In SN 4.35.120 Sariputta teaches a bhikkhu about guarding the sense, moderation in eating and keeping the wakeful watch.
Essential lessions in basic training. These are things to learn before even taking the first step in learning meditation and they will be things one will need to master for there to be any hope of real progress in this system.
This is very hard to swallow for people here today [USA Friday, April 24, 2015 7:22 AM] who only want to hear 'pay attention to the breathing' or 'practice loving kindness'.
Both those things are valuable instructions, but this is a system which claims to solve all the problems of existence. It is unreasonable to think that it will not require self-discipline and hard work.
The Dhamma allows for faith by the layman — Practice Generosity, refine your ethical conduct, and train yourself as is suggested in this sutta. But be aware and be satisfied with the fact that this is just the beginning of a very long trip; one that will be the most difficult and trying of your life.
If you approach this Dhamma thinking it's going to be a snap, or that it will make everything here right, beautiful and pleasant and easy, you are going to snap and be unjustifiably dissapointed and all the gods will have to say about you in that state is that you are indulging yourself in self-pity.
You need to develop the heart of the hero. The sensation of having huge lungs, vast and irresistable strength.
Very similar to the mind-set of the martyr, without the masochism — the determination to penetrate through to the achievement of the goal no matter what must be sacrificed here in this world.
This is not the heart of a small man trying to trudge up an impossibly steep hill.
Put yourself in charge.
There is no obstacle you cannot overcome!
Everything you learn and practice in this system moves you ahead, but it is absolutely vital to keep the task in perspective. It is monumental. It is the most difficult challenge you will ever face. When you think it's going to be (or ought to be) easy and you fall back it is very important to look to yourself for the reason and not blame the system. If when you fall back you acknowledge your weaknesses you will be able to regain the system by re-examining your behavior and understanding of the system. If you blame the system; where will you go from there?