Right Diligence

Having grown up in the USAmerican culture, I equated diligence with hard work–a “nose to the grindstone” Puritan work ethic. However, the latin root of “diligence,” diligentia, is also directly related to the concepts of attentiveness, earnestness, constant or close attention, care, faithfulness. If we want to improve the quality of our life, our relationships and the work we do, then this broader view of diligence can provide insights into how to bring that about. Pick any of these other terms associated with diligentia, and see how it speaks to you. How can I be more diligent in my life? Infuse hard work with attentiveness, earnestness, care, or faithfulness?

In teaching people about ways to reduce their suffering and increase their happiness, the Buddha described something that is “right” as being helpful in this regard. Not the usual right/wrong dichotomy many of us immediately think of. “Right diligence” in this sense means focusing our constant and close attention, our earnestness, our care, our faithfulness, and our hard work on tending to joy, happiness and acceptance in ourselves and others. It means we practice un-sticking our anger, hatred, and violence; and shift through our judgments, stereotypes, fear, and ignorance by cultivating awareness and empathy through the processes of deep listening and mindful speech, so that we can see people and situations with clear eyes. From that place we know what to do and what not to do in a situation, and our actions are more likely to have positive, fruitful results. This focus of diligence has the fullest potential for good. Please don’t take my word for it. Try it out for yourself. What are your results?

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