In my experience, reason neither enables nor supports empathy or social justice.

Doing Non-Doing in Action


The spiritual concept of non-doing. It’s the principle of natural action. Doing from a point of being. Known in Taoism as wu wei, but more specifically I will be talking of wei wu wei. It is a sort of paradoxical concept, but one I find very helpful. Doing non doing. There is a lot of concern about what we are doing, and what is the right thing to do. To my experience that gets in the way more than anything. We do the right thing when we are in our right minds, and that doesn’t come from anxiety. That doesn’t come from being “conscientious”.

We have empathy. If my words or actions cause pain and my impact is unbalancing I know it. It doesn’t take any abstract philosophy to know this, and yet we engage in rampant rationalization. If anything, the failure of compassion doesn’t come from lacking wisdom, it comes from trying to “do” wisdom. From trying to “be wise”. Which really is just being egotistical.

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When I give my talks, I spare no thought for whether I am speaking well, and when I ask if my words are clear it isn’t for personal validation. It isn’t about me or anything I can do or be. It’s about the topic, and about the worth of the ideas discussed. Not that I’m handing to you, but that we are sharing. I am doing something, but I’m also not doing anything. The talking doesn’t take any effort. Just focusing on the idea and letting it come out in our conversation. Nothing more complicated.

If you want one simple way of knowing what is right in any situation, the Tao. The inner light surfaces not by being made to surface. It surfaces when you aren’t trying to do anything. The greatest wisdom is readily at hand, and it takes no effort at all. Even the idea of effort is often distorted to most peoples understanding. They equate effort with struggle. People equate ‘effort’ to something they ‘have’ to do. Something they ‘want’ to do is often just as much work if not more, but is effortless. They say that whenever you are doing something and it seems to be a struggle, it isn’t because that action is hard.  It’s because you don’t have the way of it. You are not going with the Tao of that action.

There is another component though.  We have a personal way. A way we are and express ourselves, and sometimes the way of any activity is in contrast to our way. So either that activity isn’t right for us or we need to find our way to do it, but the idea of there being one universal way without exception is false. Nothing in nature says that there is a “science” or “technology” to life. These are our contrivances. Sometimes our sciences are a manifestation of our way, and sometimes they aren’t even that.

Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.

Travis Saunders
Dragon Intuitive

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Your Insights on “Doing Non-Doing”

  1. Tania

    Excellent post, thank you! Especially like the idea about speaking. I hadn’t thought of it that way but when teaching I just know when I am “on” and words flow… as soon as I think about what I’m saying, I stumble.

    Tanias last blog post..Having More By Having Less

  2. Michael

    My understanding of non-doing comes from my teacher who espouses non-doing in all aspects of life. Behind the term is the idea that no one has ever done anything; that there is only one doer. To think that one is a doer is actually an illusion stemming from the false identification with the body and the mind. When you realize your true self, you realize who the ultimate doer is. Non-doing does not, however, mean inaction. They are two separate things. Non-doing is not about action but, rather, perspective.

  3. g/

    It is all about one thing in any ism that has Love at its basis, its foundation, and that is SURRENDER …

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