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Vīrya (Sanskrit; Pāli: viriya; Tibetan Wylie: brtson 'grus) is a Buddhist term commonly translated as "energy", "diligence", "enthusiasm", or "effort". It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities, and it functions to cause one to accomplish wholesome or virtuous actions.
Vīrya literally means "state of a strong man" or "manliness." In Vedic literature, the term is often associated with heroism and virility. In Buddhism, the term more generally refers to a practitioner's "energy" or "exertion," and is repeatedly identified as a necessary prerequisite for achieving liberation.
Within the Buddhist Abhidharma teachings, virya is identified as:
The Abhidharma-samuccaya states:
In the context of the Mahayana Abhidharma, virya is commonly translated as diligence.
In the Kīṭāgiri Sutta (MN 70), the Buddha instructs his followers:
It stands for strenuous and sustained effort to overcome unskillful ways (akusala dhamma), such as indulging in sensuality, ill will and harmfulness (see, e.g., ahiṃsa and nekkhamma).
Vīrya can also signify courage and physical strength and was cultivated by Buddhist guardians including the Shaolin monks. It signifies strength of character and persistent effort for the well-being of others as well as the ability to defend the Triratna from attacks.
In the absence of sustained effort in practicing meditation, craving creeps in and the meditator comes under its influence. Right effort (vīryabala) is thus required to overcome unskillful mental factors and deviation from dhyāna.
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