Posted by: Upāsaka | 05/07/2013

Viriya Parami

My focus on service and dana parami in the last sevral weeks has, to my surprise, required me to take a much closer look at the other ten paramis and viriya parami in particular. For those who may not be familair the paramis are a late addition to the Theravada and/or Pali Buddhist tradition which constitute a kind of buddhology and outline of the qualities necessary to achieve Buddhahood that most associate solely with the Mahayana. Unlike the six paramitas of the Mahayana schools, there are ten perfections in the Pali tradition with viriya having no counterpart in the former and meaning “perfection of energy.”

In the past, I haven’t given overmuch thought to viriya parami as it just seemed so obvious. Perhaps due to a defect in my understanding or forgetfulness I was relying on a conception of viriya (and of all the paramis for that matter) which omitted one key component: karuna. Without a commitment to compassionate action none of the paramis make much sense and this is especially so with viriya. I keep finding that the practice requires so much energy whether it has to do with rousing myself at night to meditate or working up the energy to clean up the house for my wife. All of it is service. All of it is practice. None of it gets done if one is slack in effort. So, with that in mind, it has been an eye-opener to watch the ebb and flow of energy in my daily life and in my formal practice and realize just how often I allow myself to melt into sloth and torpor. What I hve found is that I am more inclined to do so during “daily life” especially when I have done “my share” whatever that means. There’s no question, however, that this sloth works against me just as much in formal meditation as it does in life so overcoming it is a must.

May we all work to arouse energy and conviction to overcome our defilements!


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