“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”
William Hutchison Murray
This has been my favourite quote since 2011.
That’s 5 years of devotion, which, for a quote addict such as myself, is something of a marvel. The funny thing about it that I didn’t even really understand why it held me in thrall every time I read it – I only knew that the underlying message of the mystery behind intention gave me goosebumps.
And then, over the course of the last year, I became increasingly obsessed with commitment. What is it, what quality does it have, what are the implications of it, how does it work?
And the quote began to reveal the core of its message, the foundation upon which the rest is based; the internal shift that makes the magic happen.
Commitment, it turns out, is a mystical force.
Commitment vs. decision
A decision is defined as “a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration.” Commitment is defined as “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.”
In other words, a decision is merely a thought, the conclusion of a cognitive process. A commitment is a state of being – a state, no less, of dedication (which, to continue our exploration of the English language, is defined as being “devoted to a task or purpose; having single-minded loyalty or integrity”).
Dedication, devotion, loyalty, integrity.
Pretty powerful concepts. Concepts that connect us to the root of who we are, what we believe in, what we stand for. Commitment therefore, is an intoxicating shortcut to some of the most profound states we can experience.
Commitment vs. discipline
Discipline, “a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders,” has long been touted as a desirable and commendable quality; something to be rigorously pursued in the name of self-betterment. The things about discipline is that unless the thing we’re using it for brings us consistent joy, we will at some point tire of the battle to engage our will on a consistent basis.
Willpower is an outward moving force (3rd chakra based, for those of you who are curious), a pushing force. It’s great for short periods of action but using it every day without rest is eventually going to become draining. Commitment on the other hand, is a pulling force.
Commitment draws us forward through our love of that which we have chosen to devote ourselves to – it is love that beckons us to take one step, another step.
Commitment and discipline may sometimes achieve the same results but the quality of each is intrinsically different, and in my experience, being pulled forwards is infinitely more pleasant than pushing.
Commitment and devotion
Here’s where it gets really interesting. Devotion (“love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause”) is an incredibly potent state.
It is to give oneself entirely, with every fiber of one’s being, to the object of our focus.
It is a humbling sensation, to act from devotion; it opens us even more fully to love, to life – to the beauty in our endeavors, to the honour and worthiness of that which we attempt to create.
That kind of attention is powerful. Like, really powerful. It’s the kind of attention, which, when harnessed and skillfully directed, can be used to complete seemingly impossible tasks; the kind of attention that finds solutions where there are none, that invites game-changing insights, that creates miracles.
It is uncompromising dedication.
And with uncompromising dedication comes something else – unwavering trust.
Because when we give ourselves up completely to devotion, there is no space for fear. There is only the clear path of what must be done.
Clarity, simplicity, focus.
These are some of the inevitable side-effects of commitment. And devotion itself is what brings us the feeling of fulfillment that we are all searching for – it is not what you do, but how you do it.
Living in this quality of devoted surrender, whether or not it is a cause of our choosing, is the most transformational practice there is.
Priorities and focus
And because commitment is so full on, we cannot commit ourselves to very many things at the same time. We have to choose. Knowing what our priorities are is always a good thing (at this point in time; clearly this is something which is constantly evolving), but in order to commit, it is crucial.
What are you willing to devote yourself to?
What one thing would make all others obsolete?
Who do you want to become and what activity/cause will mould you into that person?