Right Effort


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“It is very easy to do things that are harmful to oneself.
It is very difficult to do things that are beneficial to oneself.
~The Buddha (The Dhammapada 163)

Nevertheless, you should hold firmly to the knowledge that prevention is always easier than cure. Mindfulness practiced with Skillful Effort can prevent negative thoughts and actions from arising in the future. Preventing harmful habits of body, speech and mind is not impossible, if you train yourself in mindfulness. When negative thoughts and actions do arise in spite of your sincere efforts to prevent them, you should not be depressed or disappointed. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person, it means you have more work to do. Be happy in realizing that you have a helper to assist you: the effort to overcome negative states of mind.

Prior to full enlightenment, we cannot choose what thoughts will arise, so there’s no need to be ashamed or to react with aversion to whatever comes up. We do choose, however, what thoughts we allow to proliferate. Positive and wholesome thoughts help the mind. They should be cultivated. Negative and unwholesome thoughts, such as the five hindrances and the ten fetters, harm the mind. They should be opposed immediately with Skillful Effort and overcome. This is the Buddha’s own advice.

~ Bhante Gunaratana
from “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness
(pp. 166-167) Wisdom Publications

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