Today is December 6, 2019 – the 6th Day of Bodhi Season 2019. Today we’ll very briefly discuss the 6th item of the Eightfold Path – Right Effort.
Since our sentience gets around this Universe in our physical bodies, as it is for any vehicle, it needs fuel and maintenance. There are physical constraints within which our bodies operate. We can’t do much about the amount of energy available to our bodies, but we can drastically improve our fuel efficiency.
Awakened Effort is about minimizing wasted energy to improve our fuel efficiency. This means whatever we may do, our efforts shouldn’t be diffused through worries about a past we cannot change, futures that haven’t happened, addictions and random thoughts screaming from our monkey brain for our attention, fear, or dancing around constraints that aren’t there.
Is energy wasted being stuck in traffic an hour each way to work? Sure, if we’re complaining about it all along the way. Traffic is what it is. For me, it takes 30 minutes and a half gallon of gas each way. Barring magic, 26th Century technology, or allowing me to work remotely, that’s what it takes to get to the office. Anything above that is wasted energy of my own doing.
We could be clever, listening to books online, carpool, or figure out how to work remotely. But there are usually trade-offs. Even if we found a perfect solution to the commute problem, other problems will come along. Eventually, there will be big problems, some with no worldly solution. Commute traffic is really a petty problem. We need something more powerful.
We could be on a path that removes the word “problems” from our vocabulary. From the Awakened View there are no problems to solve because there is only what is right there, on the path, where you stand. Awakened Effort is achieved by doing what needs doing with 100% acceptance of where you are. If you were hiking the Peekaboo Trail at Bryce Canyon, you wouldn’t think of a hill as a pain in the ass problem, but simply what it takes to get to the next view.
The traditional Zen Arts mentioned in the post on Awakened Action are intended to hone efficiency, minimize wasted action. The limitations imposed by a traditional Zen Art (for example, ikebana is a subset of all that could happen in the Universe) enables the practitioner to focus on building the skills related to the aspects of minimizing wasted energy, without worrying about the countless things that can pop up in the open world.
In the post on Awakened Action, I wrote, “All of these Zen Arts train your ability to blend into the Universe.” The Zen Art trains in us the sensitivity to execute graceful actions that blend in so well with what is going on that it looks effortless. Both Awakened Action and Awakened Effort end up minimizing wasted energy – but from two different sides of the same coin.
In the post on Awakened Livelihood, our chosen line of work is the practice that hones our ability to execute graceful Awakened Actions. As we go about our Awakened Livelihood, we’re also mindful of the efficient use of energy through Awakened Effort.
The question now: How do we shut up our primate/monkey brain, that source of much wasted energy? That is the 7th item of the Eightfold Path, Awakened Mindfulness.
Faith and Patience to You!
Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku
Posts on minimizing wasted energy, fears, and addictions:
Bodhi Season/Day 2019: