I assume that you are capable of motivating yourself, and so I present this opportunity for practice. Sometimes people can have very low opinions of themselves which are not really true. Maybe they’ve never had an opportunity or never felt that anyone trusted them enough to motivate themselves. We are trying to bring into our monastic life that kind of value, that kind of beauty, so that monasticism is something that is ‘beautiful in the beginning, beautiful in the middle and beautiful in the end’, and not a kind of imposed tyranny or a forced march.
We need to take on that responsibility for ourselves rather than turning it over to somebody else, expecting someone else to enlighten, love, drive or scold us. The spiritual potential of each being here is to be recognized. We have that marvelous ability to rise up to things rather than to sink down.
‘Rising up’ isn’t a willful force; it’s the ability to go beyond the inertia or the habit tendencies of one’s life toward something higher; it is learning how to just pay attention to the breath or to be more patient, more forgiving, more kindly – with oneself and others. All of this is the effort of rising up and meeting the occasion. This doesn’t mean always having to succeed or prove oneself; it means rising up to meet a situation in a skillful way with mindfulness and wisdom. And this is a possibility for us: we don’t have to be caught in the force of habit and lost in the realm of delusion.
This reflection by Ajahn Sumedho is from the book, The Way It Is, p. 40.