THE DEVELOPMENT OF DHARMA EFFORT


The fourth of the Seven Factors of Awakening is the actual base of the Dharma path, for without effort made in the correct direction and without effort being generated at the correct level, then the Dharma Path becomes a mental cul de sac.

So if Effort is indeed a prerequisite, it is imperative that with diligence we not only understand what it means but put it into constant practice.

Buddha defined it quite concisely as:

 1. Prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states

 2. Abandon unwholesome states that have already arisen

 3. Arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen 

 4. Maintain and perfect wholesome states already arise.


Now that is all very well, but that means that we must clearly understand what unwholesome and wholesome states are. That means developing a Correct View.

The Correct View is not to follow a moral path laid down by state, church or education, but to understand and be guided by what is natural and correct, grasping the nature of the impermanent world, understanding the illusions of the mind correctly so that we do no harm to our own minds and bodies or those of any other living creature.

Yet we must remember that while the correcty developed views are cognitive, and we may consider them as sound beliefs (right hemisphere), they are not just intellectual conclusions but are based upon a deep understanding that is derived from internal experiences that are beyond words and free of Identity impediments. They are attained, sustained, and enhanced through this correct Effort, which requires dedicated application of energy and time.

Likewise we cannot ignore the development of Intentions that are correct, for Correct energy must be directed correctly.

While the development of the Correct View is Cognitive, and we can consider it an aspect of Natural Wisdom, Right Intention refers to the volitional aspect that controls our Actions.

Within the processes of Cognition there are many phases and the generation of correct intentions requires the operation of many other unconscious processes of the left hemisphere, including memory, all of which are dominated by words, concepts and in a well-operating system, cognitive experiences. These are the building blocks at the level of intentions. 

Buddha simplified the intentions by distinguishing three types:

1. The intention of renunciation, which means resistance to the acquisitiveness which results in clinging and craving.

2. The intention to generate good will and strong resistance to aversion.

3. The intention of harmlessness, which meant generation of thought that would do harm to the mind and body of one's apparent self or others, even when in confusion.

Those who are alert will realize that we have been speaking here of elements of the Buddha's Eightfold Path, namely, Correct Effort, Correct View and Correct Intention, all directed at producing Correct Behaviour.

Furthermore we can declare with certainty that Correct Mindfulness generates consistency and the correct attitude with respect to the Dharma Path.

The question is then, how does one develop this EFFORT in the face of the call of this civilization, which demands that we generate effort in quite another direction?

The Aramaic Bible in the words of Mark says:

"Give what is Caesar's to Caesar and what is God's to God.” And they marveled at him.

Even if we take the illusory God out of the picture, we are left with the idea that we should give to the state and society what may be said to rightly belong to them through our social contract with them and keep for ourselves what is natural and correct.

The problem is that we have never actually made a social contract, for one has been placed upon our shoulders as a burden at birth in which we are conditioned to forget all about what is natural and correct.

What we have to do with correctly applied effort is right the balance and take a good look at that social contract that we are carrying as a conditioned load.

1. If the social contract that is a burden means that we must be acquisitive, and that means pursuing the happiness dictated by conditioning, then we must resist.

2. If the social contract that is a burden means that we must develop aversion to what we know is just and correct then we must resist and generate in its place good will. 

That does not mean that we should follow like sheep ideas and concepts of mental compassion and benevolence, peace and goodwill, but reach inside and touch the true unconscious experiences which are natural and human.

3. If the social contract that is a burden means that we must do harm, genarating thoughts and actions that would hurt the mind and body of one's apparent self or others, even when in confusion, then we must resist and generate what is natural and correct.

But we must with constant vigilance whenever there are thoughts prevent the arising of these unwholesome states.

We must also constantly review our past behavior, abandoning unwholesome states that have already arisen, for those events stored in memory arise in cognition as impediments to new decision making and intentions.

The difficult task is arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen, for how can we know what is correct and incorrect? The answer lies in understanding the Dharma teaching and reaching inside to touch the natural experiences of the Mother principle.

We should also not neglect the strengthening of the knowledge that we have accrued and practiced that has been correct, for in Psychology it is said that the best indicator of a man's future behavior is what he has already done. It then is most sensible to constantly review what we have done correctly with correct effort and thus reinforce in memory the positive valences of those memory traces.



 


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