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Doing Our Best

July 26 2006

When I was young, I had a crush on a boy who was handsome and very smart. He attended a special school for gifted children. He wanted to be a surgeon. He was also competitive, critical and afraid not to be the best at everything This is what we feel when we don’t have confidence in the life process. We feel that everything is up to us alone. We worry that we won’t measure up, and we try to run from our anxiety by obsessively developing our competency.

But confidence earned through knowing, doing and succeeding is precarious. We must always keep building our fortress of competency. One mistake feels like certain doom. Second-best is only one step away from the void. We are really very fragile, and we try to hide this by criticizing others.

One day, this boy and I were speaking on the phone, and he made a derogatory remark about some other person. I must have been more open than usual to Ma’s grace that day because I spontaneously answered, “We are all doing our best.”

“What do you mean?” my friend asked.

“I mean that no matter what we are doing, no matter how it looks to others, we are all doing our best. We can’t do anything but our best. We are all trying as hard as we can.”

I am still learning about this wisdom that first visited me as a young adult, and that I have often forgotten since then. No matter what we are doing, feeling or thinking, we are all doing our best. Whether we are saints or sinners, we are all expressions of the cosmic desire to enact the play of Self-realization. In this play, we are all playing our parts perfectly. Everyone is doing their best.

The same desire for Self-realization runs through every being. We are all, in our unique ways, expressing this desire. Whether you crave donuts, dollars or God, it is all the same desire.

Think about it. Is there any difference between the feeling of really, really wanting a donut and really, really wanting Self-realization? If you sweep away the emotional debris, the desire is the same: pure, singing and sweet. One desire. Only the tension of karmic patterning holds desire focused on the sweetness and fullness offered by a donut rather than on the sweet fulfillment of Self understanding. And if you sit quietly for a long enough time, until the desire for the donut is stripped of all chatter and compulsion, you will recognize God in that desire. This is why Tantra includes the entire world, rejecting and renouncing nothing. We are all, in our own way, doing our best to realize that.

In one sense, we are like crystals, but each with its own unique formation. Some absolutely clear, some with some cracks and cloudiness. The same light shines through every crystal, but it manifests differently in each depending on the crystal’s formation. Every crystal is perfectly expressing exactly what it was designed to express.

If you do a lot of sadhana and try hard to Self-realize, this is not a point of personal pride. You are not better, more holy or even making more effort than anyone else. You are just doing what you were made to do, and what the cosmic circumstance allows you to do.

If at one time you were struggling with compulsive, destructive habits and distractions, and now you sit with joy every day to do your practice, this does not mean that you are making more effort now, or that you weren’t doing your best before. You were always making an effort to Self-realize. You were always doing your best. And everyone else is doing the same. We are all, already, doing our best.

This doesn’t mean that we cannot discover greater capacity. We try to do our best and express what we already are more fully. But it is simultaneously true that in every moment, we are already doing our best.

No one has the choice not to desire Self-realization, even if, in this lifetime, this desire is expressed through acquiring material things or eating donuts. The desire for Self-realization must also Self-recognize. When the desire for Self-realization recognizes itself for what it is and ceases to mistake itself for the desire for a donut, this is when we enter the stream. This is when we start learning about the intelligence and the grace of desire. And now we can more consciously continue to do our best.

In Ma’s love,
Shambhavi