A crucial part of a spiritual work is to discover the reason why we are inclined to practice. In the Shaiva Tantric tradition, we speak of an efficient motivation, pure motivation or aligned motivation, as opposed to inefficient motivation.In reality, all people start with an impure or inefficient motive and that a fundamental part of the practice is to correct this since otherwise, you can not progress. There are three inefficient motives that are common in different spiritual paths:
1. The belief that something is wrong with how one is and that spirituality can solve this
Many approach spirituality or religion with this notion of fixing something that is wrong with them. It is the idea of the fall or the expulsion from paradise.
This motive is ineffective, according to yoga or tantra, because it is not aligned with reality -which is in itself good, perfect, blissful- and, therefore, a practice cannot work well. For Eg. when a person makes a diet based on the notion of hating his own body, it never ends well. They usually lose the weight, but then they win again. A diet works when someone does it out of self-respect. This happens in yoga and tantra.
On the contrary, yoga, tantra, Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrayana, and other practices teach that there is something extremely good about a person’s nature and it is only about discovering or eliminating everything that blocks it. In these traditions, it is said that paradise or the divine state is a question of perception, of purification of the mind, of entering into consonance with reality.
The ineffective or impure motive, however, serves to eventually reach the right motive.
2. The spiritual practice that is done to feel good
It is logical that we seek to practice to feel good, this is the most common reason. However, this motivation must be refined, because when we practice to feel good we usually do it also so as not to feel bad. This is problematic because then we will avoid the parts of the practice that are difficult or painful, we will look for shortcuts. Likewise, people can cling to the sensations of bliss and ecstasy and, consequently, not move forward. Instead of this motivation, you can focus on the desire to know the truth.
3. To obtain powers
This is the motivation to practice to obtain magical or psychic powers or to magnetize other people or obtain worldly power. This is what is shown in the movie The Secret , where the power to manifest everything you want is sought, which is a selfish value. A spiritual value says: “Life, what do you want to do through me which is beneficial for all beings?”.