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:
Shakyamuni Buddha appeared on the stage of this world with four great noble tasks to perform, namely to open up the treasury of truth, to indicate its meaning, to cause men to apprehend it, and to lead them to it,(1) which can be achieved by the penetrative power of Buddha’s wisdom or vision, i.e., Buddha a, Buddha nature.
Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk from New York City. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1944, he obtained a BA in philosophy from Brooklyn College (1966) and a PhD in philosophy from Claremont Graduate School (1972).
The ASA annual conference brings together Buddhist monastics of all traditions living in, or visiting Australia, for fellowship, dialogue and to address the issues facing Buddhism in Australia. The ASA has in previous years, and is still working with the Department of Immigration & Border Security to assist those monastic’s seeking Permanent Residency Visas through representations to the Federal Government. Where appropriate, the ASA has and continues to consult with state Buddhist Councils and Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC) for a solution to these ongoing issues. The ASA has arranged monastic education forums such as the 2010 Vinaya Conference, and represents the Australian Sangha community at various International Conferences, as well as consultations with various State & Federal Government agencies.
Wake Up – Young Adults for a Healthy and Compassionate Society, is a world-wide network of young people practicing the living art of mindfulness. We share a determination to live in an awakened way, taking a 21st Century version of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings as our path and guiding light.
The Wake Up network has grown out of Plum Village meditation center in SW France, under the guidance of Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Plum Village has been offering retreats to young people for over two decades, and the Wake Up movement was formally launched in Summer 2008.
The first two steps in the process of becoming a lay disciple of the Buddha are the going for refuge (sarana gamana) and the undertaking of the five precepts (pañca-sila samadana). By the former step a person makes the commitment to accept the Triple Gem — the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha — as the guiding ideals of his life, by the latter he expresses his determination to bring his actions into harmony with these ideals through right conduct. The following two tracts were written for the purpose of giving a clear and concise explanation of these two steps. Though they are intended principally for those who have newly embraced the Buddha's teaching they will probably be found useful as well by long-term traditional Buddhists wanting to understand the meaning of practices with which they are already familiar and also by those who want to know what becoming a Buddhist involves.
As a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, working as a Buddhist chaplain at several of Melbourne's hospitals and as well as Melbourne assessment prison, I have witnessed many personal tragedies faced by the living and of course the very process of dying and that of death and many of these poor people faced their death with fear, with misery and pain before departing this world. With the images of all these in my mind, on this occasion, I wish to share my view from the perspective of a Buddhist and we hope that people would feel far more relaxed in facing this inevitable end since it is really not the end of life, according to our belief.