The Holiness of Not Doing


“The masters of life know the way, for they listen to the voice within them, the voice of wisdom and simplicity, the voice that reasons beyond cleverness and knows beyond knowledge.” 
― Benjamin HoffThe Tao of Pooh

The Way is ever without action, yet nothing is left undone.
Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching (The Way of Virtue)

What if I told you you are a spiritual master. Would you laugh or be perplexed? Perhaps you'd smile coyly. The truth is YOU ARE but chances are you spend a lot of your time seeking a master to teach you, over and over again, on the spiritual carousel of workshops, retreats and trainings. Now, that's not to say finding a teacher is not fortuitous but really a TRUE teacher has only one real aim--to help you realize that the teacher is already within you. As a teacher of Chinese Medicine once told me in regards to treating patients, you want to take them to a place where they no longer need you, which may fly in the face of good business sense when trying to keep clients! Moreover, the goal of the guru is to awaken one to Maha-Guru--the true guru within everyone! 

Taoism is one of the most ancient lineages of mysticism and philosophy in the world, originating in the Orient and birthed apparently by an enigmatic sage, Lao Tzu. The central tenet of Taoism is wu-wei or 'not doing'. So essential was this teaching that legend has it that the ancient emperors of China had this inscribed above their throne. But instead of inviting a government based on absolute laziness, Taoism is rife with paradoxes. What good ol' Lao Tzu was truly affirming is that most human beings over-effort their lives, constantly struggling against things, trying to control situations that they have no control over, obsessing about the harsh circumstances of fate and constantly haunted by a subconscious feeling of doom. Now if you think you're innocent of this group-think just reflect on your recent days and take account of any times you became irrationally paranoid, worried needlessly and/or thought you were bound to fail at something before even commencing? The thing is most of us have this kind of negative programming deeply conditioned into us and it's not simply personal, it's cultural. There are collective stories that have taken root in our species in fact that have led us to feel so distrustful of life and even ourselves! A hint can be found in certain religious ideas which have had immense influence on us. Take the Christian notion of original sin (something that was actually invented only in about the 16th century) that we are born somehow imperfect. Not many are aware of the original blessings of the Christian faith (thank you Matthew Fox!) which share much with its Taoist brethren.

Here's the thing: by NOT doing, something ELSE does. That's the paradox. So what's this 'something else' all about? Well, the universe, of course! I don't jest: Taoist actually called this The Guiding Realm--a field of grand, metaphysical intelligence that is perpetually interfacing with our consciousness, offering advice, support, radiant wisdom, without fail and any time we need it. AND it's free! Imagine that! Well, you don't have to--you can just BE it. 

"Life is series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them--that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like." ~ Lao Tzu

In my one-on-one spiritual guidance and sound healing integrative practice, I often tell people who are dealing with tremendous stress to go and see my trusty assistant: the nearest park. I tell them to find a quiet place perhaps sitting with their back against a tree and I tell them to take a few moments to relax, breathe deeply and allow the thinking mind to become restful. Once that serene context is in place, I ask them to consider what is bothering them so, with the keenness to listen within for guidance. Time after time, they come back ecstatic having suddenly found themselves awash with revelations. One patient actually shared later that she thought I was offering some kind of 'hippy dippy' advice and was bewildered to find herself awash with answers to her anxious questions. 

"At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want." Lao Tzu

The Taoists do go into more depth on this: the Heart is said to be the connector to this Guiding Realm and, thus, is not only a central organ of blood circulation that is essential for our biological livelihood BUT is also an oracle of perpetual wisdom that is essential for our psychological and spiritual life. The challenge is that we often don't allow life to inform us in this way: we resist. And that resistance turns up as perpetual tension in our body and blockages in the flows of our lives. But that challenge can easily be turned victorious if we just make space for that voice of eternal truth within to finally catch our attention and let us know what's really up. It's really that simple. Try it yourself. Stop seeking and find. NOW. Make this a daily practice. Get a bit reverent for this mystical guidance. Live a life by it. Pretty soon you'll be trusting it as wisdom graces your life not with perfection (an illusion anyhow) but with what the ancient Chinese called zi le--contentment or literally translated as 'natural joy'. What a beautiful idea--a joy that is natural, is constantly humming, blessing us when we turn down the hubbub of our minds enough to discern the wise songs of the Heart.

So the next time you're lost or in some kind of consternation, make that space for this wisdom to emerge. Natural environs are most certain to help with this alignment. And revel in your own teachings. Allow yourself to be guided and blessed :)

If you're ever in need of my personal support in my one-on-one practice, give me a nudge at