By Nhat Quan
Controlling your own thoughts and senses is not an easy thing to do. It is difficult to avoid times when the mind falls into unwholesome thoughts, or malicious, malevolent tendencies occur. But you have to make this difficult if you want to relieve the tension and insecurity that are always ready to weaken your body and mind.
Like a tortoise, whenever it perceives danger, it immediately withdraws its limbs. If you want to protect your body and mind, you must do the same, trying to guard and control the doors of your senses and the source of your lust.
One of the sources of desire, craving is the most powerful destructive force. Excessive greed is always motivated by delusion. It is the craving of these blind beings that causes hatred and all other suffering. Therefore, it is not the atomic weapons that destroy people and life, but it is greed, hatred, and delusion that are the most powerful killers of people and life. This thirst for fame, power, and domination has brought untold suffering to mankind. If you do not make efforts to suppress this desire that is always ready to reign in this mind, you will become a slave to the mind,
 Therefore, the Buddha's advice to his disciples is to be diligent, mindful, and alert to know how to protect body and mind, through which to control evil thoughts and cultivate pure thoughts healthy. Thus, diligence in Buddhism implies mental strength, or willpower, not physical strength. Physical strength is dominant in animals, while mental willpower is only found in humans. Of course, those who can arouse and develop this mental element to stop evil thoughts, and cultivate pure, good thoughts, protect the body and mind.
So the Buddha's disciples never give up hope or stop their efforts, because the Buddha himself, when he was still a Bodhisattva, never stopped striving even for a moment. He is the image of a man full of energy. As someone who aspired to seek Buddhahood, he was encouraged by the words of his predecessors:
- Do your best, don't give up! Let's go ahead.
And he spared no effort in his efforts to attain ultimate enlightenment. With strong perseverance, he approached his goal which was Enlightenment.
The Master's Right Effort reached its zenith when He resolved to sit under the Bodhi tree, deep in meditation, and then end with Perfect Enlightenment. From that moment on, His life made clear, He never succumbed to any mental fatigue. It can be said that, from the time of enlightenment until the moment of death, the Buddha has made constant efforts to sublimate mankind, regardless of physical fatigue, and obvious obstacles, and disadvantages in human life on his path of evangelism. Although physically he was not always healthy, mentally he was always alert and strong. By teaching body and language, the Buddha taught his disciples in particular and in general, for sentient beings to live a positive life.
The Buddha always emphasized the sixth part of the Eightfold Path, which is Right Effort, because saving sentient beings was not within his power. The Buddha was also not a savior and offered guarantees that he would save people from the bonds of samsara, but he was always ready to guide them on the upward path, encouraging and supporting them spiritually. The idea is that a person can raise others from low to high and liberate them ultimately when they tend to make them weak. It degrades them and extinguishes all their moral qualities, so He never did.
The Buddha's emphasis on Right Effort in this simple language shows that Buddhism is not a doctrine of pessimism, a Teaching for weak, feeble souls looking at everything work in this world from the most hopeless point of view, but Buddhism is the religion of brave and righteous warriors.
Right Effort as the Buddha said, is a tool to eliminate evil, unwholesome thoughts and promote as well as maintain clear, healthy thoughts in the protection of body and mind. Just as a gardener pulls out the weeds before sowing the seeds, you as a practitioner must also try to get rid of the weeds, which are greed, hatred, delusion, etc., from your mind's garden. Because if you refuse to weed, then surely nothing of value can be successfully planted in that garden. After that, you also have to fertilize, water, and protect it from the destruction of birds and animals. In the same way, the practitioner must guard the garden of your mind and nourish it with appropriate wholesome thoughts.
The duties of right effort have four, which are:
- Efforts to prevent,
- Diligence to eliminate,
- Practice diligently and
- Maintained effort.
1- Efforts to Prevent
For the purpose of causing the previous unwholesome dhammas not to arise, not for it to arise. You generate the desire to try, develop your willpower, and strengthen your mind to achieve this goal.
So when you see a form, hear a sound, smell a smell, taste a taste, touch an object, or perceive a dharmakaya, you are not affected by their general features or by their details. Whatever the causes, because the eye sense is not prevented, it causes craving, grief, and unwholesome states to arise. You have to apply such restraint yourself, that you have guarded the mind, and the senses, overpowering the senses. This is called preventive effort.
2- Diligence to Eliminate
For the purpose of getting rid of the unwholesome states that have arisen, you arise the desire to try to develop your energy and strengthen your mind to achieve this goal.
With an attitude of not accepting the thoughts of lust that have arisen, but giving up, eliminating and renouncing those desires, ending them, and making them no longer exist. This is called the effort to eliminate.
3- Diligence to practice
For the purpose of creating and developing unborn wholesome thoughts, you make a wish and then try to develop the energy and strengthen your mind to achieve this goal.
You practice the factors of Enlightenment, away from greed, with cessation leading to liberation, that is Satisambojjhanga, Dharma-pravicayanga, Viryayanga, Priti-bodhyanga, Prasrabdhi-bodhyanga, Samadhi-bodhyanga, and Upeksa-bodhyanga. This is called diligent practice.
4- Efforts to Protect?
For the purpose of making the kusala dhammas that have arisen can be maintained, not obscured, generous, cultivated, and perfected. You generate the desire to try to develop your willpower and strengthen your mind to achieve that goal
You maintain some favorable meditation subjects... this is called maintenance effort.
The sole purpose of these four dhammas is to accomplish the protection of your body and mind for health. Right effort is the necessary condition for concentration, which operates simultaneously with the other two factors of the group, mindfulness, and concentration. Without real right effort, it is difficult to overcome the hindrances that block spiritual progress. Right effort removes evil and unhealthy thoughts that act as a barrier to concentration and promotes and maintains good mental factors that aid in the development of concentration.
When your mind is loose, that's when you need to gather courage, arouse diligence, and conquer laziness. The stubbornness of the mind and mental factors is the most dangerous enemy of practice because when your mind is stagnant, lethargy will arise. This stagnation and sluggishness lead to more serious laxity creating a state of apathy and depression.
Of course, it is not said that practice is practicable, but you need time and need to regularly practice mind exercises. An athlete cannot stop training after a day or two, but must always continue their training program. Regular exercise does not need to be too stressful, and should not be neglected, it is the key to the body's adaptation. If you practice erratically, sometimes excessively diligently, and sometimes indulgently, you will never be actively guarding your body and mind. When practicing for Body and Mind Protection, you must apply this golden ruler, practice regularly, and always be patient.
When you practice mind exercises you don't have to struggle with unwholesome thoughts, just let them come naturally. If you try to fight your evil thoughts, you will fail. Instead of fighting it, note and watch your thoughts as they arise, analyze them, and try to relieve the stress. This technique is similar to when learning to swim. If you don't move your limbs you will sink; If you squirm around, you won't be able to swim either. Or like a sleeper, if you struggle with the thought of wanting to sleep you will never fall asleep, the thought is just mental torture to you. You don't have to work hard to sleep. Sleep will come to you naturally, and you just need to relax the stress is enough.
As the Buddha pointed out, those of you who wish to achieve liberation through enlightenment need to avoid all extremes wherever and in any case you must keep the middle way. In practicing the right effort, too, you must follow the middle method, not falling to any extreme.
It is not only during profound meditation that you need this all-important quality of the right effort. Right effort should be practiced regularly whenever and wherever possible. In all your words, all your actions, and your conduct in your daily life, you need the right effort to carry out your duties with full heart, whole mind, and success. If you lack this quality of diligence, and if you allow drowsy, lazy states to succumb, you will not be able to progress in the work you have undertaken with even a little faith.
To overcome the thoughts of greed, anger, jealousy, and the host of other evil thoughts that you suffer, you need to have energy, diligence, and awareness. When you get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, or the cares of life, you're not so tempted to lose yourself. But when it comes to socializing, that's when you need to be diligent to stop your mistakes. Any meditation you may have done has been a great help in keeping you calm in the face of these imperfections.
When you practice the right effort, you need to be honest with your thoughts. If you analyze it, you will see that these thoughts are not always wholesome, and pure. Sometimes there are also unwholesome and foolish thoughts, although you don't always show them in actions or words or both. But if you keep letting these thoughts arise regularly, that's a bad sign. Because when an unhealthy mindset is allowed to recur over and over again, it tends to become an obsession. Therefore, it is essential to make an effort not to allow these unwholesome thoughts to come near. When they arise there is no need to pay attention to them. But it is not easy to ignore them, because until you succeed in overcoming them, these unwholesome thoughts can still invade your mind.
However, there is one thing to remember. For someone who is determined to control urges that are harmful to you, they should be avoided. Avoid, as much as possible, people who are obsessed with these urges and the conversations that lead to them.
Try to avoid people and things that interfere with your healthy and serious thoughts. Civilized society is in danger of being overwhelmed by entertainment and temptations that can only be restrained and defended if you undertake this difficult task of mind training consistently, and persist.
In short, your mind affects the body in a profound way, if you let the mind work indiscriminately and cultivate unwholesome thoughts, the mind can cause unpredictable harm. However, the mind can also heal a sick body. When the mind is focused on the right thoughts with the right effort and the right understanding, the effect of mind-body control it produces is also enormous. So you should remember:
- A mind with pure and kind thoughts will really lead you to a healthy, relaxed life.
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