Effort is necessary up to the stage of realization. Even then the Self should spontaneously become evident, otherwise happiness would not be complete. Up to the stage of spontaneity there must be effort, in some form or other.
Divine grace is essential for realization. But grace is vouchsafed only to him who is a true devotee or a yogi. It is given only to those who have striven hard and ceaselessly on the path to freedom.
There is a state beyond effort and effortlessness. Until it is realized, effort is necessary... Grace is always there. But practice is also necessary.
It is necessary both for you to strive and for the guru to help.
Effortlessness and choiceless awareness is our real nature. If we can attain that state and abide in it, it is all right. But one cannot reach it without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation.
Sadhanas are needed as long as one has not realized it. They are for putting an end to obstacles... there are no short cuts to moksha.
What is important is steadfast resolve. It does not make much difference if you concentrate on the top of the nose, the center of the eyebrows, and so on. The really important thing is to pay attention to the source of the mantra. Keep your attention fixed on that. Perseverance alone counts. The more you meditate the easier it becomes to meditate. At last it becomes natural.
Sri Ramana Maharshi
(Source: An Article in the Times of