Q: What is Effortlessness?
A: Effortlessness is the core ethos of Dzogchen, based on the view that effort is the disease that keeps us from realizing our Natural State as ALREADY Enlightened beings.
It is the state of Awareness that knows when something doesn’t feel right and then choosing NOT to force oneself to do it out of guilt, obligation or any other type of poisonous emotion. When one applies this it is often amazing to see how quickly things change.
It also does not mean that one simply does nothing, unless that is what one wants to do, and even that will eventually change because we are naturally dynamic beings. Often one just needs to let something go for a while, until the desire naturally arises to do it, at which point the action itself becomes entirely effortless and as a result, significantly more effective.
Effortlessness as it relates to Dzogchen can be described in the following way:
- Nothing to do!
This moment which is part of everything is never separate from the source of all creation. By striving to modify it in any way in fact prevents us from truly experiencing it by failing to see what is always, has always and will always be right here, right now. Therefore on the contrary, by relaxing we actually experience the Natural State as it is.
- No meditation!
By altering the Natural State through attempted meditation, we are creating a superficial experience that takes us OUT OF the Natural State, which is always present. Hence Rigpa (present awareness) is not meditation as such, but the authentic and natural experience of awareness in every moment. This is why Dzogchen practitioners meditate with their eyes open, because whatever one experiences with ones eyes closed is subject to personal fantasy which in turn is colored by desires and aversions.
- No Discipline!
By forcing ourselves to maintain certain states of mind or codes of conduct we are immediately moving away from the Natural State, which is relaxed, spontaneous and highly personal. By each person expressing their unique attributes we celebrate the multiplicity inherent in the Non-Dual State.
- Nothing to Achieve!
Because the Enlightened State is immediately accessible at all times, and never removed from us, there is no goal to achieve and no destination to arrive at. Any ideas we have of elevation is merely projection of falsehood because by ‘going’ somewhere to ‘find’ this elusive State only leads to failure in seeing the Truth.
By looking for ‘enlightenment’ anywhere we fail to see it, because it is not ever something other than ‘this’. By striving to 'find' the Enlightened State one inevitably fails because all one ends up chasing are the mirages of conceptual constructs. Only by waking up to what is already present and resting in the State can one be illuminated by the truth.
“One of the central credos of Dzogchen, the “Great Perfection” and the highest of the Buddhist schools of conceiving reality is - “Give up the disease of effort”. Why? Because everything is already perfect and to change it would be an error.
It is also known as ‘the Effortless State’, so any personal movement into struggle or effort is automatically wrong and not in tune with the true nature of reality. You wash the bloody dishes when and if you feel like doing them, and only then as only at that time will it be effortless. If you force yourself to do them, you are deviating from the real mood of reality which is effortless ease.
At this point one is truly undisturbed by reality and one just enjoys things as spontaneous uprisings of reality in that moment. ”
- Adamas, Buddha Brats – A Modern Tale of Enlightenment ( Chapter 05, Method in the Madness)
“Giving up the “disease of effort” sounds like a great ethos to start with and even just doing this will accelerate our path because we are no longer wasting time and energy fighting our own Natural State. There might be a faster way but after searching long and hard I have yet to find a superior teaching. Besides, once one has experienced the depths of these Teachings and seen the speed at which it liberates, it is hard to imagine a more beautiful paradigm.
It is all perfect anyway and the more you see the perfection of everything, IN everything, the faster you move along the path. To quote a great Dzogchen master: “Whatever you are doing just remain present and aware”. You do this to prevent from getting caught up and holding on to the moment, which is a very real possibility when emotions are powerful.
When you are hungry, eat. When you are thirsty, drink. When feeling angry, be angry. It sounds simple but the trick is to not stay angry afterwards because then you are generating fixed patterns in yourself which will have to be unbound later. When you bear in mind that the natural state of the mind is ease, all you have to do is maintain this state regardless of what arises.”
- Adamas, Buddha Brats – A Modern Tale of Enlightenment (Chapter 07, Honey on the Tongue)
“If Dzogchen is essentially the path of effortless ease, all you have to really do is follow that which you are naturally drawn to, provided of course that you do not get stuck in Dualistic Fixation.
Realising that you are empty anyway and that there is no real meaning to what you do, you can proceed to simply do whatever it is that interests and amuses you. You always return to your essential nature, even through the skein of trying to be all ‘adult’ about things, certain things one cannot go beyond nor would one want to. To try to avoid it or be something else, immediately falls into the bracket of ‘making an effort’ and is essentially a deviation from the Natural State of Perfection and is therefore quite simply, wrong.”
- Adamas, Buddha Brats – A Modern Tale of Enlightenment (Chapter 05, Method in the Madness)
“Ease is not laziness it is just doing what feels right, when it feels right and not before. The other alternative is to do things that you don’t feel like doing and then everything becomes an uphill battle. You engage what feels right and don’t or stop when it ceases to feel right, a lesson it took me a long time to learn.”
- Adamas, Buddha Brats – A Modern Tale of Enlightenment (Chapter 19, The Earth Church)
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From the Universe, with Love