+1 vote
by (130 points)
Dear Ven Yuttadhammo,

Reading from the Sacca-vibhanga Sutta, Right Effort is when a person arouses his will, puts forth effort, generates energy, and exerts his mind to eliminate unwholesome thoughts that have arisen in the mind, and prevent unwholesome thoughts that have not arisen in the mind.

On the other hand, Mindfulness is observing, being aware of, and confronting the thoughts that arise in the mind, without getting caught up in them.

If unwholesome thoughts arise in the mind, does being mindful of them alone qualify as Right Effort? Since we are passively observing the thoughts arise and cease, but do not make any intentional effort to eliminate them?

2 Answers

0 votes
by (7.7k points)

The Right Effort here is the right energy(Viriya).

Energy (Viriya): is the state of one who, is vigorous (vira). Its characteristic is marshalling (driving). Its function is to consolidate conascent states (the accompanying citta and cetasikas). It is manifested as non-collapse. 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  - Visuddhimagga

Mindfulness(Sati): has the characteristic of not wobbling. Its function is not to forget. It is manifested as guarding, or it is manifested as the state of confronting an objective field. Its proximate cause is strong perception, or its proximate cause is the four foundations of mindfulness. - Visuddhimagga

So as you can see that the Mindfulness and the Right effort are quite different. But they do work together.

0 votes
by (3.6k points)
Practically speaking you could say that noting falls under the category of right effort.

There can be only one thought at a time in the mind. Right. So, with noting one eliminates unwholesome thoughts and prevents their arising, as an example.

This has to be accompanied with sati/mindfulness. Awareness has to be present to be able to note.

So, we don't just passively observe thoughts. The noting technique is quite an active effort to disrupt unwholesomeness.

Hope this makes things a bit clearer.
by (130 points)
I suppose that being mindful is a prerequisite for Right Effort, because without it we are not even aware that thoughts and emotions are pulling us in different directions; and without that awareness there can be no conscious effort to subdue them.

Wisdom may be the only way to subdue the five hindrances. For example by seeing clearly that we all will die one day, or how all things are impermanent and not worth clinging to. That which we know deep in our heart is true and appeals to the logical mind is more convincing than blind faith.
by (3.6k points)
I agree with mindfulness playing a key role. There are monks who would argue that it's the other way around: right effort being in the service of right mindfulness. Anyhow, there is a link there.

To subdue the hindrances samadhi, being centred and collected, is enough. Wisdom, understanding leads to completely uprooting and destroying of the hindrances. Ones that has happened they can no longer arise. This is what we are aiming at.

I don't agree with your last sentences though. Of course, I might have misunderstood them (English is not my native tongue).
The knowledge of impermanence that is needed to be on the Path is not a knowledge that comes from thinking, or logic, or reading and pondering.
It is experiential knowledge about being impermanent oneself, so to speak.

Everyone knows that everyone dies someday, and that nothings is permanent. But, that is not enough. If it were, everyone would be at least a Sotapanna. Experiential knowledge of impermanence however will turn everything you've known about yourself upside down. Logic will no longer apply at all. It's about experiencing that you yourself are impermanent. That you yourself are nothing more than an arising and ceasing process of matter and mind. It's basically seeing the end of you in one instance. Disappearing, stopping completely. And then arise again.
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