Malmö, Southern Sweden
As a young teenager I, by accident, came across the book with the enticing title: “the Art of doing Nothing”. Having been brought up in a Christian home where order and good deeds where to be forced upon our “sinful bodies”.
This seemed – mindboggling, at the least.
Like a dehydrated child in a windswept African desert I picked up the book, as if it was a glass of water. And with trembling soul, afraid of having my hopes up too high. I gently started sipping it's pages.
The pages were dense, and the font tiny.
Offering old writings by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, translated into English. I did bring it home and I try to read it. But the key experience I had, was right there at that moment in the public library, with a greyed book and jagged pages in my hand.
“The Art of doing Nothing”… what sweet gentle compassionate words! Breathing the fact that we are born good. Nothing to prove. Nothing to achieve. Grandness in all simplicity. And all we needed to do, was stop standing in our way, and allow ourselves to be – Grand.
Not really any big things… but for me it was literarily as if the light switch of my soul at that moment from non existent, was turned “on”.
From then on, I have lost my way, many times. I have forced good deeds upon myself. Tried to prove I am a good daughter, good sister, worthy girlfriend, lovable wife, capable mother, adequate colluege … A good enough me!
Too often, not feeling any!
It took me some decade, lots of life on my own. For me to re-find that initiate feeling of connection with my soul. Having left religion behind, and been driven into a heartbreaking divorce. Through reading up on mindfulness, going to therapy, and learning how to meditate...
I deliberately forced myself to unlearn what I had learned!
And to start to re-trust that childlike intuition – and to let our inner flow lead us in our right direction.
Now days – (on good days ;) I really don’t do anything. I do believe that goodness resides in us. And that If we allow it, our energy and intention flows like a river.
Not mindless. Because I know what I want, and I do set the course. But if I allow it;
it flows effortlessly - and I float with it.
In Lao Tzu words: “I do nothing and yet nothing is left undone.
Facts on - The Art of doing Nothing:
“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.” - Bruce Lee
Wu Wei translate literally to ‘non-doing’, and is a Chinese concept central to Taoism and a core theme of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching.
Wu Wei is not so much about ‘doing nothing’, it is not a passive state, as it is about aligning our movement with the greater flow of life. Wu Wei does not involve excessive effort or struggle, but a kind of ‘going with the flow’ where we are able to move with the energy of the moment and respond freely to whatever situation that arises. It is an ‘action of no action,’ a way of acting without trying to act.The Zen masters would speak of a non-intentional movement inspired by ‘no-mind,’ a way of being that is not driven by thoughts but instead initiated by spontaneous intuition.
In modern Western terms, I think an example of this type of action can be found in sport. Athletes have described a performance state of effortlessness and no-thought called being in the ‘zone’ which unlocks their fullest potential and allows them to perform amazing feats with a sense of grace and ease.
Historically, many Taoist adepts chose to explore the essence of Wu Wei by withdrawing from society – wandering freely through the mountains, meditating for long periods in caves. According to Lao Tzu, the ultimate expression of Wu Wei is found not only in retreat from the world but in our experience of flow in the way that we live in it. During meditation, doing nothing with your thoughts is the main component of a powerful technique core of Buddhist practice. Meditation involves detachment from thoughts, not following them and also not pushing them away. Just letting them be, and being able to rest naturally.
Like sitting on a river bank and watching the river flow by. This is where we uncover the silent ‘nothing’ within, that is actually full of love, bliss and wisdom - the ‘basic goodness’. Not having to change anything to achieve peace really is the radical and powerful key of meditation.
There is nothing to do, because we already are all that we seek.
Of course, this does not mean that your life will suddenly be perfect. It does mean that you can find grace in any situation because the art of doing nothing is harmonising. As Lao Tzu would put it, being “still like a mountain but flowing like a great river”. Once you are skilfully ‘doing nothing,’ you are moving along life effortlessly and learning to trust the essential practice of non-grasping and non-contrivance. This allows you to maintain an ongoing, meditative, natural state of ease, whether the river current is tumultuous or gentle. In other words, you already are everything you wish. All you need to do is to rest into it, and trust your intuition and the flow.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." – Lao Tzu
(Excerpt from Chad Foreman, http://www.thewayofmeditation.com.au/blog/the-art-of-doing-nothing and Chip Richards http://upliftconnect.com/wu-wei-ancient-art-non-doing)