Sri Ramana Maharshi On Why Effort Is Needed for Enlightenment:
"Effortless and choiceless awareness is our real state. If we can attain it or be in it, it is all right.
But one cannot reach it without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the age-old vasanas (inherent tendencies) turn the mind outwards to external objects.
(A vasana is the habitual or automatic response to situations. In other words they are core beliefs or habitual patterns found in the Subconscious either created before the age of 5 or carried over from previous lifetimes)
All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inward. For that, effort is necessary, for most people.
Of course everybody, every book says ‘Be quiet or still’. But it is not easy. That is why all this effort is necessary.
Even if we find one who has at once achieved the Supreme state
indicated by “Be quiet or still”, you may take it that the effort necessary has already been finished in a previous life.
So effortless and choiceless awareness is attained only after deliberate meditation.
That meditation can take whatever form most appeals to you. See what helps you to keep away all other thoughts and adopt that method for your meditation."
(From 'Day by Day with Bhagavan', 11-1-46 Afternoon)
Side note: Bear in mind also, thought what is said above and below is 100% true,what I have also experienced and understood to be just as true is that this effort need to discipline ourselves in the art of meditation is given to us from on high. Without this strengthening of will, through experience and awareness, we would not succeed.
"It is only by the Grace of God that you think of God" - Maharshi
For example, a fear years ago I would sit down to meditate and would practice mindfulness during the day. While meditating, 20 - 30 minutes would go by and I would find that I had been thinking that whole time and then I would like 'Damn'. Likewise with mindfulness. Half an hour would go by and then I would realize I was lost in thought. This happened so much I thought - meh - I give up. If its too much effort then I am not doing it. To me, since I was a child, if it took to much effort then I never done it. If I had for force anything, then it can't be for me. So I let whatever it was go.
If it came back to me, over and over again or I was drawn to it over and over again then this indicated to me that I was meant to put in the effort to achieve whatever it was and that this effort would be fortified by Spirit. Meditation and mindfulness kept coming to mind (Here I am being made aware) so I would try and try again - but never forcing it. And this worked. While practicing mindfulness, when I did slip off into thought, I was more or less 'made aware' within seconds that I had deviated from my heartfelt concentration of the moment. It is like someone was in my head nudging me everytime I fell asleep or fell into thinking which is the same thing. Not only that, I was being made aware all the time that my body was not relaxed. All of us carry stress somewhere in our bodies. It is so common and chronic that we become used to it and never notice it. The Awareness of my true Self, working through my subconscious was prodding my Conscious Mind aka Thought to become aware that I was holding stress, that I was falling into thinking (sleeping).
So you see, even though it takes effort - that effort is given to you when the time is right - when your season is upon you - to accomplish that which is before you.
~ Tracy Pierce