Restlessness and Effort

revised on 2019-05-26

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 15th March 1959

In vipassanā practice, effort (viriya) always should take one object (for example, the impermanence of physical phenomenon (rūpa object) or the impermanence of mind (nāma object). Instead seeing many things or objects, e.g., like light, color, images, it becomes restlessness (uddhacca). But the yogi can take these things as right effort and thinks that his practice is on the right track. What about on samatha practice? It also should stay with the meditation object, e.g., the breath. Becoming restless is wasting time.

Viriya and samādhi must take an object only. The object of restlessness can be lobha or dosa (greed or anger). Therefore, viriya and the object are different. Viriya makes effort on the object without taking pleasure or displeasure. Viriya must stay with the impermanent object. If other things arise, it’s uddhacca.

On talking about samatha and vipassanā practices; e.g., for samatha, during contemplation on loathsomeness (asubha), the mind should be stay with the object of loathsomeness and should not go out. Then it’s viriya. Except the asubha object, if many objects come in, then it becomes restless. Viriya makes effort on an object (Sayadaw gave an example of using a gun.) If you are aiming a gun without moving, it is viriya; if shaking then it’s uddhacca; if too much effort it becomes restless. In this case, make adjustment with samādhi. If viriya and samādhi become level out the practice will take short period of times. The mind becomes restless while it's over viriya; whereas it becomes sleepy and wasting times when over samādhi. (Sayadaw gave example of over viriya and samādhi with the stories of Soṇa (AN. 6. 55/Soṇasuttaṃ) and Mahā-Moggallāna (SN. 51. 31/Moggallānasuttaṃ). Because over viriya and samādhi that the practice can’t develop. Some yogis become low spirits and make conclusion on many reasons. They are thinking that don’t have the pāramīs and doubt about the practice. In reality, they don’t have a teacher and don’t know how to adjust them. Connection with this, faith (saddhā) and wisdom (paññā) have to be adjusted. These 4-factors becoming level out can discern impermanence. Without that, you can’t realize the Dhamma. You can’t finish a task without faith, over faith become taṇhā, and over paññā become cunning. Sāriputta had to practice for 2 weeks because of over paññā and more contemplation was needed. Mahā-Moggallāna took only a week to finish his practice.

revised on 2019-05-26; cited from (posted on 2018-12-14)

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