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:
There are three fundamental modes of training in Buddhist practice: morality, mental culture, and wisdom. The English word morality is used to translate the Pali term sila, although the Buddhist term contains its own particular connotations. The word sila denotes a state of normalcy, a condition which is basically unqualified and unadulterated.
According to the Buddhist monastic code, monks and nuns are not allowed to accept money or even to engage in barter or trade with lay people. They live entirely in an economy of gifts. Lay supporters provide gifts of material requisites for the monastics, while the monastics provide their supporters with the gift of the teaching.
This year, at the summer retreat, Vien Tu and Minh Hanh, the two novice monks, took turns to prepare the congee offering each evening. Many Buddhists were curious to know why the congee was offered but not the cooked rice or others. This article is writing about the congee services to the spirits.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word ‘chant’ is both a noun and a verb, also (now Scottish) chaunt, compared with the late 17th Century, old and modern French verb, ‘with chant’ which is derived from the Latin, ‘cantum’.
My dear friends, suppose someone is holding a pebble and throws it in the air and the pebble begins to fall down into a river. After the pebble touches the surface of the water, it allows itself to sink slowly into the river. It will reach the bed of the river without any effort. Once the pebble is at the bottom of the river, it continues to rest. It allows the water to pass by.
We all know what happens when a fire goes out. The flames die down and the fire is gone for good. So when we first learn that the name for the goal of Buddhist practice, nibbana (nirvana), literally means the extinguishing of a fire, it's hard to imagine a deadlier image for a spiritual goal: utter annihilation.
This script was written and edited by: John D. Hughes, Arrisha Burling, Frank Carter, Leanne Eames, Jocelyn Hughes, Lisa Nelson, Julie O’Donnell, Nick Prescott, Pennie White and Lenore Hamilton. Consider a water tank as a model of understanding. When the water in the tank gets too low, you get sick and eventually die. For you to stay alive, the tank must be consistently replenished with water.
When we do walking meditation, the point is not to get somewhere, but rather to practice, using walking as the object of our attention. Even when we do have to get somewhere and must drive to do so, there is an opportunity for practice. Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen master and poet, has written a number of gathas, or brief verses, for enhancing our mindfulness during everyday activities, even driving a car.
The word Buddhism is derived from Buddha, meaning the Enlightened One or the Awakened One. Buddha is not a proper name, but a generic term or appellative, referring to a founder of a religion, one who has attained supreme enlightenment and who is regarded as superior to all other beings, human or divine, by virtue of his knowledge of the Truth (Dhamma).
Lama Thubten Yeshe gave this teaching during a five-day meditation course he conducted at Dromana, near Melbourne, Australia, in March, 1975. Edited by Nicholas Ribush. This teaching appears in the November/December 1997 issue of Mandala Magazine.