Tag Archives: viriya

12 Wise Habits: Viriya by Neil Amas

DSCF0295 Panyaden wise habit, viriya (pesevering)

DSC_1716 Neil Amas, Panyaden School DirectorViriya (pronounced wi‐ri‐ya) is a very important virtue in Buddhism, commonly translated as “perseverance”, or “diligent effort”. It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities and staying with them in order to accomplish the desired results. It is the mind intent on being unshaken and not giving up. It supports the other Wise Habits, in that making progress is impossible without resolution, and is the virtue that follows chanda, for you first need self‐motivation to be able to put forth diligent effort.

Viriya originates from the Sanskrit vira which means ‘hero’ and, as such, we can see viriya as the act of conjuring forth the qualities of a hero. Viriya is identified in Buddhist teachings as a critical component of a number of qualities that lead to happiness and liberation of the mind, such as the five spiritual faculties (indriya) and the ten “perfections” (parami). It is also associated with Right Effort, one part of the Noble Eightfold Path, which identifies four types of right effort:

  • to prevent negative, unwholesome states of mind from arising
  • to abandon them if they have arisen
  • to generate positive, wholesome states not yet existing
  • to maintain them without lapse, causing them to develop and to reach full growth.

Viriya has to emerge from your heart, from a place of Right View and Right Intention and in balance with other Wise Habits, such as patience (khanti), concentration (samathi), awareness (sati) and wise reflection (yoniso-manasikara). If we put our energy and effort into actions without the right mind we will cause more harm than good. Venerable Ajahn Pasanno teaches, “while it is important to put forth effort it is also important to slacken off at times. If you are always pushing, the mind can get on edge, restless and unsettled. We need to gauge and reflect on what is appropriate effort.’’ When we fix our sights too firmly on the goal, willpower tends to take over and only gets us so far before we feel frustrated. Viriya is a relaxed energy, a peaceful vitality which continues to sustain us without irritation or despondency.

DSC_1404 Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro at Panyaden School in Chiang MaiVenerable Ajahn Jayasaro explains the role of viriya in education. ‘’While it is important to be relaxed when we are learning, we also have to teach perseverance and determination.  Enthusiasm (chanda) leads to perseverance (viriya) which leads to concentration (samathi) which leads to skilful use of the mind (yoniso-manasikara). If we have chanda we are eager to know, learn the truth and value what we do. From there viriya will occur and be followed by patience and tolerance towards any obstacles we find in our way.” When the mind is motivated yet patient, we are more able to make decisions calmly and with wisdom.

For children to understand viriya we can encourage them to reflect on their feelings after completing a task with perseverance. To encourage greater effort, we can try setting mini‐goals on the way to achieving a greater task, extending the distance between these steps as the child gets older or gets better at cultivating perseverance. We must also lead by example with our own displays of viriya. When we see others refusing to give up despite obstacles and setbacks, it can be very inspiring.

Having desire to do something is essential because it gets us going, but actually sustaining effort and energy is where a lot of the hard work is. We might have the desire to get off the sofa and get some exercise and even make a start, but in order to achieve the desired long term results such as weight loss or fitness, we need to keep at it!

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Read the Thai version here: Viriya _TH

Wise Habit, Viriya by Neil Amas, School Director

Panyaden students practise Viriya at school

Viriya (pronounced wi-ri-ya) is a very important virtue in Buddhism, commonly translated as “perseverance”, or “diligent effort”. It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities and staying with them in order to accomplish the desired results. It is the mind intent on being unshaken and not giving up. It supports the other Wise Habits, in that making progress is impossible without resolution, and is the virtue that follows chanda, for you first need self-motivation to be able to put forth diligent effort.

Viriya originates from the Sanskrit vira which means ‘hero’ and, as such, we can see viriya as the act of conjuring forth the qualities of a hero. Viriya is identified in Buddhist teachings as a critical component of a number of qualities that lead to happiness and liberation of the mind, such as the five spiritual faculties (indriya) and the ten “perfections” (parami). It is also associated with Right Effort, one part of the Noble Eightfold Path, which identifies four types of right effort:

– to prevent negative, unwholesome states of mind from arising
– to abandon them if they have arisen
– to generate positive, wholesome states not yet existing
– to maintain them without lapse, causing them to develop and to reach full growth.

Viriya has to emerge from your heart, from a place of Right View and Right Intention and in balance with other Wise Habits, such as patience (khanti), concentration (samathi), awareness (sati) and wise reflection (yoniso manasikara). If we put our energy and effort into actions without the right mind we will cause more harm than good. Venerable Ajahn Pasanno teaches, “while it is important to put forth effort it is also important to slacken off at times. If you are always pushing, the mind can get on edge, restless and unsettled. We need to gauge and reflect on what is appropriate effort.’’ When we fix our sights too firmly on the goal, will power tends to take over and only gets us so far before we feel frustrated. Viriya is a relaxed energy, a peaceful vitality which continues to sustain us without irritation or despondency.

Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro explains the role of viriya ineducation. ‘’While it is important to be relaxed when we are learning, we also have to teach perseverance and determination. Enthusiasm (chanda) leads to perseverance (viriya) which leads to concentration (samathi) which leads to skilful use of the mind (yoniso manasikara). If we have chanda we are eager to know, learn the truth and value what we do. From there viriya will occur and be followed by patience and tolerance towards any obstacles we find in our way.” When the mind is motivated yet patient, we are more able to make decisions calmly and with wisdom.

For children to understand viriya we can encourage them to reflect on their feelings after completing a task with perseverance. To encourage greater effort, we can try setting mini-goals on the way to achieving a greater task, extending the distance between these steps as the child gets older or gets better at cultivating perseverance. We must also lead by example with our own displays of viriya. When we see others refusing to give up despite obstacles and setbacks, it can be very inspiring.

Having desire to do something is essential because it gets us going, but actually sustaining effort and energy is where a lot of the hard work is. We might have the desire to get off the sofa and get some exercise and even make a start, but in order to achieve the desired long term results such as weight loss or fitness, we need to keep at it!

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Click here for Thai translation: Viriya THAI pdf

Panyaden 12 wise habits: Viriya By Neil Amas, School Director

Our students have been learning about and practising the wise habit Viriya. Here is some information about Viriya which we hope you find useful. 

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Panyaden teachers enact a story to illustrate wise habit, Viriya

Viriya (pronounced wi‐ri‐ya) is a very important virtue in Buddhism, commonly translated as “perseverance”, or “diligent effort”. It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities and staying with them in order to accomplish the desired results. It is the mind intent on being unshaken and not giving up. It supports the otherwise habits, because making progress is impossible without resolution, and is the virtue that follows chanda, for you first need motivation to be able to put forth diligent effort.

Viriya originates from the Sanskrit vira which means ‘hero’ and, as such, we can see viriya as the act of conjuring forth the qualities of a hero. Viriya is identified in Buddhist teachings as a critical component of a number of qualities that lead to happiness and liberation of the mind, such as the five spiritual faculties (indriya) and the ten “perfections” (parami). It is also associated with Right Effort, one part of the Noble Eightfold Path, which identifies four types of right effort:
‐ to prevent negative, unwholesome states of mind from arising ‐ to abandon them if they have arisen ‐ to generate positive, wholesome states not yet existing ‐ to maintain them without lapse, causing them to develop and to reach full growth.

Viriya has to emerge from your heart, from a place of right intention and in balance with other wise habits, such as patience (khanti), concentration (samathi), awareness (sati) and wise reflection (yoniso manasikara). If we put our energy and effort into actions without the right mind we will cause more harm than good. As Venerable Ajahn Pasanno writes in A Dhamma Compass, “while it is important to put forth effort it is also important to slacken off at times. If you are always pushing, the mind can get on edge, restless and unsettled. We need to gauge and reflect on what is appropriate effort.’’

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Panyaden wise habit, Viriya session at school

Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro explains the role of viriya in education. ‘’While it is important to be relaxed when we are learning, we also have to teach perseverance and determination. Enthusiasm (chanda) leads to perseverance (viriya) which leads to concentration (samathi) which leads to skilful use of the mind (yoniso manasikara). If we have chanda we are eager to know, learn the truth and value what we do. From there viriya will occur and be followed by patience and tolerance towards any obstacles we find in our way.” When the mind is motivated yet patient, we are more able to make decisions calmly and with wisdom.

We can encourage our children to reflect on how they feel after completing a task with perseverance. To encourage greater effort, we can try setting mini‐goals on the way to achieving a greater task, extending the distance between these steps as the child gets older or gets better at cultivating effort. And, of course, we must lead by example with our own displays of viriya. When we see others refusing to give up despite obstacles and setbacks, it can be very inspiring.

Having desire to do something is good because it gets us going, but actually sustaining effort and energy is where a lot of the hard work is. We might have the desire to get off the sofa and get some exercise and even make a start, but in order to achieve the desired long term results such as weight loss or fitness, we need to keep at it!

lotus2 transparent

Thai translation of above article: Viriya_TH

On Persevering

We have just finished a 2-week focus on viriya (persevering).
Our Director Neil Amas gives the following explanation of this important wise habit.


Viriya (pronounced wi-ri-ya) is a very important virtue in Buddhism, commonly translated as “perseverance”, or “diligent effort”. It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities and staying with them in order to accomplish the desired results. It is the mind intent on being unshaken and not giving up. It supports other wise habits and is the virtue that follows chandha, for you first need motivation to be able to put forth diligent effort.

Viriya originates from the Sanskrit vira which means ‘hero’ and so we might see viriya as the act of conjuring forth the qualities of a hero. Viriya is identified in Buddhist teachings as a critical component of a number of qualities that lead to happiness and liberation of the mind, such as the five spiritual faculties (indriya), the five strengths (bala), the ten “perfections” (parami) and the seven factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga). It is also associated with Right Effort, one part of the Eightfold Path, which identifies four types of right effort:

– to prevent negative, unwholesome states from arising
– to abandon them if they should arise
– to generate positive, wholesome states not yet existing
– to maintain them without lapse, causing them to develop and to reach full growth and perfection.

Viriya has to emerge from your heart, from a place of right intention and in balance with other virtues, such as patience, concentration, generosity, wisdom and awareness. If we put our energy and effort into actions without the right mind we will cause more harm than good. Similarly, we must practise viriya in the right amount. As Venerable Ajahn Pasanno writes in A Dhamma Compass, “while it is important to put forth effort it is also important to slacken off at times. If you are always pushing, the mind can get on edge, restless and unsettled. We need to gauge and reflect on what is appropriate effort.’’

Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro writes in 12 Ways to Happiness that, while being relaxed and having fun are important requisites when teaching children how to enjoy learning, we also have to teach perseverance and determination.  ‘’Enthusiasm (chanda) leads to perseverance (viriya) which leads to concentration (samathi) which leads to skilful use of the mind (yonisomanasikara). If we have chanda – we are eager to know, learn the truth and value what we do – then viriya will occur and be followed by patience and tolerance towards any obstacles we find in our way.”

Panyaden School students learning about perseverance and determination through building block games

We can encourage our children to reflect on how they feel after completing a task with perseverance. We might set mini-goals on the way to achieving a greater task, extending the distance between these steps as the child gets older or gets better at cultivating effort.  And, of course, we must lead by example with our own displays of viriya.

Having desire to do something is good because it gets us going, but actually sustaining effort and energy is where a lot of the hard work is. We might have the desire to get off the sofa and get some exercise and even make a start, but in order to achieve the desired long term results such as weight loss or fitness, we need to keep at it!