When is it the time for stillness and when is it the time for movement? Us humans constantly struggle with this question. We ask ourselves do we go, do we stay? This is when the importance of understanding non-action and action is infinitely important. Non-action does not mean doing nothing and action does not mean doing everything; the two go hand-in-hand. Balancing both states is the way towards living a harmonious, vibrant, intentional and clear life.
For example; one can read about finding inner-peace and all the different ways to cultivating inner-peace, but if that person does not apply the teachings to their life with action than they will not be able to create that inner-peace they have read about. Here is how action is essential for the evolution of self. On the flip-side; if one is constantly applying the teachings without intention, without sincerity but just “doing-to-do” than this is how action can become harmful and non-fulfilling to the expansion of oneself.
Where does the philosophy of non-action come from? We can most commonly trace it back to the Daoist, Buddhist and Taoism. It is known as Wu-Wei. Wu-wei, (Chinese: “nonaction”; literally, “no action”) – the practice of taking no action that is not in accord with the natural course of the universe. This may seem like it means ‘to-do-nothing’ or to ‘relax’ or at its most extreme to become lazy; but in reality it is not this; this is simply the ego and western definition of ‘doing-nothing’. The concept, the theory, the belief is one of the most noblest ways of living. At the heart, at the center of this philosophy it is all about ‘effortless action’, action that is supported by inner-peace, and is uplifted by intention, skill and divine efficiency. In the west, some may refer to this state as “being in the zone” or “being in the flow” – when we are one with what we are doing and the concentration, intention all flow as natural as a river does.
Action and Non-Action
By Chuang Tzu / Translated by Thomas Merton
The non-action of the wise man is not inaction.
It is not studied. It is not shaken by anything.
The sage is quiet because he is not moved,
Not because he wills to be quiet.
Still water is like glass.
You can look in it and see the bristles on your chin.
It is a perfect level;
A carpenter could use it.
If water is so clear, so level,
How much more the spirit of man?
The heart of the wise man is tranquil.
It is the mirror of heaven and earth
The glass of everything.
Emptiness, stillness, tranquillity, tastelessness,
Silence, non-action: this is the level of heaven and earth.
This is perfect Tao. Wise men find here
Their resting place.
Resting, they are empty.
From emptiness comes the unconditioned.
From this, the conditioned, the individual things.
So from the sage’s emptiness, stillness arises:
From stillness, action. From action, attainment.
From their stillness comes their non-action, which is also action
And is, therefore, their attainment.
For stillness is joy. Joy is free from care
Fruitful in long years.
Joy does all things without concern:
For emptiness, stillness, tranquillity, tastelessness,
Silence, and non-action
Are the root of all things.
Aligned Action: Carnelian, Almandine Garnet, Tangerine Quartz
Aligned Non-Action: Black Tourmaline, Amethyst, Moonstone
Aligned Action: Full Moon
Aligned Non-Action: New Moon
Aligned Action: Spring
Aligned Non-Action: Winter
Below are a few ways we can capture the balance of non-action and action.
Go with the Flow: Release going against the current of life and allow yourself to flow with what comes to you, and if you don’t like what comes then gently shift with the natural rhythm, rather than making harsh decisions out of state of chaos. Make choices that align from the inside out, and walk the path with malleability.
Start with Intention: Before taking action have a clear intention. An intention what what you want to feel, and what you want to create. Start with intention (non-action) and then apply aligned action. (reference my article on understanding and working with intention)
Sound bath meditation
Curate a Strategy: If you are ready to take action, then build a plan. Curate a strategy to support your growth and your actions. Make a timeline, make program for yourself, this will help you to not feel overwhelmed and scattered with your actions but rather clear and prepared.
Way of Manifestation: Rather than constantly moving and doing and only focusing on action, allow your intention, your desire, your goal to build with confidence within you. Allow the time for the energy to manifest first, manifestation is all about energy first. Be flexible with your manifestation know that it may shift and change along the way and that is okay, as long as it serves you in love, joy and fulfills your heart.
Reflect on Patterns: We all create habits and these modules then decide our thoughts and actions. If we can uncover where we are holding non-supportive patterns, or habits that don’t serve our inner-peace and joy; we can then release these restricting patterns, heal and transform them. Patterns that don’t uplift us; create congestion within our mind, body and spirit which does not allow us to flow with action and non-action freely since we are bound by the pattern itself. We must take time to reflect on our habits and let go of the ones that block us from moving with fluidity, clarity and love.