Effort is our way of life. We make effort to most things in life. In waking hours, we try to work, to be happy, to make money, to acquire more things. In education, we make effort to learn, to gain good marks. In work we make effort to achieve a higher position, or to just get by. And when we relax, we make effort to find something relaxing. We make effort to entertain ourselves. We watch movies, short videos, listen to music, or watch opera, musicals, and we have a thousand ways to entertain. And when the entertainment ends, we make effort to seek more, or not wanting to have more, because tomorrow there is still work to do, and one mustn't stay up too late, we make effort to suppress the desire for more.
Not only in our physical, daily activities. In our psyche, that is our mind, we are caught in effort. One makes an effort to think, to plan, to imagine. The artist makes an effort to create, and that effort manifests itself into tension, and in that tension the artist might lose themselves. The executive pressures the employees to make an effort, because without effort the company will not function. And we make an effort to do the things we dislike, because life does not go as planned, and we make an effort the escape what we dislike, to transform life into something we like, to finally have that peace and happiness. And that happiness is fleeting, and we make an effort to retain it, to immortalize it. And seeing all desires, all pleasures are fleeting, very few people have gone into that which is eternal, and they also make an effort to attain that.
Whether we like it or not, effort is our way of life. But have we ever pondered, whether effort is necessary at all? Physical effort is one thing. One must move one's leg to walk, move the hands to hold, use tools and so on. But psychological effort is another. Is effort necessary in the human mind? After all, I can watch the rain, or go take a walk, without any psychological effort at all. I go do it. There is no struggle, no conflict, no sense of having to gather energy. I simply do it. Then, why is effort necessary, bearing in mind that we are speaking of effort in our psyche? Why is the mind caught in conflict, always struggling, to achieve, acquire, attain the higher or the lower, gather power or energy? What is the cause of effort?
Obviously effort is not necessary for action. I think we have all done things which require no effort, no argument, no struggle. We simply do so. Yet for most of our daily actions, physical or psychological, we make an effort. And effort always has a direction. If we observe, effort is binding. It has a goal, an end, where we think we will arrive at. Effort is made when we project a goal, and a path toward that goal, and we make effort to move toward the goal. So we must first be dissatisfied with what is now, and also, knowing that there is something different, better, happier, more fame and money and what have you, and make effort to achieve that which is different. This is the movement of effort. From what is now, to what should be, what will be.
And before we go any further into effort, we must also see that effort takes a strain. Because it is a struggle, a contradiction, a tension, it dissipates our energy. We always feel tired after a period of effort, even though we might have done nothing physically. So psychological effort affects the body, the brain, the mind, the whole organism. And effort induces tension, which manifests itself as anxiety, anger, frustration, and so on. Because effort is always future-bound, which means it always points to something in the future, the end of effort is never realized. And to see that one's effort has not come to fruition is what moves us, what motivates us. Yet it is also the source of anger, fear, and neurosis. We are angry because what I have done so meticulously well had not realized my goal. We are afraid, or anxious, because what I have made an effort toward might never become real, might never come to fruition. We are worried that the seed we planted might not grow into a gigantic tree. And in this worry, anger, which is disturbance, we are caught, and affected. And all kinds of neurosis might result from this constant struggle and effort.
We might have all seen this. When someone, or maybe ourselves, has worked so hard and long, and in the end is left with absolutely nothing, we break down, we become tremendously depressed, angry, lonely, and so on. Our hair might go gray in one night, or our body suddenly could not move, or our mind suddenly could not remember, function properly. These have all happened, and are still happening everyday. So we must see that psychological effort is destructive to the mind. It might not completely wipe out the mind, or cripple the organism, but slowly it deteriorates the mind. Not only does constant effort fixes the mind in a very small, repetitive pattern, but the mind eventually becomes dull, unable to move outside its little pattern. The mind becomes insensitive, so it only listens to that which it thinks is important. The mind becomes callous, and therefore it is unable to love, care, be attentive, be alert. It becomes slow, mechanical, and unable to live, because living is perpetual challenge, ever new. A mind that is old, mechanical, cannot face the new.
Not only is effort not necessary, it is also destructive. Yet, effort is our way of life. To seek pleasure, either sexual or visual or auditory pleasure, one must make effort. And to sustain that pleasure, which is to repeat it, to listen to the same music, look at the same view, having the same sex, over and over, is to conform the mind and the body to a pattern, is to be caught in a mechanical repetition. The next question is, then, how is one to not make an effort?
Can we do that? To not make an effort? Because that would mean, wouldn't it, to not have the pleasures, to not acquire fame, money, position, power. That would mean one's life isn't directed by one's cravings. That would mean a life without a direction at all.
I think for most of us, life in this way is impossible, and also unimaginable. How could we live in this way? Because pleasure is tremendously important to me. Having sex, watching movies, entertainments. The pleasure of studying, playing, of having company. The pleasure of not being alone, of sound, of noise, of looking at nature. The pleasure of eating, of driving incredibly fast, of dancing or any kind of physical movement. The pleasure of reading, of thinking, of inquiring, of belief and worship. The pleasure of not having control, or having complete control. All these pleasures we can seek, in another's body, in an image, a picture, food, art, books, gods, religions, people, and it goes on. And all these pleasures mean so much to us, because without them, our life is suffering, is boredom, chaos, brutal and violent. Our life is plain, without any color, and to imbue my life with colors, I need pleasure, which is stimulation. Therefore I drink, smoke, entertain. I might also kill, compete, control, having power over. And through all these activities we seek to stimulate life, because life itself is utterly boring.
One wonders if life is boring, or our way of living, which is constant effort, has made it into a tremendous bore. Because mechanical repetition is boring, since it is not new, not alive. It only moves in one direction, and in that constant repetition life is boring. Yet out of this boredom, we seek stimulation, and in that stimulation, temporarily, we found release, but that release is also short-lived. And again we make an effort, to return to the same pleasure, and that repetition begins. And in that repetition, we soon found it boring as well, and so we move on, continue to seek, more pleasure, more gratification, and absolutely nothing can satisfy us, because we are insatiable.
Effort, seeking, pleasure, mechanical repetition. These we can all see in our life. Effort might be the beginning of boredom, of a life without any newness, any sense of freshness and youth. Yet to transform this old, repetitive life, we begin to repeat even more. So a repetitive means cannot arrive at an end which is not repetitive. Then, what is one to do?
If we are seriously asking this question, which is, being caught in constant effort, and understanding that effort is destructive, to oneself and to others, and also understanding that effort cannot end itself, and we seriously ask the question, how is effort to come to an end, then what? Can we answer that question? Will we be interested to find out, whether life can be without effort at all? A life without effort is a life without repetitions, without routines, without habit. In such a life, that which is new happens, without any invitation, any longing, any effort. But do we want such a life, or do we want a life which is repetitive, old, and slowly decaying every day?
If we are honest, really honest, then most of us do not want a life that is new. Because a life that is new cannot be anticipated, which means there is no control over its direction. But for us, control is so important, that we prevent anything new to take place. Therefore life is so rarely spontaneous, in an effortless beauty. Life is caught in fear, and all fear is toward the future. So we control life's direction, aiming to prevent undesirable future to take place. So we make money, buy houses, buy cars, invest, read and teach and study, all in our desperate attempt to control. We might not realize, that life cannot be controlled. I might control my arms, my eyes, but life itself, which is so much bigger than what I know, cannot be controlled. Which means, death, injury, pain, cannot be foreseen. Yet in a bid to prevent all that, we built walls, houses, and stayed there for the rest of our life. We never venture out, because venturing out might mean danger, death, pain and so on.
Do we want a life that is new, constantly refreshing? Or do we want to repeat, and in repetition seek a sense of security, even though there is no security at all? At some point in life, one must ask this question, and one must decide. But if one sees clearly, that there is absolutely no security, then this is not a decision at all. Life, what it is, as a fact, cannot be decided. The fact is. It is beyond our likes and dislikes, our opinions, pleasures and fears. It is so.