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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Jan 4, 2020

1,200 years ago, the Buddhist Master Shantideva offered a Buddhist approach to lasting change in his Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. The four powers of effort can be used as steps to making a specific change reaching a goal.


The Four Powers of Effort


  1. Aspiration. A strong wish (aspiration) is a fundamental basis to accomplish an important goal. The most powerful wishes comes when the outcome is meaningful to us and is an expression of our values. Living in accordance with our values is a path toward happiness and is a type of success that can reliably bring us satisfaction. External success may or may not be achieved or even deliver the happiness we believed it would. But acting in accordance with our values will bring us peace. 
  2. Steadfastness. What is the smallest, most manageable step you can take in the next 24 hours to move in the direction of your goal? Very clearly identify the first step, according to your capacity. Plan the step for the following day. Try to make one step toward your goal each day. If we diligently put these planned steps into action, from this steadfastness will come a newfound confidence. The Buddha said that “with effort we have all attainments”. 
  3. Joy. Try to make the plan for change a joyful one. We won’t do what makes us suffer for very long! Adopting new habits will be challenging, but the experience can’t be very unpleasant. The spiritual path should be a joyful one if we are practicing correctly.
  4. Rest. Rest is a power of effort. Plan to take rest and have a break. Also, when we have an unexpected rest (when we diverge from our plan or slip-up), don’t feel that you have failed. Steadfastness means we are going in the direction of our dreams, not that we are perfect.


 The verses from the Dhammapada we studied in this episode are:


Ah, so happily we live, 

We who have no attachment,

We shall feast on joy,

As do the radiant gods.


Victory gives birth to hate,

The defeated sleep in anguish.

Giving up both victory and defeat,

Those who have attained peace sleep happily.

Buddha, the Dhammapada 


Buddha. The Dhammapada, translated by Gil Fronsdale. (2011). Shambala, pp. 54.

Esposito, C. (2015). The Calm Living Blueprint. [podcast] Episodes 10-11. 

Je Tsongkhapa. Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Volume 2. Translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee. Joshua Cutler, Editor-in-Chief, and Guy Newlan, Editor. Pages 181-208.