The Art of Striving Without Striving

“Work (with desire) is verily far inferior to that performed with the mind undisturbed by thoughts of results”–the Bhagavad Gita


There is no arena of life to which this cannot be applied.  Yes, you must be sure that you have “right action” in the sense that during your planning phase, you design your daily actions so that, if they are properly performed, they maximize your chance of reaching your goal.   But the actions must be pleasureable in and of themselves, or it is difficult to enter “flow”, and without flow, you will never reach your full potential.   And hey, what about pleasure for its own sake?  After all, you might get hit by a meteor tomorrow morning.  Why postpone your joy until the end of the month?


  1. Body.   Daily actions of discipline and exertion must tie into your “fun” wiring, or at least your “inquiry” wiring.  Learning, expressing, exploring.  Most people treat their bodies like hamsters on wheels: “if I do enough of this mindless exercise, my body will whip into shape”.  In reality, they are often WIDENING the gap between mind and body: exercising on a treadmill while watching television.  Since it takes about five hours of jogging or walking to burn off a single Whopper, this is not the smartest approach.


2) Mind.   Look at the arts.    The greatest artists rarely worried about the money and fame, even though it came to them.  They are concerned with the quality of the work. But if they are shrewd businessmen (as, say, Shakespeare apparently was) then they must also calibrate by watching the audience, tracking the sales, and so forth.  This might be considered the split between “flow” and “editing” states, “child” and “adult” states, with each part doing its job. The “adult” self might decide that XYZ is the appropriate homework that will lead to the good grades. But he must then lather the “child” self with love and approval (as well as implied punishment/pain: carrot AND stick works better than either alone) to keep that little guy on track.


3) Relationships.   The entire “Soulmate Process” notion is to design your life so that you automatically, for your own reasons, do the things that make you more attractive to others. Don’t do it to manipulate, or attract some particular person.  Do it because a healthy, vibrant expression of self is the precise attractant you need.  If you “try” to attract other people, you actually become desperate and weak.  But if your commitment is to being a healthy animal with a loving heart and a keen hunter-gatherer, you won’t be able to beat them off with a stick.    


All of this is the same as a warrior going off to war without looking back at his family, or concerning himself with survival.  His attention is on doing his duty, and performing his function at maximum efficiency and effectiveness.  If he does this, without concern for his own life, his skills integrated at the level of “unconscious competence” will take care of survival, while his tactical and strategic mind concentrates on, well, killing his enemies.  And he therefore will have the maximum chance of finding himself alive at the end of the day.  


Before action, fear or eagerness.

After action, relief and gratitude

During action, “you” are not there.  Something else comes up, Stephen King’s “boys in the basement”.  Bruce Lee’s “bloody violent man”.  Something deeper, stronger, smarter.   More real than the part of you that seeks money, fame, sex, or survival.


That’s the paradox.  You must act with efficiency and effectiveness.  And you also have to not care about the results.  find a way to resolve that paradox, and you’ve taken another step.




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