If you know how to swim, I want you to imagine yourself climbing up an old tree that has a huge branch overhanging a beautiful lake and when you are right at the edge of that branch, take a deep exhilarating breath, and plunge yourself into the lake – letting go off all needs to look good on how the fall has to be. You do it just for fun, to experience what surrendering is all about – to experience what comes up in you the very moment the “splosh!” comes to effect. It is different from a person who has prior skills in taking a dive. No. Not about something you already know but from the space of an inquisitive freeing mind that you wish to explore and experience.
And that is exactly the metaphor of what non-doing is all about. It is not about not doing or doing but rather out from these two opposites that you already know how to do – by the way, “not doing” is a kind of doing, too. Non-doing has a unique characteristic of inquisitiveness, of inquiry. It has wisdom as its foundation. More importantly it has the ability to step out of its own way, and just observe – observing from the point of impartiality without sugarcoating or expecting what is being observed. It has the characteristic of a scientist or a nature lover – both learn to observe what is there that needs to be understood. One can learn more from true nature than false nature.
You can learn the habitat of an animal either from a zoo or from a natural setting. You may immediately question my rational how we can really learn anything from an animal trap in its surrounding. Yes, we can. We learn that traps ultimately inhibit naturalness. We also learn that animals that are caged for too long lose their abilities to hunt, to be creative so per se. That’s what inhibition does to us. They are no longer passionate about life except to eat, walk around or probably make a few sounds to attract attention. The zest for living dissipates. And that is a good lesson for us to reflect upon ourselves whether we have trapped ourselves this way, domesticated, albeit an unseen prison or cage.
In the Shawshank Redemption movie, it tells the story about two men’s hearts through the trials and temptations of imprisonment or incarceration. It tells about what happens when one lives within the walls for too long a time. First the wall makes you very angry and hateful and probably also crazy. After awhile you seem to get over it and don’t notice the walls anymore. The time will come when you realize you need the walls for your survival.
That will be the most tragic experience we as humans will ever have when we depend on walls to define who we are. We no longer have the desire to escape from the very bondage that has held us captive. We have totally forgotten that those walls were originally not part of the equation. Freedom was not earlier recognized until bondage came into our picture. And yet when we are stuck too long in bondage, freedom is totally forgotten. What a tragedy!
The need for walls in our day to day living is found in our desire to do more. Our importance is found by how much we do. Without doing, without the walls, we feel insecure and unimportant. And that feeling propel us to keep doing incessantly, irrelevant whether the doing is necessary, or tires us out. At least it keeps the mind away from that uneasy feeling of insecurity. It is an addiction. In fact, the mind has gone beyond addiction – it is a disease.
There is much trust and faith needed to surrender the doing, to arrive at the level of plain observing of what comes up next in the mind, without identifying with it. Only when we stop anticipating or interfering with the mind processes, nature unfolds for us to understand – with it wisdom is born.
It is rather difficult or near impossible to show someone the wisdom of non-doing, that by stepping back and not interfering is the world being conquered. Doing is deeply hard-wired in our programming – to the effect that the whole entire world’s survival is based on control. For one who has been in a career or life of control or being controlled, such a view of non-doing is obviously alien, detrimental and probably a threat to them. The irony of experiencing the miracle of non-doing is by letting go of control and that is the last thing one would ever do – thus creating an experience of so-near-and-yet-so-far – like water and oil place together – not knowing what it is like to be the other. If you could only experience a glimpse of non-doing in your meditative state, albeit a brief one, it has the power of transforming the way you live your life. You will experience deep insights and inspirations when you come from the space of stepping back and observe. But if control is your nature, consider applying control as a self-discipline in non-doing.
Non-doing is wisdom based. It has the desire of non-interference and manipulation. Its desire is at the cause rather than the effect. It responds rather than react. That makes a whole world of difference between the ego and the spirit. It is a path that you need to trust and let go. No other way. And in it miracle occurs.