The Eightfold Path: Right Effort

This one is difficult. Actually, the next three are probably the most difficult out of the whole bunch. They all have to do with mental discipline. None of these can be accomplished with out hard work and focus. The first one I wanna talk about is Right Effort. Now, I said before that this one will prove to be difficult, yet it is also quite simple. One fancy definintion is “Prevent the unwholesome that has not yet arisen in oneself, let go of the unwholesome that has arisen in oneself, bring up the wholesome that has not yet arisen in oneself, and maintain the wholesome that has arisen in oneself.”

Right Effort is all about abandoning that which is unskillful (remember unskillful = more suffering) and actually doing that which is skillful. So the previous 5 steps were a kind of “what not to do” list. They all provided insights as to what was unskillful, and how to approach specific situations. So if you paid attention to those, and are actively practicing them, you’re already halfway there as far as right effort is concerned. Now you have to do more than just “not do” what is unskillful. You have to go the other 50% and actually do that which is skillful.

Let’s take one aspect of right action as an example. In right action we learned that it wasn’t okay to steal home brews that belong to someone else, even if the owner just left them at a party. So, we didn’t steal, which would have been unskillful. So what could we do in this situation that would be actively skillful? Maybe, we could grab those brews, and track down their owner and return them. Maybe we could brew up some of our own and give them away freely to friends and family.

In right speech, we learned that divisive speech is unskillful. So maybe rather than continuing to argue with a loved one, you abandon that mindset and abusive, divisive language and instead engage in speech that will bring harmony and resolution into your relationship. The same could be said for today’s political environment. It’s all partisan this or that, me vs. you, red vs. blue. Instead of all the yelling, finger pointing, and selfish publicity, we need to embrace the type of speech and actions that bring harmony into the situation. Forget O’Reily and Beck. All they do is yell, name call, and add glitz and glamor to the political polarization we so desperately need to rid ourselves us. Instead, embrace those people who are ACTUAL uniters. People prepared and willing to go beyond party lines for the greater good.

You see, it’s not enough to simply “not be bad”. If you really want to affect your karma, you need to do good. You need to lessen your suffering. And in Buddhism, we are all connected. So when you lessen the suffering of another, you lessen your own suffering, thus affecting your karma. So be mindful, be aware, and most importantly, be skillful in all that you do. That’s all for now. Cheers.


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