The causes for wisdom

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:55 am

SamKR wrote:
robertk wrote: The sutta is using conventional words to explain conditions. There is no self like a manager behind conditions deciding to do this or that: each element is conditioned by various complex conditions. These conditions are absolutely real .

robertk wrote:
Yes, feeling, for example, is so real (to me).

This thing puzzles me. Isn't feeling (or any conditions) a sankhara? Can we take a position that sankhara are absolutely real (or unreal), according to the Buddha's teachings?

the thinking process consists of different cittas and cetasikas, including feeling, all arising and passing away rapidly. These are paramattha dhammas, ultimate realities. Let us consider a couple of [examples of] thinking.

1. Think of a flying purple elephant. The process of thinking that imagines this, whether a graphic visualisation or your no-frills, idea only version, consists of cittas and cetasikas. The object of this thinking is a concept, not real.

2. Think of your mother or father (whether alive or not). Again same process - the cittas and cetasikas of the thinking process are real but the object, mother and father, is concept- not real.

3. If your mother and father were right in front of you now (talking to you) and you think of them, again the object is concept, not real; but the thinking process is real. The colours are real, the sounds are real, but mother and father is concept.

Obviously example 1 is easily understood. It is number 2 and especially number 3 that in daily life we get confused by.

Satipatthana can only take paramattha dhammas for object, not concepts. Does this mean we should try not to think of concepts? Some would have us do this but this is not the middle way. All the arahants thought of concepts but they could never confuse concept for reality. Panna and sati can understand dhammas directly even during the processes of thinking that take concepts for objects.

Now there is thinking happening , trying to comprehend what was just read. The process of thinking is real and it might be rooted in lobha (desire) that wants to understand. The lobha is real - is it seen as just a dhamma , not you. There is also feeling; if you liked what was written this will be pleasant feeling - is it seen as just a conditioned dhamma, not you. And if you didn't like it there was unpleasant feeling, not you. These present objects must be seen wisely otherwise there will always be doubt and one will not gain confidence. Or one will settle for attachment to the Dhamma rather than insight. Or worse become someone whose aim is to look for little flaws thinking that this is proper investigation.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:57 am

so all the khandhas, including feeling, are very real, they are conditioned, and they last - according to the texts- for an infinitley short period of time before falling away and ceasing.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:10 am

this is some questions that I replied to many years ago on dsg
1) How is concept specifically different from vitakka?

Vittaka is a paramattha dhamma. The usual translation is applied thinking. Howeer it is not exactly the same as what we usually meaqn by thinking. Even when we are in deep, dreamless sleep vittaka arises. Nevertheless we can say it is or may be predominant when we are thinking (in the conventional sense). When we are thinking about some idea one of the dhammas that is arsing and passing away during those moments is vittaka. If sati of satipatthana takes vittaka as an object, or any other dhamma, then the concept will disappear for the moments that this is happening. This is because sati, of this type, only takes paramattha dhamma for object.

2) Is there a pali word for concept?

Pannatti is the pali for concept. As Acharn Sujin explains in 'Realities and concepts' there are different types of concept. Such words as dosa, lobha, metta, colour, hatred, sound are concepts that designate paramattha dhammas, they are vijjamana pannatti. Words such as person, animal, computer, Robert, Mike do not refer to paramattha dhammas and are called avijjamana pannati.

3) Doesn't a concept arise at the mind-door?

Concepts are dhammarammana(mental object) and they appear at the mind-door. The mind-door has many different objects including citta, cetasika, rupa and nibbana which are all paramattha dhamma. It also has concept as an object.

4) Is it not taken as an object by citta?
Yes but not in the same way that paramattha dhammas are taken as object. How could it as it is not real. The cittas and cetasikas are arising and passing away at great speed and forming up concepts but these concepts have no existence, although they give the illusion of existence. It is so hard to talk about this -- we are using concepts to discuus it-- and yet this is all happening right now. Can we see it? By the development of satipatthana the difference between concept and paramattha dhamma must gradually becomes clearer. Now you are reading this so it might be worthwhile analysing what is actually happening. There is visible object, the different colours making up the computer screen. The colours are real (but arising and passing away rapidly) the computer screen is not real, however the various rupas that make up the screen are real,(and arising and passing away ceaselessly). There is cakkhuvinnana, seeing consciousness which is real (and ephemeral) which arises due to the contact of the eyebase (real, conditioned by kamma done in the past, evanescent). Then there are processes of citta which experience the same object and then there are mind-door processes which think about what was seen and so concepts are formed up. Yet these concepts do not actually exist. There must be this process occuring, no one can stop it occuring. If it didn't occur we would be utterly vacuous, know nothing at all, much less than a new born baby. Thus it is the most natural thing that concepts arise.

Unfortunately, though, throughout samasara we have given these concepts special staus that they don't deserve, namely we think they exist. This mistaken notion means that we will do all sorts of evil to protect these illusionary figments such as self. When we see that concepts are simply concept, and that even parammattha dhammas are so temporary, would we still get so upset when we are critisised? Would we hate the man who steals our wife once we know that both are only idea? I think we would not kill, steal, lie or cheat over distintergrating colours, sounds or tastes. We can only get angry because of the distorted vision that can't fully penetrate these matters. Thus papanaca and mannati are working.


5) Can someone please cite a clear, direct instruction on this topic from the sutta-pitaka?

The Buddha said that the all includes the 6 doors and there objects and the sense bases. There are many suttas classifying dhammas in different ways, the ayatanas, the khandas, the dhatus, so that they can be understood, so that concept is not mistaken for paramattha dhamma. The satipatthana sutta elucidates different dhammas that can be insighted. Anger is one of the objects listed in the satipatthana sutta- it should be understood. When we are angry do we see that we are angry with an illusion? Do we understand that what is really happening is simply cittas arising and passing away that are roooted in dosa. By studying our "lives", which are only these brief moments of anger and lust and doubt and fear and pleasure and pain, and seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, by applying the satipatthana sutta, we are beginning to separate paramattha dhamma from concept.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:44 am

Pannati, concepts can be classified in many ways (see the p.s to this post). In fact, things like a unicorn and God and rabbits horns can be considered as different types of pannati from trees. Trees, computers, humans, Robert, Sam are the shadows of what is really there - and what is really there are only namas and rupas, mentality and matter, insignificant dhammas that can barely be said to exist because they pass away instantly. These concepts are more deluding than concepts like unicorns (which we know have no reality).

Because of accumulated avijja, ignorance, these type of concepts (pannatti) delude and instead of being given their correct status - as neccessary designations* - they are assumed to be actual. And that is where all problems begin and end.

*Note that these designations happen long, long before they are linguistic labels. What is called a thought in conventional language is comprised of billions of momentary arisings which repeatedly take a concept as object and may include metally naming it. Becuase of this repetition - and the lack of insight into the actual dhammas - the illusion of permanence is solidified.

The commentary to the UDANA ( translation by Peter Masefield from PTS) (p71,vol1, enlightenment chapter)




"it is ignorance since it causes beings to dart among becomings and so on within samsara.., it is ignorance since it darts among those things which do not actually exist [i.e. men, women) and since it does not dart among those things that do exist [i.e. it cannot understand the khandas, paramattha dhammas].


------
As I said above the conceptualising happens long before any naming has time to occur. Even babies and animals who have no linguistic abilities are fully involved in processes of conceptualising. However, animals and babies cannot yet expand concepts into the religions, sciences, and general craziness and wonder that is the fruit of civilisation.
I think it can only be known by direct insight whether this is true or not and that is why the Buddha's teaching is ehipassiko - come and see. Which is why I believe vipassana is not a matter of doing something to get something ; instead it is simply the developing of insight into what is real and what is not. All these processes, the realities and the concepts are happening every moment of the day. They do not have to be searched for - they only need to be seen.



p.s. Abhidhammattha Sangaha Ch VIII, section 4, on pannattis:


QUOTE

i) formal concept (santhana pannatti) corresponding to the form of things, such as land, mountain or tree, which are so designated on account of the mode of transition of the elements.

ii) collective concept (samuha pannatti), corresponding to modes of construction of materials, to a collection of things, such as a vehicle or a chariot.

iii) conventional concept (sammutti pannatti), such as person or individual, which is derived from the five khandhas.

iv) local concept (disa pannatti), a notion or idea derived from the revolving of the moon, such as the directions of East or West.

v) concept of time (kala pannatti), such as morning, evening.

vi) concept of season (masa pannatti), notions corresponding to seasons and months. The months are designated by names, such as Vesakha.

vii) concept of space (akasa), such as a well or a cave. It is derived from space which is not contacted by the four Great Elements.

viii) nimitta pannatti, the mental image which is acquired through the development of samatha, such as the nimitta of a kasina.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby SamKR » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:54 am

Thank you Robert for detail, clear and insightful reply. I think I understand what you mean in the above posts as some of that has been my understanding too.

But still, I am reluctant to say the "paramattha dhammas" are absolutely real and even the concepts are absolutely unreal, absolutely existing or absolutely non-existing - based on the Buddha's teachings like Kalakarama sutta, Kaccayanagotta sutta and other suttas regarding right view. Because taking positions about reality/unreality and existence/non-existence is not right view if I understand what the Buddha is trying to say.

And I think we can make at least there distinctions:
1. "paramattha dhammas" (eg, feeling) in ultimate infinitesimal sense -- incessantly arising and passing away in an infinitesimally small "time" -- even for them reality/existence or non-reality/non-existence does not apply
2. Sankharas (eg, "envelope of those feelings mentioned in 1.": like gross feeling of headache) that are created or fabricated out of those little infinitesimal dhammas. They can actually give rise to concepts, and actually create the "world". The concept of self is created due to this level, I guess.
3. Concepts like father, mother, computer, house etc. Still, the actual objects these concepts refer are ultimately infinitesimally small physical/mental units arising and passing away rapidly.

All three can be "tried" to be seen as "such": arising and passing away (in different speeds), and we cannot take a position that they really absolutely exist or they really absolutely don't exist. Perhaps one category (as mentioned above) is relatively more real/unreal than the other.
They are "such" and those who see this "such" are themselves "such". Right view pertains to "see" this "such", the things really are (like: "this feeling is not self), rather than sticking to any ontological proposition like "there is no self".

Sorry for my bad English, but I hope you will sense what I am trying to say, and reply with more insights.
Thanks.
Last edited by SamKR on Fri Apr 05, 2013 10:00 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby SamKR » Fri Apr 05, 2013 9:25 am

I can not admire enough the following. Actually I am kind of "attached" to the following sublime words:

"Whatever is seen or heard or sensed
and fastened onto as true by others,
One who is Such — among the self-fettered —
wouldn't further claim to be true or even false.

"Having seen well in advance that arrow
where generations are fastened & hung
— 'I know, I see, that's just how it is!' —
there's nothing of the Tathagata fastened."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:35 pm

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:36 pm

robertk wrote:2. Think of your mother or father (whether alive or not). Again same process - the cittas and cetasikas of the thinking process are real but the object, mother and father, is concept- not real.

3. If your mother and father were right in front of you now (talking to you) and you think of them, again the object is concept, not real; but the thinking process is real. The colours are real, the sounds are real, but mother and father is concept.


Why is then murder of mother or father is heinous kamma with definite result of going to hell, but murder of man or woman is simply bad kamma?
Is Buddha a concept? If so, why can't anyone kill a Buddha but can kill another man?


Where in Abhidhamma PITAKA is there explicit teaching that concepts don't exist, but only paramattha dhammas do? As far as I know, nowhere... It is found in post canonical commentaries...
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby kirk5a » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:03 pm

robertk wrote:2. Think of your mother or father (whether alive or not). Again same process - the cittas and cetasikas of the thinking process are real but the object, mother and father, is concept- not real.

How do you distinguish that from wrong view?
There is .. no mother, no father...This is wrong view.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:09 pm

Its like I said above. The concepts such as mother and father are the shadow of the actual paramatttha dhammas. But when you think of your mother or father it is not your mother or father. It is a concept.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:15 pm

The namas and rupas that were arising and passing away that were designated the term Buddha were real.
But there was no Buddha in the ultimate sense , that is merely a useful term to describe these unusally sublime series of elements.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:24 pm

robertk wrote:Its like I said above. The concepts such as mother and father are the shadow of the actual paramatttha dhammas. But when you think of your mother or father it is not your mother or father. It is a concept.


What distinguishes paramattha dhammas that make up a man and paramattha dhammas that make up "one's father"?
There is big kamma difference between killing a man and killing one's father.

What distinguishes paramattha dhammas that make up a Buddjha and paramattha dhammas that make up a man? A man can be killed, according to scriptures Buddha cannot be killed.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby robertk » Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:15 pm

Think of the countless number of mind processes, which are real, associated with the care of a child. Thus a parent is different from other people we might meet.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:38 pm

robertk wrote:Think of the countless number of mind processes, which are real, associated with the care of a child. Thus a patent is different from other people we might meet.



So, there is association between mind processes (paramattha) and child (concept)?
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby SamKR » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:24 pm

Alex123 wrote:Why is then murder of mother or father is heinous kamma with definite result of going to hell, but murder of man or woman is simply bad kamma?


Alex123 wrote:
robertk wrote:Think of the countless number of mind processes, which are real, associated with the care of a child. Thus a patent is different from other people we might meet.



So, there is association between mind processes (paramattha) and child (concept)?


Maybe paramattha-dhammas and concepts are related like this:

paramattha-dhammas + ignorance ==> conceptual proliferation ==> Kamma (different kammas with different fruits - as conceptualized, as sankhara-ized) and Dukkha
paramattha-dhammas + no-ignorance ==> vipassana (seeing as such) ==> No Kamma, No Dukkha

So, as long as there is ignorance, sankhara, conceptualization, craving, clinging etc. there are distinctions of kamma and fruits (killing a man or a parent).
If there is no ignorance and no conceptualization one becomes incapable of generating kamma like killing even an insect, let alone a man or his parent.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby SamKR » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:03 am

That's why even the concepts cannot be said to be unreal or real.
Similarly, "self" cannot be said to be unreal or real. All we can say is whatever phenomenon arises (and passes away) that is Dukkha, that is not self.
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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby dhamma follower » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:26 am

Dear Tilt and Kirck5a,

I do not know why it is that you Sujin followers need to be told repeatedly that no one here is suggesting right effort is not some sort of unconditioned thing.


Because some repeatedly quote passage where the Buddha says "one should make an effort" whenever we say right effort is conditioned. If there is agreement that it is indeed a conditioned dhamma, why there need to be those quotes? To make what point?

Please elaborate


I will try, though I'm not very good at that. Meditation teachers usually talk about effortless awareness, where there seems to be no effort to be aware of the object one is paying attention to, or simply aware of whatever arises without the idea of someone who is trying to be aware. The mind is the very sharp, alert...When there is this kind of understanding - that no :one" is aware, we can say (approximately) that there's s some sort of real sati with understanding. Even though the expression says "effortless...", it doesn't mean that there's no effort there, since effort actually arises with most cittas. The effort here gets closer to how right effort is described by the Buddha:

or the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen...
for the sake of the abandoning of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen...
for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen...(and)
for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen.


because it arises with sati, wholesome citta. And it is felt as no effort at all.

When people talk about effort, they usually think of trying to do something. And when there is right effort, we say there's no effort at all. It suggests that our usual idea of effort is somewhat muddled with the idea of striving, someone striving. It probably is just lobha (greed) with ditthi which is conflated with effort.

I think there's a big gap between what we think things are, and the characteristics of realities that the Buddha talked about.

Another example of usual confusion is between metta and lobha. Refined lobha is usually mistaken for metta. It is very hard to know the real characteristic of metta. Similarly, it is very difficult to know the real characteristic of right effort. Equating someone doing something with arousing right effort is a very misleading approach. Right effort has its own conditions to arise, and understanding deeply the teaching is the key, as in the sutta quoted by Kirck

Energy (viriya) is the state of one who, is vigorous (vira). Its characteristic is marshalling (driving). Its finction is to consolidate conascent states (the accompanying citta and cetasikas). It is manifested as non-collapse. Because of the words "Bestirred, he strives wisely" (Gradual Saying II. I l5), its proximate cause is a sense of urgency; or its proximate cause is grounds for the initiation of energy. When rightly initiated, it should be regarded as the root of all attainments.


Brgrd,

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby dhamma follower » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:37 am

Alex123 wrote:
robertk wrote:Its like I said above. The concepts such as mother and father are the shadow of the actual paramatttha dhammas. But when you think of your mother or father it is not your mother or father. It is a concept.


What distinguishes paramattha dhammas that make up a man and paramattha dhammas that make up "one's father"?
There is big kamma difference between killing a man and killing one's father.

What distinguishes paramattha dhammas that make up a Buddjha and paramattha dhammas that make up a man? A man can be killed, according to scriptures Buddha cannot be killed.


Greeting Alex,

Without paramatha, there would not be any concept. The concept of father, or Buddha represents the realities which are the cittas, cetasikas and rupas. The cittas which arise in a Buddha are not of the same quality than in other beings. The kamma which kill a Buddha is not the same than killing a ordinary person, just like ignating a fire starter doesn't produce the same result than ignating a mine field. Similarly, in order to kill a father whom we own much gratitude, the degree of akusala must be much bigger than when one kills another man.... It is not the concept that makes a kamma less or more serious than another, it is
1. the degree of kusala and akusala\
2. The quality of citta of the recipient, just like sowing in a barren field doesn't yield the same result than in a fertile one.

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:20 am

dhamma follower wrote:Dear Tilt and Kirck5a,

I do not know why it is that you Sujin followers need to be told repeatedly that no one here is suggesting right effort is not some sort of unconditioned thing.


Because some repeatedly quote passage where the Buddha says "one should make an effort" whenever we say right effort is conditioned. If there is agreement that it is indeed a conditioned dhamma, why there need to be those quotes? To make what point?
Show me an actual example of that.

I will try, though I'm not very good at that.
Reading all of this abhidhamma talk, I find it less than convincing as away of understanding and talking about the Buddha's teachings in a skillful way. This is especially so, given that the Buddha did not teach Abhidhamma, and he certainly did not teach the later abhidhamma stuff as found in the Abhidhammasangaha.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: The causes for wisdom

Postby polarbuddha101 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:47 am

because it arises with sati, wholesome citta. And it is felt as no effort at all.


There is such a thing as wrong sati, the idea that sati is always wholesome was not taught by the buddha, only samma sati is always wholesome, but that doesn't mean that right effort is felt as no effort at all. Sometimes it takes much effort, with crying and pain. Sometimes, you just have to go against the flow, and that takes effort, and not effortless effort.

"And who is the individual who goes against the flow? There is the case where an individual doesn't indulge in sensual passions and doesn't do evil deeds. Even though it may be with pain, even though it may be with sorrow, even though he may be crying, his face in tears, he lives the holy life that is perfect & pure. This is called the individual who goes against the flow.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html




When people talk about effort, they usually think of trying to do something. And when there is right effort, we say there's no effort at all. It suggests that our usual idea of effort is somewhat muddled with the idea of striving, someone striving. It probably is just lobha (greed) with ditthi which is conflated with effort.


Touched
by the touch
of discomforts, hunger,
he should endure cold
& inordinate heat.
He with no home,
in many ways touched by these things,
striving, should make firm his persistence.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/search_r ... q=striving


"And what is lack of food for the arising of unarisen sloth & drowsiness, or for the growth & increase of sloth & drowsiness once it has arisen? There is the potential for effort, the potential for exertion, the potential for striving. To foster appropriate attention to them: This is lack of food for the arising of unarisen sloth & drowsiness, or for the growth & increase of sloth & drowsiness once it has arisen.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/search_r ... q=striving


"He dwells with his persistence aroused, [thinking,] 'Gladly would I let the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, but if I have not attained what can be reached through human steadfastness, human persistence, human striving, there will be no relaxing my persistence.'"

"Endowed with these eight qualities, a monk is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, an incomparable field of merit for the world."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Right effort requires much desire, much persistence, it isn't always easy and one does have to strive. The Buddha has clearly said so.


I think there's a big gap between what we think things are, and the characteristics of realities that the Buddha talked about.


The problem is that all this talk about realities from you comes mostly from abhidhamma, which the Buddha clearly did not teach.

Another example of usual confusion is between metta and lobha. Refined lobha is usually mistaken for metta. It is very hard to know the real characteristic of metta.


This is rather debatable. But there isn't much point in getting into it unless you provide an example of what you mean like you were asked earlier.

Similarly, it is very difficult to know the real characteristic of right effort. Equating someone doing something with arousing right effort is a very misleading approach. Right effort has its own conditions to arise, and understanding deeply the teaching is the key, as in the sutta quoted by Kirck



Effort has desire as a condition.

There being an agreement through pondering those dhammas, desire arises. With the arising of desire, he becomes willing. Willing, he contemplates (lit: "weighs," "compares"). Contemplating, he makes an exertion. Exerting himself, he both realizes the ultimate meaning of the truth with his body and sees by penetrating it with discernment.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Contremplating dhamma is just one step, you have to exert yourself eventually.


:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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