We are inclined to cling to an idea of self who exerts energy, but energy or effort is a mental factor which arises because of its own conditions. Energy accompanies many cittas although not all. It can be akusala, kusala or neither kusala nor akusala, depending on the citta it accompanies. Since there are many more akusala cittas than kusala cittas energy is more often akusala than kusala. For each kind of kusala we need energy; if we had no courage and perseverance we could not accomplish kusala. When we are helping others we sacrifice our time and comfort and, thus, we need energy; otherwise we would feel too tired, we would not be able to do it. Sometimes kusala is strong, but often it is weak and then there is not much energy. Since we accumulated such a great deal of akusala we should not delay kusala when there is an opportunity for it. Kusala is never enough. We need energy to listen to the Dhamma and to consider what we heard. We should not merely think of the names nama and rupa, or kusala and akusala, we need to be aware of their characteristics when they appear. It is stressed in the Satipatthana Sutta (Dialogues of the Buddha, Dígha Nikåya I, 10) that one should contemplate the body in the body, feelings in the feelings, consciousness in consciousness and dhammas in dhammas, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful (atapí, sampajana, satima). The commentary (Papancasudaní) states that ardour is a name for energy. We should not be disheartened when there is lack of awareness; we need to listen to the Dhamma again and again and consider realities ardently, that is, with courage and perseverance. We read in the commentary to the Cariyapitaka about energy:

“Energy has the characteristic of striving;

its function is to fortify;

its manifestation is indefatigability;

an occasion for the arousing of energy,

or a sense of spiritual urgency, is its proximate cause.”

  We have accumulated attachment to sense pleasures, we never have enough of them, but when we see their danger there can be a sense of urgency to develop right understanding. Through right understanding we can come to know our attachment, we can learn to see it as it is: a conditioned reality which is not self. Only when the wrong view of self has been eradicated clinging can be gradually eliminated. The perfection of energy has to be developed together with right understanding. The aim should be the eradication of defilements, otherwise energy is not a perfection leading to enlightenment. We read in the commentary to the Cariyapitaka :

“Energy devoid of wisdom does not accomplish the purpose desired since it is

wrongly aroused, and it is better not to arouse energy at all than to arouse it in the

wrong way. But when energy is conjoined with wisdom, there is nothing it cannot

accomplish, if equipped with the proper means....”


Topic 259