Do Without Doing

The results you are getting in your life are directly in proportion to the effort you apply.

The thought demonstrates the law of cause and effect; it is vouchsafed by the third law of motion. This is what you and I have always believed.

Results are produced by action. Action is defined as a doing as opposed to the non- doing of inaction. It is one of the words which must be defined with the help of its antonym; the contrast is essential for the purpose.

It is the same with the word answer (in the sense of an answer to a question). If you are asked- are you hungry? your answer could be a yes, a no or perhaps something else. Action is when you give an answer, no matter which one it is. Inaction is when you give no answer and remain silent.

An answer communicates information. A non- answer, a silence, also communicates. If nothing else, it communicates that you, who were asked the question, choose not to discuss your hunger (or its lack) with the interrogator. The reasons could be many but they are not very relevant. The point is, silence also talks.

In a similar manner, if an action produces results, so does a lack of action. Everyone gets results, one way or another. The results produced by inaction may not be the results you want but they are results nevertheless.

This still doesn’t completely define the relationship between action and non- action; between doing and not- doing. For that, there is this:

In the pursuit of knowledge, everyday something is added.

In the practice of the Way, everyday something is dropped.

Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non- action.

When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.

~ Lao-tzu

It speaks of a state described as doing without doing. It is best explained by a story.

There is an old Taoist story about a group of Confuscian intellectuals strolling past a huge, roiling waterfall. Impressed by the power and majesty of the fall, they agreed that anyone unfortunate enough to fall into the water would surely not survive. Just then, they observed a human body in the churning waters. Horrified, they gather together to decide how to fish the body out and give it a proper burial. The discussion came to a stop when the body stood up and walked out of the river.

Once they had stopped gaping in astonishment, they ran after the man and asked him, “How did you do that?! No one could swim in that water without being killed!”

“Oh no”, the man said. “It is very easy. You just go up when the water goes up and down when the water goes down.”

In other words, you do without doing.

Only when your inner self is aligned with your outer self, will you enter a state in which you will do without doing. You will no longer need to force yourself. You will move forward with a lot more power than you experienced when you were pushing with all your might. Some things, some events, will seem to possess a volition of their own and will move forward on their own will. You will be amazed and astounded.

If you drive your car with the accelerator floored, it will give you the maximum power it is capable of. But not when you’ve simultaneously floored the brake too. Far from moving you forward, you will probably end up damaging a finely tuned machine which was capable of great feats. A conflict between your inner and outer selves is akin to driving your car with equal pressure on the brake and the gas pedal. Is it any wonder that you sweat so much yet don’t move forward?

When this inner conflict is stilled, you will do without doing.

Picture: Altered Google Image
Picture: Altered Google Image

18 thoughts on “Do Without Doing”

  1. Interesting way of looking at it Dagny. So essentially, even if you’re not doing anything, in reality, by going with the “flow”, you’ve chosen to do something. Never thought of it that way !

    1. I never thought of it that way until I read that Lao-tzu quote either. But isn’t this an awesome thought?
      Thank you for reading 🙂

  2. Absolutely thought provoking.. and Yes now when I think about it, it does make sense. We do not always have to “do” something in life… sometimes just going with the flow will help us get where we want to go… sometimes not doing anything, is the best thing we could do.. 🙂

  3. That was profound – but that ‘going with the flow’ sort of resonated with my post “Middle Age Blues” even though I used it in an entirely different context:) And I, the normal idler, would love the philosophy, of course 🙂

  4. Absolutely true. Its Natural Law, literally what first Law Of Thermodynamics relates . U cant create U cant destroy Energy. D content is going to remain CONSTANT. transformation of one form Of energy to other is possible permissible. Osho very aptly put philosophically : Dukh prmaan hai tumahare dush karmo kaa, Sukh pramaan hai tumare PUNYAA kaa, maano naa mano, jeevan ke ganit mai do aur do chaar hi hote hai, naa teen naa panch. Admire D D theme. Thanx Love.

  5. This was quite a thought provoking post. My allegory to this is that as long as we are unconsciously conscious of what we do, say and choose in our lives, then we will all be happier in our lives.

  6. So important to be able to hear your own inner voice, and let its wisdom guide you. No one else knows you and your needs as well as yourself, if only you listen and can make the right choices. Great post.

  7. Very interesting premise, Dagny. Is it possible to just go with the flow? We are always so animated, so rushed to prove our point, take out path that the thought of just going with the flow seems almost impossible. The story was lovely. As an aside, Newton’s laws of motion are only applicable to objects and their motion and cannot be extrapolated to cause and effect in my opinion, scientifically speaking :).

    1. Rachna, I deliberately used the 3rd law of motion reference there. We frequently forget that our lives are not automatons nor we objects. We have deeper, less structured and fluid laws that govern us. While structure lends predictability, it also sets limits and boundaries.

      Human beings are boundary less and limitless. Instead of recognizing and appreciating the possibilities that limitlesssness creates for us, we hanker for structure.

      Going with the flow isn’t impossible. It is not easy which is probably why we aren’t able to do it. I like to cling to our delusion of control. We have convinced ourselves that it is a very desirable state. I no longer think so.

      Your comment, as meticulous as ever, adds to the value of the post. Thank you dear friend. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Sunday Brunch (#2) | Serenely Rapt

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