This talk was given to a group of lay-people in the Kuala Lumpur area of Malaysia, it covers quite a lot of ground. As there were both new and experienced practitioners present it seemed appropriate to go over the basics first and then to try to describe a little of how spiritual practice builds as a truly profound and utterly transformative process upon these inter-related and mutually supportive foundations.
The Threefold Training in Dana, Sila and Bhavana (generosity, ethics, mental cultivation) is a far more sophisticated and revolutionary training than it can seem at first glance. When all of these factors of the Path are present, they both support and empower each other in a truly extraordinary way. When we commit to this training we are actually engaging a process that will both overhaul and then eventually completely purify the mind. This training in developing our outer behaviour to be more generous and virtuous also fosters an inner evolution of beautiful qualities, while simultaneously undermining and uprooting the negative ones. It is nothing less than awesome in its power and thoroughness, and it is truly amazing the way these three tenets support one another in inclining the minds of beings full speed ahead towards “The Other Shore.” Of course on the personal level this Path can only ever be as powerful as the level of commitment of those who aspire to walk it.
As well as talking in detail about Dana, Sila and Bhavana, I surprised myself in this talk by getting quite fierce towards the end, upon discovering that half of the room had not yet actually committed to a daily meditation practice. In trying to teach or encourage others it sometimes seems necessary or at least useful to employ a little bit of “tough love!” The talk ends on a lighter note however, as I tell a couple of stories illustrating the ways my own practice of generosity has manifested some encouraging results in this life. Sometimes we need some bitter medicine, and a little bit of sugar does help it go down!
I sincerely hope that something here is useful.
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