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Effort

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Effort

Effort and Desire Go Together

Effort and desire go together. Effort is based on desire. If there is no desire for something, why will there be effort? First there is a rejection of what is now and a hope of something else. That hope creates a desire. Desire hooks into the will. Then the will to accomplish the desire is used by the personality. Will in the service of the personality is effort. I’m not saying desires are bad and you shouldn’t have them. There is no judgment in what I’m saying. I’m saying that understanding is the point of view of reality. Effort is always based on rejection, isn’t it? Effort is always aimed at getting somewhere. At the beginning you use effort, and that is fine. You will continue using effort until you understand at some point that effort is a problem. You’ll see that it’s not a matter of stopping the effort. You cannot stop effort and you cannot stop desire. If you want to stop effort or desire, what are you doing? You’re engaging in the personality’s point of view. The only thing you can do is to understand the movement of effort. What we’re doing here is activating a flame, a flame which loves the truth. I’m not interested in teaching you to reject something or accept something else. There is a possibility of a certain perception, a certain way of living that is not based on anything in the personality—not on desire, effort, conflict, hope, search, past, future, any of that—but is a purely motiveless interest in the truth.

Efforting is Antithetical to the Presence of Real Will

When there is objective understanding of the Will Essence, we find that trying, effort, control and so on, are antithetical to the presence of the real Will. Real Will is an implicit confidence that the organism will function correctly. This allows the attitude of surrender, which brings about the manifestation of the Merging Essence. So we see that the loss of Will, resulting in effort and willfulness, impedes the smooth functioning of autonomic regulation. This in turn disturbs the capacity for functioning in the world. There is no sense of inner support, or confidence in one’s capacities. The final result is a deep sense of inadequacy, of not being able to function in the world as an integrated and mature individual. It is illuminating to see the organic, multileveled interconnections in the functioning of the various essential aspects. Essence is not only the ultimate ground of human existence, it also governs our functioning.

Living as a Mature Human Being in Terms of the Truth

Think of living as a mature human being in terms of the truth—the truth is the basic thread, the basic element, the unifier, because it is the heart of the whole matter. If you do not want the truth, you cannot get the truth. It is of the very nature of truth that you cannot lie to yourself about the truth. You cannot try to get truth by pretending that you want it when you don’t want it, because then what you get is falsehood. So a person who gets the truth is a person who is worthy of the truth. A person is worthy of the truth if he or she prefers, wants, and loves the truth for its own sake, more than anything else. Otherwise, what you get is something else. Truth is not accessible except to the one who wants to do all that is required. Otherwise, the veils and illusions of the idealized preconceptions remain in the way. Who is interested in spending the time, the energy, the effort, without complaining, with a great deal of graciousness and generosity? Only that person will be able to realize the truth. Without this level of effort, it just will not happen; it does not have to happen.

The Effort of Avoiding Seeing What is There

We are seeing that our exploration of will has led us back to the perspective of truth. The truth will set you free. Will means staying with the truth. Will functions in the service of truth. And for truth to manifest you don’t need effort. Truth is what is there. You need only stop the effort of avoiding seeing what is there. You are always exerting effort, using your will to push something away, to make things different. This is how you stop your will. This understanding is why many spiritual disciplines state that you must surrender your will. It is true that you must surrender what most people think of as will. But what is usually not seen is that true will exists, and that it is the same thing that most people call surrender. But it’s not a sense of surrender to someone or something else. You are surrendering to the truth.

The Effort to Be a Genuine Human Being

If you really want to experience what it is like to be a genuine human being, you need to put in the effort it takes to live like one, regardless of how difficult it is. As I said, a large part of the work here involves the friction between the principles, ideas and beliefs that you came with, and the principles of the Work. Through the process, you will understand and realize previously unknown parts of yourself. This will lead to modifications in your behavior which you must work towards consciously and continuously. You should behave in a genuinely human way, not only with me or your teacher, but with everyone in your life. Otherwise, you are perpetuating the infantile part of you; you are still acting like an animal. So, with each other here and with all the people in your life, you should make a conscious effort to live according to those finer elements that you understand and realize, rather than indulging in the old patterns. Ideally, there will be mutual respect and appreciation, mutual kindness and understanding. Another human being is an expression of the most sublime thing there is, just as you are such an expression. If you don’t relate to that human being with respect, appreciation, and recognition, you are not respecting or recognizing that sublime element in yourself.

Unattainable Ideal

Another important factor in the ego activity is that the self is always striving to be a particular way, in order to achieve support. The primary image patterning this activity is the ego ideal. The self tries to approximate a certain ideal, in the hope that if she succeeds, she will be worthy of the support she needs. This ideal is never attained, but the self never tires of trying. Thus, effort is a chronic characteristic of the self-identity structure.

Unconscious Effort is Really a Resistance

Unconscious effort is really a resistance, saying no. You have some internal resistance that you might not be aware of The presence of any mechanism of inner action indicates effort. You can’t have resistance, or unconscious defending, without there being some effort involved; resistance is not the natural state. If there is really no unconscious effort, there will be no resistance against anything in you. So the conscious effort is needed to expose the unconscious effort. Once the unconscious effort is exposed, then continuing to make effort is just resistance, which blocks the true Will. Sometimes we need to make an effort and sometimes we need to stop the efforting, depending on the situation. To really work on oneself efficiently and intelligently means to know when to use effort and when not to use effort.

Vehement Effort of the Personality

To preserve its cohesion and its position as the center of our life, the false personality will do all kinds of things to throw dust in our eyes. One of these maneuvers, in fact its most fundamental characteristic, is identification with the contents of our minds, hearts, and bodies. These areas are within ego's realm, and it is master there. So it will be quick to assert, “I've got it—the real truth at last.” Although it may make changes within its realm, it will try to keep the particular structure of the ego, and at deeper levels it will stick to the familiar fields of experience. When we get to the pure subtle energies, it will naturally make its most vehement effort to keep us at that level of experience, for if we go beyond that level to the realm of essence, then its structure, its very foundation, and the very reason for its customary mode of existence will start crumbling. The anxieties and fears encountered at this point are enormous, all-pervasive, and subtle. The individual will want to stop, at
the same time congratulating himself, of course, for having arrived.

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