|Under a sprawling pipal tree -- bodhi!|
|Intensive sitting meditation is one kind of striving (meditationguidance.com)|
"The meditator rouses the will to avoid the arising of harmful, unwholesome things not yet arisen... to overcome them... to develop wholesome things not yet arisen... [and] to maintain them, without allowing them to disappear, to bring them to growth, to maturity, and to the full perfection of development. One makes (a balanced) effort, rouses energy, exerts mind/heart, and strives" (AN IV, 13).
NOTE: It is critical to bear in mind that overexertion is not right effort. The Buddha did not succeed under the Bodhi tree by overexerting as so many assume by not reading carefully. It is exactly because of struggling and overexertion that he could not succeed. Only when Siddhartha relaxed and began making a balanced-effort, which included the purifying meditative-absorptions (jhanas) he had fearfully been avoiding for years, did he finally reach the path to insight and enlightenment. He let go, allowed bliss of absorption and, remaining attentive, emerged to practice Dependent Origination -- the systematic pursuit of the 12 causal links that make up suffering. Siddhartha had set originally off to find the solution to the problem of suffering, so he asked: "Why is there suffering?" The practice of Dependent Origination answers this question through mindful application, insight-practice (vipassana), which begins as the fourfold setting up of mindfulness (on body, feelings, mind, and mind states). In this connection, the Buddha once taught a famous lute player to neither over-tighten nor under-tighten the strings of the instrument. Balance is the way to get the right sound -- balance between overexerting and underexerting.
|Hi, I'm meditating (Kirsten Johnson)|
|OK, breaktime! (Vincenzo Rossi/flickr)|