The sixth component is right effort. Right effort is to be diligent in cultivating a virtuous, pure mind. This cultivation can be accomplished through the Four Right Efforts: by preventing new evil from arising, ending existing evil, generating new virtues, and enhancing existing virtues. Right effort also enables one to determine what is worthwhile without going, mistakenly, to extremes. It is to maintain one’s health, to be joyful, and not push to do what is beyond one’s abilities.
In the Pure Land school, right effort is to delve deeply into our Dharma door and to diligently immerse ourselves in it over a long span of time. We should strive to achieve Constant Mindfulness, which will allow us to keep our wandering thoughts, afflictions, and residual habits in check. In this state, although these will not yet be eradicated, they will no longer arise. With right effort, we will not, during adverse conditions, give rise to afflictions or, during favorable conditions, be attached to phenomena.
The seventh component is right mindfulness. One should always be mindful in everything that is done, avoiding bad actions and doing only those that are good. Right mindfulness lies at the heart of the other seven components of the Eightfold Path. One’s views, thoughts, speech, actions, livelihood, effort, and concentration cannot be right if one is not mindful, not focused on what one is currently thinking and doing.
In the Pure Land school, our main practice in right mindfulness is generating the bodhi mind and concentrating on mindfully chanting the Buddha-name. Additionally, we have supplemental means of practice. These help us to end all wrongdoings and perform good deeds, and to accumulate merits and cultivate virtues. We dedicate these merits and virtues to help us be reborn in the Western Pure Land. These good deeds, virtues, and dedicated merits are accomplished through adhering to the Five Precepts, the Ten Virtuous Karmas, the Six Paramitas, and the Thirty-seven Limbs of Enlightenment. All of these will help us to end our residual habits and afflictions, strengthen our belief and vow, and single-mindedly make unadulterated progress. This is right mindfulness.
The eighth component is right concentration. Right concentration is to practice one Dharma door for the rest of one’s life and not to keep switching to other methods.
In the Pure Land school, right concentration is focusing on Amitabha Buddha. When we are able to mindfully chant his name effectively, we will keep our afflictions and residual habits in check. Through our belief, vow, and chanting we will remain focused and unshaken. This establishes the initial achievement level of our practice: Constant Mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha.