Vīrya (Sanskrit; Pāli: viriya) is a Buddhist term commonly translated as "energy", "diligence", "enthusiasm", or "effort". It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities, and it functions to cause one to accomplish wholesome or virtuous actions.

Vīrya literally means "state of a strong human"[1] or "manliness."[2] In Vedic literature, the term is often associated with heroism and virility. In Buddhism, the term more generally refers to a practitioner's "energy" or "exertion," and is repeatedly identified as a necessary prerequisite for achieving liberation.

In Buddhist contexts, viriya has been translated as "energy,"[1][3][4][5][6] "persistence,"[6][7] "persevering,"[8] "vigour," "effort," "exertion,"[1] or "diligence."[9][10]

In this context, virya is defined as the attitude of gladly engaging in what is wholesome; its function is to cause one to accomplish wholesome actions.[9][10]

In the context of the Mahayana Abhidharma, virya is commonly translated as diligence.[9]

In Buddhism's Pali literature, viriya is identified as critical component in each of the following sets of qualities conducive to Enlightenment (bodhi-pakkhiyā-dhammā):

It is also associated with "Right Effort" (sammā-vāyāma) of the Noble Eightfold Path (Pāli: aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo; Skt.: aṣṭāṅga mārga) and with the "Four Right Exertions" (samma-ppadhāna).

It stands for strenuous and sustained effort to overcome unskillful ways (akusala dhamma), such as indulging in sensuality, ill will and harmfulness (see, e.g., ahiṃsa and nekkhamma).[citation needed]

Viriya can also be aroused by strong feelings of Saṃvega and the practice of the charnel ground meditations as outlined in the Satipatthana sutta.

Vīrya can also signify courage and physical strength and was cultivated by Buddhist guardians including the Shaolin monks. It signifies strength of character and persistent effort for the well-being of others as well as the ability to defend the Triratna from attacks.[11]

In the absence of sustained effort in practicing meditation, craving creeps in and the meditator comes under its influence. Right effort (vīryabala) is thus required to overcome unskillful mental factors and deviation from dhyāna.[citation needed]