Doing Without Doing

Now there’s a challenge to the mind. To the logical brain. You either do or you don’t. How can you do without doing?

Do without doing and it all gets done is a phrase appearing often in the Tao de Ching by Lao-Tzu – a Chinese prophet who lived some 2500 years ago. Every time I read that phrase, I am stopped in my tracks. How do you do without doing? As with so many wise teachings, the meaning is often oblique and sometimes occurs at many different levels.

Here are just a few excerpts from the Tao de Ching:
Verse 2:
So the sage lives openly with apparent duality and paradoxical unity.
The sage can act without effort and teach without words
Nurturing things without possessing them, he works, but not for rewards:
he competes, but not for results.

Verse 37:
The Tao does nothing, but leaves nothing undone

Verse: 63
Do without doing
Act without acting

First Thoughts

Of course, since the Tao is that which cannot be named, as it says in Verse 1. it is difficult to put any meaning into words – but words are what we have as a means of communication.

My first thoughts around doing without doing are:

Living in the NOW – and taking action. The doing seems more effortless and because mind is focused in the present and all the emotions related to busy thoughts aren’t there.

In the zone, in the flow, going with the flow, sourced from Life Itself,

Being moved into action by the impulse of Life Itself, the source.

This last one has resonated with me of late. My sense, when sitting in stillness, is being in the middle of space, a sense of spaciousness in, around and through me. My body is in the middle, a point of focus that appears in the infinite consciousness.

When I am in this place of space, and then I move into action, I find time tends to disappear into the action of the moment. I may have a big, intense project that consumes every last bit of my focus, or it might be a series of small daily tasks, but in the background, I am aware of the hum of beingness.

Stillness in Action

I heard a talk by Eckhart Tolle where he quotes Sy Kon Dun (spelling?) in a verse of The Tao de Ching about stillness in action.

The stillness in stillness is not the real stillness. Only where there is stillness in movement can the spiritual rhythm appear which pervades heaven and earth.

Meditation in activity is a thousand times superior to meditation in repose.

However, there is a user beware here. As Eckhart Tolle has said so often, when our attention gets drawn to the end result, the journey becomes a means to an end instead of an end in itself.

When the focus is solely on the end, the present moment disappears. The end is in the future. Motivational and planning techniques stress the importance of creating a clear vision and keeping a focus on that vision – an apparent contradiction. To focus only on the end result is to take you out of the present moment focus.

Creating From Presence

But we get ahead of ourselves. Creating form of any kind begins in the void, the nothingness from which we all arise. Wise teachers tell us that everything already exists in the quantum field of the void. Physics tells us there are waves and there are particles. Waves become particles when we focus upon them. So, as Michaelangelo so famously said, we hold the vision of the angel within the block of marble and keep chipping away at everything that isn’t the marble until the angel is revealed in all its magnificence. In effect, we are looking at that which is still unmanifest, the vision, while at the same time, looking at what is – a chunk of marble.

We hold the vision while looking at the raw material in front of us – both exist at the same time, just in different forms.

What we want, is the power of that vision to be the propellant or fuel for the action needed to bring that vision into form. So the clearer that vision is – the stronger it is felt and seen and known in every last atom of your being – the more power is generated, not just in inspiration and motivation, but in the apparent coincidences that begin to appear as the molecules of the form start to take shape.

Immersing all of your focus in a vision, allowing no thought that isn’t in harmony with that vision, creates power. Continued, repeated immersion keeps the pot of that power simmering in your awareness so that as action is taken, the power from that vision becomes the engine for creation.


There must, of course, be a balance. You can’t sit all day immersed in a vision because action is needed in order to create. Neither can you act all day without having immersed yourself in the energy of the vision itself, because you will end up acting from the wisdom of the mind – which although it may be very learned and think it knows everything, it doesn’t and can’t.

True wisdom comes from the inner knowing of Life Itself.

Actually, you can act all day without having immersed yourself in the energy of the vision. From my experience, the day runs into challenges that frustrate and bog you down, and you end up tired and cranky. This as opposed to having immersed yourself in the clarity of your vision first, which then supplies further inspiration and energy as you move forward.

Understanding this process is critical to the ability to do without doing. This doesn’t mean not taking action. It means acting from a place of inner being, you could say inner vision. And you can’t know inner vision if you haven’t first invested some present moments immersed in that vision.

These are principles of manifestation, of creating consciously. Sometimes they need deliberate chunks of time set aside, and sometimes not – depending on the doing at hand.

Observing Thoughts Carefully

Being a good observer of mind, of thoughts as they arise, is what keeps you on track. Obstacles arise. That is the nature of life on planet earth. Initially, mind will consider them problems and react accordingly with anger, fear, guilt, irritation, frustration and so on. Then as we become more aware we realize the value of those obstacles and they become challenges, with an awareness that there is something to learn here. Perhaps new skills, perhaps simply perseverance, perhaps time out for a deeper immersion in the vision, perhaps some long-buried belief that needs releasing. Taking each one as it arises and staying calm and connected to the vision helps.

Mind drives – sometimes to distraction – often to fear and escape. Sometimes mind drives to achieve when it is time to slow down and take a breath.

One of the biggest beliefs mind has to let go of is that it is the boss – it isn’t. Life Itself is. You could say the vision is.

Your Visions

What is the vision for your life?

What is the vision for your day?

Does it come from deep within – or is it a good idea from mind?

The Life Itself you are and that you experience when you are in that calm, peace-that-passes-all-understanding space, inspires, wants to create. In fact Life Itself loves nothing more than to create and knows timing and steps mind can not begin to imagine. It never judges or condemns, rather is eternally accepting of what is and how we are, warts and all.

This is a great YouTube video from Dr. Joe Dispenza. It starts off about waking up early and why we might have trouble getting the day going, and then continues with the importance of creating new brain tracks for your mind to run along if we want to create new visions.

NOTE: These are just my ideas about doing without doing. I’m sure there are as many interpretations as there are people – I just liked the ideas that came to me.

What are yours?


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