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Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VII– verse 1

Transglomeration: Then, having established patience, engage joyful effort in your practice; because working toward Awakening only comes about when grounded in engaged effort.   As there is no possibility of movement without the agency of wind, there is no generating merit without effort.

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

Metaphor: as there can be no movement without wind, there can be no development without vīrya; this abides by the analysis that everything happens only under causes and conditions (flavour from the previous chapter), but particularly re-establishes it here in relation to inner, spiritual happening; ‘wind’ is a specific example, here, of there needing to be an agent to make movement happen, and it is presented as a simile in the translations, but I wonder if it is to be understood much wider than ‘a puff of wind’ blowing some dried-up ‘leaf’ – nothing moves by itself, it needs to be moved by something other than it, anything which, itself, is moving and which was set in motion by something else, by something else, by something else etc; back to the verse, this is flagging that you can’t just ‘quiet’ yourself through spiritual development, you need to actually drive it too

Embroidery: this flags a gear-change in the practice of the Perfections: the first three Perfections are stopping miserliness, carelessness and anger respectively, effort is the start of making realisations happen; you can’t just give or discipline or calm your way to Enlightenment, you actually have to cultivate the realisations, you actually have to do the Work (as Gurdjieff (and others) worded it); there is not just purification, there is also accumulation; and, again, the Perfections are accumulative steps in development, they are not stand alone qualities, and so effort will incorporate whatever relinquishment you have achieved in giving, whatever discipline you have cultivated in your behaviour, whatever reserve you dwell in in your interactions, and it will project through your development of concentration into the realisations of relative and ultimate Bodhichitta

Translations: Matics emphasises the complementary translation of ‘vīrya’ as ‘heroic’ (Padmakara, ‘courageous’) rather than simply ‘effort’, emphasising also the need to ‘stand firm’; the next Perfection; you can’t just stop yourself from committing bad stuff, you need also to develop good stuff too; there needs to be a movement beyond one’s limited self, beyond one’s self-limits, despite oneself, otherwise there is no movement – one is stuck; this involves a bit of gritted teeth, but, as is to be seen (verse 2aa), it needs to be ‘joyous’ rather than just (‘self-defining-and-focussed’) effort

Reflection: the Perfections are causal stages so, to the extent that one has developed patience (of not reacting to conditions based on what one wants/doesn’t want and having bathed in the contemplation of the pervasiveness of cause and conditionality and also having developed compassionate sympathy with others caught in that same cause and conditionality), then one has the reserve to be able to focus one’s efforts more directly, more purposefully, according to the needs of the situation and the needs of others without all of one’s ‘me, me, me’ getting in the way; and because ‘me, me, me’ doesn’t get in the way so much, messing things up and making everything all gloopy and magnetised about itself, then there is the space to act more cleanly and effectively as a result

Resolve: I need to get shifting, I can’t just sit around having nice thoughts and being inspired by other peoples’ words and practices