Yesterday I wrote about striving and how “proper” striving is an appropriate practice for spiritual development.  This morning I was acutely aware of the how my striving reaped awards.

I started out the day with an hour of meditation.  Initially I noticed that I was drifting a lot.  I also had an negative attitude and could feel my resistance which tends to be tinged with a little hate.  I was open to what was, but tested to see if I could not keep focused better and shift my attitude.

Neither of these worked.  I expressed my willingness for change by praying for assistance. I relaxed into my faith, knowing that this state was only temporary.  A while later, I found that while my focus had not improved, but I was experiencing more joy and openness.  While this pleasantness was also transient, I was pleased to have my belief in the transient nature of the unpleasant state affirmed.

Typically the second part of my morning practice involves chi gung.  Ideally this occurs outside.  In fact, spending a little time outside in my yard in the morning has a beneficial affect on me.  However, when it is hot and muggy I am inclined to stay inside.  If meditating for an hour involves great effort, getting myself outside to do chi gung in the heat and sun even more.

I used a two step approach this morning.  I didn’t require myself to “go out and do chi gung”.  Instead I told myself to go out and feed the rabbits.  Once outside, I always notice chores that need to be done.  This morning I decided to clean the carpet in the rabbit pen.  This lead to me weeding a patch of young amaranth and purslane.  I told myself I only needed to do a section, but quickly found I cleared the whole patch.

After all this activity it was easier to convince myself that chi gung would be okay outside.  Despite the sweat seeping from my pores, it was delightful.  My striving lead to the unexpected benefit of seeing a hawk fly overhead and to hearing my neighbors breaking up and throwing away furniture.  This was a boon for me because I scored four chairs and three picture frames.

The chairs were actually answered pray.  Earlier in the week I scheduled two classes.  One on the Principal Teaching of Buddhism and the other on Developing you Business using On-line Resources.  After I made my plans I sent out a request to the universe for more chairs.  Wow!  Pretty quick turn around.



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?