Bay Area Dharma discourse by James McDonald, Wednesday Nov. 18, 2009
The Five Balancing Factors:
- Wisdom (Investigation)
Successful meditation depends on balanced effort. What is there to balance? There are five factors to keep balanced. Mindfulness (sati) keeps the other four in equilibrium: Concentration is balanced by energy or effort. Faith (confidence) is balanced by investigation or knowing.
Image: Artist's rendition of speaker's immediate past life experience (mentioned in a subsequent clip) as a saddhu (Indian holy man): a guru giving balancing instructions to a chela. Below: photo of an actual Indian saddhu. Note large white mustache.
"But if you look at the word carefully, viriya's function and characteristic are both supporting. It supports. Its manifestation -- the way it appears to us, to a meditator -- is to not collapse. And the simile which illustrates viriya is that if an old building is falling down, if you put a log, a timber inside that building, it is something that supports. Viriya is strength. But it's a gentle strength. It's a supporting strength. It's a persistent, supporting, gentle strength. And when Americans have this anxious, rambunctious, chaotic thing they think is viriya, [they're really so messed up]. So they really should have less."
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