The Buddha uttered these verses at Jetavana Monastery to a devout lay disciple, who had very nearly been fatally harmed because of others’ misguided actions. These words provide a very comforting truth – that the fate of our well-being does not rest upon the actions of others. It lies entirely within our control.
There may be times when we become victims of wrongful actions done upon us, but we must remember that we do not inherit the heavy kammic consequences of the wrong-doer. We can however, react to the misfortune with mindfulness and equanimity so that we do not get drawn into a regrettable action motivated by anger and delusion.
Similarly, we will not progress on our journey towards freedom from suffering simply by watching others be diligent in their spiritual practice. We have to exert Right Effort to walk the path, as taught by the Buddha. They are the effort to:
(1) prevent unwholesome qualities, especially greed, anger, and ignorance, from arising;
(2) extinguish those which have already arisen;
(3) cultivate skillful or wholesome qualities that have not yet arisen; and
(4) strengthen those that have already arisen.
This can be done in our every waking moment by gradually honing our mindfulness to be unwaning. It is with this upright conduct that we can move forward confidently on the spiritual path.