenal realm. In other words, there is differentiation in an immortal’s or heavenly being’s experience. One immortal or heavenly being is different from another, and both immortals or heavenly beings are different from the abodes they live in. But from our human perspective, the life of an immortal or heavenly being is so long that we consider it “eternal”.
In supreme Cosmic Reality, there is no differentiation. There are no immortals, no heavenly beings, no abodes and nothing else. There is only an undifferentiated spread of energy, or God the Holy Spirit.
To attain good health, one must have good thoughts. Evil thoughts may cause energy blockage, resulting in poor health. For example, because of his evil thoughts, a black magician, despite being spiritually powerful, is not peaceful and happy, which indicated poor emotional health.
Because of such wisdom, spiritual cultivators must have a strong moral foundation before starting their spiritual cultivation. We benefit form this wisdom. Hence, in our school all students must be abided by and practice the Ten Shaolin Laws, which act as a practical way to moral education.
Amongst other benefits, holding high moral values, like respecting the master as in the first of the Ten Shaolin Laws, is for the students’ interest. If he does not hold high moral values, he may not be able to attend good health in this life, go to heaven after this worldly life, and attain Enlightenment or described by different terms in different cultures.
We are proud that spiritual cultivation and moral education are very important aspects of our training.
The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread 10 Questions on the Essence of Spiritual Cultivation in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.
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