Virya Paramita: Perseverance

July 7, 2016

“So take advantage of this human boat,
Free yourself from sorrow’s mighty stream!

This vessel will be later hard to find.
The time that you have now, you fool, is not for sleep! 

Effort, diligence, zeal, perseverance…virya paramita, this particular oar of practice is translated in these ways.  Our natural tendency is to rely on thinking, reasoning, and knowing the meaning of our life. This tendency  runs so deep that we barely notice  how little of our life is known through thinking. We simply live with anxiety and worry about what could happen. This anxiety grows with our thoughts about what could happen. Walls of separation from others grow thicker with our efforts to protect ourselves. In this conditioned state, not-knowing is an act of courage. Letting breath sweep mind, opening to the truth of our lives, can feel at first risky and then liberating. Then we notice how quickly the sense of freedom can fade. How quickly we return to the familiar way of thinking and knowing. How quickly we are back to controlling, defending, and protecting.

“Poco a poco”, Maezumi Roshi frequently taught. Little by little, over and over. Repeatedly we let breath sweep mind of thoughts and ideas. We persevere. Breath’s sweeping clean takes loving care of the habit of thought. We learn that we can trust the open space of not knowing. We can let ourselves breathe free in uncertainty . When we do not cling, we move freely and unhindered through our own lives. Perseverance is a willingness to say, “yes!” to life, over and over again. It is a willingness to keep putting one foot in from of another, to keep breathing, one breath at a time.