Welcome to the faithful laity. Today we learn Dhamma that is called, ‘Talent vs Persistence’. As we are aware, people are born with many things that are not equal. Some people are born into wealthy families. Some into middle class families, or some of poor status. Some people are born and they have everything ready for them. They have both parents and have relatives, they have them all. But some people, shortly after birth they are abandoned by their father, or abandoned by their mother. Or their parents may not be the way they would like. For most people who are born, for them to have everything is difficult. But there are in some families, those born and have everything perfect.
Whichever way we look at it, we should see that we cannot choose this matter of merit and goodness. If we were able to choose, everyone would want to be born as the son of a rich and wealthy person, who has everything complete in their family, and imbued with having mindfulness and wisdom too. But is this something we can wish for? These things go according to kamma. In Buddhism, this is said to be a matter of kamma. Kamma is the one that brings us to be born, about where and how we are going to be born. To be born among human beings, its kamma that brings us. To be born among animals, its kamma that brings one. Or being born in a good life and existence, it’s all about kamma. So in this aspect we must accept that what we are born into in this life is the result of our kamma that we have created already.
But whatever the case, we already have been born. Some people are born and have it good since childhood, but some people speak slowly and have to practise speaking a lot. Some people need to use a lot of effort. A child may be born who is very hyperactive, with a short attention span, and they are never still. Whatever they do is quick, and their parents have to constantly take care of them, be devoted, wholehearted, and constantly train and teach this type of child. They have to try to make them sit still, guide them to chant, guide them to do meditation, and take them to the monastery. They try to train them from a young age, gradually shaping them little by little. A child like this has quick thoughts and quick knowledge, but they do nothing like other children. If we don’t pay attention to them, if we don’t train them from a young age, they will lose a lot of opportunities. But when parents are caring for these children, they see that children like this have a very high IQ. They are very talented, and they will gain success. But if they have no training, no guidance, they are not put on the right path, then they would completely lose their chance.
So talent could be called an old merit, which has been done in the past. The merit that has been done in past lives, this is merit, this is talent. But persistent effort must be made in this lifetime, and this must be imbued with Dhamma.
What is this Dhamma I am talking about? We must have inner power, right? So we have to build this power. Build faith and confidence. When we believe in something, we build our confidence in that thing, and we need to put in effort following that belief, which must also be in line with morality and virtue as well. We also must have the utmost perseverance. Even if there is just faith, it is already great. It’s called a spiritual power or faculty. One has that faculty as chief. One is not being lazy. If we are business owners, we will not be lazy. We will try to do the work, try to focus on the job and responsibilities as best as we can. We are not careless. But if we are careless, and we lack morality and virtue, then it may not work out. Even if we have perseverance, it is still wrong. It’s incorrect persistence. But if we have good determination and we have strong interest in what we are doing, then there is virtue, determination, striving, and being mindful with the performance of the work. Our concentration is firm and our wisdom knows what we are doing thoroughly. Then these qualities will be the power of our mind which pushes us towards success. This is persistence. There is the effort to have chanda, satisfaction with what one is doing.
So let’s try to think about this. These four bases of success are the Dhamma that the Lord Buddha has taught. These are the virtues that will lead to success. Let’s see if the people in the world who have gained success have these virtues? Do they have satisfaction with what they are doing? When they have a need to do something, they whole-heartedly strive for it. They aspire to do even better work. They have perseverance, they are firm and strong. What does perseverance come with? Can one have perseverance without patience? You must have patience, must be strong-willed as well, so not just ordinary patience. Not giving up on that work, being stubborn to accomplish that work. They are able to die in order to be successful. The mind is focused on the work and does not let it go. They see what is wrong and what is right. They don’t let their mind wander. They try to reflect and investigate in order to adjust and improve. In the end, they will be successful in that job and responsibility. This is talent, and there must be persistence as well. Acquiring various skills and having the art in doing work. They are also special in society too. But in all of this, there must be morality and virtue. They must have knowledge together with virtue as well. If there is no virtue and there is no knowledge, then what will this be like? Then they may do some right, but do some wrong too. They may do something immoral, and it can damage their work, as well as damage their life a lot. A person who is grown up and mature, must have goodness and morality, which supports that person’s mind.
So then what about effort and persistence? Perseverance and persistence, having viriya–effort, it must go hand in hand with patience and forbearance always. It’s a feeling of not being discouraged by problems. Because every person must have problems, everything must have obstacles. But in order for us to overcome all the obstacles, we need to have faith to hold our spirits well.
Remind ourselves that patience is a quality for those who have a calm mind and beautiful heart. They aren’t someone who is rash, pestering, giving frustrations, and they don’t give opportunity for mistakes to come in. Because the lack of patience will give an opportunity for mistakes to be made easily. So if we are already training to have perseverance, then you have to start with the idea that you have to train yourself often. To keep on doing, keep on thinking, keep writing, keep presenting ideas. Don’t be lazy. And don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Be brave in taking responsibility for your own failures. Do not be discouraged by hard work and heavy work. Think that if you do a lot, then you will know more and become more skilled. Don’t complain that you don’t have time, because time is equal. Everyone has the same amount of time. So we need to find time, find the opportunity to do it.
We must try to train and practise. Dhamma practice and meditation is just the same. So the students who are studying, do not blame it on not having enough time. You want to play, you want to indulge in entertainment, and so you lose your studies and education. You must be diligent in the first place. If we do our work, we should be determined to it. We analyze and explore our work so it is done well. It’s called investigating, considering, revising in what you think and do, and this is done with a heart that likes to do this, with a heart of faith and determination. So the successful performers at the national level, continental level, or global level, they all have perseverance, dedication, practicing, training, so that the results of their performance is the best.
Whether it’s an athlete, an actor, a scientist, an astronomer, in all the sciences, or a doctor, a nurse, and other disciplines, it all takes training and practice. It’s not that it just happened and turned out that way, that they were born and they had everything ready. That is for one who is a Bodhisattva who has built a lot of parami, spiritual perfections, already. It is already full. They don’t need to train much in this lifetime, because they have practised this knowledge for countless lifetimes already. It’s millions and millions of years, saying this millions of times, of how much they have practised it already. But those who have not trained in it, they may come with some innate talents, but if they have no persistence and just let it go, then they will lose their opportunity. They indulge and get lost in various things, and then ultimately success will not happen.
Therefore, this perseverance must have tenacity and resoluteness, without comparing to others. But we must try to succeed. We keep practising to become proficient, and one thing we should find is someone who can guide us. People may have the same talent, but they may be lacking in the people they associate with, the people who help us. The teachers and colleagues, or organisations who gather together to train in it. They have knowledge and ability, and this will speed up our knowledge and ability to come up. They can make us be aware of our strong points and bring out talents that we may have. It can help us to be successful. And this talent is not something that comes up automatically. It’s not that a switch is turned on, and excellence is born in this world. But it’s necessary to keep training and practising hard, constantly, and intensely too. This is not on a normal level. Even though one has talent inside, but because of a lack of training and practising in the present, in this life, not seeking to increase and not developing, then the talent stops there. So it is the combination of talent and persistence. This is important in what makes human beings be successful.
So we can see that to be a doctor or a skilled scientist, if one lacks education and lacks training in this life, then one won’t be able to study successfully. Every subject requires patience, forbearance, and overcoming difficulties. Sometimes it can be seen that those who will achieve this kind of success, they cry over and over again. Their training and practice was brutal. They could cry for years, because of how brutal it was.
It was serious training from their teacher, or the agency or organization, that we go to practise and train in. It’s not easy at all. If they are serious about training us, then we may be able to achieve success without difficulty. But at any rate, firstly, we should recite the mantra, “Patience, patience, patience, endure, endure.” This is the Dhamma of lay people, right? Starting with khanti, patience and endurance, forcing and disciplining the mind. Getting rid of any bad moods or feelings, giving it up out of our hearts. We make our hearts empty, we make our hearts have metta, kindness and compassion. We share with each other, through kindness and compassion. This will lead to success in our lives.
So let’s be determined. We don’t know how much talent everyone has. But when we have come close to a great teacher, we have come close to the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha, we come close to teachers who teach different subjects, then if we have effort, persistence, and determination, we will be very successful in our various subjects and occupations. But if we don’t do it, we aren’t persistent, we are born here and we don’t train and practise, then we can’t be good athletes. We can’t sing well. We can’t be good actors. We can’t be good doctors. We can’t be good in any profession. So it is up to us to seek it out. We must have a blessing in our heart, which is to have Dhamma. There is determination and dedication in what we are doing. We must like and be satisfied with it, we strive for it. We are always using reflection, investigation and reasoning. And the mind is composed of kindness and compassion. It has morality and virtue. May you all gain success in your studies, in your work, and in the practice of Dhamma. May you grow in blessings.