Inability to take action

Discussion in 'Life' started by snwdream, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. snwdream

    snwdream Member

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    For more then a year now I have been faced with this crippling inability to take action in my life and do the things I feel I should be doing in order to be truly happy. I have a belief that action should be inspired and come naturally and that if I do not feel the inspiration or drive to act then I am not meant to be doing something, so I only take action when it is inspired. (or when there is some compelling force and I HAVE to take action to avoid a negative consequence or to meet a basic requirement of life) The problem is that I see so many things I feel I should be doing, and if I was doing them I think I would be happier, but there is no drive or motivation to do them. I feel like I should not have to force myself to do things...it should come from a natural place and be inspired and should enjoy the action when I take it. I WANT to be more active and proactive and accomplish more in my day to day life but I feel immobilized and instead of taking the desired actions I only do the bare minimum that I need to function and spend the rest of the time engaged in self help research, reading spiritual books, listening to music and working on personal growth and trying to figure out just what needs to happen for me to gain the inspiration and motivation to live the way I want to live. I feel very stuck. Why can't I just do the things I know I should be doing?
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  2. Markus

    Markus Active Member

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    Things like researching self-help, reading spiritual books, listening to music, and working on personal growth?

    It seems that you are mixing this with ideas about what you should do. 'Should' usually mean the mind says this is important. If I do A, then happiness will result. But happiness will never be the result of A. Happiness is the result of not being unhappy. Our minds have many ways to set us up, only to fall short. I don't know if you really are too lethargic or if that is just an unfair judgement of your mind. If the latter, no action will bring you joy until you let go of those mental patterns. If the former, conscious allowing can help dissolve the barriers.
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  3. snwdream

    snwdream Member

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    Yeah, you are right....they are things my mind says is important...like being more productive at work, maintaining a cleaner and more organized home, physical exercise, finding and developing talents....physical things that produce tangible physical results in my external environment. I don't understand why it's so hard for me to just be who I want to be...and do what I want to do...there's this huge discrepancy between who I feel I really am and who I am actually being. When I find myself faced with the choice to take action on an area that needs improvement or work it feels overwhelming for some reason and instead of just doing it I find some other distraction that appeals to me. Then I feel guilty for not doing what I know I should or anxious about negative consequences that will result from my inaction. I try to just be aware of my thoughts and let them pass...and be aware of my emotions and let them surface without identifying with them and I can return to a sense of peace and calm when I do this, but the inspiration or drive to follow through with the action still eludes me.
  4. Nick Grasslin

    Nick Grasslin Active Member

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    Your giving too much attention to the ego based mind. Who cares what you should be doing. You are only doing what you are doing, so keep doing it fully.
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  5. Joanna

    Joanna Active Member

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    Who do you feel you really are?

    Your mind created an image that feels like 'you'.

    This image of 'you' in your mind, this 'you' that is clean and organized, talented, productive, energetic, fit...this is the ego you. It's a construct of your mind, a composite created over your years of Life.

    Now, what is actually, in Reality, happening, is that you are doing something very different than what 'you' would do, if you could just be 'yourself'. And your mind is playing both sides (Asli called it "good cop bad cop". So true!!)

    Thus the suffering.

    The conflict is really just your mind arguing with your mind, about a 'you' that exists only in the way a character in your dream or a book is real. This is what the mind does. "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." (Shakespeare)

    Your True Self, that's who/what is experiencing everything your body and mind are doing in every moment, even the mind conflicts. It's impossible, absolutely impossible, to not be your True Self. Yes, it's entirely possible to not be aware of your True Self, certainly, but that doesn't make your True Self any less present, and any less You, and any less True. It's the only You there actually is :)

    When you feel lazy and unispired...you are your True Self. When your house is trashed...you are your True Self. When you miss a deadline at work...you are your True Self.

    Your True Self is always You, no matter how your house looks or what you said or didn't say or if you have talent or not. In stark contrast, the ego you is wholly dependent on outcomes, results, states of being, to be 'you' or not. And it's always changing the parameters, isn't it? Even if you reach a point where your egoic mind breathes a sigh of relief and says "Ahhh, this is me" then it will very shortly be clamoring loudly for a new proof of 'you'.

    When you realize that this egoic 'you' isn't genuine, but just a dream image, you can start letting it go, bit by bit. And then you can start to become open to accepting your natural expression, whatever that is, however that manifests, without the rigid, limiting, suffering ego :)
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
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  6. snwdream

    snwdream Member

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    I've considered this possibility but I'm not sure it's true. Is the person I feel that I really am deep inside just a composite created by the ego, or is this my higher self waiting to be actualized? I feel like if I accepted myself fully the way I am right now, let go of my fears and was living authentically that I would be inspired to the right actions that would enable me to be this person I see as my true self. I don't accept that my true self is a lazy, unmotivated and lethargic being who has to force herself to do anything productive! And yes, therein lies the suffering...so I guess in a way you are right...or we are both right in a way...just different perspectives. I don't know how I am supposed to accept myself when who I am is not who I want to be and I don't see myself as worthy. But I can't act from that place and force myself to do the things I would need to do in order to deem myself worthy...because the action is not inspired. I feel like it's this vicious cycle and I wonder how I can be free of it. I have made improvements in that I don't beat myself up as much as I used to for all the things I think I should be doing...I am learning to be more gentle with myself and learning to let my negative emotions and thoughts about myself pass and not identify with them...but it's certainly hard and uncomfortable!
  7. Joanna

    Joanna Active Member

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    snwdream, I absolutely 100 agree with you, that your True Self is not lazy, unmotivated, and lethargic :)

    Your True Self is in no way---absolutely zero---dependent on anything that is happening. It just is. You just Are. There is your True Self, and then there is what is happening. Your True Self is actualized already. It has never been any other way.

    (And all this is just my perspective based on my own experience so your mileage will most assuredly vary! :) )

    Everything you are thinking right now is ego. Labeling yourself in any way, judging, even positive thinking, is the ego. The ego is never authentic, or genuine, in the sense of inherent Truth, and there is no satisfaction to ever be had through it, not for very long. It's a tricky, cunning shapeshifter, so even people who are very aware of their egoic mind's antics can fall for the nonsense from time to time (*raises hand*). But it's not evil, either! It's just a machine and it does what it does. No need to fear or hate the mind, although I did, and sometimes still do, go through stages of this. Even that is all just ego upon ego upon ego. Trying to understand ego is ego. Better to just let it all go :)

    So when I read your words, how I interpret them is that you are confusing 'what is happening' for 'who you are'. This can be an extremely hard concept to grasp, it was for me!

    I'm gonna say something really scary. If tomorrow, a wild animal tore your body to shreds, ripped out your eyes, chewed off your limbs, but somehow, your Life was saved and you still had consciousness...you would still be You. The Authentic You.

    If you have the belief that who You are, authentically, is about what you do, or what is your body, or how people react to you, then you will always be just one paradigm shift from suffering. If the authentic you keeps a tidy house, what happens when the house is trashed? Then you aren't the real 'you' anymore. If the authentic you is charming in public, then what happens when nobody looks at you with interest anymore? Where are 'you' then?

    The geunine, authentic You never has to be rebuilt or recreated. It is You even if you are lying in the street homeless pissing your pants in an alcoholic or drug stupor.

    The amazing thing about realizing you aren't the egoic you is that the whole world opens up for you. You become free. Free to have a dirty scummy home, free to be a screw-up at work, free to make mistakes, free to keep your kitchen spotless, free to excel....you are free, so free...because you just Are. And you just Do. It's just your True Self and verbs. Snwdream just snwdreams :)

    It might take a long time to realize who You truly Are. Sometimes it doesn't come easy. I had to basically stop listening to anything my mind said, before I really understood, on a being level, who I AM. Your mind is the one labeling your situation, judging your situation, disliking your situation. It's not You. I mean, it's you in the sense that it's your mind and your thoughts...but they aren't You. Do you see the difference? There are thoughts, there are feelings, there are situations, and there is You. All of the first three can, and do, change from moment to moment, but You are You no matter what :)

    And you can't know what your Life will hold in the next moment. You may find yourself cleaning like a mad woman, or writing a stellar report for work, or you might still just be sitting in a messy house listening to your mind chatter about how you should be doing something else, and trying to understand intellectually why what is happening is not the same as what your mind says should be happening (= suffering). Anything can be happening, but you'll still be You, living Your Life :)

    I always recommend breaking up with your mind, just because that's what worked for me. I was hyper mind-oriented, always trying to understand, figure out, wonder Why Why Why. It was insanity. I was 43 years old before I relinquished the illusion of control, and even as I still release and grieve over the loss of my delusions, I feel enormous gratitude that my Life moved me through my great suffering to wake up from the egoic mind so I can live (statistically, ha!) the second half of my Life in Reality.

    I have this notion that we humans cling to the belief that we control our Lives because sometimes what our egos want and what happens in our Life is one and the same. We have something good and our mind thinks we brought that about. But I just don't see us as having the choices, the free will that our minds think we do. If we have a choice to make, but at some future point we will look back with a different perspective and see where our choice was wrong, or "What was I thinking?!?)...what kind of choice did we ever really have? If all we have is our current perspective, and perspectives change, how is there actual free will? It's like believing we can see when we're completely blind.

    There is only what happens in every moment. There is just Life, moving us. Adyashanti speaks of a leaf, how it never asks why the wind blows it when it does, or why the tree eventually drops it. I love this, it is how I view surrender to Life. It's not so much a surrender to Life, because in Reality there's never been any other way...it's a surrender of the mind, of giving up the addiction, the fascination, the belief that the mind is anything but a machine that helps us traverse this physical existence in every single moment :)
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
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  8. snwdream

    snwdream Member

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    Of course you are so right, and I guess I knew that all along. Your words ring true! It's like I know that 'I am' free of all identifications....that I simply am...and maybe that concept just hadn't fully sunk in for me yet. I can see where the sense of freedom would arise from that and perhaps in that freedom comes the end of all of the negative aspects of ego identification that may be the cause of my inaction. (OK, so not the be all END....this is my nature to think in extremes and in black and white...I forget sometimes that it's a lifetime process and want so much for there to be a point where all is perfect!) It's just hard because we live in this physical reality with this external environment and these required actions for living and maintaining our lives...and at the same time that it can be so challenging when I look at it the way you describe it it really is liberating feeling, that we are free to choose to live however we want, and do whatever we want, if we want something we can strive for it...from a place of balance and wisdom and not driven by the ego. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with me, it's greatly appreciated!
  9. RPH

    RPH Active Member

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    I can empathise, as I know this position very well. Inertia is the word.

    Firstly, all those things I've quoted from your post can be ways of avoiding reality. I've spent years, literally, engrossed in a vast array of books and reading material - from Alchemy to Shamanism to Magick to Shakespeare to Self Help to Jack Kerouac to Jung etc - and whilst it is has been interesting, it's far too much information. I have a tendency to go to such things when the chips are down and find comfort in them. I use them to make me feel better, to make me feel that it's alright. And it IS alright, but not because some book tells me so. It's only recently that I've begun to do something more important, which is to ask myself - not some author from another time, but to go within myself. After 28yrs of looking externally, answers don't just present themselves in an easily decipherable way, but I'm enjoying getting to know myself more.

    Self improvement can be used to escape reality - such as making money, for example, whilst making money or working can be used to escape inner work. Some are lucky in that they find work and inner work compatible. Anyhow, I digress.

    Sometimes doing outer things, such as making your life work the way you would like is what forces you to do inner work at the same time. They are not incompatible, not separate. So finding a way to make money could align with your inner and trigger it in some way. Sometimes people(here and elsewhere) put emphasis on only taking inspired action and not really doing anything unless you feel like it - well you could spend years whittling away your resistance and waiting for inspired action. Waiting for your calling or inspiration or whatever. Decide how you want to live and go after it - you know the saying 'God helps those who help themselves'? - Taking even a small action will open things up for you, whether it is 'inspired' or not. And taking that action can lead you into more inspired territory. Like anything, it's a frame of being that needs cultivating.

    Back to self help; In my experience, delving into self-help/improvement etc, is a way of telling yourself that you don't trust YOU, or your life stream, intuition, spirit, intelligence or whatever you wish to call it. It's tantamount to saying,'I'm putting my learning into the hands and experiences of OTHER'S, because I don't trust myself to find the answers'.

    It's all very well reading Nietzche, but he lived in a different time, era, environment. In many ways, what he knew is not relevant, because it's not what YOU know. Sen is also a great writer. Well, not writer(he needs an editor), but what he has provided is wonderful. Don't become a Junkie though. IMO, put your books into storage and learn to consult yourself.
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  10. RPH

    RPH Active Member

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    Otherwise. I agree with others about the notion of what we 'should do'. When I discarded the feeling that I have wasted some of my 20's(I'm 28 now - a child still), and that I should have been doing stuff like finding a career path, a steady relationship etc), things sort of felt ok. As if what I have been doing all along has been necessary. It's like my spirit has forced me into facing myself.

    Also, try to let go of doing. This may contradict my previous post, but to allow the procrastination and inertia to be and observe as a detached witness is important. Don't over identify with it, but use it as a guide. Make sure you don't get lost in though. Some have a terrible tendency to get wrapped up in reflecting and being that they forget to do even the simple things. I was one of them :rolleyes:
  11. mara

    mara Member

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    Yes, and this also depends are where you are in your life. If a person is relatively young, single, few responsibilities, it's a bit easier to not do anything, because he or she doesn't really have to (not meaning to say anything about anybody in particular, just making a point that maybe some people aren't inspired to do anything, because it's not really required of him/her.)

    Snwdream, have you read this one? http://www.calmdownmind.com/allowing-the-tension-of-creation/
  12. Markus

    Markus Active Member

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    Ha, my first thought was Metallica's One ...

    I think it becomes the process of learning what we are not. The mind has so many ideas of what we are or should be, and we must unlearn all of this to get through to the real us within.

    RPH, books and such do have great value, though. You are right about finding our own understanding. However, the wisdom or insights of others are often what triggers us to ask the best questions of ourselves. Also, many quality texts contain ideas that we might spend lifetimes finding if left to our own thoughts. Using books as escape or delusion is the real problem, as you described.
  13. Joanna

    Joanna Active Member

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    Markus, re: "One", yes, good call, nice!!!

    snwdream, in the interest of full disclosure, my kitchen is a freaking mess right now, and I just bought the Kindle version of Jed McKenna's (who's probably not even a real person) "Theory of Everything." :D
  14. Joanna

    Joanna Active Member

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    I like these very much. They add to my constantly-evolving understanding about what surrendering to the Life Stream really means :)
  15. Ahlan

    Ahlan Active Member

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    Hey Joanna,

    I read through your replies often and find them very helpful. I am trying to know what the 'true self' means. I can 'understand' what you mean but still have a long way to actually having that 'aha' moment or realisation of what it means. You described the episode in your kitchen when u suddenly knew what it meant.

    How do you describe what the true self of people like Osama or Saddam or Hitler was like?

    Thanks,
  16. NickG

    NickG Active Member

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    The mind can never understand the true self. The true self is felt. That's why writing about this stuff is hard because at some point words, which are the implements of the mind, are completely futile in describing experiences. Could you actually explain to me what an orgasm, or a sneeze feels like? The mind is capable of attributing words like "good" or "bad", "blissful" or "intense", but none of that actually captures the experience. The same goes for reaching a feeling of the true self.

    People like Osama, Saddam and Hitler were probably suffering immensely. Suffering is spurred from suffering.
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  17. RPH

    RPH Active Member

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    Or maybe they weren't suffering at all. Maybe they had released their minds from concepts such as empathy and humanitarianism, and honestly believed in their ideals, or honestly believed in and relished the respective roles they were playing.
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  18. snwdream

    snwdream Member

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    You guys all give much to consider...very insightful responses! I don't have the time to respond as in depth as I would like at the moment, but just wanted to let you know I appreciate all your comments.
  19. Joanna

    Joanna Active Member

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    Ahlan, my perspective is that our True self is our Being. It can be very, very, very hard to notice, but I think maybe that's because nobody ever tells anybody what it is! There is a Self that is present without any thought about it. You may have had glimpses of it where you didn't even realize what you were glimpsing. I know for me, sometimes when I first woke up, I would be "Aware" that I existed even though there was no thought about myself or my existence...I could feel the non-thought Awareness anyway. Of course, the instant I was aware of it, Awareness vanished :D

    Or maybe it didn't??? Trick question! Of course it didn't! It can't disappear, it's always there, we are, every single one of us, our True Selves even if our ego is preventing us from seeing who we really Are because ego wants to be who we really are. We can only be one thing, and ego wants it to be ego.

    This is why Buddhists and lots of people (including me) say things like "you are already enlightened", "there is nothing to seek" "there's nowhere to go". It's because this is the blunt truth. I realize it's not very helpful, because when we say that, basically what we are saying is that you are trying to find your glasses and can't see very well so you put on your glasses to see better so you can find your glasses. Essentially, that's what it's like, seeking your True Self, because you are seeking what is right there with you right now. But a fat lot of good that does you if you can't notice it, I know.

    I took much comfort in Sen's words that once we are pulled to Awareness, it's a done deal. And when you finally see your True Self, you will see how there was nobody to wake up, that there was no dreamer to begin with. Until then, it all sounds like riddles designed to keep you in spiritual darkness until you figure out the riddle's answer.

    Your sense of Being, that can be found between thoughts...that is Awareness. That is You. You are Awareness. Your True Self. Some people call it a void, an emptiness. And don't recognize it as their True Self. Whatever it is...that's You. And Me. And Hitler and Saddam and Osama. It's the same for all of us. We are all It. We're Existence itself, literally.

    Everything happens within this Existence. Objects arise and disappear from our True Self, but the True Self never changes. Watch yourself and the world, and try to notice what never, ever changes. Thoughts change. Bodies change. Emotions change. Situations change. What doesn't ever, ever change, that you can notice? That is your Being. That is You. That. Is. You. That's all you Are, and it's everything.

    When you finally notice what you may have been noticing all along, when you finally get what that sense is, that Awareness IS YOU... your whole world will never again be the same :)

    And please, don't think you have a long time to go, till you see this. Time is not a factor here. You can see your True Self in the next moment. It's right with you right now. Some people meditate for 20 years and don't see it...maybe because they are so busy looking elsewhere for it! It won't be found in any action...it's just a shift in perspective and then you know who you really, truly Are :)

    Edited to add: When I first knew (and it happens in an instant), who I AM, my first thought was "I could be a rock." And that sounds funny but that's how it is. When you know your True Self, you realize your Self is never dependent on anything to be what it is (unlike the ego, which is wholly dependent on those things). If you turned into a rock...you would still be You. You are You regardless of anything in this world that can happen, or has happened, or will happen :)
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
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  20. Sen

    Sen Moderator

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    snwdream - You can address your current challenge from an objective point of view. Objectively, it's true that your sense of worth will be dependent on how aligned you feel with living the type of life that you want to live. If you are not living in alignment with your growth requirements, or if you sense that you are not doing the things that are important for you, it's just not possible to feel good about yourself - unless you are trying to pretend otherwise (or trying to use some "spiritual pointer" to suppress the natural feelings that come through). You mention that you feel dis-organized, and you feel that distracting yourself and not taking actions that are important to you from a place of requirement, responsibility and wisdom, and at an instinctual level you know that you are not truly being as functional as you would like to be - now you can't simply hope to sweep these away under the carpet of "My true-self is already whole and these are just my ego's problems which I shouldn't bother with" because that would just become a form of spiritual denial. These are valid concerns and needs to be addressed objectively so that you don't end up being stuck in some state of detached escapism. Of course, there is also a need to release the momentum of fear attached to these thoughts of "feeling non-productive" through the state of allowing - which you mentioned you are already quite comfortable with, so you have that down. What I sense you need is simply to connect more with an objective mindset.

    You talked about waiting for the energy of inspiration. The fact is that you are inspired towards being more organized, you feel a strong desire to feel more functional in terms of getting some required work done on daily basis - so the inspiration is already in place. The problem is that your body/brain don't seem to be co-operating in living your inspiration, but it's not really a "fault" it's more about understanding the way a body/brain works naturally. Just consider this situation - A young man feels inspired to build a well-muscled body in order to look good, and thus feel good, about himself. He doesn't have any spiritual hang-ups and hence he understands that its a valid inspiration for him, and he understands that it's important for him to work on this inspiration in order to feel a sense of confidence in himself. He has an objective mindset, so he starts with learning about the various ways that one can go about building a well-muscled body and decides a particular plan on action, which involves hitting the gym four times week, and training with weights for an hour each time, and he also comes up with a plan on how to focus on the different muscles groups to have a uniform development, and the diet requirements for the same. He is aware enough to understand that this process of building muscles will take time, and what's needed is sustained routine. The first week he is able to hit the gym as per plan, mostly because of the enthusiasm for something new to focus on, by the third week however he starts feeling a sense of drag/boredom at the idea of driving to the gym, and the idea of going through the pain of lifting weights feels like downer. However, he re-connects with himself and realizes that it's important for him to work on the goal of developing a muscled-body, he understands that it's a goal that feels like a requirement, and feels like an expression he desires to experience for himself - he also understands, objectively, that the body sometimes needs to be pushed into an activity until it feels like a habit (it's similar to how your brain/body feels confused when you are driving a car for the first time, but repeated driving makes it feels like your second nature). So, he pushes himself to hit the gym, and by the end of the day he is feeling good about himself for sticking to his plan. Within a couple of months, hitting the gym feels like his second nature, and his brain/body seem to have no resistance towards following the planned routine.

    Now, someone with a spiritual hang-up may say that it's was an egoic-imbalance in this guy to base his sense of confidence on building a well-muscled body, but the fact remains that there are no higher or lower expressions, it's all about what feels important to you, and there is nothing more puerile than to imagine that you can feel good about yourself while not being true towards living the expression/experience that you desire. It's true that one needs to have an awareness towards not being lost to this need for worthiness, and have an openness to feel stable even when your mind is feeling bad, but that should not become a means/excuse to stop following up on what feels important to you or to ignore the requirements, and preferences, of your mind/ego. In the above example, you could see how this guy was able to stay focused on his plan irrespective of the fact that there were days when he felt de-motivated - he followed through on the plan because he knew that consistency was important towards achieving the result he wanted, and the result was important to him more than the temporary de-motivation. So is it okay to "force" yourself into action when your brain/body is feeling a sense of funk? It depends on the situation, sometimes the body may really be feeling unwell/fatigued in which case you have to listen to your body and give it rest, but sometimes the body is just being lethargic owing to flippant reasons (including the fact that you had a large cheese burger and your brain feels sluggish) and in that case you need to push through keeping your goal in mind. It would be highly deluded to say that "I will only take action when my brain/body feels great", there would be many times when your body is feeling sluggish and you would just have to follow through on the required action because it's important to the results you want - you cannot be truly organized, or responsible, if you actions depend on your brain's mood rather than depending on your values, your sense of integrity, your sense of responsibility and your focus on your goal.

    Spirituality has its place in terms of letting go of deluded ideas about achievement, but it should not be made into a "concept" of trying to ignore the need for achievements, and the need for meeting certain goals that are important to you. Work is not always fun, work sometimes needs you to connect with the dark-nature aspects like following a routine, pushing through a feeling of sluggishness and being patient and consistent with your actions. There would be chaos if people were only focused on doing what felt good, and when it felt good, imagine if your milkman followed some idea like that - sometimes feeling good is not the baseline to do a certain work that's a "requirement". Life is not just about light-nature, it's a balance between light and dark, sometimes you just have to go through the dark-nature aspect of work.