AN 8.80 wrong effort and right effort, laziness & vīriya/vigor

The next time you’re feeling lazy, take a close look at this sutta. It’s quite amazing the standard of quality the buddha is asking for in right effort, viriyam ārabhati (vigor’s arousing). No wonder some people succeed faster than others.

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Synopsis

AN 8.80 kusīt-ārambha-vatthu

kusīt-ārambha-vatthu-suttaṃ (AN 8.80)
The Grounds for Laziness & the Arousal [of Energy]
(cst4)
(thanissaro trans.)
♦ 80. VAR “aṭṭhimāni, bhikkhave, kusītavatthūni.
“Monks, there are these eight grounds for laziness.
katamāni aṭṭha?
Which eight?

(1. Has work to do. Why not lie down?)

1. idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā kammaṃ kattabbaṃ hoti. tassa evaṃ hoti — ‘kammaṃ kho me kattabbaṃ bhavissati. kammaṃ kho pana me karontassa kāyo kilamissati. handāhaṃ nipajjāmī’ti. so nipajjati, na vīriyaṃ ārabhati appattassa pattiyā anadhigatassa adhigamāya asacchikatassa sacchikiriyāya. idaṃ, bhikkhave, paṭhamaṃ kusītavatthu.
1. “There is the case where a monk has some work to do. The thought occurs to him: ‘I will have to do this work. But when I have done this work, my body will be tired. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the first ground for laziness.

(2. Finished some work. Why not lie down?)

2. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā kammaṃ kataṃ hoti. tassa evaṃ hoti — ‘ahaṃ kho kammaṃ akāsiṃ. kammaṃ kho pana me karontassa kāyo kilanto. handāhaṃ nipajjāmī’ti. so nipajjati, na vīriyaṃ ārabhati appattassa pattiyā anadhigatassa adhigamāya asacchikatassa sacchikiriyāya. idaṃ, bhikkhave, dutiyaṃ kusītavatthu.
2. “Then there is the case where a monk has done some work. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have done some work. Now that I have done work, my body is tired. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the second ground for laziness.

(3. Before journey. Why not lie down?)

3. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā maggo gantabbo hoti. tassa evaṃ hoti — ‘maggo me gantabbo bhavissati. maggaṃ kho pana me gacchantassa kāyo kilamissati. handāhaṃ nipajjāmī’ti. so nipajjati, na vīriyaṃ ārabhati appattassa pattiyā anadhigatassa adhigamāya asacchikatassa sacchikiriyāya. idaṃ, bhikkhave, tatiyaṃ kusītavatthu.
3. “Then there is the case where a monk has to go on a journey. The thought occurs to him: ‘I will have to go on this journey. But when I have gone on the journey, my body will be tired. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the third ground for laziness.

(4. Completed journey. Why not lie down?)

4. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā maggo gato hoti. tassa evaṃ hoti — ‘ahaṃ kho maggaṃ agamāsiṃ. maggaṃ kho pana me gacchantassa kāyo kilanto. handāhaṃ nipajjāmī’ti. so nipajjati, na vīriyaṃ ārabhati appattassa pattiyā anadhigatassa adhigamāya asacchikatassa sacchikiriyāya. idaṃ bhikkhave, catutthaṃ kusītavatthu.
4. “Then there is the case where a monk has gone on a journey. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have gone on a journey. Now that I have gone on a journey, my body is tired. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fourth ground for laziness.

(5. didn’t get enough to eat from almsround. Why not lie down?)

5. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā piṇḍāya caranto na labhati lūkhassa vā paṇītassa vā bhojanassa yāvadatthaṃ pāripūriṃ. tassa evaṃ hoti — ‘ahaṃ kho gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā piṇḍāya caranto nālatthaṃ lūkhassa vā paṇītassa vā bhojanassa yāvadatthaṃ pāripūriṃ. tassa me kāyo kilanto akammañño. handāhaṃ nipajjāmī’ti. so nipajjati, na vīriyaṃ ārabhati ... pe ... idaṃ, bhikkhave, pañcamaṃ kusītavatthu.
5. “Then there is the case where a monk, having gone for alms in a village or town, does not get as much coarse or refined food as he would like for his fill. The thought occurs to him: ‘I, having gone for alms in a village or town, have not gotten as much coarse or refined food as I would like for my fill. This body of mine is tired & unsuitable for work. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fifth ground for laziness.

(6. Got enough to eat. Why not lie down?)

6. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā piṇḍāya caranto labhati lūkhassa vā paṇītassa vā bhojanassa yāvadatthaṃ pāripūriṃ. tassa evaṃ hoti — ‘ahaṃ kho gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā piṇḍāya caranto alatthaṃ lūkhassa vā paṇītassa vā bhojanassa yāvadatthaṃ pāripūriṃ. tassa me kāyo garuko akammañño māsācitaṃ maññe. handāhaṃ nipajjāmī’ti. so nipajjati, na vīriyaṃ ārabhati ... pe ... idaṃ, bhikkhave, chaṭṭhaṃ kusītavatthu.
6. “Then there is the case where a monk, having gone for alms in a village or town, gets as much coarse or refined food as he would like for his fill. The thought occurs to him: ‘I, having gone for alms in a village or town, have gotten as much coarse or refined food as I would like for my fill. This body of mine is heavy & unsuitable for work—stuffed with beans, as it were. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the sixth ground for laziness.

(7. Has illness, needs rest. Why not lie down?)

7. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno uppanno hoti appamattako ābādho. tassa evaṃ hoti — ‘uppanno kho me ayaṃ appamattako ābādho atthi kappo nipajjituṃ. handāhaṃ nipajjāmī’ti. so nipajjati, na vīriyaṃ ārabhati ... pe ... idaṃ, bhikkhave, sattamaṃ kusītavatthu.
7. “Then there is the case where a monk comes down with a slight illness. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have come down with a slight illness. There’s a need to lie down.’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the seventh ground for laziness.

(8. Just recovered from illness, still weak. Why not lie down?)

8. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu gilānā vuṭṭhito VAR hoti aciravuṭṭhito gelaññā. tassa evaṃ hoti — ‘ahaṃ kho gilānā vuṭṭhito aciravuṭṭhito gelaññā. tassa me kāyo dubbalo akammañño. handāhaṃ nipajjāmī’ti. so nipajjati, na vīriyaṃ ārabhati appattassa pattiyā anadhigatassa adhigamāya asacchikatassa sacchikiriyāya. idaṃ, bhikkhave, aṭṭhamaṃ kusītavatthu.
8. “Then there is the case where a monk has recovered from his illness, not long after his recovery. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have recovered from my illness. It’s not long after my recovery. This body of mine is weak & unsuitable for work. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the eighth ground for laziness.
imāni kho, bhikkhave, aṭṭha kusītavatthūni.
“These are the eight grounds for laziness.

(8 grounds for arousal of vīriya (vigor/virility))

♦ VAR “aṭṭhimāni, bhikkhave, ārambhavatthūni.
“There are these eight grounds for the arousal of energy.
katamāni aṭṭha?
Which eight?

(1. Has work to do. Why not strive for nirvana instead?)

1. idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā kammaṃ kattabbaṃ hoti. tassa evaṃ hoti — ‘kammaṃ kho me kattabbaṃ bhavissati. kammaṃ kho mayā karontena na sukaraṃ buddhānaṃ sāsanaṃ manasi kātuṃ. handāhaṃ paṭikacceva vīriyaṃ ārabhāmi appattassa pattiyā anadhigatassa adhigamāya asacchikatassa sacchikiriyāyā’ti. so vīriyaṃ ārabhati appattassa pattiyā anadhigatassa adhigamāya asacchikatassa sacchikiriyāya. idaṃ, bhikkhave, paṭhamaṃ ārambhavatthu.
1. “There is the case where a monk has some work to do. The thought occurs to him: ‘I will have to do this work. But when I am doing this work, it will not be easy to attend to the Buddha’s message. Why don’t I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the first ground for the arousal of energy.

(2. Has completed some work, need rest. Why not strive for nirvana instead?)

2. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā kammaṃ kataṃ hoti. tassa evaṃ hoti — ‘ahaṃ kho kammaṃ akāsiṃ. kammaṃ kho panāhaṃ karonto nāsakkhiṃ buddhānaṃ sāsanaṃ manasi kātuṃ. handāhaṃ vīriyaṃ ārabhāmi appattassa pattiyā anadhigatassa adhigamāya asacchikatassa sacchikiriyāyā’ti. so vīriyaṃ ārabhati. idaṃ, bhikkhave, dutiyaṃ ārambhavatthu.
2. “Then there is the case where a monk has done some work. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have done some work. While I was doing work, I couldn’t attend to the Buddha’s message. Why don’t I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the second ground for the arousal of energy.

(3. Before journey, need rest. Why not strive for nirvana instead?)

3. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā maggo gantabbo hoti. tassa evaṃ hoti — maggo kho me gantabbo bhavissati. maggaṃ kho pana me gacchantena na sukaraṃ buddhānaṃ sāsanaṃ manasi kātuṃ. handāhaṃ vīriyaṃ ... pe ... idaṃ, bhikkhave, tatiyaṃ ārambhavatthu.
3. “Then there is the case where a monk has to go on a journey. The thought occurs to him: ‘I will have to go on this journey. But when I am going on the journey, it will not be easy to attend to the Buddha’s message. Why don’t I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the third ground for the arousal of energy.

(4. Completed journey, needs rest. Why not strive for nirvana instead?)

4. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā maggo gato hoti. tassa evaṃ hoti — ahaṃ kho maggaṃ agamāsiṃ. maggaṃ kho panāhaṃ gacchanto nāsakkhiṃ buddhānaṃ sāsanaṃ manasi kātuṃ. handāhaṃ vīriyaṃ ārabhāmi ... pe ... idaṃ, bhikkhave, catutthaṃ ārambhavatthu.
4. “Then there is the case where a monk has gone on a journey. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have gone on a journey. While I was going on the journey, I couldn’t attend to the Buddha’s message. Why don’t I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fourth ground for the arousal of energy.

(5. didn’t get enough food to eat for the day. Why not strive for nirvana instead?)

5. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā piṇḍāya caranto na labhati lūkhassa vā paṇītassa vā bhojanassa yāvadatthaṃ pāripūriṃ. tassa evaṃ hoti — ahaṃ kho gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā piṇḍāya caranto nālatthaṃ lūkhassa vā paṇītassa vā bhojanassa yāvadatthaṃ pāripūriṃ. tassa me kāyo lahuko kammañño. handāhaṃ vīriyaṃ ārabhāmi ... pe ... idaṃ, bhikkhave, pañcamaṃ ārambhavatthu.
5. “Then there is the case where a monk, having gone for alms in a village or town, does not get as much coarse or refined food as he would like for his fill. The thought occurs to him: ‘I, having gone for alms in a village or town, have not gotten as much coarse or refined food as I would like for my fill. This body of mine is light & suitable for work. Why don’t I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fifth ground for the arousal of energy.

(6. Got enough to eat, need rest. Why not strive for nirvana instead?)

6. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā piṇḍāya caranto labhati lūkhassa vā paṇītassa vā bhojanassa yāvadatthaṃ pāripūriṃ. tassa evaṃ hoti — ahaṃ kho gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā piṇḍāya caranto alatthaṃ lūkhassa vā paṇītassa vā bhojanassa yāvadatthaṃ pāripūriṃ. tassa me kāyo balavā kammañño. handāhaṃ vīriyaṃ ārabhāmi ... pe ... idaṃ, bhikkhave, chaṭṭhaṃ ārambhavatthu.
6. “Then there is the case where a monk, having gone for alms in a village or town, gets as much coarse or refined food as he would like for his fill. The thought occurs to him: ‘I, having gone for alms in a village or town, have gotten as much coarse or refined food as I would like for my fill. This body of mine is light & suitable for work. Why don’t I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the sixth ground for the arousal of energy.

(7. Has illness, needs rest. Why not strive for nirvana instead?)

7. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno uppanno hoti appamattako ābādho. tassa evaṃ hoti — uppanno kho me ayaṃ appamattako ābādho. ṭhānaṃ kho panetaṃ vijjati yaṃ me ābādho pavaḍḍheyya. handāhaṃ paṭikacceva vīriyaṃ ārabhāmi ... pe ... idaṃ, bhikkhave, sattamaṃ ārambhavatthu.
7. “Then there is the case where a monk comes down with a slight illness. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have come down with a slight illness. Now, there’s the possibility that it could get worse. Why don’t I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the seventh ground for the arousal of energy.

(8. Recovered from illness, still weak and need rest. Why not strive for nirvana instead?)

8. ♦ “puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu gilānā vuṭṭhito hoti aciravuṭṭhito gelaññā. tassa evaṃ hoti — ‘ahaṃ kho gilānā vuṭṭhito aciravuṭṭhito gelaññā. ṭhānaṃ kho panetaṃ vijjati yaṃ me ābādho paccudāvatteyya. handāhaṃ paṭikacceva vīriyaṃ ārabhāmi appattassa pattiyā anadhigatassa adhigamāya asacchikatassa sacchikiriyāyā’ti. so vīriyaṃ ārabhati appattassa pattiyā anadhigatassa adhigamāya asacchikatassa sacchikiriyāya. idaṃ, bhikkhave, aṭṭhamaṃ ārambhavatthu.
8. “Then there is the case where a monk has recovered from his illness, not long after his recovery. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have recovered from my illness. It’s not long after my recovery. Now, there’s the possibility that the illness could come back. Why don’t I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the eighth ground for the arousal of energy.
imāni kho, bhikkhave, aṭṭha ārambhavatthūnī”ti.
“These are the eight grounds for the arousal of energy.”
dasamaṃ.
(end of sutta)
♦ yamakavaggo tatiyo.
See also: SN 3:17; AN 5:53; AN 5:77—80; AN 7:58; Iti 47; Sn 2:10; Sn 3:2; Thag 1:84; Thag 2:37; Thag 3:5
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