The two schools of thought, one of which says that spiritual attainment depends on self-effort and the other that it depends wholly upon the Grace of God, do not really clash, if their claims are correctly and impartially understood. When a man begins his spiritual quest, it is solely by his own strivings that he makes his initial progress. The time comes, however, when this progress seems to stop and when he seems to stagnate. He has come to the end of a stage which was really a preparatory one. The stagnation indicates that the path of self-effort is no longer sufficient and that he must now enter upon the path of reliance upon Grace. This is because in the earlier stage, the Ego was the agent for all his spiritual activities, whilst it provided the motives which impelled him into these activities. But the Ego can never be really sincere in desiring its own destruction, nor can it ever draw from its own resources the power to rise above itself. So it must reach this point where it ceases self-effort and surrenders itself to the higher power which may be variously named God or the Higher Self, and relies on that power for further progress. But because the aspirant is living in a human form, the higher power can reach him best through finding a living outlet which is also in a human form. So it bestows its grace upon him partly as a reward and partly as a consequence of his own preparatory efforts by leading him to such an outlet, which is none other than a Master or Guide in the flesh. No man is wholly saved by his own effort alone nor can any Master save him if he fails to make effort. Thus the claims of both schools are correct if introduced at the proper stage.
-- Notebooks Category 1: Overview of the Quest > Chapter 3: Independent Path > # 314