Q: Yoga Vasistha talks a lot about self-effort and you tell us to relax. I am unable to figure out what to apply when. In spirituality, when to do self-effort and when to relax?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are two things, Pravritti and Nivritti (action and relaxation).
When you are in action, effort is needed and when you are in relaxation effortlessness is needed. They go hand in hand. But we do it the other way around. When we are relaxed, we keep thinking, wanting to act, and when we are in action we say, 'It’ll happen if God is willing'.
This is not what one should do.
When you are acting then give it your 100%, put self-effort. Once you have done that, then sit and let go. You make an effort to go to a clinic and lie down at the massage table. But once you’re on the table, then the masseur does the rest. In the same way, make an effort to come and sit for meditation, but once you sit for meditation, then no effort is required. Know that you’re being taken care of.
If you have a train to catch you need to make an effort, you cannot sit at home and keep saying that you have to catch the train. But once you are in the train, there is no point in running up and down the aisle, it is not going to take you any faster. Once you are in the train, you have to sit down and relax. So, both effort and effortlessness are required.