Virya Paramita: Joyous Effort

The fourth paramita is call virya paramita in Sanskrit, and is the paramita of joyous effort, energy, vitality, perseverance, endurance, diligence, and enthusiasm. We need this paramita of joyous effort and perseverance in order to practice the first three paramitas of generosity, ethics, and patience. Joyous effort makes the first three paramitas increase and become even more powerful influences in our life.

The essence of this joyous effort is the courage to practice the Dharma and pursue the goal of enlightenment from a feeling of deep compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings. Remember, this is the practice of a Bodhisattva, so we do this for not just ourselves but also for the benefit of all sentient beings.  We use our body, speech, and mind to benefit others, with no expectations for personal recognition or reward. Using joyous effort, we can practice the Dharma without getting sidetracked by laziness. Unless we develop this paramita, we can become disillusioned and drop our practice when we feel like it’s too hard or like we don’t understand life. The word virya means “persistence and perseverance in the face of disillusionment,” “energetically striving to attain the supreme goal,” which is enlightenment, of course. When we practice with persistent and consistent effort, we can realize the tremendous value and benefit of our practice. Lama Surya Das says that “With joyous effort and enthusiastic perseverance, we regard failure as simply another step toward success; danger as an inspiration for courage; and affliction as another opportunity to practice wisdom and compassion.”

From His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said, “Adversity, illness, and death are real and inevitable. We chose whether to add to these unavoidable facts of life with the suffering that we create in our own minds and hearts… the chosen suffering. The more we make a different choice, to heal our own suffering, the more we can turn to others and help to address their suffering with the laughter-filled, tear-stained eyes of the heart. And the more we turn away from our self-regard to wipe the tears from the eyes of another, the more- incredibly- we are able to hear, to heal, and to transcend our own suffering. This is the true secret to joy.”

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