The second of both the Five Roots and the Five Powers is diligence. Diligently applying ourselves to our main practice enables us to make focused progress. As we begin to see some results, we will enjoy the practice and not tire of it. Diligence can also be applied successfully to everything we do. Whether chanting, working, or meeting other responsibilities, we do so steadily. When it is appropriate, we take a break. After a reasonable time, we return to our task. If we keep striving and are always diligent, we will eliminate any habit of laziness, initially in everyday tasks and ultimately in our Buddhist practice.
Looking at the Thirty-seven Limbs, we see that diligence appears several times. If we wish to attain rebirth in the Pure Land we must be diligent in our daily practice, for without it our roots will remain shallow and our powers weak.
The third of the Five Roots and the Five Powers is mindfulness, which will improve with our diligence. Mindfulness means “keeping in mind”: keeping both the main practice and the supplemental means in mind. As Buddha-name chanting practitioners, our main practice is to always keep the name of Amitabha Buddha in mind, using the name to suppress our wandering thoughts, discriminations, and attachments.
The fourth of the Five Roots and Five Powers is concentration, a focused mind. This is the mind that no longer seeks externally, for it knows that everything we need is already within us. By focusing our minds on chanting “Amituofo,” we will reach the state where we are continuously aware of Amitabha Buddha. At that point there will be no need to worry about how to act. With our minds focused on the Buddha’s name, we will react from our true nature and do what is right naturally.
“Amituofo” is the root of our concentration in the Pure Land Dharma door. Our every thought should accord with Amitabha Buddha and with the Pure Land teachings. As is said, “When one accords with Amitabha Buddha in one thought, one is Amitabha Buddha in that thought. And when one accords with Amitabha Buddha in every thought, one is Amitabha Buddha in every thought.”
The fifth of the Five Roots and Five Powers is wisdom. As we have seen, the first root, belief, leads to the root of diligence, then to the root of mindfulness, then of concentration, and finally of wisdom. The root of wisdom, in turn, leads to and nurtures the five powers. Wisdom can eliminate all doubts and improper beliefs, help us overcome our afflictions, and uncover our true nature. It enables us to naturally know the difference between true and false, proper and deviated, right and wrong, beneficial and harmful. With wisdom, we will thoroughly comprehend everything we encounter, knowing how to interact appropriately with things and situations. When our wisdom has deep roots, we will not waver; we will be firm and unshakable. When the Five Roots grow into the Five Powers, these powers will enable us to help not only ourselves, but others as well.