Our new series, Raise Your Vibration, joins ancient wisdom with modern culture—working with dope souls to interpret Sanskrit terms into something you can use on the daily. We could think of no better way to kick off the series than with a G we find endlessly inspiring. Diego Perez, better known as Yung Pueblo, is trying to help humanity through some serious inner growth. A writer who shares his work for free with Instagram as his sounding board and platform, he creates beautiful, soul-shaking poems that ripple through Instagram and inspire action.
He chose the word Virya, as it's an aspect of virtue he's been focusing on personally, and firmly believes that all things are possible with effort, especially deep healing. Read on for an education in effort.
How do you interpret the meaning of Virya? What does it mean to you?
YP: I understand Virya (Viriya as it is known in ancient Pali) as one of the 10 Paramis, or 10 Perfections that an individual must develop on their way to enlightenment. They are essentially 10 qualities that need intentional cultivation in order to achieve total freedom. Virya is effort or energy, specifically the effort we put in to keep moving forward on the path. To me personally, this means always trying to improve my meditation practice and always doing my best to not harm myself or others.
How do you apply it in your daily life?
YP: I apply virya by meditating Vipassana daily, in the morning and in the evening. While in meditation, I use my effort to not allow my practice to become mechanical and to maintain my awareness on the present moment. Outside of meditation, I apply effort into living my life according to the virtues that will help me grow in freedom and maintain my peace of mind, things like not lying, stealing, being aware of the impermanence of everything, and treating those around me with loving kindness.
What are 3 ways that others could focus on virya to raise their vibration?
YP: First, I would recommend using your effort to learn a healing technique that brings you real results. There are a lot of meditation styles out there, different forms of yoga asana practices, or other healing techniques that one can learn and use to their benefit. What matters is finding something that meets you where you are at so that your growth can be sustainable. The technique for you will usually be something that is challenging, but not overwhelming. The second thing I would recommend, and this is when your effort really comes into play, is to use the practice you have learned consistently, it is through consistent effort that we make progress. Lastly, never underestimate the power of treating people with kindness. It takes effort to always show up with love, but it is an effort that eventually becomes second nature and it produces great results in our lives. When we do not hurt ourselves or others, our minds can really settle into peacefulness and concentration.
Create a mantra inspired by virya
"Easier said than done." Yes it is difficult, but if you keep trying you will eventually be successful.
Now, about you…
What’s the story behind the name Yung Pueblo?
YP: My real name is Diego Perez, but I write under the name Yung Pueblo for two main reasons. One is because it reminds me of my homeland Guayaquil, Ecuador. In Guayaquil, the word Pueblo refers to the masses of economically impoverished people—those are my roots and they are important to me. The second reason is because humanity as a whole is very young; the name Yung Pueblo literally means young people. If you think back to when we were all small children, our first teachers wanted us to learn simple things like not hitting each other, cleaning up after ourselves, sharing, being kind to one another, etc. Now, some of us as individuals may be quite good at these things, but as a human collective we are still learning how to do these things. To me, it feels like humanity is on the verge of some serious inner growth.
We live in a special time, where many of us are working on healing ourselves of the burdens that limit our peace. Many of us want more than knowledge, we want wisdom and freedom. My hope with writing and speaking is to inspire others on their own inward journey. I truly believe that there are things that only we as individuals have the power to heal within ourselves, and as we heal ourselves, we heal the world. If the number of individuals who are wise and peaceful increases, it will undoubtedly have a transformative impact on the entirety of humanity. So, whenever I write and I sign something with the name Yung Pueblo it reminds me of where I come from and why I write.
Could you tell us a little about your process? What do you look to for inspiration?
YP: For a while I thought I had a system down, waking up in the morning and jumping right into writing, but like all things, the process keeps changing. It is not so much a process as much as me just trying to remain open to whatever may come. Sometimes I will be meditating and different insights or lessons will mature and crystallize, but other times things will come up spontaneously and I make sure to take note of them. What matters most though is my Vipassana meditation practice. My top priority is to do my daily sittings and to do my best to grow in Dhamma. The benefit that comes with daily meditation is that it purifies the mind, which helps us understand ourselves and reality - this is a great benefit in my everyday life and as an added bonus it helps with writing. I have always felt like I am a meditator first and a writer second. When I start new projects, I always look to my intuition and only do things if I get a clear feeling that it is the right path for me to follow.
There are a lot of amazing people that I look to for inspiration, especially Gautama the Buddha, my teacher S.N. Goenka, Lao Tzu, Hermann Hesse, James Baldwin, Assata Shakur. I’m also deeply inspired by the work of Rupi Kaur, Nayyirah Waheed and Bri Luna, the creator of TheHoodwitch.
Why did you choose to share your work on Instagram? Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers and poets who want to do the same?
We hear that you’re working on a book! Could you tell us a bit more about what to expect, and when it will be available?
YP: The title of my first book is “Inward” it will be out later this fall in early November. Pre-orders will start in late September. The book will be a collection of my best quotes, poems, and essays from the past 3 years. Inward has the format of a contemporary poetry book, so anyone can open the book to any page and get something meaningful from it. The book is divided into 5 sections titled: distance, union, interlude, self love, and understanding. It will be available through Amazon. I’m excited to get it out into the world.