When we stay focussed in the now, we get more achieved with less effort. This is because now is action, not activity.
Action is when the situation matters. Activity is when we are so restless within that the situation is just an excuse to be active to escape from ourselves – Nisargadatta Maharaj
Our minds will always find justifications for activity. Movement for movement’s sake results in restlessness and turmoil. Activity is a change of place; action is a change of heart. Activity displaces, true action transforms. Action comes out of a silent mind, activity out of a restless one. Action is relevant, activity irrelevant. Action is creative, activity destructive. Activity separates everything while action joins everything. Action is moment to moment, spontaneous; activity is loaded with the past. Action is energizing, activity is draining. Action is total, activity is half-hearted.
We waste most of our energy in activity and when the moment for action comes, we don’t have any left to meet it with. In our minds we are so busy push-pulling, creating scenarios, being fearful and stuck or straining ahead inappropriately, that when a door does open, we don’t even see it, or if we do, we don’t walk through. When we are relaxed, we are non-obsessive and then energy starts accumulating within us. Then, when the moment for action comes, our whole being flows into it.
Not wearing out my mind by using it unnecessarily all the time, I have more mental energy when I actually need it. My mind is sharper and more focussed when I do use it appropriately. Settling in the moment and expanding my awareness, my action is clear and incisive and consequently more effective. It’s not a reaction coming from past conditioning, but an intuitive response to the situation. Sometimes, the best response is to do nothing.
Be here now is not ‘do’ here now. Now is action, not activity. Being here now stops activity and leads to action. I move from ‘think and do’ to ‘be and do’. Doing and being, focussing on the here now, I am a source of strength to – and a positive influence on – those around me. Caught up in my thinking mind I become unsure and hesitant and am of no use to myself or anybody else.
The state of non-doing
Incisive action is usually preceded by a state in which non-doing flowers in us and blooms. Everybody wants to be active. Each action begets another, meaninglessly and painfully, in endless succession. First, we need to find the immutable centre where all movement begins from. Just like a wheel turns around an axle, so should we always be in the centre and not whirling at the periphery. We act, then pause. Most of our activities are valueless, if not outright destructive because they are dominated by desire and fear. To become constructive, first stop being destructive. Try stopping all activities for a time to investigate your urges and motives, to see all that is false in your life.
To have the strength of a warrior, you must practice non-doing. Every battle is an exercise in ‘not-doing’ – Don Juan
We also find this idea in Buddhist as well as Taoist philosophy. The Buddha preached action through inaction. A Buddha is never tired because he is not a doer, he overflows. It is not what we do, but how we do it and ultimately whether we do it or we allow it to happen. Action does not move towards a goal; it is moved by its own overflowing energy. It is a spontaneous response to the moment. Taoists call action through inaction ‘wei-wu-wei’. It is allowing something to happen through us. Allowing Self to happen is creativity. When ego is not, Self is.
Osho cites the following example. ‘A painter or a dancer in action is utterly active, but deep down, there is no actor, no doer. There is only silence.’ Immobility and silence are not inactive. The flower fills the space with perfume, the candle, with light. They do nothing, yet they change everything by their mere presence.
This thoughtless, uncramped, very quiet space should not merely be an occasional respite we take from frenetic mind activity. It is the natural default state out of which action flows.
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