Reality demanding more than we can give

At several points on the spiritual path, we may experience that reality asks more of us than we can give.

And this recognition may be especially acute after a good deal of practice, after the bulk of the work seems done, and after our attention is a little more fine-tuned.

The demands of precepts may seem unreachable. I can get there mostly, but I am always a little off, and there is a whole string of instances where I am clearly off the mark and it seems impossible for it not to be so.

My heart may be open to most people, situations and aspects of myself, but people, situations and aspects of myself keep popping up that trigger hangups and closes down my heart. I may be able to shift into an open heart again, including towards what triggered the close-down and even embracing the close-down itself, but it still closes down in certain situations.

I may notice the sense of a separate I (doer, observer) as content of experience, as what I am not, but there is still some identification there. There is not a full shift of identification out of it. And even when there is such a release (kensho), the gravity of existing hangups pulls identification back into itself.

I may live mostly in integrity with what is true for me at a human level (what seems most mature, wise, kind), and most aligned with what I am, but there are still gaps, still times when I don’t, maybe even areas of life where I consistently don’t. And although these gaps may be small in a conventional sense, in the context of what reality requires of me, they are huge. As the sutra says, I am mountains and rivers away from it.

Mainly, there is a growing recognition that the doer cannot get rid of itself, and it cannot live up to what is required in any other area of life either. The doer itself is the obstacle. It has painted itself into a corner, and there is no turning back.

What is left is continued practice, because there isn’t anything else to do. Maybe a refining of practice, coming to appreciate and even love what is going on here, including identifications themselves for what they are, as they are. As expressions of reality. As what gives a sense of drama and reality to life. As lila. As grace itself.

And within this love, just as there is no requirement for it to shift or change, there is the possibility for grace to come in another way. Or not.



  • reality demanding more than we can give
    • on spiritual path, experience/realize that at several points
    • maybe most acutely after a good deal of practice and experience, more mature
    • realize, cannot do what is asked (try, practice, do it as sincerely as possible, but the doer cannot get rid of itself + cannot live up to what is required, the doer cannot do it b/c the doer is in the way)

One thought to “Reality demanding more than we can give”

  1. Well put. At the beginning of a new practice it seems very doable to question all beliefs for example, but later on I realize I can’t keep up. Nice to see that’s the point.

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