In the podcast about Right Effort Dharma teacher Gil Fronsdal suggests that right effort is putting in a minimum of effort. Do, whatever you do, without trying to achieve something. Do things as a matter of being, not as a matter of establishing, changing, struggle or whatever emphasis. I am paraphrasing a bit.
I went back to listen to this teaching, because it struck a really deep chord in me. Ever since I was a kid I was inclined to do exactly this. But I learned otherwise. Common sense dictates that you won't achieve something unless you put in effort. Real effort, sweat and toil and persevere and fall and stand up again. And the need to achieve endless amounts of things is above criticism. As much I internalized this, my deepest incentive was always to delicately dose my efforts. As soon as I felt I had to push, strive, sweat, trample others, force myself and such, I had a resentment. I had a feeling of engaging in something unwholesome. Thus I acquired a name of being lazy, of being an underachiever, a wishy washy giving in weak dork, and I thought of myself likewise.
Nevertheless the failures, I did manage to grow up and build my life and family and also a career. And there have always been exceptional moments of putting in great effort and achieving a lot, but somehow maintain the feeling I was not forcing anything, neither myself, nor others nor any state in the universe. The way Fronsdal defined right effort, no matter how counterintuitive, connected with this inclination deep in me and these experiences. It proves to me a great inspiration. If anything, it allows me to conduct my life in the way I naturally feel fits me, and not feel bad, guilty or inapt about it. To be, not to strive.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Physiotherapy has been cruel on me again. In the early morning my therapist by the name of Bilhah, sort of gently stretched my neck and shoulders and had me leave the table slightly dizzy, but still optimistic. After an hour, however, pain started kicking in, as if I were a shell brutally pried open. And my friend ibuprofen was of little use. The right shoulder has proven to be particularly tenacious and I am typing this post with my left hand only.