None of the points of the Noble Path has any real meaning if it is not joined to effort. Even the finest motor-car is useless if there is no petrol in the tank. The petrol is the energy that makes the car run. Another name for Right Effort is Right Energy. If this sixth point is missing, then the other points of the path have no life in them. When Right Effort is missing in anyone’s life, we use an unpleasant word to describe that condition. The word is Laziness. If we do not overcome laziness, we cannot make any real progress on the road to happiness.
Each of us must make real effort to lead a good, moral helpful life. Usually we say there are four main efforts which we must make if we wish our lives to be according to the Buddha’s teaching. These four big efforts are:
The effort to avoid evil not yet existing in our lives.
The effort to overcome evil which already exists in our thoughts and acts.
The effort to preserve the good already developed in our thinking and acting.
The effort to develop good not yet existing in our minds, hearts and actions.
So many of us have good ideas and good intentions, but we do not use effort to put our good ideas into practice. This is somewhat like being a bird with but one wing. Another mistake that is made by many people, boys and girls included, is the bad habit of putting off until tomorrow or next week or next month what we know we ought to do today. The only time we can be sure of is today. Yesterday has gone and tomorrow has not come. The best time to begin to put forth Right Effort is this very day. The sooner we practise all the points of the Eightfold Path, the sooner we shall find real happiness. Boys and girls who start to follow this pathway very early in life will soon find out that it is the only road to true and lasting happiness. But nothing can be done until a start is made. A boy who sits on the beach and looks at the water, wishing he knew how to swim, will never know until he makes an effort to swim. Another way of naming Right Effort is Right Trying. No one can get happiness or any good thing out of life until he really tries. Let us all try to use our best efforts to be happy and actually use Lord Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives.
Once there lived an old farmer, his wife and children. He had land that stretched for many acres but, because of his old age, the vast area was left to grow into a forest. Trees that shot us sky-high could be found everywhere. Even his attap hut was surrounded by trees. One fine day, the old farmer asked his elder son, who had grown up into a strong and healthy man, to clear the land so that it might be farmed once more. His son, being young and active, quickly got hold of an axe and started chopping a huge tree beside the hut. The side of the tree near the hut was chopped and finally the tree gave way, and it fell down on top of the hut killing the old farmer, who was the only one inside at that time. If the son had chopped the tree on the other side of the trunk, then it would not have fallen on the hut.
Thus we see that although the son had the right intention of helping his aged father, yet he did not make the right effort to carry out his will properly. Wrong Effort is usually harmful in its effects. It is only through Right Effort that things can be done as the doer wishes, or as they ought to be done. Right Effort must always be guided by Right Thought.
Constant let thine effort be
From delusion’s slavery,
By the Truth, thy mind to free,
Wisdom to attain.
Break the bonds of sense-desire
Holding thee in error’s mire,
And with all thine heart aspire
Purity to know.
Strive the ego to deny,
Let all selfish cravings die,
To all beings low and high
Love and kindness show.
Never let thine effort cease
Till in ultimate release
And in Buddha’s perfect peace
Thou hast reached thy goal.
-A. R. Zorn.
What meaning does Right Effort have for you?
How many sub-divisions are there to Right Effort? What are they?
What must we use in order that we may put our good ideas and intentions in practice?
When is the best time for us to put forth Right Effort? Yesterday or tomorrow or today?
What is the main cause of wrong efforts?
A motor car cannot run without petrol. We cannot have happy, successful lives if we do not use…?
If a boy wishes to learn to swim, can he learn by sitting on the beach and looking at the water? What must he do?
Is Right Understanding of much value if it is not coupled with Right Effort?
What do we call people who do not like to make effort?
How far can a bird fly with one wing? How much value do the other seven points of the Noble Path have if Right Effort is missing? Is it like trying to fly with one wing?
Typing for Quang Duc Homepage in Melbourne, Australia:
Venerable Pannyavaro is an Australian Buddhist monk who has devoted his life to the meditational aspects of the Buddha's teachings.
During his meditation training, he practiced under several meditation masters in Sri Lanka and Burma, including Venerable Sayadaw U Janaka of Chanmyay Meditation Centre, Rangoon, who is the foremost disciple of the renowned Burmese meditation master, the late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw.
Pannyavaro was involved in the beginnings of a number of the very early Buddhist communities in Australia. He later went to Thailand and received higher ordination at Wat Borvornivet in Bangkok under Venerable Phra Nyanasamvarva, the Sangha Raja of Thailand.
Since 1974, he has from time to time studied and practised Vipassana meditation in most of the major Theravada Buddhist countries, including long periods of intensive practise with teachers at the Mahasi Sayadaw centres in Burma.
In the year 563B.C. on the border of modern day Nepal and India, a son was born to a chieftain of the Sakya clan. His name was Siddhartha Gotama and at the age of thirty-five, he attained, after six years of struggle and through his own insight, full enlightenment or Buddhahood. The term 'Buddha' is not a name of a god or an incarnation of a god, despite later Hindu claims to the contrary, but is a title for one who has realised through good conduct, mental cultivation, and wisdom the cause of life's vicissitudes and the way to overcome them. Buddhism is perhaps. unique amongst the world's religions in that it does not place reliance for salvation on some external power, such as a god or even a Buddha, but places the responsibility for life's frustrations squarely on the individual. The Buddha said:
The Pope, who managed to get the United Nations "International Year for Tolerance" off to a good start with the launch of his book, 'Crossing the Threshold of Hope' - Johnathan Cape, London, has demonstrated his abysmal ignorance and lack of understanding of Buddhism. Although he, with reservations, expresses guarded approval of Judaism, Hinduism and Islam, he considers Buddhism beyond the pale. He trots out the usual cliches about Buddhism being "negative" and pessimistic. What really worries him is the appeal Buddhism has to the 'Western' mind, especially to Catholics who see in Buddhist meditation techniques something that has been lost from the contemplative tradition of early Christianity. He provides no logical arguments against Buddhism but resorts to dogma to prove his point.
Buddhism is one of Australia’s fastest growing religions, having increased by 79% in the years 1996 to 2001, then numbering some 357,814 people, being 1.9% of the population. According to the 2001 Commonwealth Census, the majority of Buddhist live in New South Wales and Victoria. The largest concentration of Buddhists in Australia is in the Fairfield Local Government Area where 21.2% of the population registered as Buddhists.