According to Professor Mircea Eliade who is the author of the book, “From Primitive to Zen,” he wrote extensively in a section about the early Buddhist scriptures where he explained how the Buddhist religion had so much likeness for lists.
This likeness was in part because when Buddhism evolved, there was no sacred book written down to guide people, and so people believed that the safest place to keep some important information was in their mind.
Similarly, at that time, there was no form of paper for writing in India, and the only way people could keep records of things such as business sales or other little information was through the use of some special leaves that served as writing materials.
The teachings about the four right efforts
Outstanding teaching that stands out amongst the Buddhists is the teaching about the “four right efforts,” which is explained and summarized as follows:
- The prevention of any unskillful or unhelpful thoughts from arising
- Let go of unhelpful and unskillful thoughts if at all they exist.
- Make room for new and skilful thoughts to arise
- Try to develop any skilful states or thoughts that have existed before
These four right efforts are the foundation of what a true spiritual practice is made up of.
The power of gratitude
“Mudita” is a word used to describe that state of a “joyful appreciation”, and this word has a close connection to the four right efforts. Although most teachers would describe mudita as a way of being happy for others’ happiness, or a form of sympathetic joy, mudita, in a nutshell, can also be said to be admiration, gratitude and appreciation.
Very outstanding about appreciation is the fact that they are encouraging attitudes, which tends to spur people into doing more whenever they are appreciated for doing something. This belief is partly originated from the Buddhist practice where an increased concern for others is emphasized instead of concern for self.
Applying the four right efforts toward others
One obvious question would be ‘how can the four right efforts be applied to others”? In doing this, we should be more concerned with encouraging skilful states among others, instead of paying so much attention to our unskillful states such as cravings and hatred will hinder or affect us. By so doing, we set the right example for others to follow since mental states are very contagious.
With this, we would indirectly be helping others to free themselves from their unskillful state of mind. A typical example to illustrate this is expressing some level of empathy when we see people in a difficult situation or a bad mood.
Instead of getting snippy at the, or just rolling our eyes and saying its none of my business, we can show some level of love and care by walking up to the person to ask about why they are unhappy.
Remember, the states of the mind are very contagious, and so we can stir up skilful states within others if we show them some love, kindness and care. In doing this, we can affect others’ states through our examples and actions.
Summarily, through the power of appreciation, we help others to develop and grow skilful qualities in them once such skills have arisen. With this, it will be easy to establish a lasting bond of friendship with others since regular contact over some time is required to successfully influence and transform the lives of others.