Difference between Right Effort and the Four Right Strivings

Samma vayama and sammappadhana in reference to the 37 Factors of Enlightenment

I’ve seen The Four Right Strivings broken down as:
Striving by restraint of the senses
Striving by abandoning defilements
Striving by developing enlightenment factors
Striving by protecting concentration

I’ve seen Right Effort broken down as:
Preventing the five hinderances
Eliminating the five hinderances
Maintaining the 7 factors of enlightenment
Protecting the 7 factors of enlightenment

Could someone please help to differentiate between these two “seemingly” very similar factors of the path. What differences do you see? What similarities do you see? How would one practice in a way that honours both?

3 Likes

An interest in right effort marks the move from beginner to intermediate level. Right effort the sixth link of the noble eightfold path consists of four great strategies: (1) the effort to avoid, (2) to overcome, (3) to develop, (4) to maintain.

“The monk rouses his will to avoid the arising of evil, unwholesome things not yet arisen … to overcome them … to develop wholesome things not yet arisen … to maintain them, and not to let them disappear, but to bring them to growth, to maturity and to the full perfection of development. And he makes effort, stirs up his energy, exerts his mind and strives” (A. IV, 13).

(1) "What now, o monks, is the effort to avoid? Perceiving a form, or a sound, or an odour, or a taste, or a bodily or mental impression, the monk neither adheres to the whole nor to its parts. And he strives to ward off that through which evil and unwholesome things might arise, such as greed and sorrow, if he remained with unguarded senses; and he watches over his senses, restrains his senses. This is called the effort to avoid.

(2) "What now is the effort to overcome? The monk does not retain any thought of sensual lust, or any other evil, unwholesome states that may have arisen; he abandons them, dispels them, destroys them, causes them to disappear. This is called the effort to overcome.

(3) "What now is the effort to develop? The monk develops the factors of enlightenment, bent on solitude, on detachment, on extinction, and ending in deliverance, namely: mindfulness (sati), investigation of the law (dhamma-vicaya), energy (viriya), rapture (pīti), tranquillity (passaddhi), concentraton (samādhi), equanimity (upekkhā). This is called the effort to develop.

(4) “What now is the effort to maintain? The monk keeps firmly in his mind a favourable object of concentration, such as the mental image of a skeleton, a corpse infested by worms, a corpse blueblack in colour, a festering corpse, a corpse riddled with holes, a corpse swollen up. This is called the effort to maintain” (A. IV, 14)."—Nyanatiloka

Further study:
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/waytoend.html#ch5

Application:

“One who earnestly aspires to the unshakable deliverance of the mind should, therefore, select a definite “working-ground” of a direct and practical import: a kammatthana[1] in its widest sense, on which the structure of his entire life should be based. Holding fast to that “working-ground,” never losing sight of it for long, even this alone will be a considerable and encouraging progress in the control and development of the mind, because in that way the directive and purposive energies of mind will be strengthened considerably. One who has chosen the conquest of the five hindrances for a “working-ground” should examine which of the five are strongest in one’s personal case. Then one should carefully observe how, and on which occasions, they usually appear. One should further know the positive forces within one’s own mind by which each of these hindrances can best be countered and, finally, conquered; and one should also examine one’s life for any opportunity of developing these qualities which, in the following pages, have been indicated under the headings of the spiritual faculties (indriya), the factors of absorption (jhananga), and the factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga). In some cases, subjects of meditation have been added which will be helpful in overcoming the respective hindrances.”—Nyanaponika

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel026.html

2 Likes

Actually, they are the same (right strivings and right efforts).
But, with regard to 37 factors of Enlightment, Four Right Strivings come first and Right Efforts (Nobel Eightfold Path) at last.
So, sammappadhana is especially for early stage of Vipassana while samma vayama for more advanced stage as it also deals with maintaining 7 factors of Enlightenment which are supposed to have been achieved to some extent.

Thanks and regards,

2 Likes

When the beginner reads the noble eightfold path, the Anapanasati sutta, or the Satipatthana sutta, they conclude they refer to the single path of tranquillity. But two themes are interwoven in these structures, insight and tranquillity, and effort or energy is the sign of the theme of insight. So in the noble eightfold path right effort heralds insight, whereas right concentration is the mark of tranquillity (MN 117). Right effort is set apart as an active component in this sutta, and is shown to be instrumental in the progressive development of right view. Even in the seven factors of awakening, the group of investigation, energy and rapture are the insight factors (SN 46.53). In this sutta it is said that the distinguishing element of Buddhism is this understanding of two opposite dynamics and their different roles.

2 Likes

Thank you @paul1 and @ZawNyunt for taking the time to provide such valuable insights into my query, the sutta references are especially fun to dive into. I suspected that the four right strivings and right effort were the same in a sense but dealt with different stages of the path, nice to have this explained. I also appreciate the emphasis on samatha and vipassana going hand in hand, this resonates deeply with my personal practice. “Right effort heralds insight, whereas right concentration is the mark of tranquility” :pray:

2 Likes