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Enthusiasm, reflections on right effort – third of an eight part study course

  • Wellington Friends’ Centre 7 Moncrieff Street Mount Victoria Wellington (map)

Tonight, One Mindful Breath will be running the third of an eight part secular dharma study course titled What is this? and it focuses on the talk Enthusiasm – reflections on right effort, given by Stephen Batchelor at Gaia House, Devon, on 21 July 2016.

We won’t be listening to the talk on the night, so we ask that you listen to it before you come along, and recommend that you take notes as you listen. During each session, a facilitator will put questions to the group of participants; these questions will be found on this page in due course.

Ending on 26 September 2018, each part of the study course will take place during the One Mindful Breath session on the fourth Wednesday of the month and the evenings will start with a 30-minute meditation.



We’ll start our conversation by looking at these questions:

  1. Conditionality & dharma
    In the Pali canon, one description of conditionality reads: When this is, that arises. When this is not, that does not arise. How is it that when contemplating these verses one would recognise that the dharma is not about imposing a belief or provoking a mystical experience?
  2. Complete effort, or enthusiasm
    How is it that when contemplating the above verses one would recognise a basis for cultivating enthusiasm or right effort?
  3. Four conditions for virya
    Define the four key conditions that the 8th century Indian poet Shantideva [see pages 4–6 of the attached document below that follow these questions] identifies for cultivating virya (enthusiasm, right effort, or ‘finding joy in what is skilful’) and give an example of each from your own life. 
  4. Self-confidence & false modesty
    With respect to the second of these four key conditions, how is it that faux modesty hinders both oneself and others? Give an example to illustrate your point.
  5. Self-confidence
    Summarising one point of the verses on self-confidence, Batchelor remarks that, ‘If you have a negative image of yourself then you will be that much more prone to these emotions which will then really bring you down … The way that we imagine ourselves, the way we picture ourselves, has a considerable consequence on how we come to terms with powerful feelings and emotions and the criticisms of others.’ What counsel does Shantideva offer for reversing such imagery and negative self-talk?.
  6. Cultivating enthusiasm, or virya
    Consider Batchelor’s remark that one cannot simply decide to be joyful but ‘if we bring into mind our motive, our goals … a confidence in our abilities, that hopefully would be strengthened by the more practice that we engage with, we actually start experiencing the results of the practice.’ What does Batchelor advise one do to cultivate the joy of virya?
  7. Conditionality & the four tasks
    Batchelor cites Nagarjuna as follows: The one who sees conditionality sees dukkha, the arising, the ceasing and the path. Summarise in a few words the causes and results of accomplishing each of these four tasks

If you’re coming on the 25th, you can download the complete set of questions along with useful background material here.


One Mindful Breath offers this course to all participants without a fixed fee, and thanks to the generosity of many is pleased to be able to make the resources freely available. We seek your support to enable the community to continue operating in this way, and you can offer your support by making a charitable donation through Aotearoa Buddhist Education Trust by bank transfer to 38 9019 0064662 03.

Stephen Batchelor does not charge for his teaching, and depends for his livelihood on the generosity of students. In New Zealand, you can make a charitable donation to support Steven’s work through Aotearoa Buddhist Education by bank transfer to 38 9019 0064662 01. Donations by debit and credit card can be made through PayPal on his website here.

To get a tax receipt for your donations, please let our treasurer know a) the amount you donated, b) the date, and c) the account number into which it went, in an email.

We are tremendously grateful to Christine Johnson of Upaya Sangha of Tucson for putting together this series of talks, and sharing her participant questions with us. We further developed her work to ensure it fits the shorter timeframe available to us.

Thank you with hanging lights.jpg