Why Vultures Lie in Wait, and Deepak Chopra’s Law of Least Effort

I grew up believing that STRIVING towards goals and feeling DRIVEN in one’s passions were necessary components of success. They can also be exhausting components of success.  The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

Deepak Chopra, in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, talks about the Law of Least Effort. “Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease…this is the principle of least action, of no resistance.”

But what of all those long tedious hours of writing and rewriting? What of all the hours spent networking, following up leads, peaking under every stone for missed opportunities?

The carrion-eating vultures I encounter on early-morning hikes got me to thinking that maybe Deepak Chopra is right. “Grass doesn’t try to grow, it just grows,” he tells us. “Birds don’t try to fly, they fly.”  Turkey Vulture Unfurlling Morning Wings

Vultures are “least effort” opportunists, willing to watch and wait, poking their bald red heads into putrefying places and coming up with enough to feed themselves and their not-too-picky young. Patient enough to wait—yet dedicated enough to spend long hours in the sky, catching updraft after updraft.

Vultures are also creatures of habit. The vultures that live on my home mountain wake up early, fly to their favorite granite outcropping, and patiently wait for the sun to rise so that they can dry the dew from their wing feathers. This patient ritual pays homage to the sun. They stand still as statues, slowly spreading their 6-foot expanse of wing, looking prayerful as the sun’s warmth sinks into their bones. Turkey Vulture warming wings

But stories don’t write themselves. Writers can’t just sit and wait. So what can we learn from Deepak’s Law of Least Effort?

“Think of your physical body as a device for controlling energy,” Chopra writes, “it can generate, store, and expend energy.”

Maybe the vultures aren’t just drying the dew from their wings, maybe they’re storing sun power. Have you ever arisen early in the morning and gone outside with a book you’ve been meaning to read for years finally tucked under your arm? Basked in its warmth for an hour or two, soaking up every beautifully described scene, every graceful turn of phrase?

When we SIT WITH ANOTHER AUTHOR’S WORK, fully present, still as a statue, we are gathering up the energy we will need to write our own story. Think of every beautiful book you’ve ever read as energy stored within you, patiently waiting to be reshaped into a new story, a new truth. Gratitude for the work of others releases this stored energy and allows it to flow almost effortlessly into our work.

Dedicate at least ten minutes a day to standing in awe of what someone else has written. Feel the fullness it brings. Then spread your wings and get out there and find your stories.  

Turkey Vulture Taking Flight cropped

Soaring is an important part of scavenging, and dedication to one’s goals is not the same as exhaustive striving or feeling driven. Dedication is more like prayer, a product of the heart, not the head. 


I like the idea of storing up energy that feeds our future work.

I also like the idea of reading with gratitude to nurture the feeling of our writing as part of a lineage. That helps to calm our ego, and thus our fears.

Janet Riehl
Page Lambert said…
Janet, I like your point about "calming the ego." Deepak also talks about that in the Law of Least Effort, so thank you for mentioning it.
Debbie Mihal said…
Thanks for the reminder!
Mary E. Trimble said…
These are wonderful thoughts, Page. I do believe we absorb energy from those around us and from our environment. The secret is to sort out the positive and grow from that.
Page Lambert said…
Nature provides me with constant reminders - I am always amazed at the interconnectedness of everything if I only take the time to delve a little deeper. Thanks for your comment, Debbie.
Page Lambert said…
Mary, thanks for taking a moment to leave a comment. We are like sponges in some ways, aren't we, absorbing and soaking it all up. What's wonderful is how easily the negative energy can be alchemized into positive. And I suppose, the reverse is true - we sometimes take that which is positive, and fail to see its attributes.
Anonymous said…
Page, your words touched me this morning. I have been stuck and unable to express myself in writing this summer. I have been doing other very meaningful work on the inside but often without any physical results, I feel as if I haven't accomplished anything. Your description of the vultures sent shivers through me. I know now that I have been storing up energy for future work. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Eunice Boeve said…
Interesting and so very true, but not a concept I'd have come up with on my own. Thanks, Page. Love the pictures of the ugly/beautiful bird and the idea of his wings unfolded as if in prayer. About reading another's work. Sometimes when I'm stuck in my writing, I grab a book and open it to any page and start to read. Soon I'm back in my own story again. Eunice Boeve
This is lovely, Page. I just re-read Deepok Copra's book, so your post it very timely for me. Because I, too, grew up learning to strive, try,& effort to reach a goal, this is a lesson I need to remind myself of often. Oh, the animals ... what they have to teach us. Where would we be without them?
Gail said…
Thanks for this post, Page. As someone who's been driven for much of my life to reach goal after goal after goal, I'm relishing the new perspective of following inclination, a more relaxed effort. I've heard it expressed as "just do the next thing," rather than planning in a frenzy of ambition. Paradoxically, energy arises naturally then to fulfill our true nature.
Page Lambert said…
Dear Anonymous,I'm so pleased that the article helped you to look at this summer as a time of "filling up" instead of depletion. And how wonderful that the vultures were a part of that!
Page Lambert said…
Eunice, thank you for taking a moment to read about the vultures and share your thoughts. I knew when I saw them basking in the morning sun that there was a metaphor unfolding, but had to sit with it for a while for the import to surface.
Page Lambert said…
Dawn, about every 6 months I pick up Chopra's Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and re-read it. Glad you were able to connect with the vulture metaphor. Your book about Maggie looks wonderful. I had a Black lab, Hondo, for 15 years, and the chapter on the weekend that he dies in my memoir In Search of Kinship is the only chapter I've never read to an audience.
Gail, not "planning in a frenzy of ambition" is a challenge for me to. My father was a dynamic and ambitious man, and accomplished some great things because of that, but I, too, am trying to learn to have the vision and clear intention but to then, as you say, "just do the next thing."
Beautifully written.

Chris, thank you. Nice to "meet up" with you via Facebook as well.
stefanie.goebel said…
Thanks for sending the link to this piece! I needed to 'remember' that striving is NOT the answer to success. I had to laugh as I read it since I could feel a knot in my neck that had only just formed from today's 'striving'! But it is already dissolving...
Stef Goebel
Page Lambert said…
Stefanie, how good to see you here on the blog! Glad that knot on your neck is starting to smooth out. The river trip will have you so darned relaxed, you'll be nothing but a limp noodle! See you soon.
Tracy Schreiner said…
I recently read Deepak's Healing The Heart. I love when an author moves me around a familiar object so that I might look at it through a new set of eyes. I am certain that vultures will now make me smile!
That is how to live life - with daily renewal.
See you in a week!!!
Tracy Schreiner said…
I recently read Deepak Chopra’s Healing the Heart. I love when an author has the ability to move you around an object so that you might appreciate it from a completely different perspective. That is sort of like why I will now smile when I see a vulture.

This is what life is about – a daily renewal.

I will see you in just a few days! I can’t wait for next week -
Tracy, I haven't read Chopra's Healing the Heart yet - I must! See you soon on the river!
Melanie Mulhall said…

Beautifully said! I, too, have had the experience of feeling that every other author's book was an energy gift to me. I have also come to appreciate how important it is to take in the energy of others--their words, their ideas, their physical presence. Humans seem to be closed systems when not open to the energy of others and that energy surely, surely sparks magic. The law of leas effort works, in part, because of that.

Some years ago, when career coaching was still part of my path and before my own book on career (Living the Dream--A Guidebook for Job Seekers and Career Explorers)came out, I gave endless copies of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success to clients because I believed it was the best thing out there on career (at least until my own book hit the streets). Chopra didn't write it with that specifically in mind, but those Universal Principles work in every area of life.

Melanie MUlhall
Page Lambert said…
Melanie, how incredible that you gifted so many of your clients with The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I need to re-read it about every 6 months to reabsorb its wisdom. I tried to find a link to your book LIVING THE DREAM on your blog, but couldn't find one. Is it still available?
Cindy said…
What a beautiful post, Page. I too watch the vultures in my neighborhood. There is a huge group of them that live at 5th and Euclid in Boulder. I also watch the magpies, the bluebirds, and the hummingbirds. Each group has its own rhythm and flow.
I think what you are talking about is finding our own unique rhythm and flow and living it.
I too spend precious time reading and those times fill me with inspiration to continue writing.
Thanks for the beautiful reminder that not all of us grub and crawl to the next level, that it is possible to soar on a current of mountain air.

Cindy Morris, msw
Priestess Entrepreneur
Cindy, what a beautiful comment. A group of vultures at 5th and Euclid - how very cool! What do they eat? Thank you for pointing out that each bird species has their own rhythm and flow. Such a good reminder that humans do as well, but we are so often not in sync with it.
Lorilyn said…
Thanks for directing us here, Page. I too know quite a bit about striving and driving, and look forward to more time in that state of effortless ease, soaking up the energy of the rivers and canyons and being inspired by fellow creative spirits.

It is my belief that life becomes easier and more fulfilling when we are doing what we are meant to do (feasting on carrion, in the vultures' case!).

And now I feel less guilty about diving into a good book and getting lost in anothers' words! Usually reading feels like a guilty pleasure for me; now I can recast it as a way to get recharged and inspired to to live -and tell- my own stories....

Lorilyn, you bring up a good point about the guilt we so often feel when curled up with a good book. We should be "doing" something! And of course, we must, but so often the doing is just busyness which robs us of the joy of living.
Christine H said…
Dear Page,

The whoosh of "ah" accompanying this comment is me exhaling. A wonderful physical reaction. The pictures were amazing as well.
Thank you.
Page Lambert said…
Christine, thank you for leaving a comment, especially an "ah" comment. Deep cleansing exhales are always a good thing. Wish the vulture knew how many people he has inspired!
Ange Finn said…
Page, this is a terrific way to remind us to take nourishment for our creative fire.

And I love that you chose the vulture, who is like Pele or like Shiva, who takes the things that no longer thrum with life, uses them to sustain other life, and at the same time keeps the "garbage" from piling up.

Thank you!
Page Lambert said…
Ange, how fun that you would mention Pele. I am in the midst of planning a mini-retreat for next March on the Big Island of Hawaii and the "Create Yourself Anew" theme, as it seems to be unfolding, will spiral around Pele's fertile and renewing energy. Thanks so much for your comment!
turtlewoman said…
Page, I, like so many others who have responded here, also read for energy, for motivation and in an effort to find my own words. The vulture is an excellent symbol - sort of a "what goes around, comes around".

I know that where the vultures are nothing goes to waste - not even the tiny body of a baby coyote hit by a vehicle and left in the road to die. My husband found him - already dead - and put him off the road and into the desert. I'm sure he made a full meal for more than one vulture - my only consolation to an otherwise totally cruel and wasteful death. Could there be a story here? A story about birth and death, a story about man's ceaseless and careless cruelty toward nature, a story of the opportunistic vulture who simply waits patiently for a meal to appear - no feeling, no compassion, no empathy. The vulture "just is".

Lindy (AZ)
Lindy, your comment raises many questions worth writing about, especially the ceaseless cruelty toward nature. I find myself wanting to write about the humans who display compassion, like your husband, rather than those who don't. Emulation through recognition, perhaps. Thank you.
Beanie said…
I enjoy your blog. I have a "Wild Garden" and was looking for quotes on line and found William Robinson's The Wild Garden" is available free for download at Google books. Illustrations included.
Beanie said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Beanie, I love the idea of a "wild garden." On the ranch in Wyoming where I raised my son and daughter, about the only garden the deer and porcupine left alone was the asparagus patch. So we feasted our eyes on wildlife instead. Here in Mt. Vernon where I live now, we have community garden fenced in to keep the elk and deer out.

Thanks for stopping by to visit the blog!

You have an award waiting for you on my page.

Page Lambert said…
Creative Chronicle, thank you for the blog award and for featuring Connecting People with Nature, and Writers with Words on your site!
It has taken me awhile to get here and read your post, Page, but it so fits my mood right now. I have been in a "frenzy of ambition" most of my life, fearful that if I stepped off the hamster wheel for a moment, I'd be doomed to failure. Just read "Traveling with Pomegranates" by Sue Kidd Monk and it's all about this thing of transitioning your life at various stages, learning to trust and seek your personal spiritual guides.
Alice Liles said…
I like the idea of standing in awe of what someone else has written. Right now I am reading "The Help," by Kathryn Stockett, and am in awe of her command of the southern black dialect and the story she has to tell. I am not sure what story I will want to tell and would like to think I could do it even half as well as she has.

Alice Liles
Christy Heady said…
Dear Page, out of all your blogs this one particular resonates deep within. For many years I believed exhausting myself to accomplish much professionally and personally yields great success. And, it did. But in these last years ... and now getting the confirmation from this blog ... it isn't a universal success. That type of energetic striving leaves one empty, as I discovered. You wrote about the graceful way a vulture conducts itself, and the success that goes along with it. I think it's a lesson for many. I know this is for me.

Christy Heady
None of us can tell Kathryn's story as well as she can, but no one can tell Alice Liles' story as well as Alice, either! I think the secret lies in truly appreciating, without jumping forward into "comparing." Then we remain in a state of awe.
Christy, I am just now beginning to understand that "striving" has in the past been for me an act fed by anxiety, by feeling "driven" to accomplish something, rather than feeling inspired. Inspiration, at its root, is about "breathing in." I like the feel of that much better!

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