Howardism Musings from my Awakening Dementia
My collected thoughts flamed by hubris
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That's why the wise soul
does without doing,
teaches without talking.

The things of this world
exist, they are;
you can't refuse them.

To bear and not to own;
To act and not lay claim;
to do the work and let it go:
for just letting it go
is what makes it stay.

—From Ursula LeGuin's
Tao Te Ching, 2

Do Without Doing

Taoism has this concept of "do without doing," and I've been trying to figure out exactly what this means. One of the better explanation comes from Stan Rosenthal's version…

The sage seems to do little or naught,
Yet he leaves nothing undone.
A foolish man must always strive.
Whilst leaving much undone.

The Tao often (as we all do) defines things in terms of their opposite, and this "do without doing" is placed against the phrase "always strive," and maybe this is the key. Perhaps we can do and have fun and really enjoy life, but not worry, stress, strive or really work.

Work in the sense of neither unnecessary work, or of "trying to get ahead" or of "climbing the ladder." Some of the most successful people I know never "work" at getting promotions, they just do their job and are genuine. That quality comes across.

Or maybe this is talking about the cliché of "trying too hard." For elsewhere in the Tao it talks about doing things when they are easy to do, as opposed to waiting until there is a large problem to solve. However, I guess the trick here would be knowing when to meddle and when to let nature take its course…

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