Fulfillment Not Found Through Self-Effort, a Guest Post from Marvin C. Shaw

You know how every once in a while you come across a book that changes your life? THE PARADOX OF INTENTION: Reaching the Goal by Giving Up the Attempt to Reach It, by Marvin C. Shaw, has been life-changing for me. I’ve often struggled with this question: Do we set goals, make plans and go for want we want? or Do we let the goals and plans go and give ourselves over to the Universe, Great Spirit, God, Christ, Buddha, Higher Self, etc, and accept that we will be guided toward our highest good? On some level I’ve felt the second one is true but have struggled with self-focused problem of, ‘But what if I don’t get what I want?

Mr. Shaw writes in each chapter of different religions/philosophies/ devotions (i.e., The Manual of Epictetus; the letters of Paul; the Tao Teh Ching of Lao Tzu; Saraha’s Treasury of Songs; Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy; and also of Gautama Buddha, the Japanese Buddhist sect called Zen; and Elizabeth Kubler-Ross) that all lead to the same conclusion:

“There is no need to struggle to be free; the absence of struggle is itself freedom.” (From Chogyam Trungpa).

Here is a paragraph I found particularly meaningful:

Quoted from THE PARADOX OF INTENTION by Marvin C. Shaw:

“Non-interference as an attitude to living is thus possible because one has come to see fulfillment as bestowed by the Tao and not contrived by self-effort; now one does not exert oneself to secure the good of one’s own personal life apart from the total system of nature. The attitude of non-interference and natural action then puts one with the flow of nature, which fulfills the being of everything in the whole. The power and life and wisdom of the Tao are appropriated through letting be; it fosters our greatest good when we are open to it, giving ourselves over to natural, effortless action and not obstructing its natural flow with attempts to know, plan and manage.”

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