The effort is there because it means we have to get to the point where we feel we’ve had enough of our own self-sabotaging behavior that is keeping us in misery, that we are willing to do something different even if it’s raw and unfamiliar and creates great discomfort. It means we truly learn to accept ourselves. This is not the watered down or distorted version of self-love where we allow ourselves to indulge in addictive pleasures. But rather, accepting ourselves is the hard work of self-confrontation. And though this confrontation is a kind, gentle, and friendly one, it is most certainly not an escape. It is the complete opposite of escape as we investigate every nook and cranny that make up our belief systems and thought patterns and unconscious behavior. It is looking at those hidden spaces, those blind spots, seeing them completely, and accepting them unconditionally. It is letting go of our biased discriminating mind, so we no longer create these barriers of you vs me. It is hard work of seeing that putting hierarchies of who’s higher and lower based on gender, sexual orientation, species, religion etc isn’t working for our peace of mind or for the world that we live in.
Then the grace happens because after all the hard work is put in, there comes the point that we just have to allow for things to fall together, or apart, whatever the case may be. We surrender to the unknown, the unexpected, the unpredictable, and the impermanent. We become willing to be a part of it all, to be a string in an instrument, a pawn in a chess game, a hero and a villain in someone else’s story. We let go of our attachment in how things should be, and come to accept things as they are. It doesn’t mean we withdraw from the world, that we don’t do our activism or voice our opinions or do our part in making a difference, but it means we let go of the aggression in control and self-centeredness. We become so gentle even our efforts feel effortless, our deliberate actions become organic actions. There is no forcefulness anymore.
And so there is the interplay of effort and grace, hard work and letting go, awareness and softening. We become a soul comfortable in this shell of a body because we know how to navigate the seeming opposite characteristics of living liberated.