How we use effort to get to a state of effortless meditation

February 9, 2012

From time to time I’ll hear people saying that meditation shouldn’t involve effort. For example, Krishnamurti said, “All effort to meditate is the denial of meditation.” And I just stumbled upon a website that decried the “arrogance” and “ignorance” of those who say that meditation involves effort, because “Effort is the antithesis of meditation.”

It’s clear, though, when you look at the Buddha’s teachings, that he encouraged us to make effort in meditation, and in our lives generally. His last words, in fact, were “With diligence, strive on.”

And in my own meditation I find I have to make effort all the time. I have to let go of compulsive thinking, steer my awareness back … Read more »

Om tweet om

April 22, 2011

This photograph was taken on a recent retreat.

I love the tenderness of the little bird sitting in the Buddha’s left hand as he meditates. It says something about the gentle kind of effort that’s required in meditation. An image I used to use in my teaching — but which I had forgotten about until this moment — was that the quality of effort we use in meditation aims toward the kind of effort we’d make in holding a baby bird. We don’t want to hold our attention so firmly that we crush our sensitivity, but we also don’t want to hold our attention so gently that the object of meditation flies away.… Read more »