On the night of the Buddha’s awakening, he vowed: “I shall not give up my efforts until I have attained liberation by perseverance, energy and endeavor.” This quality of samaviriya, wise effort or courageous energy, is the first step of the meditative aspect (wise effort, mindfulness and concentration) of the Eightfold Path. The Buddha’s awakening demonstrated the power of indefatigable and balanced energy arising from spiritual urgency—the recognition that now is the only reality. Practicing the Path to liberation requires effort to abandon unskillful mental qualities and develop the skillful. Through this vitality, stillness, through which the grace and mystery of life are revealed, appears. By this effort, we do not seek to “improve” ourselves. Rather, we open our minds to understanding the qualities of heart that keep us bound and suffering and those that set us free. This is a radical shift that requires profound kindness and compassion.
Exerting courageous energy is not striving and pushing to make something happen. It calls for balance—neither too much effort nor too little. We see when effort is tight and we relax; we see when it is flagging and we arouse energy, with equanimity. We see when we’re caught, when we’re asleep, when we’re attached, when we’re frightened; and make the effort to let go of that which obstructs clear seeing. Doing so, we awaken to the unvarnished truth of experience. Through presence in body, mind and heart, wisdom arises.
Will you arouse effort, energy and vitality in your practice? Now is the time.