I was at a Buddhist gathering recently and the discussion turned to the idea of “not-striving”.  It was presented like a basic Buddhist tenant.  I began to think about the idea and found I quickly determined that without striving, enlightenment is not a realistic expectation.  Anyone that has climbed Mt Everest certainly strove to do so and reaching enlightenment is a similar high goal.

I wondered if perhaps I did not quite understand what the term “striving” meant.  When I Googled it I immediately found the source of my conundrum.  It had two slightly different definitions:

  1. make great efforts to achieve or obtain something
  2. struggle or fight vigorously


When I think of striving I think it is to put in a great effort.  It is about being focused on a goal and sticking to it.  The word that comes to mind is volition:  the act of choosing, willing or resolving.  In my thinking, to strive can be empty of struggle and fighting against what is.

On the other hand, I can appreciate the counsel to “not strive” when it refers to struggling against what is, in order to force a solution.  I also know, from personal experience, that I can strive motivated by desperation or I can strive from a place of calm assurance.  My efforts may be the same, but I find that my peace of mind is greater when I release the desperation and focus on coming from faith.

Reflection:  Are my efforts towards my goal motivated by calm assurance or do I feel a sense of “have to”?  What can I do to free myself of the internal pressure of striving?

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