T 1670B Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra

Part 2: Dialogues

2.11. Exertion

The king said, “What is the characteristic mark of exertion?”

“To hold fast to good qualities. To support good qualities is the characteristic mark of exertion.”

Then Nāgasena gave some similes, “It is just like the support given by a post to a wall that is going to collapse, or to a house that is going to fall. This is called exertion.”

Nāgasena continued with other similes, “It is as if a king who sends out his army to fight but finds his army too weak to fulfill his wishes. So the king sends out his reinforcements to help. As a result, the king wins the battle. If a person has bad qualities, he or she is just like the small and weak army. People eliminate all bad qualities by the support of the good qualities, just as the king wins the battle by the help of the reinforcements. With the help of the five good qualities, one destroys the five bad qualities. It is just like the king who sends reinforcements to the weak army. This is called supporting good qualities by exertion.”

Thus Nāgasena quoted from a sutra: “With the help of exertion, people attain the meritorious Path and go beyond the worldly path without falling back again.”

“Excellent, Nāgasena.”