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Fall Down Seven Get Up Eight: Virya

Virya/ vigor/diligence is a compound term implying right effort, right concentration, and resilience. It is a "paramita," a Pali (first language in which Buddha's teachings were translated) word generally translated as perfecting-wisdom. There are six paramitas in the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism and ten in the Theravadin practice. Paramitas in the Soto Zen Buddhism we follow, sees this wisdom-set as unfolding as we follow the teachings of Buddha, through helping others reduce their suffering.

We must be about reducing suffering in our life by experiencing impermanence, interconnection of "all" and that our "ego" is not who we are. This experience then, enables us to see the moment more clearly know that we cannot hide from it, hold on to it, and or wish it away. We can then share this Dharma (teaching).

Zen is pragmatic. That which we become attached to will change, and that which we do not want, may happen. Being stuck (even addicted) to ideas and behaviors, cause a wobble in our space-time (called Dukkha or suffering) that is a life condition.

A Bodhisattva (figuratively helping others to cross the street rather than just staying put ourselves) enables others to experience Buddhist teaching and Zen as a direction can reduce and possibly put an end to types of suffering occurring through birth, sickness, old-age and death. We are suffering through, greed, hate, and delusion, we experience these conditions throughout life.

By practicing what we learn from experience, we unfold a sense of knowing, an in-depth wisdom. This is neither static nor paranormal. It is the eye of the painter and the ear of the musician. A developed sense that enables sharing and teaching to help others experience what they may feel is unimaginable.

Virya is such a perfecting. To be diligent is a capability/quality that enables right concentration, effort and adjustment. We come to see that carrying water and chopping wood is life and life continues based on our attention to its changing aspects. We see the question “why” as a request to experience and to know change.

I recall a story of two monks talking by a small stream as a few vegetables float by, and one says “…a person of diligence is close by,” as a monk comes running down the stream chasing the meandering food…

May you experience Virya and know wisdom…



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