Time for Diligence

Update: 23/09/2020
A new day starts. There are 24 hours everyday for each person and it keeps passing by till the dawn. There are people with busy businesses. There are people who are hustle with family, or there are people who are focused on their work and as monks like us, we are busy with our studying, our path of serving the Buddhist Dharma. Everyone works hard and concentrates on their diligence for their own businesses, but not anyone will succeed and achieve happiness in it.

Time for Diligence


I had opportunities to interact with many people when I worked in the office dept of the pagoda. There were young people and old people, from all sectors and various ages. When being asked about their studying progress of Buddhist Dharma, the answer was they are busy. The young ones have their own study things; the old ones have to take care of their house or their grandchildren or they live too far away, or their health is not good; so they cannot come to the pagoda to study.

There were also people who studied hard but couldn't keep it for too long. At the beginning they practiced very hard and tried their best but without any schedule or plan suitable for their work and health, which led to tiredness, stress and the result was not much safe to come to them, then they gave up. In the Dharma named Angutara Nikaya, Five Dharma chapter, Panñcanivaranā module, sutra of Time for Diligence, the Buddha taught:

”Dear all Bhiksu,

There are five periods of diligence. What are these fives?

1.     Today and here, to all Bhiksu, you are young, and your hair is still black in your youth, in your early years. This is your first period to virya.

2.     Again, to all Bhiksu, there is not much sickness to you all, your brain isn’t damaged, your digestion is controlled, not too cold and not too hot, it’s medium and suitable to its diligence. This is the right second period to virya.

3.     Again, to all Bhiksu, when you are prosperous, food is enough, mendicancy is easy with little effort. This is the right third period to virya.

4.     Again, to all Bhiksu, you live well together without any conflict, blend well like milk and water and look at each other with respect. This is the right fourth period to virya.

5.     Again, to all Bhiksu, you live well with each other, with the same teachings. To all Bhiksu, there is no scolding, no dispute, no blaming each other. Who doesn’t have pure faith can find it here, who already has will be able to improve it. To all Bhiksu, this is the right fifth period to Virya.

All these Dharma, to all Bhiksu, there are five right periods of diligence.

When I was a layman, I knew this person. His family’s background and his life were ideal to many people. His name was Manh, about forty at that time. His job was as an electrician in his town. He lived with his parents, his wife and two kids. His daily job was common, and the salary was enough. His wife worked at a bookstore near the market and was paid a stable income.

Suddenly one night, they had an accident when he was driving with his son. He was dead and his son was carried to the emergency room with a broken leg. He lost everything, his family, his career and even his life without growing any dharma seeds, even if he lived near a pagoda. Then even when his family invited the monks to pray for him, it was just little and late dharma background to them. It was too late for him to study Buddhist Dharma.

At that time, I was just a young guy, even when I already gained the habits of visiting the pagoda, praying for Buddha, with the desire of being ordained, but the attraction of the movie and the entertainments drove me away from my studying. It was until his death that I left behind everything to study hard and to be ordained with no hesitation.

Time gradually passes by

But I lost following the life

Floating as a small boat to nowhere

I don’t know the places to anchor.

Most of us don’t appreciate the opportunities even when it’s passing by. We are covered with daily life and assume it is our happiness, without knowing that all the promotions and benefits only bring us a short time of joy. It can be the seeds of pain, because the dharma is impermanent and temporary. The materials can satisfy our desires but do not bring peace into us. The evidence is that many people live in wealth, but they are always busy and worried.

However, to achieve good results with either our working progress or our studying, we need the Dharma to shine on us, so we apply it into the Middle Way, so we can balance the studying of Buddhist Dharma and our life.

An opportunity never appears twice; time doesn’t wait for anyone. Therefore, those who still have the chance to study, build a spiritual life, and build the path of release must be quickly in practice. Don’t wait until our daily time drives us away, our body is tired and aging, approaching the death, it will be too late. However, to be successful and be happy in the progress, we must appreciate the occasion and work hard as Buddha taught us. If we do that, we will avoid evil and wrong opinions, avoid the tiredness in our mind to have lots of happiness and joy.

Translated by Nguyen Thi Mai Thao.

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