From effort to enthusiasm

leo's picture

Average: 4.7 (10 votes)

I am not sure I fully understand the difference in motive between "effort" and "enthusiasm".

To demonstrate the difference, take a look at sex: you better do sex out of enthusiasm, god forbid you try to do it by effort. The same is in spirituality.

Why effort is bad for spirituality? There are numerous spiritual teachers and religions that are praising effort, take for example The Mother from Pondicheri, Christianity, and even Zen to some degree.

Effort means conflict. A conflict between the natural flow and the perceived needed flow. Right? if no conflict, why need effort. Effort is needed to stir from the natural flow (which requires zero effort by definition) to the other requested flow. Effort both originates from the mind and breeds the mind as mind is built on conflict. Therefore, effort is counterproductive to spiritual development.

Isn't enthusiasm also a product of the mind?

No, while effort comes from the mind, enthusiasm comes from beyond the mind, through the heart. You can clearly feel it when you have it.

Actually, while enthusiasm is evident and can be easily felt, effort is only an illusion of the mind. The word effort cannot represent anything that exists in reality as it is paradoxical in its very essence.

I am not sure I agree with you, what is paradoxical in "effort"?

The paradoxicality of the concept "effort" is well demonstrated in the discovery that "the upmost effort is needed to make no effort".

Abstaining from effort, how can we still have energy to fuel our spiritual development?

The answer is enthusiasm.

I know how to produce effort, how can I cultivate enthusiasm?

Indeed, enthusiasm does not originate from the mind and thus can not be produced voluntarily. As enthusiasm originates from beyond the mind, from the self, the only way to have it is to ask the cosmos, the beyond, the self to be fortunate to have it.

Isn't enthusiasm spontaneous? You have it or you don't.

By spontaneous you mean casual, by chance?


If you come from a skeptic perspective, yes, it is casual, arbitrary, you have it or you don't. But actually, it is not so, the fact that it is not under your (mind's) control does not mean that it is arbitrary, it is only the way your mind sees reality.

Ask for it and see what the outcomes are.

This, by the way, does not mean that when asked, enthusiasm towards a certain direction will be granted just like this. This is how the mind works and expects things to be, the beyond has slightly different procedures. As the mind is the one who asks here for enthusiasm for a certain direction, the mind is not always correct in terms of your overall wellness, actually it is usually wrong as it hasn't got the "full picture". You have your divine purpose, path and supreme good and if this enthusiasm towrds a certain direction is not aligned with your path then your request will be rejected - no enthusiasm, sir!

So what am I to do if I am not granted enthusiasm?

At this point, again no effort in your reaction. No effort at this point means to respect and trust the cosmos. And then, to find, if you wish to, a different path. Actually, when you select a path that vibrates with your destiny, if you are sensitive enough, you feel the enthusiasm before asking for it, weak or strong, you will feel it within yourself, this vibration is the enthusiasm.

So actually what you actually say is that if I ask for enthusiasm, I ask for something that I already have or for something that I don't have and will not be granted

Correct, you actually don't ask for enthusiasm. You ask to be more sensitive to feel the enthusiasm within you, if exists in the underlying context of operation.

In other words, I actually do not do anything in this manner nor affect anything.

Right, you only accept whatever is, which means no resistance, no effort, no effort even here when you are asking for the substitute for effort, for enthusiasm.


Not at all. It might be confusing when dealt with words, this is the way of words when they approach truth because words cannot depict truth. Leave aside the words and experience it: keep on flowing with the stream, no resistance, no effort, no doing and everything will go the right way.

I'm glad to hear all that, enthusiasm means more fun, effort reminds me of school and tiresome obligations

It is not only that acting out of enthusiasm is more enjoyable than acting out of effort. When you act out of enthusiasm, you are actually not the doer, you are not even there, you get immersed in the action which is done directly out of the enthusiasm, aligned with the cosmos. This is a very inspiring and elevating state.

(From verbatim of Talks with Riktam Kantu, Vol. A)

abra's picture

The upmost effort is needed to make no effort

Great introspective dialog. It needs reading a few times to really grasp all its fine nuances.

One comment: there are certain phases in which we still need this thing which is defined as effort, effort from the perspective of the mind, effort which means not following the gross automatic tendencies and reactive patterns, doing something which we realize from deep inside that it is critical but our mind doesn't like to do or fears (like the enormous manipulative resistance of the mind to meditation or to just sitting in stillness with no activity).

abra | Fri, 01/16/2009 - 23:39
dineshbabu's picture

Very nice post. From my

Very nice post. From my experience I have found Effort produces restlessness of the mind and in turn conflicts as you said. Enthusiasm generates immense love and devotion.

dineshbabu | Tue, 04/20/2010 - 05:40
joejo's picture

Too simplistic

This post though true in a sense deals with only one aspect and that of emotions. Enthusiasm may have nothing to do with the beyond. I shall explain this with an example. Lets say as a student I do not like maths. Its actuality not so much a question of dislike but my inability to grasp the subtleties. I meet a teacher who has a way of teaching that's some fun and she won't let me not participate. Her genuine concern and my desire to acquit myself well makes me appreciate it better and initial effort, occasional boredom, despair, unnoticed are getting transformed to desire to learn, pride and increased self esteem in class and the icing on the cake a pat from my dad.

Now I hope if I have been able to have you with me for so long , you may have begun to see that effort can transform into effortlessness. Same thing happens more in motor skills like swimming, riding bicycle and even in fine arts like dance and music etc.

One of the motives in spiritual field for such theories comes from something in us that is lazy and resists the change and wants to maintain status quo at all costs.

joejo | Tue, 04/20/2010 - 14:06
samsara's picture

I find it simple, not simplistic

You attribute your connotations to the term "enthusiasm" and therefore it might sound simplistic to you.

Shed all previous connotations and definitions and try to read it again - I find it simple, not simplistic and hence powerful. It touches a core issue and fallacy on the spiritual path.

samsara | Wed, 04/21/2010 - 11:04