Lethargy-&-Laziness may often be induced by self-destructive behaviour
such as: Alcohol, drugs, dope, pills, marihuana, sniffing, over-eating,
excessive masturbation and night-living. Such often life-long chemical or
behavioural causes of Lethargy-&-Laziness should be eradicated.
As long as this is not achieved one remains a phlegmatic & apathetic zombie,
drifting downwards due to inability to initiate advantageous behaviour.
Noticing Lethargy-&-Laziness (thīna-middha) emerge can make it evaporate:
Herein, Bhikkhus, when Lethargy-&-Laziness is present in him, the bhikkhu
notes & understands: There is Lethargy-&-Laziness in me, and when this
Lethargy-&-Laziness is absent, he notes & understands: Now there is no
Lethargy-&-Laziness in me. He indeed also understands how not yet arisen
Lethargy-&-Laziness arises. He understands how to leave behind any arisen
Lethargy-&-Laziness, and he understands how left Lethargy-&-Laziness will
not arise again in the future. MN 10
What is the feeding cause that makes Lethargy-&-Laziness arise?
There are boredom, apathy, tiredness, lazy stretching of the body, heavy
drowsiness after too big meals, and mental sluggishness. Frequently giving
irrational and unwise attention to these mental states, this is the feeding
cause of the arising of Lethargy-&-Laziness, and the feeding cause of
worsening and deepening of already present Lethargy-&-Laziness. SN 46:51
What is the starving cause that makes Lethargy-&-Laziness cease?
There is the quality of initiative. There is the quality of launching action.
There is the quality of tenaciously enduring persistence. Frequently giving
rational & wise attention to these three mental elements, is the starving
cause for the non-arising of Lethargy-&-Laziness, and the starving cause
for the arousing and stirring of already present Lethargy-&-Laziness.
The Supreme Ideal:
Before the Buddha sat down to meditate in order to attain enlightenment,
he made this determination: May just all flesh and blood of this body dry
up into a stiff frame of only bones, tendons and skin... Not a second before
having achieved, what can be achieved by male strength, power, and energy,
will I rise from this seat... MN 70
How to stimulate the mind:
How does one stimulate the mind at a time when it needs stimulation?
If due to slowness of understanding or due to not having yet reached the
happiness of tranquillity, one's mind is dull, then one should rouse it through
reflecting on the eight objects stirring urgency. These 8 objects are: birth,
decay, disease & death; the suffering in hell, demon, ghost & animal world!
The suffering in the past and the future rooted in Samsara.
The suffering of the present rooted in the pursuit for food and living.
Perceiving the suffering in impermanence:
In a Bhikkhu, who is used to see the suffering in impermanence and who
frequently reflects on this, there will be established in him such an acute
sense of the danger in laziness, apathy, inactivity and lethargy, just as if
he was threatened by a mad murderer with drawn sword! AN 7:46
Lethargy-&-Laziness is an inner mental Prison:
Just as when a man has been forced into prison is Lethargy-&-Laziness,
but later when he gets released from this (inner) prison, then he is safe,
fearing no loss of property. And at that good he rejoices glad at heart...
Such is the breaking out of Lethargy-&-Laziness...
Another person has been kept in jail during a festival day, and so could see
none of the shows. When people say: Oh! This Festival was so much fun! He
will remain shy, mute and silent because he did not enjoy any festival himself...
Similarly is the prison of Lethargy-&-Laziness. Another person that once had
been in jail on a festival day. But, when freed and celebrating the festival
on a later occasion, he looks back: Before, due to my own careless laziness,
I was in prison on that day & could not enjoy this fine festival. Now I shall
therefore be alert and careful. Since he remains thus alert and careful no
detrimental state can overcome his mind. Having fully enjoyed the festival,
he exclaims: What a fun festival! Good is absence of Lethargy-&-Laziness...
Whoever lives only to satisfy his search & urge for pleasure and beauty,
unguarded in senses, immoderately indulging in eating, lazy, lethargic,
inactive, dulled into apathy. Such ones Mara sweeps away like breaking
a branch of a tiny bush ...
Even if one should live a hundred years, if lazy, slack and idle,
better it would be to live but just a single day striving with all one has.
Easy is the shameless life now. Easy is it to be bold, retaliating,
lazy, uninformed and wrong-viewed. Dhammapada 244
Rouse yourself! Sit up!
Resolutely train yourself to attain peace.
Do not let the king of death, see you lazy,
and thereby lead you astray and dominate you.
Sutta Nipāta II, 10
More on curing this common defilement: Laziness (Thīna-middha):