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The Law of Non-efforting


What does 'non-efforting' really mean?
There is an unwritten 'law' of non-efforting that is prevalent in countless spiritual texts with regards to walking the spiritual path. It is something we frequently refer to here at Openhand. It is of course about following the natural flow of the universe in every moment and not resisting it. However, it seems that frequently, this unwritten law is used as an excuse for not taking a certain step that's clearly presenting itself, or indeed not doing anything much at all! In our view, this is a serious mis-understanding of what true 'non-efforting' really means and is potentially very limiting...

To do or not to do

Personally I have quite a strong Ray 1 influence in my life. In other words, I have a strong driving yearning to create and 'do' things. It's what you might call the warrior energy. Earlier in my life, when ego was ruling the show, I 'owned' my Ray 1 which made me very goal orientated. I was fixated with achieving outcomes. This made me quite unsatisfied and not at all content with my 'lot' in life.

Fortunately, when I woke up, the ego masking my Ray 1 began to quickly fall away, allowing space for my Ray 2 - the divine feminine consciousness of surrender - to come through (you can read more about the subject here...Seven Rays of Divine Impulse). Now I find I can surrender much more to the natural energy of the moment and accept things as they really are.

But what does acceptance truly mean? And is there still a place for the drive, commitment and passion of the Ray 1?

I'm reminded of the time when Trinity and Myself moved into our current house in Glastonbury. The house was pretty run down. We were blessed with a huge back garden, but unfortunately filled mostly with concrete, old iron railings and the odd shopping trolley thrown in for good measure.

As you can imagine, it was a huge job to bring it back to a more natural state of being. It involved a daily, seemingly herculean, commitment from us all. Now I'm not at all what you would consider a 'handy-man'. The last thing in the world that crumbles my cookie is digging, clearing rubble, repairing, painting, carpentry etc etc. It seems I'm just not made for that kind of work - it's always been a challenge.

Odd then, ironic even, that I was presented on a daily basis with EXACTLY that kind of work. I quickly noticed a pattern forming. Nothing seemed to want to work. There always seemed to be resistance to the tasks that presented themselves. Nothing turned out the way I envisaged it.

At one point, when I'd literally had enough of the universe's shennanigans, I stopped, went down on bended knee and humbly asked... "Am I heading off on some kind of tangent here? Am I going in the wrong direction in life? Why won't anything work? Please show me, show me what this is really all about."

Practically immediately, I was given this message...

    "Sometimes to be in the flow, is for nothing to be flowing at all"

WOW!!! It was a bolt from the blue. I quickly rationalised what "being in the flow" really means. What exactly is "the flow"? What is it's purpose? To me it has just one purpose:

    By the Law of Attraction, the flow reveals distortions within us,
    so that we may confront and dissolve them
    in order to fully liberate and express our soul.

Which means that to be in the flow, is to take us into all those places we might get 'stuck' or where we tighten or close down around what we're being and doing. So I realised, that in actual fact, even though nothing wanted to work, I WAS in the flow. I was in exactly the right flow to help me dissolve the constricting tightness within my being around performing such challenging menial tasks.

And in order to fulfill that immediate chapter in my journey, I had to give it loads of energy, in fact barrow loads of Ray 1 commitment and Ray 2 surrender in order to get the job done. And the result? Well not only do we have a beautiful oasis of a garden, but the five years of commitment helped me through a very important milestone - a Gateway - in my own journey.

Now that I've achieved what my soul was engaging me with, others have also appeared to help carry the load, both in terms of the micro-community where we live and also through the Openhand work in general. But I'm acutely aware, NONE of this help would have materialised had I not first learned and processed what I was meant to.

The key to effortless creation

Many times it would have been easy to give up - why 'effort' in this way? But this is not the true meaning of the term 'efforting'. Efforting simply means being attached to the outcome. It doesn't mean not to give energy, commitment, focus and passion. These are all authentic characteristics of the soul and especially employed in the authentic creation.

So how do we know then if we are meant to do a certain task if it appears to have huge resistance to it? The key is always to watch our inner state of beingness. If there is some resistance to what is being presented to us, or even denial of it, then this is a sure sign we are in fact heading in the RIGHT direction. And when this direction constantly activates internal frictions, then we can be sure we're revealing a pattern. This synchronicity is a sure sign we're on the path of Right Action.

In these cases, a key to integrating the lesson and transcending the pattern is as follows...

    To watch for the synchronistic pattern continually activating similar aspects of inner tightness; then to work with the energy, not deny it, but to apply oneself with commitment, diligence and resolve. At the same time, to keep surrendering, opening and expanding internally so as to overcome the restriction of our beingness.

Picking the real fruit in life

So as you journey through life, the invitation is to truly look at the deeper meaning through the daily events, trials and tribulations. Is there a perceivable pattern of what is being presented? What are you being invited to do? How can you benefit from the situation and apply yourself to expanding and evolving into a higher state of grace?

    Remember, nothing that was ever truly worth having, ever came easy.

As my good friend and colleague Lesley says, "if you want to truly pick the fruit in life, you've got to be prepared to go out on a limb". Sometimes there's just no easy way!



Trinity's picture

What an excellent addition to the website. It feels so important to me to give voice to the misunderstanding that often happens with the idea of non-efforting. To me the lack of 'effort' comes by aligning with the divine flow. As you say, it doesn't mean that we don't make choices or apply energy to things. In pure presence we give ourselves entirely to the moment.

It reminds me of a story by Chuang Tzu in which he observed a man swimming in tremendously powerful waters that no-one else could.

Upon being asked, the man in the story said: "I would say that when the powerful torrents twist around me, I turn with them. If a strong current drives me down, I dive alongside it. As I do so, I am fully aware that when we get to the riverbed, the current will reverse course and provide a strong lift upward. When this occurs, I am already anticipating it, so I rise together with it."

If he didn't go with the flow, the consequences go without saying. It's a fine example of someone is non-efforting, yet very much in full active participation of the moment.

tasneem's picture

In 'The Law of Non-efforting', Chris, you are talking about your tendencies before waking up:

"To do or not to do
Personally I have quite a strong Ray 1 influence in my life. In other words, I have a strong driving yearning to create and 'do' things. It's what you might call the 'warrior energy'. Earlier in my life, when ego was ruling the show, I 'owned' my Ray 1 which made me very goal orientated. I was fixated with achieving outcomes..."

In the few people I have known in my life who are, at least to some degree, awake (all of them men, but that is, of course, pure coincidence) I have noticed similar traits: a strong, intense personality that does not shirk risks but is inclined to test any limit it comes across, with a lot of drive and will-power, a love to create s.th. and to shape life according to one’s ideas, a personality that welcomes challenges … definitely some kind of ‘warrior spirit’. It almost appears to me as if the ‘efforting’ (great neologism, by the way) needs to be taken to such extremes that it can’t be upheld any longer, so it explodes (or implodes) into an awakened state thereby integrating its very opposite. Since, if I understand it correctly, a very high energy level is required for any awakening experience to take place,I have even wondered if it does not take that kind of personality for awakening to happen in the first place. But, on second thoughts, may be all these men just happened to be Ray 1 types, or this is just the male way, and there is a more yin /feminine way which has a lot more to do with melting and surrendering and opening right from the start.

A comment on Chuang Tzu: The only way to survive if you are dragged down into a vortex in the ocean is to completely let go into the happening. Only then will the vortex, once you have reached its bottom, bring you up and spit you out again - alive. It happened just like that to a friend's friend who was an experienced meditator.

Chris Bourne's picture

That's a truly powerful contribution to the thread Tasneem - thanks for sharing.

I think there is potentially the possibility for those with strong Ray 1 to wake up more quickly for exactly the reasons you mention. The Ray 1 can take us quickly, deeply and unreservedly into the darkness. Finally there's no choice but to give in and breakdown. I saw this kind of thing happening frequently during my service with the British Army (only to have a different ego built back up again!).

Yes, coming at the journey from a Ray 2 perspective, the breaking down is likely to be less dramatic. That's why some people experience the Gateway transitions of which we speak more gently.

However, I've also experienced that because I went through the initial Gateways very quickly, spurred on by strong Ray 1, it also meant that there was a good deal of work left to do especially in Gateway 5 - where the old fragments of fixed neural pathways were still present.

So to me, it seems a bit like the story of the tortoise and the hare: the hare may get a certain way more quickly, but the tortoise will probably do it more thoroughly and therefore not have to revisit so many old patterns later on in the journey.


Trinity's picture

Hi Tasneem,

In my experience there are no coincidences - we all see what we need to see in order to get what we need for our evolution ;0) Of course you know that already, I know. Sounds like an interesting reflection from the people you know.

I've notice awakening happening in people with all types of Ray blends. We all have a unique configuration. Even those who are dominant in any one Ray will find that a less dominant Ray will arise when required.

It seems that the balance of male/female - yin/yang energies within all individuals is key to evolution which ever gender we are.


tasneem's picture

Thanks to both of you, Trinity and Chris, for the enlightening comments.

See you soon,

Ben's picture

Great posts Chris, Tasneem and Trin,

I also wanted to respond from a more Ray 2 perspective. Reiterating what Chris and Trinity said - I feel that awakening and various other spiritual experiences and transitions can certainly be more gradual and more subtle. They need not be all 'bells and whistles'!

That's not to say that they're not equally as profound in their implications and effects. Some of the 'dramatic' or profound realisations for me have actually been pretty subtle at the time and unfolded quite gradually, some have been more obvious and felt more 'immediate'. I feel they've generally been a little less 'overtly' dramatic than with more Ray 1 oriented people. Perhaps I responded to them in a different way too.

As Trin said though we're each unique expressions of a blend of the different rays. I experience Ray 1 (and other expressions of) energy arising as and when appropriate for me and I expect you experience Ray 2 and the other rays similarily as appropriate to you. Those with a more prevalent ray 2 need not be passive or always quiet and subtle, but on the other hand there's no need to force oneself to express warrior energy more because they see it in others. This seems like trying to shoehorn themselves into a mould they just don't fit. Yet it also feels good to explore the 'less prevalent' rays, when invited.

It feels important to me for each to honour our own unique blend, our unique expression of life, the Universal flow. Each has its place. One person does not express just one ray all the time, in my experience, but holds a blend of them all. This also helps us to honour another's expression, as reflection of a part of us.

I find observing nature is a great way to taste the beauty and power of the Universe in its many forms. Just watch animals interact, or observe water in a pool become a stream, become a powerful waterfall, a river then an ocean; and feel fire's gentle warming and nurturing and its fierce burning. So even more obvious expressions of certain Rays contain blends and subtleties.

with love


Trinity's picture

    Ben wrote: "Just watch animals interact, or observe water in a pool become a stream, become a powerful waterfall, a river then an ocean; and feel fire's gentle warming and nurturing and its fierce burning. So even more obvious expressions of certain Rays contain blends and subtleties."

What a great way of seeing things. I like it!

Bethan's picture

Dear Chris,
This posting really resonates with me (my body is buzzing from the energy from it) and the effort I've been putting into life over the past years. Thank you for sharing and helping me to see things with a fresh perspective! I feel refreshed.
With love,

An interesting and thought provoking debate, lots of insights from recent postings, thanks to all for sharing. Here’s my take on the subject…

Hi Trinity, in the last Openhand newsletter and elsewhere on the website you mentioned some revealing quotes gleaned from the world of sport in relation to non-efforting and spirituality.

The field of sporting achievement has always fascinated me in terms of how, in my view, the physical and psychological approaches are inextricably linked and fused together. Take, for example, an athlete who adopts a rigid training schedule with the aim of their body being in tip-top condition for a future event, perhaps an Olympic or World championship. It seems to me that this is the very essence of sustained effort, highly directed to maximise peak performance whilst minimising the chance of injury, and might also be accompanied by positive visualisations of success, quite possibly winning a gold medal, second or third place or at least setting a season’s personal best time (Chris, I’d be interested to hear how would you describe your experience, within a team, of competing in the boat race; with hindsight, do you now foresee a point where the result didn’t matter as long as you felt you had given everything in pursuit of victory?). Probably contradicted myself here!

You could argue expectations are likely to vary but not the intention, unless of course it’s just for the sheer joy of competition and pitting your wits against someone else (or some thing in the case of a climbing up a mountain).
Some lines from Rudyard Kipling’s poem entitled “If” (the last two lines of the verse below adorn the corridors of Wimbledon), appear to be appropriate here:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same

One view is that depending on the individual, apparently effortless sporting prowess or movements which can be described as ‘poetry in motion’, can be attributed in part to natural ability but are often skills honed by hours of dedicated practice and commitment. So for me there seems to be a paradox as there is a sense of focused efforting of mind and body towards a clear goal along the route, before someone really flows and ‘makes it look easy’ and becomes focussed, relaxed (in the zone) and not choked up with tension and tightness. Once attained, this is often described by commentators as ‘having mental toughness’ or ‘gaining a psychological edge’.

To give another example, where a person has lost limbs as a consequence of war and is also experiencing post traumatic stress on returning home.

With the physical injuries, memories may have been blotted out, buried so deep in the subconscious that the incident has been erased and a period of adjustment is needed before embarking on a course of physiotherapy. Exploring the deep emotions through some form of therapy and/or simply talking it through for as long as it takes.
Working with the physiotherapist, a series of steps or targets may be set to measure, monitor and encourage progress. It could be months or even years later before the realisation dawns of the advances made, allowing for any ‘setbacks’ along the way, but the goal is clearly laid out to aid the recovery process.

A third example, where a person is diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, posing a serious risk to their health and wellbeing; I feel that a paradox might come into play here as well. A blurring of the boundary (if significant?) between non-efforting and having a specific result in mind.

In this situation the favoured outcome is likely to be an improvement in health, whether it is an outright cure or positive changes in mental and physical state as the individual gradually comes to terms with the condition, and perhaps considers managing the consequences and ultimately facing their own mortality (depending on their spiritual/religious beliefs).

Say the conventional medical ‘wisdom’, or only option in the view of the medics, is to use chemotherapy as the main form of treatment (although there have been items in the news recently suggesting a new breakthrough in the treatment of certain types of cancer is a possibility).

One of many alternative strategies to be used in tandem could include meditating, visualising and seeking to direct energy in a positive way, for instance, an image of golden balls of light flooding the diseased area as a way of fighting its progress, encouraging it to shrink or slowing down the rate of spread. In other words, harnessing the power of the mind to begin healing the illness (ie changing your mindset and attitude).

At the same time, fear and desperation might kick in with an urge to do something, whether this comes from within or pressure from external sources, rather than sit back and accept the consequences. To surrender might feel to some like giving up the struggle rather than being pro-active when faced with an almost insurmountable challenge or obstacle, especially when family and friends express serious misgivings about ‘doing nothing’. The tendency is to think of ‘going with the flow’ in the same fashion (Chris, you refer to this common misconception in your article; to be honest, I still feel a bit confused about the difference).

But I do know from my own experience of family illnesses and bereavement in general that this is isn’t necessarily the case; everyone is different, healing can take place on many different levels, and there could well be all sorts of life lessons, revelations and ‘wake up’ calls (synchronistically, my alarm clock has just started ringing in my bedroom!) along the journey to recovery. In fact, the prospect of (bodily) death can reveal and teach us profound insights about life and living fully in the present moment.

At the heart of the matter, I believe everyone has an innate ability to play a part in healing themselves; to me, it’s no coincidence when doctors refer to patients who have miraculously regained full health but are at a loss to offer a reasoned explanation as to how this has occurred. Knowing and being aware of yourself and listening to bodily cues, asking for help and support from others if and when it feels right and perhaps, most importantly, loving your self unconditionally are some of the signposts.

It could be said that the majority of these are the antithesis of efforting so perhaps there isn’t a paradox after all!

Overall, I’m left with a sense of doubt as there seems to be a role for outcomes but this can be at odds with non-efforting in certain scenarios, at least this is how it seems when observed predominantly from a place of intellect. Perhaps this is a clue to solving the puzzle - getting out of my mind and feeling the inner core of all wisdom from within.

Best wishes,


Fiona Reilly's picture

Hi Andy,

What a wonderful posting, great comments and questions - thank you for sharing Smile

Synchronistically I watched the movie "Peaceful Warrior" based on the book "The way of the Peaceful Warrior" by Dan Millman this week. I don't know if you have seen it, it offers insights into integrating sporting achievement and intense training with non-efforting and being in the moment (and sooo much more).

There's a lovely moment at the Olympic qualifier competition, where a fellow team mate asks Dan his secret to success, however when Dan tries to share his new way of approaching the sport, his companion cuts him short, failing to listen and basically returns to how it is all about obtaining "gold" (in the future) and that will bring him happiness (or so he believes). You can see from Dan's facial expression that he no longer believes this and that his team mate has provided a powerful reflection. The contrast between their two approaches is very evident. Dan's of being unattached and in the moment versus that of striving, efforting and pushing to compete - wonderful movie if you've not seen it!

Here's a humorous clip from it

I do love your last line "getting out of my mind and feeling the inner core of all wisdom from within". It feels key to any process Smile

Om shanti, Fiona

Hi Fiona,

Just watched the youTube clip from Peaceful Warrior you mentioned and really loved it. Thanks for the tip about the film - it sounds very interesting and I hope to see it very soon.

Take care,


someone's picture

Funny pun Smile But this is often part of the work, because the mind tends to create a frame, an idea, a bubble around anything and everything, including the non-efforting thing.

It is like every minute I live, some part of me immediately rationalizes and stores some sort of a recipe: either of the type "ah! it worked! So THIS is how to do it next time" or "it didn't work, so don't do it next time".

The trick is to let go this past experience and live the new moment as it is. Because true learning is in the consciousness and not in the mind, even that sometimes things land into the mental and make things clearer there. But it is only a result of the shift or realization. I mean this is the awareness and not the mind that 'do the job'.

It's not easy for me, because I am afraid all the time, so naturally I try to build recipes how to protect myself.


Another thing I wanted to say is that I can relate to the garden story because I feel something very similar with my Phd process.

It looks like mission impossible not because I can't do it intellectually, but because I have a tremendous inner block that paralyses me, and on the spiritual part - this inner question all the time "am I doing the right thing?"

I feel this tremendous viscosity, resistance (funnily, this is one of the topics in my research, motion in highly viscous medium hhhhhh). I feel I have no motivation at all, no energy to do it at all! Zero. I can't even get out from my place and get myself to the university. I just want to eat and sleep, like babies hahaha. It feels like lifting a weight I can't possibly lift.

Even my body getting heavy, I can't move and get a fever, all kinds of psychosomatic stuff. It's crazy... (like this for over a year already). Every single day I have this process. Miraculously I finished to write my proposal and I don't even understand what happened.

So this 'doubter', this self-destructive creature that lives in me now definitely needs some Ray 1, because if I won't 'effort' here, then I will not deal with my inner child and teenager, who are actually the ones who gave up on life and don't believe in anything, including themselves, are totally scared, especially to succeed in something and carry any kind of commitment and responsibility, just to name a few of the stuff I spot there...

But for me everything goes really hard, and most f the time I am really not sure...

So what I have to add is that sometimes I need to find strength and passion to do something I don't want to do at all! Even if I managed to squeeze 0.00000001% of my full potential from myself - it can make a huge difference, because I never know what will happen after I do something.
Things just flow in unexpected ways.

Mmmmmm that's it.

Struggle is a control freak.
It dosnt believe that God can handle it.

Spent quite a while composing a comment which I felt was relevant to this post when, I pressed a key and lost it.
Came to the conclusion that what I felt mattered to be expressed, didnt really matter at all, and would be a violation of the natural flow to impose that much effort.


Chris Bourne's picture

That's happened at key times before to me too Breda.

Priceless lessons in non attachment and non-efforting~!

Chris Wink

"So how do we know then if we are meant to do a certain task if it appears have huge resistance to it? The key is always to watch our inner state of beingness. If there is some resistance to what is being presented to us, or even denial of it, then this is a sure sign we are in fact heading in the RIGHT direction. And when this direction constantly activates internal frictions, then we can be sure we're revealing a pattern. This synchronicity is a sure sign we're on the path of Right Action."

I awoke abnormally early this morning, as many of you know the peaceful times before the sunrise, allows the stillness to open the soul and be.

I was delighted to see the emergence of Trinity's conscious kitchen book and that led me to a morning game of Spiritual Articles freewheeling and this is where I ended up.
It sparked my own denial inside.
It is such a blessing to slow down to see it, to watch the feelings arise. I am lost in my own land, drifting and shifting in a loop of effort. Outcome has so many disguises all working towards suppressing right action.

The beauty of the inner state of being needs no mask, it just holds me like a new born baby. When I veer off it reminds me and invites me unconditionally to re-join the path that is my soul. I am blessed by the beacon of being here. The fragments of our shared mosaic leave me humbled and warm inside.

I am committed to a journey of effortless travel, I don't even truly know what that means but my energy can sense the flowing wind that moves my sail and navigates my way.
Open, the beautiful garden that was the resistance is now a book filled with foods made from heaven.
To a day of being and love and the miracles that grow from that. Mike

Open's picture

Yes you're right Mike - the garden has born fruit - in many ways.

Our 'handyman' David has now moved to sunnier climes. So I'm moving into a phase where I'm doing a lot of hands on with the new centre. Today I've been making a new gate and fence. I can remember well all those frictions from several years back.

Now it all seems to fit together wonderfully. And it's always a dance. I couldn't find a choice, whether or not to repair the old or rebuild. The urge to recycle took me down a certain path, but led to a point where I had to go with new. It was a great exercise in knowing the inner self. The unpredicted twist and turn led me to a third possibility - the best solution - which I would never have guessed from the outset.

It was a merry dance, which I enjoyed immensely from start to finish.


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