The Six Paramitas: Exertion

December 6, 2021   |   19 Comments

Audio-only version is here.
Meditation practice begins at 17:26.

Dear Open Heart Project,

Thank you so much for signing up for this six video series on the six paramitas or transcendent actions.

These actions may sound ordinary—we all know that generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, concentration, and wisdom are worthy pursuits. We may have ideas about what each quality means, which is fantastic. But here they are viewed in their transcendent or extraordinary form. In these short talks, we are exploring what is meant by transcendent generosity, transcendent discipline, and so on.

This week we come to transcendent exertion. This has nothing to do with trying harder, particularly.

Even if I don’t know you, I know this: you are already trying as hard as you can. Please have a listen to this talk to hear more about what it means to effort without aggression, to work at your life as part of your spiritual practice rather than another attempt at self-improvement.

Thoughts? I always love to hear from you.

With love, Susan

PS You’re not broken! You don’t need to be fixed!

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  • Posted by:  Judith Ward

    Thank you Susan, enjoying your “down to earth ‘ meditation talks on the 6 Para Mettas plus the Meditation at the end of your talk.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Delighted to hear it, Judith! Sending warm wishes across the seas. With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Sherryl

    Whenever I listen to any of your talks, Susan, I feel encouraged because you are so relatable. Encouragement is a great gift especially nowadays when uncertainty and fear motivate many actions. Also, I’m grateful that your interpretation of Buddhist principles is void of moralistic leanings. A discussion about exertion can be easily manipulated into one of fear-mongering… fear of hell, fear of the consequences of sin, or fear of losing favour from an Almighty or whatever powers-that-be. I don’t refer here to Abrahamic religions; afraid some Buddhist denominations can also encompass a Puritanical approach.

    I’ve always felt inadequate towards this paramita of exertion but I realise now that this comes out of a misunderstanding of its essence. Thank you, Susan, for highlighting ‘effort without aggression’. In today’s world of peddled perfectionism and glorified productivity, everyday we’re already bombarded by messages of unremitting striving. Strive to be 1% better. All. The. Time.

    Upon reflecting on the first of the three categories of exertion, which is ‘suit of armour’, I understand this can be understood as a readiness for action. However, can ‘suit of armour’ also be interpreted as a shell, a sort of boundary protecting the self? I wonder am I right to read this first category as also harbouring (and honouring) our limitations throughout our dharmic cultivation? Can this be construed as an invitation to wear our flawed, work-in-progress coveralls as we practise? I suppose a battered suit of armour holds equal weight, if not more, to a shining armour, despite being compromised or having limitations.

    Afraid I may have rattled on but that’s the beauty of your talk. It engages.

    Deep appreciations.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Sheryl, so lovely to read your reflections. Many thanks for taking the time to share them.

      So glad you found the suggestion of “effort without aggression” to be useful. I find it useful, too!

      Really interesting to think about suit of armor in all its manifestations–as protection, as a hiding place, and as something well-worn. In all cases, the suit of armor provides a valuable teaching. I’m going to enjoy thinking about this further. Many thanks! With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Patty

    Thank you Susan for sending the regular meditation practices. It helps remind me to focus on what I need to remember. Namaste Patty

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      So glad we can practice together, Patty! With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Mary

    Susan, Thank you for this powerful and compassionate teaching. It was exactly what I needed to hear today to get back on track to living more wholeheartedly through the unknown. I am so grateful to you. xo Mary

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      I am grateful to you, Mary! Thanks so much for trying to live these teachings. I’m right there with you. With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Donna

    I really found this insightful. I’m a 9w1 and really feel laziness has settled in deep during these pandemic time. I don’t catch your videos regularly but when I do I too find them very relatable. I wish you blessings of Health, Well-being and Joy 🙏❤️

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Donna, hello 9! So great that you know the enneagram, the most helpful tool I know of for understanding oneself. And many thanks for the kind wishes. Much appreciated and totally returned! With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Marsha J Gehl

    Thank You Susan!

    You are a wonderful teacher .. you are interesting and concise. The way of your teachings are very meaningful for me.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Thank you, Marsha! I truly appreciate that. Glad our paths have crossed. Warmly, S

  • Posted by:  Catherine Lethbridge

    Thank you Susan for the balance and perspective that I especially need and want on a Monday morning. My intentions need adjusting after a weekend. I value the jump start, restart, patience and acceptance, also the understanding of discipline as vehicle for further self understanding.
    Some how you help make the ground softer to land on.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      How lovely to read this, Katie. So many thanks. Your friend in the dharma, Susan

  • Posted by:  Shayna

    Susan, thanks so much for these teachings on the 6 paramitas. I keep rewatching the videos and get something more each time. Patience and exertion have really spoken to me and are place I personally want to do more exploration. Are there any good books about the 6 Paramitas? Thanks, again.

  • Posted by:  Sue May/Shiwa Chotso

    I appreciate Sheryl’s reflections on the “suit of armor,” which somehow in my imagination looks more like the idea of dressing in nice clothes (clean, mended/whole, even if not fancy). It holds for me the idea of outer strength reflecting inner strength, soundness and wholeness represented in both places. I admit to sliding into becoming disheartened, but that is generally about feeling uncertain about my capacity to handle change and confusion. I do not generally feel powerful, but am okay with being a plain old lady, made sturdy by life lived, acting with good intentions based on whatever awareness I can summon. It is a joyful thing to say that there’s always more to learn!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      love the idea of pleasing clothes as suit of armor! you are such a wonderful, true practitioner, Sue May/Chiwa Chostso. You are living the householder path. It is such a delight to behold. xoxo S

  • Posted by:  Elizabeth

    This meditation talk really hit me. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Then, as it happens, I began reading a book (Four Thousand Weeks) which seems to address this topic as well. Four thousand weeks is roughly our life span, not very long when you put it in those terms. I am not finished with the book, but the gist of it, so far, is to pay attention to your exertion; pay attention to the choices you make, because your life is finite. Pay attention because this is your life and your life is what you pay attention to. I thought this complimented what you said very nicely. I thank you for the practical wisdom you share with all of us.

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“With wisdom, creativity and artistry, Susan Piver brings a Buddhist lens to the spiritual map of the Enneagram. The results are vibrant and nourishing; a banquet of insights that help us transmute our difficult emotions into pure expressions of our basic goodness.”

 – Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance