Chapter seven begins with an assertion of the importance of energy (or vigor), a definition, and list of things that hinder it. “Patient in this way one should cultivate energy, because awakening depends on energy. For without energy there is no merit, just as there is no movement without wind. What is energy? The endeavor to do what is skillful. What is its antithesis called? Sloth, clinging to what is vile, depondency, and self-contempt.” (VII.1-2) In verse VII.31, the antidotes to these obstacles to energy are listed: “The powers of desire, perseverance, delight, and letting go, all lead to the fulfillment of the needs of living beings. Out of the fear of suffering, and while meditating on the praises, one should create desire.”

Sloth is explained as idleness, self-indulgence, sleeping too much, depending on others for what one should do for oneself, and apathy about the sufferings of birth and death (VII.3). It is countered by desire (S. chanda), not desire in the sense of selfish craving (S. tṛṣṇā) but the righteous desire or zeal for the Dharma.

Clinging to what is vile, to indulge in arrogant ridiculing of others for instance (VII.15), is countered by the ability to let go of such things, though of course that requires mindfulness to catch oneself and a determination to turn away from bad habits and bring one’s attention and efforts back to the Dharma, as discussed in the previous chapter.

Despondency is to think that the attainment of buddhahood is impossible (VII.17). It is countered by perseverance in one’s practice and confidence in the Buddha’s teaching that even those who used to be insects in past lives have achieved buddhahood through the strength of exertion (VII.16-19).

Self-contempt is to denigrate one’s own ability to do what needs to be done (VII.20-21). It is countered by finding joy in one’s practice, relinquishing evil and experiencing pleasure from meritorious action and learning (VII.24-29). Also, one does not start off by being able to sacrifice even one’s body, but by doing relatively small things like donating vegetables at first; in time one’s generosity and wisdom increase to the point that one is able to relinquish even one’s body if need be (VII.25-26). “Proceeding in this way from happiness to happiness, what thinking person would despair, after mounting the carriage, Awakening Mind, which carries away all weariness and effort.” (VII.30)

Having listed the antidotes to the obstacles to the perfection of energy, verse VII.32 gives a list of six powers that a person can develop which will strengthen one’s energy: “Uprooting the opposite in this way, one should endeavor to increase one’s exertion through the powers of desire, pride, delight, renunciation, dedication, and self-mastery.”

Desire, also one of the antidotes, is dealt with again in verses VII.33-46 wherein Śāntideva laments that he wasted so much time without making efforts to destroy his faults or cultivate virtue. He then constrasts the righteous desire of the bodhisattva with the desire for pleasure of the selfish and ignorant, how those who have the former will be reborn in a pure land whereas those who have the latter will be reborn in hell. “The Sage has sung that desire is the root of all skillful deeds, in turn, the root of that is ever meditating upon the resulting consequences.” (VII.40)

Pride, is dealt with in verses VII.46-61 wherein Śāntideva plays with the idea of pride as conceit or arrogance, which is a defilement, and pride in the sense of self-respect, confidence in one’s abilities, and refusal to be overcome by the defilements.

It should be noted that in verse VII.58 Śāntideva’s play on words may be a reference to the story of Never Despising Bodhisattva in chapter 20 of the Lotus Sūtra who greeted everyone by saying to them, “I respect you deeply. I do not despise you. Why is that? It is because you will be able to practice the Way of Bodhisattvas and become Buddhas.” He continued to do this even when arrogant people who did not believe in the teaching of the Lotus Sūtra disbelieved him, accused him of being ignorant and making false predictions, and even persecuted him be beating him. Śāntideva’s verse reads, “And despised on all sides, sustained by pride, the mortified, even those wretched in the midst of the proud, pray tell of what kind are they.” Crosby and Skilton point out in the footnote for that verse that the Sanskrit for the phrase “despised on all sides” (sarvataḥ paribūtāḥ) is synonymous with the Sanskrit for Never Despising (sadāparibhūta). Sadāparibhūta can also be understood to be mean “Always Despised” which describes how Never Despising Bodhisattva was treated by the arrogant Buddhists. “Sustained by pride” (S. mānastabdhāh) can also mean “full of” or “puffed up with,” so that part of the verse can mean either a negatively proud person or a bodhisattva like Never Despising who is sustained by the positive pride of self-respect and conviction. “The mortified” (S. tapasvinah) can mean either  a “spiritual practitioner,” again like Never Despising Bodhisattva, or “miserable, wretched people.” Verse VII.58 leads into VII.59 which plays on the positive and negative meanings of pride, saying that the bodhisattvas “bear their pride to victory over the enemy pride” (VII.59). So verses VII.58-59 may both be taken as reference to the story of Never Despising Bodhisattva, whose positive pride led to victory over both the negative pride of arrogance and conceit and over his arrogant persecutors who eventually are won over by him.

Delight, also one of the antidotes, is described in verses VII.62-65, wherein Śantideva even goes so far as to say, “One should be addicted to the task that one is undertaking. One should be intoxicated by that task, insatiable, like someone hankering for the pleasure and the fruit of love-play.” (VII.62). The bodhisattva should truly make their practice a “labor of love.” Once again, as with desire and pride, Śāntidva shows that delight has a positive aspect that bodhisattvas need for their practice.

Renunciation, corresponding to the antidote of “letting go,” is described in verse VII.66 in terms of being able to put aside a task to rest and then take it up again, and to move on when it is complete.

Dedication and self-mastery are the subject of verses VII.67-75, wherein among other  analogies the bodhisattva is compared to a fencer in a swordfight, “One should guard against attacks from defilements, and resolutely attack them, as if engaged in a sword-fight with a well-trained enemy. As, then, one would hastily snatch up one’s sword in fear did one drop it, so should one snatch up the sword of mindfulness when it drops, remembering the hells.” (VII.66-67)