The paradox of EFFORT and GRACE

davids's picture

Average: 4.6 (11 votes)

I recently encounter more and more innocent people who fall in 2 familiar holes:

(1) Trying to depict the transcendental truth and draw conclusions using conventional logic which does not allow paradoxes.

(2) Pseudo advaita's confusion of absolute truth with relative truth and consequently a forceful trial to apply non-duality in the wrong context and relative daily realities.

These mistakes are typical to beginners on the path who haven't yet explored the existing wisdom works already achieved by sages. Surprising enough there are several "teachers" that make the same mistake and thus harm not only themselves but worse: also others. We all fell in this same hole and so I decided to try to help by bringing the words of a great man called Timothy Conway (guru profile: who is better and best in expressing these prognosises. It is taken from :

By contrast, both Nisargadatta and Siddharameshvar along with Ramana Maharshi and other "real Advaitin sages" taught a subtler, more nuanced view that involves the PARADOX of effort and Grace. They were not constrained by an "either-or" logic but easily and freely utilized an inclusive "both-and" logic of mystical reality. So these eminent sages affirmed that, yes, on the Absolute-truth level, there is only unmanifest Absolute Awareness, and this phenomenal play of consciousness—the manifest beings, bodies, experiences—is ultimately insubstantial because it is fleeting and not solid, "a dream," and that, Absolutely-speaking, there are no individual persons or souls, free will or choice, and that whatever happens is Divine Will or the lîlâ (play, sport) of consciousness. But these authentic spiritual masters also taught, on the more "conventional-pragmatic level", that great earnestness, persistence and "effortless effort" are needed, that "you," Consciousness manifesting as the apparent individual person, can and must dis-identify from narrow identification with the bodymind personality. Through radical self-inquiry ("Who am I, really?" "What is prior to the 'I Am' sense?") and receding-returning-relaxing into/as the Source-Self, there is consequent awakening, by Divine Grace, out of the conditioned "me"-dream into real freedom from binding likes-dislikes, attachments-aversions, the samskaras or vasanas (egoic tendencies of selfishness and limited individuality). In other words, there is a transcending of apathy, ego-attachments, and mere theoretical understanding to actually living and fully being the Liberated Truth of "only God," only Absolute Awareness.

Yes, it is quite true that Nisargadatta Maharaj (and Ramana Maharshi, et al.) often succinctly said, for the sake of balance and to undermine egoic identifications, "there's nothing to do" and "no efforts are to be made," so "just be." But Nisargadatta also many times spoke of a developmental process of stages (from individuality to universal consciousness to Absolute Awareness) and he paradoxically urged that we be tremendously earnest about meditating and abiding in our real Nature as the Absolute beyond false identifications, body-based desires, pride, hypocrisy, fears and selfishness. He often said, "You must enquire and meditate on the root 'I Am-ness' sense and get free of it." The Maharaj accused certain people of being "pseudo-sages" (pseudo-jnanis) because they had not (yet) genuinely awakened to the Absolute but were still "indulging their beingness" on the level of the bodymind ego-personality. Over the decades Nisargadatta certainly echoed in different ways the message frequently uttered by his guru Sri Siddharameshvar, "Realize the Self and behave accordingly!"

Furthermore, Nisargadatta and advaita tradition, while ultimately revealing the truth of "only the birthless-deathless Self, no soul-karma-rebirth," do teach the plain fact of karma-driven rebirth on the expedient level for those still identified with selfness and selfishness, whereas Ramesh and neo-advaita refuse to talk at all on this expedient-pragmatic level, constrained as they are to always talk in a dangerously one-sided, imbalanced, "Absolute-only" style of parlance.

santana's picture

American fastfood spirituality

Great service. False teachers and vocal ignorants are making such a terrible damage to newcomers introducing distorted concepts that beginners cannot yet notice that are erroneous.

And it is almost only in the west and mostly in America. We have this remarkable talent in the west and especially in America to take precious diamonds of wisdom and turn them into complete americanish fastfood garbage.

santana | Fri, 05/29/2009 - 11:10
Quantum's picture

Perhaps but....

when I eat it.. it seems easier for me to digest. Seems more palatable to me. Might the language barrier, or how things are simplified. I don't know.

Examples: Eckart Tolle, and the posters on this forum.

Without them, I would never have realized that resistance to evil (i.e. resistance to negative emotions, pain) is what is generating negative vibes (negative energy) within me, which by law of attraction attracts more negativity. Not the emotion alone, or the pain alone.

I never would have figured that one out with the western distillation and explanation of it.

Quantum | Thu, 11/05/2009 - 23:04
Quantum's picture

typo... I meant


Quantum | Fri, 11/06/2009 - 00:11
enlight's picture

Related posts

This is very interesting and very important subject.

Other complementary posts worthwhile to read on that subject and the associated mistakes:

Pushing the boat to the sea

And another one which is a bit more complicated but very good:

From effort to Enthusiasm

Enjoy! :-)

enlight | Fri, 05/29/2009 - 16:43
soul's picture

thank you

i really enjoyed reading this
and thank you for leaving a comment
on my poem.. "the dream"...
this mixing of the two levels,
the absolute and the relative
was just recently seen clearly...
seeing how the 'ego' can mix the two
when convenient...
what's called psuedo or neo-advaita...

thank you so much :)

soul | Sat, 08/22/2009 - 07:12
Jai K Garg's picture

Think of this life as a dream...

...and remove the Ego "I" and you are one with God.

Bring in this ego and you are lost to Maya.

There is no duality; with 'Ego' you feel it like a dream.

Your Selfless Karma removes this 'Ego'.
A Guru can easily hasten this process.

Jai K Garg | Mon, 08/24/2009 - 05:51
happy's picture

Confusing absolute and relative perspectives of reality

This post and the linked text is extremely valuable. Thank you!

It's all about different perspectives of reality. The basic error of many is that they ignorantly argue that one perspective invalidates the other. Maya in the relative perspective is no less real than being in the absolute perspective. If it exists in consciousness than it exists - there is no more valid definition to the verb "exist".

Therefore the truly ignorant stands are the following:

* Claiming that maya is real in terms of absolute perspective.
* Claiming that maya is unreal in terms of relative perspective.
* Mixing between issues of relative and absolute perspectives in same argument.
* Not understanding that perspectives co-exist.

happy | Mon, 08/24/2009 - 09:29
Jai K Garg's picture

Mixing between issues of relative and absolute perspectives ...

If a chair in a room exists in the absolute perspective; will it continue to exist in the relative Maya if the "I" does not see it.

The moment "I" (consciousness as Maya)see's it (even if the chair is not there in the room) it will exist as Maya; Who is that relative "I" -truly nothing.

There fore, one should only consider the absolute truth and not the "I" (consciousness of Maya) as no relative truth can exist with absolute truth.

Add as many infinite and you still have Infinite.

Can an infinite co-exist with another infinite or zero etc.; I wonder.

Jai K Garg | Mon, 08/24/2009 - 11:21
Phroggy's picture

Well, yeah. To me the

Well, yeah. To me the problem is in the use of terms like real/unreal, existent/nonexistent. These terms have relative significance only. (The same may be true of 'ignorant' and 'truly ignorant'.)

Phroggy | Tue, 08/25/2009 - 01:24
Jai K Garg's picture

How true...

Maya (is part of terms we consider real/unreal)is and will always be a problem between us and The Almighty God (TRUTH).

Jai K Garg | Tue, 08/25/2009 - 05:28