More and more I’m becoming convinced that most of us…and by that I mean me mostly…have been viewing Samma Vayama all wrong…
I’ve heard Ajahn Brahm say that some where in the Vinaya, there’s a passage where the word Vayama is being used and that it’s pointing to the meaning of “standing still”. Oh heck…I hope I’m not misrepresenting him with my dodgy memory! But I’m pretty certain that at the end of the day…he was trying to point out that Vayama is not terribly active.
The activity is there in the 8 Fold Path. And I think it’s mostly in the early factors preceding, and therefore conditioning, Vayama. I think by the time one gets to Vayama, one must already have a pretty good predisposition to naturally (so not so actively) incline towards wholesome states; having said this, I do still think that we have the power to redirect the mind and that we can get better and better at this the more we Practice.
Only I think as far as meditation practice is concerned, we have to learn how to be super subtle in this activity of redirection. It takes guts, faith and a pile of patience to just sit there and not interfere too much. But I do believe this is a way of practice that can be quite fun and quite useful too.
I’ve also heard Ajahn Brahm talk about Viriya (energy) and how it’s similiar to the word “hero” and so one must use a heroic energy…the kind of energy a hero uses when she puts her life on the line. Sometimes I feel I have to use such courage to stop myself from interfering and manipulating my restless, recalcitrant, highly rebellious and contrary mind! To just “leave it alone” as Ajahn Brahm used to say a lot! Then I started to see that it was an act of kindness to myself as well, to just leave myself alone, to stop poking and prodding and trying to get myself to change and making myself feel miserable because all this made me feel such a useless, guilt ridden failure!! Lol…it’s much nicer I’ve found, to let myself be like this sometimes…the path of least resistance is what one must follow when one’s mind has a mind of it’s own!
Right Effort, from SN 45.8:
“And what, bhikkhus, is right effort? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu generates desire for the nonarising of unarisen evil unwholesome states; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. He generates desire for the abandoning of arisen evil unwholesome states…. He generates desire for the arising of unarisen wholesome states…. He generates desire for the maintenance of arisen wholesome states, for their nondecay, increase, expansion, and fulfilment by development; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. This is called right effort.
I view the Path as being sequential and so Samma Vayama must enhance Samma Sati. Therefore, it cannot be something too active…otherwise it may lead to Samma Restlessness! Lol… Well…it does with me anyway.