Non-Doing in Action

Non-doing can arise within action as well as stillness. The inward stillness of the doer merges with the outward activity to such an extent that the action does itself. Effortless activity.Nothing is forced.There is no intention of the will, no smallminded “I” “me” or “mine” to lay claim to a result, yet nothing is left undone.Non-doing is a cornerstone of mastery in any realm of activity. Here is a classic statement of it from 3rd century China:

Prince Wen Hui’s Cook was cutting up an Ox.
Out went a hand,Down went a shoulder.
He planted a foot,he pressed with a knee.
The ox fell apart with a whisper,
the bright cleaver murmured,like a gentle wind.
Rhythm!Timing! Like a sacred dance.
Like “The Mulberry Grove” Like ancient Harmonies!

“Good work”the Prince exclaimed,
“Your method is Faultless”
“Method” said the cook laying aside his cleaver,
“What I follow is Tao, Beyond all methods!

“When I first began to cut up oxen,
I would see before me the whole ox,
all in one mass. After 3 years I no longer
saw this mass, I saw the distinctions.”

“But now I see nothing with my eye.My whole
being Apprehends. My senses are idle.
The spirit free to work without plan follows
it’s own instinct,guided by natural line,
by the secret opening,the hidden space,
My cleaver finds it’s own way.
I cut through no joint, chop no bone.

“There are spaces in the joints, the blade is thin and keen,
When this thinness finds that space, there is all the room you need!
It goes like a breeze! Hence I have this cleaver 19 years
as if newly sharpened!

“True,there are sometimes tough joints. I feel them coming,
I slow down,I watch closely,Hold back,barely move the blade,
and whump! the part falls away landing like a clod of earth”

“Then I withdraw the blade, I stand still, and let the joy of the work sink in.
I clean the blade and put it away”

Prince Wen Hui answered, “This is it! My cook has shown me How I ought to live My own Life.

Author Chuang Tzu.

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