A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Keeping focused

Right effort: Keeping you mind on the task at hand. If you are at work, be productive. If conversing with your spouse, then listen to them not sit there planning your grocery list, or how you can escape to watch your favorite team play on the television. By concentrating on the task in hand, our lives will be more satisfying, we will accomplish more that is important to us. Think of two students, the first diligently studies every evening, concentrating on the subjects. They may have some music playing in the background; however it is more akin to white noise or just enough to cover the background noises. The other student, has music blaring so the neighbours across the street can listen easily, practices singing along with all the songs, or takes breaks to play online games. Come the final exam, who do you think will probably get the better grades? Before someone points out people with photographic memories, let me say, imagine what those people can accomplish if they apply themselves. It has happened often enough in peoples lives that comedies make fun of, the situation where one spouse is not really listening to the other. The inattentive spouse is later in trouble for not listening, or comes home to find his home is now redecorated, and when they ask what happened, hear but I told you about my idea, and you agreed. Right effort can also mean right intentions. In a dating situation, right effort goes beyond listening to our date, it includes being clear about our intentions. My dad used to tell me, that it wasn’t right to make a girl think I was serious, unless I was. If I asked if they accepted me as I was, talked about meeting the girl’s parents, talked about family life in the future, was honest about any medical issues before it got to this point, I was to consider I was leading her down a path, which she could rightly assume was leading to a lifetime relationship. He told me that every culture has stories of women and me, who fall truly in love with someone who is just playing around for their own benefit. In most cases it will lead to a broken heart, however in these tragic stories all cultures have, the one who was deceived truly gave their heart, and usually ended up alone for the rest of their lives. So he pointed out unless I wanted my life to be cursed by the bad karma, from these to always be honest. He also told me of his friend who fell in love with a lady who broke his heart on their wedding day. The fellow went to see a monk who had the power to see past lives, and was informed that the fellow had in a previous life done the same thing to the lady, and she recognized him I this life, and was getting her revenge in this life. The fellow was told that unless, he wanted the cycle to continue into the next life, to show compassion and not seek revenge. Karma incurred in relationships is something my dad taught me to be mindful of, which started with right thought, right speech and right action. If I was blessed to find a lady who shared similar a similar view of meeting in the middle on things, who was strong enough to tell me when I did wrong, and sweet enough to forgive and forget after, and who wasn’t materially driven, but happy with a simple life, I would be very lucky. He used to tell me that the relationship between a man and his spouse was the most important thing to work on. The effort there would be returned multiplied. A good home life meant it was easier to handle work, I would have better friends, and my children would benefit. This was the one area my dad always seemed to include in talks about right effort. Looking back at my parents, they didn’t just preach this message to me, they lived it every day, and I realize how blessed I was to have had them.


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