The Buddha described right diligence in four steps which involve practising mindfulness in a way that we focus on watering the positive seeds within us and resting the negative seeds.
In Buddhist psychology, our consciousness is represented by a circle with two layers. The lower level of our consciousness is called store consciousness, and it contains seeds of well-being and ill-being. When we water a seed with our awareness, it becomes energised and comes up to the upper level, called mind consciousness, where it becomes a mental formation. Mind consciousness is like the basement where we put things we don’t like or don’t want in our living room. We have beneficial and unbeneficial seeds.
The first step in right diligence practice is to not allow the unbeneficial seeds to manifest. In the depths of our consciousness are seeds of love, compassion, joy, forgiveness — all beneficial to us. And anger, fear, despair, and trauma – these are seeds unbeneficial to us.
The second step in right diligence is, that if by chance, the seed of anger, despair, jealousy, suffering, or trauma has manifested as a mental formation, we do something to help it to go to sleep again as a seed in store consciousness.
We do not suppress it but help it to go back. And beneficial seeds to come up.
The third step in the right diligence practice is to invite the beneficial seeds to come up. Think of a beneficial seed as a friend you haven’t seen for a while. Their presence in the living room brings a lot of joy. So, send them an invitation. You know that their presence in your living room will dissipate the darkness and sorrow.
That friend is in you — the capacity to be happy, joyful, and compassionate. It’s not too difficult to do. Every time I have a friend like that in my living room, I enjoy it very much. Joy and happiness are always possible. We can create a feeling of joy, happiness, serenity, peace, self-fulfilment, or forgiveness by giving the beneficial things a chance to manifest.
The fourth step in right diligence practice is that when something beneficial arises, we try to keep it with us for as long as we can. When a good friend comes to your living room, you want them to stay. The longer a beneficial seed stays in the living room, the stronger it will become. When good things arise, try to keep them in mind consciousness.
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