Neo-Advaita | The Effort of Attaining Effortlessness

Published: Dec 20, 2023 | Revised: Jan 10, 2024
Written by: Marce Ferreira

Neo-Advaita | The Effort of Attaining Effortlessness

One of the tenets of Neo-Advaita — and in a broader sense all nondual practices such as Zen Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta, or Dzogchen — is that one cannot do anything to attain Self-Realization i.e. understand the nature of the Self.

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In fact, it’s thought that doing (and note that thinking is also considered a kind of doing) is an effort that only leads one away of understanding the Self. Our True Self is supposedly devoid of any properties or characteristics — a sort of luminous emptiness — a “no-thing” that cannot be understood (intellectually), “done” or “grasped” in the common sense of the word.

As it is, “doing things” and effort are movements in duality, actions that separate between a doer and the deed done, a subject and an object, me and the other, which is believed to not bring us any closer to this sought-after non-dual experience.

The message is that what we actually need to look for is effortlessness, because effortlessness implies not doing anything at all. By “staying put” and not doing anything, apart maybe from just looking at what appears without judgment we come as near as it gets to not-doing, that is, no-effort.

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Nevertheless, as we always want to-do, this whole thing of not-doing-anything becomes a tremendous effort; the effort of attaining effortlessness. It can take us a lifetime (or several, if you believe in reincarnation) to come to the point of no-effort, not-wanting, not-doing, no-action.

In reality, most of us will engage in numerous activities to “become effortless.” Think of doing Yoga, meditation, the study of sacred scriptures, reciting mantras, fasting, following a Guru, joining Satsangs, having Tantric sex, and whatnot.

There’s usually no other way for us, because what needs to be understood — fully and completely, as a thoroughly experienced living truth — is that no effort, whatever effort, for whatever duration undertaken will bring us effortlessness.

Only our absolute desperation about “the paths taken” and our profound mental and spiritual tiredness and exhaustion may finally bring us to stop-doing-anything-at-all. Not because of our efforts, but despite of those.


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