The Four Keys to Success

                From Basic Buddhsim Course by Phra Sunthorn Plamintr

     Everyone wants to be successful in life, but not all meet with success. Successful people are recognized and respected: the stories of their lives are recorded and studied by both their contemporaries and later generations.  They are therefore immortalized and looked upon as a source of creative inspiration for those who desire to succeed like-wise.

     The Buddha has taught us the way to success in many of his discourses.  According to one of these discourses, there are four virtues that, when developed, lead to success and enable man to achieve his goals in life.  They are Will, Effort, Active Thought, and Wisdom.

     The first key to success is the will to work or to fulfill one's duties to the best of one's ability.  This means that one should have desire, interest, and determination to work.  There should be the right attitude toward what one is expected to do.  Will is, in fact, a primary requirement in the execution of one's responsobilities, without which nothing much can be accomplished.

     The second is effort or perseverance in one's undertakings.  This implies the ceaseless application of energy to the work one is supposed to do.  When we undertake to do something, we should exert ourselves, fully and continually, until the task is completed.  If students are merely interested in the subjects they study, but do not want to actively commit themselves, the chance for success would be very slim indeed.  Effort is therefore a very important factor for success.  We should try to cultivate this virtue in us.

     Active thought means the thought about one's work which is well-directed and constantly applied.  Whatever we do, be it great or small, we have to apply our active thought to it, again and again, until it is finished.  If we do not succeed at the first attempt, we should not feel discouraged but should think about it carefully and work even harder.  We should be positive in our thinking and firm in our goals.

     The last virtue is also very important.  Wisdom is necessary in all kinds of activities.  When we work, we should always examine the work we do; we should have good planning and a proper understanding of the work.  It is not enough to work hard; we should also work wisely, using our intelligence and common sense.  Only those who work in this way will attain a high degree of success.  The use of wisdom will prevent us from doing wrong things and ensure our success.  It is therefore very important that we learn how to cultivate wisdom and how to use it in all our activities.