Our paramita for the month of April is joyful diligence, sometimes referred to as exertion. This fourth paramita is about setting aside our egoic instincts and needs, experiencing a true, selfless bodhisattva joy when we engage in positive actions without any expectations or a need for self-satisfaction.
Without diligence, bodhicitta and the activities of a bodhisattva will have no means to take root and grow in your mind.
— H.H. Dilgo Khyentse, The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva.
If we view this paramita as a duty or obligation, we miss the opportunity to experience its joy, says Mitra Mark Power, one of our senior teachers. A key first step is setting aside our habitual sense of “I” as being at the center of everything.
“Then we discover joy – little flashes of possibility – and this energizes our path,” Mitra Mark has written. “Joyful diligence starts small and builds. Then, without our even noticing it, transformation unfolds; the conflict we have with ourselves begins to unravel, and we become genuinely useful to others.”
For more insights, here is Mitra Mark’s essay on this topic, which includes a lovely poem by Mary Oliver.