The 80-20 rule in spiritual practice: Most of it is about transformation, and only a bit is about awakening

The 80-20 rule says that 80% of the work is done in 20% of the time, and the remaining 20% takes 80% of the time.

That’s often roughtly accurate in my experience. I often find that most of the work is done relatively quickly, and it’s the final bits that take a lot of time to finish up and get right.

And so also when it comes to spiritual practice.

NOTICING OUR NATURE

Contrary to popular misconceptions, it’s not that difficult for most of us to notice our nature. If we have a guide familiar with the terrain, who is using an effective series of pointers, most of us can get it – the essence of it – in a relatively short time. And that means minutes, not hours, days, months, years, or decades. In these cases, the noticing itself can be 1% of the work or less.

We can get it, although many won’t see the value in it. It may seem interesting. A fun party game. But of little or no practical value. So we let it go and move on to something else.

Or we may value awakening, but what we find when guided doesn’t fit our ideas so we keep looking for it somewhere else. We may be looking for something exotic, distant, and mind-blowing in a crude way. And what we are shown is deeply familiar, never left, and without any fanfare or fireworks. It seems just too simple, so we move on and keep looking for the exotic and unusual.

RETURNING TO NOTICING OUR NATURE

If we find it and value it, then that’s where the work starts. It takes a deep and visceral interest – enough to prioritize and return to it – to keep noticing it through daily life. This is 10 or 20% of the work.

TRANSFORMATION

And then there is the transformation of our human self and psychology and life in the world. This too takes a deep and sustained visceral interest and passion.

This transformation can happen, to some extent, through different types of sincere and dedicated spiritual practice even if we don’t notice our nature.

And it can happen within the context of oneness noticing itself as all there is, and aligning our human self with this conscious noticing.

In my experience, this is the majority of the work and the 80% from the 80-20 rule.

NOT ABOUT THE NUMBERS

When I give numbers to the different aspects of the process, it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek. Each case is individual and it will vary a lot. And it’s not really possible – and easily misleading and a bit absurd – to assign numbers in this way.

So why am I doing it? Just to highlight that, in my experience, the noticing costs very little. Sustained noticing requires more of us. And the transformation requires a lot more – and really everything – from us.

Finally, what are some of the structured pointers that can help most of us notice our nature so quickly? Two approaches I personally enjoy are the Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.


INITIAL OUTLINE

  • 90% of spiritual practice is about transformation, not awakening
    • notice is often simple
    • Keeping noticing takes more work and intention
    • And Transformation takes even more time and intention
    • Humanize, become ordinary healthy, mature, grounded, sane human being in the world

….

A DRAFT THAT WENT IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DIRECTION DUE TO BRAIN FOG

Most traditional spiritual practice, from the well-rounded traditions, is about transformation and not awakening.

Why? There are several reasons.

More people may be more interested in transformation than awakening, independent of what they are telling themselves.

Transformation changes our life and gives us, in the best case and to some extent, what we wish for. (A sense of ease, shifted relationship to life, grounding, and so on.)

Some traditions may not have effective tools to help students notice their nature and keep noticing it. (I am not sure about this one, but I haven’t seen that many effective tools in the traditions I am familiar with. I have found them more in modern approaches.)

……

Most of the spiritual practices available, and especially from the more well-rounded traditions, are about transformation.

……

START ON SECOND DRAFT

Contrary to popular misconceptions, it’s not that difficult for most of us to notice our nature. If we have a guide familiar with the terrain, who is using an effective series of pointers, most of us can get it – the essence of it – in a relatively short time. And that means minutes, not hours, days, months, years, or decades. In these cases, the noticing itself can be just 1% of the work or less.

….

If we find it and value it, then that’s where the work starts. It takes a deep and visceral interest – enough to prioritize it and returning to it – to keep noticing it through daily life. This is 10 or 20% of the work.

…..

The initial noticing, when guided and using approaches like the Headless experiments or the Big Mind process, can take 1% or less of the work. A sustained noticing is 10 or 20% of the work. And the transformation is 80% of the work. This will obviously vary a lot from case to case, and it’s in many ways pointless to put any kind of numbers of this which cannot be captured so simply.

……

SECOND DRAFT BEFORE SECTION TITLES

The 80-20 rule says that 80% of the work is done in 20% of the time, and the remaining 20% takes 80% of the time.

That’s often roughtly accurate in my experience. I often find that most of the work is done relatively quickly, and it’s the final bits that take a lot of time to finish up and get right.

And so also when it comes to spiritual practice.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, it’s not that difficult for most of us to notice our nature. If we have a guide familiar with the terrain, who is using an effective series of pointers, most of us can get it – the essence of it – in a relatively short time. And that means minutes, not hours, days, months, years, or decades. In these cases, the noticing itself can be 1% of the work or less.

We can get it, although many won’t see the value in it. It may seem interesting. A fun party game. But of little or no practical value. So we let it go and move on to something else. Or we may value awakening, but what we find when guided doesn’t fit our ideas so we keep looking for it somewhere else. We may be looking for something exotic, distant, and mind-blowing in a crude way. And what we are shown is deeply familiar, never left, and without any fanfare or fireworks. It seems just too simple, so we move on and keep looking for the exotic and unusual.

If we find it and value it, then that’s where the work starts. It takes a deep and visceral interest – enough to prioritize and return to it – to keep noticing it through daily life. This is 10 or 20% of the work.

And then there is the transformation of our human self and psychology and life in the world. This too takes a deep and sustained visceral interest and passion. This transformation can happen, to some extent, through different types of sincere and dedicated spiritual practice even if we don’t notice our nature. And it can happen within the context of oneness noticing itself as all there is, and aligning our human self with this conscious noticing. In my experience, this is the majority of the work and the 80% from the 80-20 rule.

When I give numbers to the different aspects of the process, it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek. Each case is individual and it will vary a lot. And it’s not really possible – and easily misleading and a bit absurd – to assign numbers in this way.

So why am I doing it? Just to highlight that, in my experience, the noticing costs very little. Sustained noticing requires more of us. And the transformation requires a lot more – and really everything – from us.

Finally, what are some of the structured pointers that can help most of us notice our nature so quickly? Two approaches I personally enjoy are the Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.