To make the best use of our human potential, we need not only a practical aim in life, but a life plan for achieving that aim. The preceding two sections of this essay show the groundwork for developing a proper sense of values, the values essential for gaining happiness, success, and security within the mundane life and for progressing towards the ultimate goal of the Buddhist path, Nibbana.
While we walk along the path to liberation, as laypeople we have to live in the world, and our immediate objective will be to make our life in the world both a means to worldly success and a stepping-stone to final liberation.
To accomplish this, we must organize our life within the framework of the Noble Eightfold Path. We can best realize our immediate aims by drawing up an individual life plan in keeping with our powers and circumstances. This life plan must be realistic. It must envisage a realistic development of our innate potential, steering us towards the fullest actualization of our possibilities.
At the start, we require an honest understanding of ourselves. It is pointless to devise a workable life plan on the foundation stone of grandiose delusions about our character and abilities. The more we find out about ourselves, by self-observation and self-examination, the better will be our chances of self-improvement. We should ask ourselves how far and to what degree we are generous, kind, even-tempered, considerate, honest, sober in morals, truthful, diligent, energetic, industrious, cautious, patient, tolerant, and tactful. These are the qualities of a well-developed Buddhist, the qualities we ourselves should emulate.
We need to improve ourselves wherever we are weak. A little practice everyday is all that is necessary. We should remember that the more often an action is performed, the easier it becomes for us to perform it in the future and the stronger becomes the tendency to do it again and again until it becomes a habit, an ingrained part of our character.
Our life plan should cover all the main areas of a normal householder’s life, including occupation, marriage, the procreation and raising of children, retirement, old age and death. The happiness of lay life consists in finding out exactly what one can do and doing it well. A clear mental picture of a practical aim in life and a realistic sketch of the steps needed to achieve that aim will help guide us to the fulfillment of our ideal. We tend to become what we really want to be, provided we act realistically and effectively to realize our aim.
This article was taken from ‘Facebook’ (Sokia Ky’s profile)