“Get up! Sit up! Train firmly for the sake of peace, Don't let the king of death, — seeing you heedless — deceive you, bring you under his sway.” - The Buddha (Sutta Nipata 2.10)
After daylight saving time began last Sunday, our clock is one hour ahead now. This week may be challenging for many of us because we need to wake up one hour early.
When I reflect on this change and our struggle to wake up one hour early, I remembered the above advice from the Buddha. By now, I am sure that many of you have already broken your habit of sleeping and you are getting used to wake up early. This is an important change we manage to bring to our life and it is worthy of reflection. Simply breaking our one habit within a few days is a great achievement.
How did we do it?
This is a good opportunity for us to realize two important things. One is that we have an ability to break when needed. Just like we got up and sit up early during last few days, we can also “Get up and Sit up” to train our minds and change our negative habits of our life-styles and subtle unwholesome habits of our minds.
Second is how do we change our habits. In this case, we were put into a condition that we have to wake up early to go to work or studies. We had a real need for it. If we have a real need or will to change or break free of our negative habits, we will be able to do it, of course not at once but gradually.
The Buddha taught us about Four Spiritual Powers that help someone to achieve any goal including breaking habits. They are 1) will, (chanda)
2) effort (viriya),
3) consistent focus (citta),
4) wise reflection or evaluation of the effort (vimansa).
We should arouse our will to train our minds. As beings having a human life and living in a peaceful and comfortable environment where techniques for such a training are available, we have got the best conditions to train the mind. If not now and here, when and where we will be able to do this?
The best gift of human life is this ability to grow and transform ourselves to more wholesome beings. This requires effort. Spiritual evolution does not happen naturally. It happens when human beings put forth effort. Our efforts may not successful all the time. We should not deviate from our goal or direction of spiritual growth, just because we failed a few times. We should stay focused and consistent in our efforts even we fail at times.
From time to time, we should reflect and appreciate small changes we have made to our lives. You may have developed skills to sit longer that you used to sit in meditation, delay and be aware your responses in a heated conversation, or sometime even not to say things that aggravate the tension, to be aware of the tension in your own mind when somebody makes a mistake in traffic, to wish others well-being whenever they come to your mind, to greet people with genuine loving-kindness.
Wise reflections on these skills will give you more energy to work for more training and changes. This will bring more peace, happiness and spiritual growth to our lives and we will be able to benefit many beings than before. As the above verse advises, do not let the death comes to you before you achieve a spiritual growth in this human life. Get up !, sit up ! and get into the training.
Wish you all an energetic week