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by David Truman

How compelling forces may temporarily overcome resistance

Repressed resistance always returns

Doing right without having to be inspired or forced to do it

The grace of loving when you don't feel like it

But CAN I do it?

Willing implementation

Spiritual practice is not just some affirmation or meditation technique we do once or twice a day. In the truest sense, spiritual practice means APPLYING our spiritual values and inspirations in daily life.

IMPLEMENTING what we know is right and beautiful is a major purpose in the total process of evolutionary growth. But we should not be too dismayed if the brilliant insight we had yesterday seems hard to implement today. It's all part of the Great Process.

Spiritual growth is a two step affair: one, learning "in a vacuum" (under controlled conditions such as study or meditation); and two, applying what we've learned in life. That second step is essential, for it COMPLETES each spiritual lesson.

Needless to say, the first step seems to come much more naturally than the second step for almost everyone. It seems our inspirations start fading right after closing our book or leaving our meditation room! The thing is, when we try to implement bright thoughts and high inspirations in real life, we have to deal with the part of ourselves that is NOT higher, but lower. That part resists the new, the right, the beautiful. To implement our spiritual ideas, must get past our egoic tendencies and habits. Because human beings have difficulty doing that, the Universe Process helps us, by providing extra motivation in the form of outer and inner PRESSURES to do the right thing.

How compelling forces may temporarily overcome resistance

Typically, if we have any appreciable resistance to doing something, we will do that thing only when we feel more or less COMPELLED, by strong inner and/or outer forces, to do it. For example:


a person studies only when it's time for final exams.

a man says "I love you" only on an anniversary (an outer compulsion), or when he feels "I love you" so extremely strongly that he practically has no choice but to say so (an inner compulsion)

a person exercises only to remedy a virtual health crisis.

a woman is nice to her boyfriend only because he says he will leave her unless she treats him better.

In those situations, the compelling forces of circumstances are sufficient, at least temporarily, to overcome resistance.

The GOOD news about compelling forces is that often, compelling forces will so move us that we will finally DO the thing we have resisted doing. They help us overcome our laziness, our inhibitions, and so on. We get to experience the possibilities we previously couldn't imagine. Plus, they give us practice in doing the right thing. We get in the groove of that "right move." In this sense, compelling circumstances represent God's encouragement/training wheels.

Moreover, when we finally put our intention into action, we might even do a pretty good job on it. For example, a person cramming for exams might be a very motivated and concentrated student for the period of one shining all-nighter! And a man who feels strongly compelled to declare his love might get a particularly nice "I love you" out of his mouth.

The BAD news about compelling forces is there's a limit to how much compelling forces can actually help us. They do not ELIMINATE the resistance -- they only overcome it MOMENTARILY. The resistance is still there, beneath the surface, untouched. In that case, while, for the moment, the ego has been out-powered, it has not truly surrendered.

Repressed resistance always returns

If our resistance remains intact, the resistance which has been pushed underground is bound to re-surface sooner or later. And when it re-arises, it will surely ruin things. The moral: We did the new thing, all right, but we were never sufficiently WILLING.


Example: Imagine a messy person who is compelled to clean house because relatives are visiting. On that occasion they decide to clean up, but what will happen after the relatives leave? Most likely, the house will quickly become messy once again.

Furthermore, when the compelling circumstance forces us to go even further out that good limb, or to remain out on that good limb for a longer time, what will happen? At some point, the resistance that was temporarily overcome may once again rear its ugly head, causing us to collapse. Eventually, we may rebel against a good behavior even when -- indeed, particularly when -- the compelling forces reach their HIGHEST height.

Example: A reluctant student may study all night for an important exam. But if the exam is unexpectedly postponed, or suddenly increased in scope, the student may feel pushed beyond his endurance, and decide to party instead of continuing to study.

So you see, it is good to be inspired -- and at times, it may even be helpful to be REQUIRED; but we make a mistake if we rely TOO MUCH on compelling circumstances to take action. A person shouldn't HAVE to be inspired OR required to do the right thing. Accordingly:

The real key to developing good new habits lies not in doing the right thing under external or internal pressure to do it, but in RELEASING THE RESISTANCE to doing it.

Doing right without having to be inspired or forced to do it

The ego defends its resistance to doing right by defining HYPOCRISY like this: "If I don't absolutely feel like doing something, it's hypocritical to do it." Then, to seal the deal, the ego defines INTEGRITY in similar fashion: "I am acting with integrity only when I am fully inspired to do something." Those arguments have kept the children of God down for many years.

Is it right to say a person has integrity if they might not do the right thing under any conditions, or if they will only do it when they are virtually compelled to do it? Obviously not. It is hardly a matter of integrity when we have to be forced to get out of bed each day. We demonstrate a higher integrity when we can get out of bed EVEN THOUGH we don't feel like it (or even though we are not inspired by some fantastic event that's about to happen).

True integrity is achieved when we resolve the inner unwillingness and contradiction within ourselves that prevents us from doing something that's right except under such "ideal" conditions. A person of integrity can do the right thing even in the absence of extraordinary "inspiration" or "coercion."

Eventually, you let go of the training wheels, and start acting from your own free will. Until then, when you are confronted by circumstances that COMPEL you to exceed yourself, remember: "That this is only training wheels. I will want and need to do this same behavior on my own someday -- without compulsion." Thinking that way, you can go through even "the compulsories" more gracefully.

The grace of loving when you don't feel like it

If we are to do the good works we have in mind, if we are to live the beauty we are inspired to share, we cannot afford to rely on "feeling like it." A person who loves only when "in the mood to love" isn't much of a lover.


What if you asked an intimate for some support, and they flatly replied, "I don't feel like it." You might begin to wonder how good a friend they were! Clearly, it's not right to just love on all the days when we're naturally motivated, and withhold our caring on all the rest. Loving when we don't feel like it is closer to the sacrifice that true love involves. So we have to practice our lovingness when we are NOT inspired to love.

It is not a punishment or a reflection of unworthiness to have a "dry spell" during which we don't feel juicy and loving. It happens to the best of us: We may get up in the morning and not feel particularly loving. Perhaps we felt loving for days on end prior to that, but on this new day, the inspiration is not there.

Of course, our right responsibility is STILL to be loving. But now, because we do not feel like loving, we may tend to feel like we've fallen from grace. Actually, that kind of day IS a grace of God. We hardly needed to exercise much will on the days when we were inspired to love more spontaneously. So we are fortunate to have days when it's harder to love, because those days make us really work our spiritual muscles. And, love that is more deliberate and willing is actually a much higher form of love.

But CAN I do it?

When it comes to doing something beautiful IN THE ABSENCE OF strong compelling forces, a concern arises: "It's easy to do a good job when something is MAKING me to do it, but will I be able to do a good job on something without that extra push?" The ego will use that concern to its advantage, and will discourage us from even trying to do much of anything we are not virtually compelled to do. If we surrender to that fear, we remain trapped in our little boxes of unfamiliarity and resistance.

Here are three points to help overcome our "performance anxiety" when not under pressure:



You can do a BETTER job on something when you are NOT resisting it. Any resistance that has been repressed but not eliminated is still likely to have a negative impact -- EVEN in our highest moments, in which there is no APPARENT resistance. The hidden resistance will tend to take the top off the highs. So, acting without compulsion gives us an advantage, not a disadvantage!


Right orientation is more important than perfect implementation. Implementation is important, but that doesn't mean it needs to be perfect. It's far more important that a person have their heart in the right place than that they do a perfect job. An "excellent job" without the heart in the right place can't really be called "excellent" in the spiritual sense of the word. A faltering and imperfect deed done sincerely and willingly is far better than an unwilling-but-stellar performance.


It is far less important, ultimately, that a person perform beautifully than that they perform willingly. Which would you rather have, a friend who did wonderful things for you under pressure, and reluctantly -- or a friend who did things for you that were somewhat less wonderful, but who did those things GLADLY, FREELY, and WILLINGLY? There you see why willingness is truly MORE important than outstanding performance.

Willing implementation

We all recognize that truly enlightened action is something we do willingly and freely -- not something we are FORCED to do, and not something we will do only in moments when we are extraordinarily INSPIRED. Whim, too -- "feeling like it" -- is a form of compulsion that must be overcome. So it is ultimately important that our good insights and visions be implemented with the full approval of our own will.

Learn to do good things WITHOUT compulsion of any kind. Learn to do good things even when you have no particular "encouragement" from strong forces, inner OR outer. That's how to become a willing participant in doing the right thing.

As you practice willing and right action, you will soon reach a point where no strong compulsion to act will be required: you can do it anyway! From then on, it will become possible for you to do right action at any time, under any conditions -- without the requirement of any compelling force to do it. THAT is truly enlightened.

by David Truman

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