A friend sent me a nice article about how we can benefit the earth, on Earth Day (today), by doing nothing.
You can read the article here.
It’s inspired by Lao Tzu’s ancient message that the wise do nothing yet nothing is left undone. (Which in Chinese is called wu wei… no-action.)
This is all well and good. I’ve been a meditator for nearly two decades. Some of my greatest, most awe-inspiring moments have been whilst sitting on my meditation cushion, and to any onlooker, I would be doing absolute zilch.
We can push and push and push for our goals to come to fruition (guilty party here), but sometimes by standing back and taking a breather, we can get more done because our approach ends up being refreshed.
That time away, that time of reflection, can help us see, perhaps, that we have been pushing in the wrong direction all along, and we need to change our course of action, to one that is more coherent to our truth.
And also, too many logs on the fire can kill the flames… we don’t want to burn ourselves out, which is always a danger when doing becomes a habit.
Having said all that, I’m beginning to feel that Lao Tzu didn’t mean that one should do nothing.
“Flowing water never grows stale,” as the saying goes (although I think I’m quoting Bruce Lee there, I’m pretty certain the saying’s from way before his time).
I think the “you” Lao Tzu was referring to is your ego, your mind-made self, the you in your head, and therefore “you” do nothing but everything gets done that needs to get done.
Because life, when “you” (your [insert your name]-ism) gets out of the way, life is free to act through you without being blocked… you being a vessel of pure awareness.
Surely if Lao Tzu practiced wu wei in the way that many of us think about no-action, he wouldn’t have written the Tao Te Ching.
And therefore we can say, if he did practice what he preached, which I’m sure he did, then he didn’t write that amazing book at all.
Life wrote it, using the vessel we have come to call Lao Tzu.
So, enjoy Earth Day, and by all means do nothing. But don’t take that nothing so literally.
You know, like, at least brush your teeth and have a wash. Make a nice, light lunch, too. That might be nice.
And smile. And love strangers. And allow people to believe what they want to believe. Love animals (especially dogs). And eat nice food and drink good coffee and tea. Read good books. Laugh. Smile at trees, the ocean, a stream, a leaf blowing over your head. Take care of a plant. Go to bed in good time. Watch movies that make you feel good about being here. Smile when your head hits the pillow at night – and definitely smile when your eyes open in the morning. Plant a tree. Go to the cinema alone. Book a table-for-one in a restaurant. Return a smile with a smile. Help someone who needs help. Be willing to give advice when it’s asked for. Take a flier from someone in the street, and say thank you and wish them a wonderful day.
You get the gist.
Be nice. The earth likes it when we’re nice.