Good Question! Cultivation in the spiritual sense is not a new idea, it has been used for centuries in Asia, but in the West you don’t hear this term much. I’ve chosen to use ‘cultivation’ in this work to mean the process of nurturing the wise and continuous growth of your own spirituality. I chose it for very specific reasons which I’m diving into right here.
We will have to leave the definition of spiritual for another post, but if you are interested in this blog, you probably already have a good definition of spirituality that works for you. For now, let’s look at the idea of cultivation. Instead of the simpler word cultivation, I often use the term“TriCultivation,” my word which focuses on cultivating the three main realms, or cores, of human spirituality that need our regular attention. I discuss the 3 Spiritual Cores in another post.
Walking by Gardens
Have you ever been walking in a neighborhood and noticed two houses next to each other that have very different gardens in the front? One house has beautiful flowers and bushes arranged in a way that adds to the beauty of the whole area. Next door, there are a few tired old plants, a little brown and withered. One house gives you a feeling of joy, the other is just neutral, kind of blah.
In the house with the beautiful flowers and plants lives a real cultivator. She has put time and thought into what kind of plants would thrive in front of her house, and she’s learned something about what each of these plants needs in the way of water, sunlight and fertilizer.
The Art of Successful Cultivation
One of the most important things she has done is to provide them with consistent tending. Some days she notices her garden needs more water over on one particular side; on other days she pulls weeds that are cropping up. She pays regular attention to them and acts to give them what they need to grow and flourish.
As a successful gardener, she has tried out many different things to see what worked in her own garden. Some plants had to be moved to more sun or less sun; some plants didn’t work out at all and had to be replaced with others that then thrived. She isn’t afraid to learn, and to experiment a bit, but her experiments are based on solid plant science and the expertise of other cultivating friends. These threads of science, technology, traditional wisdom, and regular attention along with a bit of experimenting make her a practical cultivator. Her exquisite garden is the result of all of these things together, and it nourishes the whole neighborhood with its beauty.
Next door, the owner thought he might throw out a few plants. It seemed like they might be fun to have. He popped them in the ground and dumped some fertilizer on them. Months ago. They aren’t doing that well these days.
What is Your Cultivation Style?
When it comes to your own spiritual development, which cultivator are you? Successful spiritual cultivators are practical, they learn the current science as well as the age old technologies of spiritual growth. Beyond that, they nourish their growth consistently with regular attention and necessary specific practices. They notice when something isn’t working well, and take steps to correct it. They have a masterful sense of balance: Overall balance of their whole spiritual garden, as well as how to apply balanced, consistent nourishment to each part of it.
If you think you might like to learn to be a practical spiritual cultivator rather than the haphazard dabbler, please stay with me as we explore the many different sides of practical spiritual cultivation. Maybe you’d even like to contribute some special knowledge you have that we can learn from. As we go along, we will try to learn from a wide variety of sources, all with the intention of helping you grow your own beautiful spiritual garden, one that you truly love.
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Bill Edmiston, TriCultivation.com