Reflections on Joyful Effort

Autumn Ango
Week 5

By Ango Leaders Kosho and Jikai


Dear Sangha,

This week we’re exploring the Paramita of Vīrya, diligence or joyful effort.  


Vīrya is translated in many ways, including energy, effort, diligence, zest. This paramita is the fuel that powers us on the bodhisattva path. In The World Could be Otherwise, Norman Fischer, refers to vīrya as joyful effort, it is a boundless energy. When we practice, take care of ourselves and our minds, we tap into this energy. Fischer says, “With study, reflection, meditation, and imaginative practices, we cultivate a commitment to grow beyond our received smallness, to expand our vision, to move past our conditioned selves toward the selves we know we can be. The bodhisattva vision buoys us up and keeps us going.”


This is not a call for overworking or over-extending. Fischer points out that even though the ultimate task of the bodhisattva is caring for or liberating others, it starts with taking care of ourselves. Practicing, meditation, eating well, moving our bodies regularly (in ways that we are able), keeping ourselves as healthy as we can and knowing our limits. He suggests practicing joyful effort by eating at least two vegetables a day, getting an hour of exercise 5 days a week for one week, or resting when you are tired – take a short nap if you can or a few slow peaceful breaths if you cannot. Notice how you feel, notice it takes less effort to eat well or stay active once you are on a roll or paying attention to what your body needs. Taking care of ourselves, we have more energy for our life’s work.

In the spirit of joyful effort, let’s practice together! We will be having a half-day sit and Ango check-in at Heart of Wisdom this Saturday, November 18th from 8am-noon. We will sit together, chant together and have an Ango discussion period. We will also keep the temple open from 1-3pm for optional self-directed creative practice and additional meditation. Bring your art or writing supplies and a packed lunch (with fruits and veggies!). In this way we can care for each other and support each other in caring for ourselves – community-care.