IMPORTANCE OF SELF EFFORT
Reverend Joren MacDonald
Florin Buddhist Temple
So often we hear
that self-effort is useless. This can only mean that there is a
misunderstanding of Jodo Shinshu doctrine. Self-effort and self-power
are concepts that do not mean the same. This is where the misunderstanding
our religious tradition we focus a great deal on 'Other Power',
which means the immeasurable indescribable infinite Wisdom and
Compassion always surrounding us and embracing us.
In contrast, 'self-power' is energy and discipline utilised to
reach Enlightenment by one's own power in one's current life rather
than relying on the embracement of Other Power to help guide us.
Self-Power is an awesome concept beyond the ability of most humans.
Self-effort, on the other hand, is so very different, but it is
what separates us from the animals. Our form is not what makes
us 'human'. What would we be without self-effort? Unruly, untrustworthy,
unkind, unfit to nurture, etc. So self-effort is a key ingredient
in reaching a life of positive productivity and in accepting the
reality of Other Power.
Confused? Well, keep studying and listening to the Dharma and
it will make sense. What is critical here, however, is that we
do see the difference between self-power and self-effort. Self-effort
is what we must utilise in order to function at even a human level.
And, it is only at the human level of functioning that faith and
trust in Other-Power are possible. It is only at the human level
that experience of true and real gratitude to the past and realisation
of the present, are possible.
This means that we must use our own effort as much as possible,
every minute of the day of our lives. Will all this self-effort
enlighten us? Most unlikely, but the lack of self-effort is tragic
and harmful. We see it all around us and we know the harm an undisciplined
person can cause.
And, self-effort needs guidance. This is where the Buddha's teachings
help us. The Buddha stated that if we cannot attain Enlightenment
by our self-power, then we must rely upon Other Power to guide
us. Being Jodo Shinshu doesn't mean to stop our own effort as
we rely on the Other-Power to guide us. It means we do what we
can and the infinite Other-Power is always 'as-it-is.
you are wondering if your self effort (guided by Other-Power)
is working, ask yourself if you are developing gratitude that
is true and real. Ask yourself if your gratitude finds expression
in words and actions because you can no longer contain your feelings.
article was reprinted from the Wheel of Dharma, with grateful
thanks to the author and the editor and the BCA.
article first appeared, with the Author's permission, in PLN 10,
September 1997. Republished here in agreement with the compiler/editor
of the inaugurate hard copy Journal. The Author, any person or
any organisation credited, quoted or connected with this article
are cordially invited to contact me with any comments, amendments,
fresh contributions or complaints. email