Contemplating viryaparamita, or the perfection of effort, leads us to the question of enthusiastic energy. Does the idea itself make you feel exhausted? We never can accomplish anything if we don’t really try, if we don’t have some ongoing perseverance. On the spiritual path, the two qualities most needed are patience and perseverance. For instance, many people who want to meditate do sit down but after only two or three sessions they say, “Oh, I can’t meditate. Too many thoughts.” And they give up. Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without diligence, without perseverance, without effort. When they train for the Olympics, athletes are completely one-pointed. They change their diet and give up smoking and alcohol. They get up early; they go to bed early. They train the whole day long. Everything else is sacrificed. And for what? To get a medal.
In Buddhism, laziness is described as being of three types. First, there is the laziness that says, “Yes, I like going to the Dharma center, I like meditating, but there is a really good movie on television, so sorry.” It is the kind of laziness in which we have lots of enthusiasm for something that we really want to do, but when it comes to meditation or any kind of serious Dharma reading, suddenly we find ourselves saying, “Oh goodness, I am so tired. I’ll do my practice later when I have time.” It is the kind of laziness in which we remember what a late night we had the night before, and that’s the end of that. We all suffer from this gross kind of laziness, which is easy to recognize.
The second kind of laziness is the laziness that comes when we are unable to practice because we feel so unworthy. The conviction that everyone else but me can practice and meditate and get realizations—”I can’t because I always fail at everything; I did try to meditate but I couldn’t do it because I have too many thoughts”—that is laziness. The sense that we can’t do the practice because of this or that is not regarded as humility but rather as gross laziness. We are shirking. We all have buddha nature; all we have to do is to discover it. Therefore, it is not a question of being higher or lower or unworthy. Unworthy of what? We all have the potential of being enlightened; we all have this human birth; we all have some intelligence.
The third kind of laziness refers to being so busy with mundane activities, even Dharma activities, that we have no time for inner cultivation. Whatever excuse we make to ourselves does not matter. If we find ourselves filling up our days with things to do week after week, month after month, year after year, we never have time to go inside. Even if we are like rodents on a wheel, that is still laziness. We are avoiding the real task. Our task here is first to realize our innate Buddha nature, and anything which takes us away from that is just avoidance.
Into the Heart of Life