Whole Effort

Sama Bayama

However what you put your energy into tends to be what you feed and replenish for your life. If you feed the negativity, that will flourish. If you feed the positive, that will flourish.

The four efforts as told by Namgyal Rinpoche in “Body Speech and Mind”:

“First, if a negativity arises, make an effort to end it. If ther is a situation in which negative states could come up in the future, avoid it – that’s second. Third, if a wholesome state has arisen, promote it, help it to develop. Many beings get very involved in long conversations with the negatives and just ignore whatever positives may be present, so because the positive is not encouraged, it withers. The idea here, then, is to safeguard the wholesome state that is present. The fourth effort is basically to take action so that wholesome states not necessarily present may arise in the future. […]

Look at the unconsciousness occasionally to see what sate you are in. This is a much used technique in teh east, and it bears good results. Very often when unwholesome patterns are active the being isn’t conscious enough of their presence to label them, and so the dialogue just goes on and on. But in the east you would be trained to know what is occuring and to name it. For example, you would say, ‘Unwholesome state of sconiousness, anger, has arisen,’ or whatever it was. […]

In the Abhidhamma, wholesome states are called ‘kusala’, and unwholesome states are ‘akusala’. Very often one finds these words conjoined with another word: kamma. Kamma, as you already know, means action. You may be in an akusala state but not know what action triggered it off. ‘Direct seeing of the nature of mind’ suggests that you are not passing a societally conditioned judgement on events but that you know or yourself what is wholesome and what is not.”



quote from Gerry Kopoelow: we dont require more energy but the wise deployment of energy we do have.


Riht effort – to be able to see how a though is triggered by one of the sense doors (sight, smell, etc) create memories, create patterns. Right effort is seeing when patterns are being triggered. This moves us to right awareness, which is the next step. Right effort is identifying the sense contact.

Pay attention to how a thought/ view is triggered. You see a dog without a leash which triggeres memory of dog attack when you were a child. We have a choice if we can name something, because then we can use it. Ever one of the 59 states has power, not one is bad. It doesn’t matter if you name it


Doug/Cata sensei on retreat:

Effort/ energy (sama bayama): typicaly our energy goes into propelling our agenda. Be aware of effort we put into agenda is right effort

Marshal your effort so its used wisely

4 efforts: recognize wholesome for wholesome, put effort into pursuing it, recognize unwholesome for unwholesome and put effort into stopping it

I’m addicte dot the habits that I have and theyre energy draining. 4 efforts are energy creating

We want to be in control so our habit patterns can keep running. It’s a lot of effort to try and maintain habits because theyre confining

To goal isn’t to disturb US but our habits

So you can hold the stink bug but can you kiss it?

Be addicted to the concept of awakening year round

What is a way to do service that’s always challenging and variety

Make your work karma yoga

You can trigger the parent authority even in yourself when you take on that voice which can be a habitual neg. voice on a conscious good one

If you can’t do your ultimate goal (2 hours of meditation a day) start with what you CAN do

Be aware that youre always talking about “me” me me me me me me me

To be in a good state is a decision which requires will and effort


The third bojjhanga is viriya (effort) as in samma-vayamo in the Noble Eightfold Path. Great effort is required, but the effort is not to react, to let things just happen. Even if you have been victorious in a thousand battles against a thousand warriors, this inner battle of non-reaction is more difficult because the old habit is to do something, to react. Don’t fight Ananda’s battle – ”I must become an arahant,” “I must” eradicate my impurities – if you do, the mind becomes unbalanced. Another extreme is not to work, not to observe at all, and just let things happen. Let things happen, but also know the reality ‘as it is’. Some slight degree of tension is necessary: either too much, or none at all, doesn’t work. For example, some pressure is necessary to drill a hole in a precious gem, but too much pressure will break it. It is a middle path.

-Pg 72, ”Discourses on Satipatthana Sutta” by S N Goenka. (Dhammanupassana-bojjhangapabbam)

(Bojjhangas are factors of enlightenment. Ananda was trying hard to become an arahant-a liberated human being. The State of Enlightenment is free from craving and as Ananda was craving for enlightenment and putting a lot of effort to get enlightened he was not enlightened but when Ananda was completely in the present moment-knowing ‘what is’ – that was the state of enlightenment).

Question for Shri S N Goenka
Date/Place-Igatpuri Jan 1997 10 day Vipassana course and Jan 1999 Annual Conference.

Q. How to put effort and yet be effortless ?

Ans. by S.N.Goenka-Effortless in not trying to create a sensation and effort in trying to remain equanimous-Effort in observing. Choiceless in no craving, no aversion.

This must be noted that whenever Lord Buddha talked about awareness (Sati) He always included insight (Sampajanna). Awareness and insight are inseparable in the holistic Noble Eight Fold Path (atapi sampajanno satima). Awareness, concentration, insight go hand in hand in the Noble Eight Fold Path, they are inseparable.

(Please refer to the article titled ‘Sampajanna – The constant thorough understanding of impermanence’ under ‘sensations-the root of misery and sorrow and the key to insight and freedom in this study.)

In trying to concentrate, the conflicting thoughts-feelings are suppressed or pushed aside or overcome and through this process there can be no understanding. Concentration is gained at the expense of deep awareness. If the mind is petty and limited, concentration will not make it any the less small and trivial; on the contrary it will strengthen its own nature. Such narrow concentration does not make the mind-heart vulnerable to Reality; it only hardens the mind-heart in its own obstinacy and ignorance and perpetuates the self-enclosing process.

-Authentic Report of Sixteen Talks given in 1945 & 1946 … p.52

Effort is a distraction from what is. The moment I accept what is there is no struggle. Any form of struggle or strife is an indication of distraction; and distraction, which is effort, must exist so long as psychologically I wish to transform what is into something it is not.

-Pg 68, First and Last freedom

”If the mind is fixed upon any object….it will become still, it will achieve one pointed concentration but mere concentration of mind is not samma samadhi (right concentration). For samma samadhi it is necessary for the mind to be wholesome, it is necessary for the mind to be untainted. Only the one pointedness of a wholesome mind can be called kusalacittekaggata samadhi-samadhi free from defilements.

Samma Samadhi means that the mind is established in equanimity. A mind that is focused upon an external object cannot attain equanimity; it will only disturb the balance of the mind. That is why only the concentration of a wholesome mind should be regarded as samma samadhi.

A mind filled with craving is not wholesome, a mind filled with aversion is not wholesome, a mind filled with ignorance is not wholesome. When the mind is concentrated with the help of an object of craving, aversion or ignorance, it will achieve concentration, but it will be neither balanced nor equanimous. Such concentration of the mind is not proper, not pure, not conducive to happiness. Concentration that is dependent upon craving, aversion or ignorance is the absorption of an unbalanced mind-how can it be beneficial?

A cat with a fully concentrated mind has its full attention on a mouse-hole, it is fully engrossed in its object. A heron standing on one leg on the bank of a lake in search of fish, focusing its full attention on the water, has a completely concentrated mind. It is not aware of anything else. This is the concentration of a mind filled with craving for the mouse or fish, it is not samma samadhi. Such a samadhi is not proper, not pure.

Similarly, a soldier lying in wait for his enemy, with his attention on the enemy’s trench, has a fully concentrated mind. As soon as the enemy raises his head, he will shoot him. In the same way, a hunter with a double-barrelled gun, lying in wait for some dangerous beast, is fully attentive. His mind is fully concentrated. As soon as he sees his prey, he will fire a bullet at it. In this way, the mind is concentrated but it is not a wholesome mind; it is polluted with aversion and violence. Therefore, the concentration of such a mind is not samma samadhi, is not pure samadhi.

A person who is in a stupor after taking an intoxicating substance becomes absorbed in intoxication and attains concentration of the mind. He is insensate like a person in a deep sleep. He is not aware of any external or internal event. Similarly, a person making use of chemicals, such as LSD, experiences hallucinations and becomes completely absorbed in them. In both these conditions, he loses the equanimity of his mind, he loses the balance of his mind. Concentration based upon an unbalanced mind, distorted by ignorance, is not meditation, is not proper samadhi, is not pure samadhi.

For the attainment of pure samadhi, an object based upon any kind of emotional fervour is not suitable. By this, the equanimity of the mind will be lost, the balance of the mind will be disturbed, the mind will become immersed in sentimentality and attachment that is full of craving. Even though the mind will become concentrated, purity will be missing…..”

Winter 2000, Tricycle Magazine

Does the object of awareness ever disappear so that there’s only awareness of awareness itself?

Exactly. But when I say I am aware of this object, and “I” is there, “I” am aware of this. This is a duality. Slowly as you proceed, “I” goes away. Things are just happening, and the knowing part knows. That’s all.

Is that the same as what some teachers call “bare attention”?

Yes, this is bare attention.

When there’s no object.

The object keeps on changing. What is the object this moment may not be the object the next moment. So whatever manifests itself from moment to moment, there is clarity. And there awareness means you are not reacting to it. Say the object, the sensation, is very pleasant. The old habit pattern was that when we feel this sensation we react with, “Ah, Wonderful! I must continue—this must be retained.” Then this is not bare awareness. But if you keep on, just awareness, let me see what happens, it changes. You are just observing the changing nature of the sensations. This sensation or that sensation, makes no difference.

Do you move to a place where there’s absolutely no self-consciousness of the awareness?

That is a very high stage, the nirvanic stage. As long as we are in the field of mind and matter, sensation is bound to be there. But sensations will become subtler and subtler.

Is it possible to transcend awareness itself?

Certainly. But that takes time. If you keep on thinking about this, it will be imagination. No imagination is allowed in the whole technique. Be with the present moment as it is. Otherwise you will be thinking: Nirvana, nirvana is like this, I must—You haven’t experienced nirvana. You’ve heard about nirvana, you’ve intellectualized about nirvana, you’ve emotionalized about nirvana. You don’t know what nirvana is. So let it come. Every moment is nirvana for you. Whatever is arising you are observing it—now it is passing away, now it arises. Bare awareness. That will take you to the stage where there is no more sensation, that is beyond mind and matter. Sensations come where there is mind and matter. And where there is no mind and matter there is no horizon, no passing, no sensation. But we can’t imagine it. The moment you start imagining, then it becomes a philosophy.


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