Right Effort, Right Mindfulness

The Eightfold Path, as presented by Gautama Buddha, provides a guideline to living an enlightened life. The sixth and seventh of the Eightfold Path are Right Effort and Right Mindfulness.

Right effort is to work with devotion and focus in all our endeavors. Engaging in an activity with total involvement and perseverance achieves the greatest benefit. A half-hearted attempt is often worse than no attempt at all. However, the goal being sought cannot be one that brings suffering to other beings or is simply ego driven. A thief may devote all his energy to stealing yet this is not right effort. Many politicians devote their lives to attaining high office. If power and recognition are their reasons then this is not right effort. Right effort leads to results that are beneficial or reduce suffering. Striving for goals that are simply ego driven is not right effort. In our spiritual life we practice right effort when we devote our energies to living our beliefs. Regardless of our religion, only by wholeheartedly living our beliefs can we attain our final goal. How can we do this in a world filled with distractions and short lived pleasures?

Right mindfulness is continually being aware of the right path. Gautama Buddha recognized the weakness of humans and taught that we must constantly remind ourselves of the right life we should lead. To be mindful is to completely live in the present moment. All that has gone before has led to this moment. All that will occur starts from this moment. Our actions now determine what will come. Through right mindfulness we remember the teachings and choose the right action. Actions taken while practicing right mindfulness will lead to the lessening of suffering for yourself and all of life. Right mindfulness is one of the Eightfold Path yet it applies to all faiths. Living your beliefs requires constantly reminding yourself how you should act and the reasons for doing so. The person practicing right mindfulness will always choose the right path, only when we forget do we go astray.

The Eightfold Path, like all of Buddha’s teachings, is not “divine revelation.” His teachings are observations on the state of human existence and the way to overcome the suffering in this existence. The Buddha did not comment on whether or not a Supreme Being existed, nor did he comment on the origins of man or creation. Because of this his teachings can have value to people of all faiths. By applying the Dharma to your life you may gain a deeper appreciation of your personal religion. A Buddhist teaching is that there are 84,000 paths to enlightenment. Everyone must follow their own.

For information about the Buddhist Association of S.E. Wisconsin e-mail BASEWI@aol.com