Day 4: Summoning the World to Buddhahood

On Tue, 21 March, 2023 - 22:06
Vidyamala's picture

After hearing all about patient forbearance yesterday, today’s theme is vigour (Virya-paramita). This is variously translated by different scholars as: Energy in the Pursuit of the Good (Bhante), Vigour, Strength and Enthusiasm.

Today Saddhaloka gave a wonderful commentary on this chapter after we’d listened to all the verses read aloud. In his quiet, deep way he embodied the vigour that we all need to bring to our practice. He’s had a twinkle about him all week and his talk contained both twinkle and challenge – a beguiling combination that led, for me, to yet more ‘un-doing’ and release. He also channelled Shantideva at one point, pretending to be him, which was good fun and a little scary!

Are you feeling sorry for yourself? Don’t be so indulgent! Stop messing about. Just get on with it

Santideva follows the system of the Four Great Efforts which Bhante described using the acronym PEDM:

  • Preventing the arising of unhelpful mental/emotional states
  • Eliminating those that have already arisen
  • Developing positive mental/emotional states
  • Maintaining positive mental/emotional states that have already arisen.

As usual, Santideva is very direct and challenging of our assumptions, once again showing us how everything can be brought onto the path if we have the right attitude. He takes those emotions that are often described as ‘negative’ such as desire (chanda), pleasure (rati) and pride (mana) and explores all of them as sources of energy. [Read my notes here]

In the team meeting last night Dhivan said “Santideva - he’s quite a character isn’t he?” This is something that has come home to many of us as we hear the text read aloud. Santideva toys with us, plays with us, whispers and shouts at us. Speaking personally, my experience is just when I think I might have understood something and found a stable patch of ground to rest upon, along comes a verse that rips up any sense of security and I am once again plunged into groundlessness.

It’s quite a thrilling ride, but there’s not much room for comfort.

Meanwhile we see vigour abounding in the outside world. It is an exquisite time in nature with spring starting to accelerate here at Adhisthana. The trees are getting ‘furry’ with the first fuzz of greenery cloaking the bare, winter limbs. The willow by the pond is the most exquisite green – small, fresh leaves making their way into the world. The magnolia outside the men’s community is really going for it now. It feels to me as if the pent-up energy of late winter/early spring is starting to let loose and the whole world is breathing out. It’s very, very beautiful.

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