What Matters in Spirituality - Your Effort or Grace?
Sadhguru looks at the difference between doing spiritual sadhana and allowing another dimension of Grace to function. He explains that while action easily finds recognition in society, it is also a limited process. Even a simple task like baking bread also requires equal parts of doing and allowing things to happen.
Sadhguru: This is… This is something that people have been struggling with for ages, because these are two different types… these are two different dimensions of one’s existence. About… These two dimensions are about doing something, making something happen and allowing something to happen to you. These are two different aspects. So now the question is, ‘Which is more, which is less? Can I do it all or there is nothing I can do, I have to just allow it?’ If you’re capable of just allowing it that would be very good for you, but if you are the kind who just allows things to happen to you, do not expect people around you to understand anything about you because they will not understand. People around you cannot understand what it means to allow. Doing is something that they understand, but doing is a limited possibility and doing is a very laborious process. It's like, if I want to bake bread, how much of it do you do, how much of it do you allow? There is an equal proportion of both. If you do not knead it hard enough, if you do not work to load the oven properly, if you do not set the right temperatures, which is all your doing, it's not going to happen. But if you’re not willing to allow, that you’re willing to close it and simply sit there like a pregnant woman, yes, if you do not know how to bake bread, it is as complicated as bearing a child. Yes? You have to sit there and wait. If you are too much of a doer, you want to open every few moments and look at it, you will not have bread, you will have something else.
This goes for baking breads, growing a plant, bringing up a child or bringing yourself up, which is you’re realizing is the hardest task (Laughs), that if you want to bring yourself up, there’s a certain amount of striving and doing on your part to be done. Without allowing, it will be an extraordinarily difficult process and incomplete process for a very long time to come, so both are needed. If both have entered your life at the same time, you must consider yourself to be an extremely fortunate human being, whether you understand the fortune or not, because there are people, who for lifetimes are just doing without grace being available to them. There are people who are just waiting for grace to happen, not doing anything, because they do not know what to do, doing their own little things without doing the right kind of thing to become open to the process. So, these two kind of people exist everywhere in the world. Some are waiting for gods to do things for them; some are trying to do everything by themselves. You are an extremely fortunate human being if action and receptivity both have come into your life at the same time; that you know how to perform action - everything that you can do you will do, but you have the sense and the gracefulness to sit and wait for that which you cannot do.
So it is that dimension, it is this combination of these two, that we are effectively delivering through Isha Yoga, that people learn to do something about themselves, at the same time people learn the humility of waiting. The devotion ne… nec… devotion is needed, otherwise one cannot wait. If you do not look up to something, you cannot wait. So to be able to do everything that’s needed - having the necessary tools and the empowerment to do things about your life, at the same time having the necessary sense and grace to wait and be able to receive, both these things need to happen. So if the question is pushed a little further, the question could be, ‘Can't I do it myself?’ Or the next question could be, ‘Will your write a self-help book, “Get yourself enlightened”?’ (Laughter)
This happened at the doctor’s office, a woman came with her husband who was limping and in a bad shape. She brought him slowly; he was leaning heavily on her. She brought him slowly and made him sit down. The receptionist who was sitting there, being sympathetic to the situation, said to the woman who brought this man, ‘Arthritis with complications, mhmm?’ The woman said, ‘No. Self-help with concrete blocks.’ (Laughter) So self-help books sometimes have done things for people, good things for people. Lot of times they only injured themselves, broke things up, broke situations up in your life, because self-help is not always the right thing, but is it something that you don’t do? No you must do.
So combination of both is best. If you push one too far, you may lose your grounding. If you push your receptivity too far, not doing anything, you do not even know whether you’re being receptive or just being lazy. If you do… try to do everything yourself, not allowing anything to be received then it's like a plant which is trying to grow without sunlight. It will grow, but pale, it will not produce any flower or fruit. It will be a long time before it can produce anything.
So we need a combination of both. The kriyas, the practices are a phenomenal way to prepare the system to be open to new possibilities. If your energies do not open up to new possibilities, then you are talking about a long drawn out journey. To become open is the most important thing. So just believing that I am open and not doing anything about it, is no good. There are lots of very open people, if you say one word, tomorrow they’ll be gone. They believe they are very open. If… Even me, if I make as much as one comment about them, tomorrow they’ll be gone, that open they are. (Laughter)So openness has to be tested with your commitment of time and effort. How open you are, you have to prove, every day to yourself and to the existence. By every day putting in this much. ‘I am this open, I am willing to give my this much of time and commitment, I’m that open.’
So your sadhana is a tool for opening you up and also a test for your openness, both ways. So these are inseparable, you cannot separate them. If you separate it, it is an unrealistic separation, which does not work. Largely it does not work. There may be a devotee who does nothing, who just sits and receives it, but as I said, if you become all receptivity, it may be wonderful for you but you won't know whether you’re going forward or backward, that’s one thing. Another thing is nobody would want to be around you, it's another thing. It's already so?