I’m a busy person. I’m sure you are too. It’s the bane of our existence in this modern world: so much to do and so little time to do it.
As I continue to settle into my new home, I’ve been noticing the powerful draw that “doing something” has on me. My “to-do” list seems never ending and the feeling of overwhelm is easily available. Projects needing doing are constantly making themselves known and niggling away at my awareness.
What is it about doing something that is so seductive and alluring? In this week’s blog let’s take a closer look at doing something and the mysterious power of doing nothing, to see if we can create a bit more freedom, peace and ease around this aspect of our lives.
Read on and enjoy!
The Mysterious Power of Doing Nothing
“On the path of spiritual evolution you do less and less achieving more and more until ultimately you do nothing and achieve everything.”
Getting things done in life is a good thing. We are creative creatures and there is so much to experience in our relatively short lives. However, the drive for doing and accomplishing can be excessive. In the interest of finding a healthy, productive balance, I’d like to point out some of the less healthy (and likely unconscious) drivers of our never ending to-do lists: addiction, fear, and ignorance. Let’s take a look at these one by one.
ADDICTION: Getting things done is so satisfying, isn’t it? You see something needing done and you do it. Ah, the sweet victory of accomplishment. You get to check it off your list. From the very large to the very small, it all feels good, so good it seems we have become addicted.
It’s really no different than any other high; it’s a fleeting moment that must be repeated in order to regenerate the good feeling. The drug wears off and you need another fix. Hence, we’ve become a society of doers getting things done. Socially the behavior is highly encouraged, supported, and even applauded; a full schedule means you are important, you are worthy, you are somebody. While we may secretly yearn for luxuriously lazy days and an open, flexible schedule, we dare not go there. Why? Because we believe anyone with spare time on their hands must be a loser “with nothing to do.” So we are driven, we are addicted.
FEAR: Now let’s look at fear. Parker J. Palmer wrote a fabulous little book called Let Your Life Speak. He outlines a behavior he calls “Functional Atheism.” Palmer described this as a belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with us. As he says, “This is the unconscious, unexamined conviction that if anything decent is going to happen, we are the ones who must make it happen. This belief leads us to impose our will on others, stressing our relationships, sometimes to the point of breaking. It often eventuates in burnout, depression, and despair, as we learn that the world will not bend to our will and we become embittered about that fact. It drives collective frenzy as well and explains why the average group can tolerate no more than fifteen seconds of silence: if we are not making noise, we believe, nothing good is happening and something must be dying.”
This is the fear of bad things happening, and it goes something like this: “If we don’t get busy making things happen, then bad things will happen!” The unexamined, fear-based belief underlying and unconsciously driving this behavior is “doing nothing = bad things happening.”
Where did we learn this? That’s right, probably in childhood where if you didn’t clean your room, bad things happened. If you didn’t do your homework, bad things happened. If you didn’t eat all your vegetables, bad things happened. We learned we have to do something to keep bad things from happening. And we continue on with that belief and behavior today.
But is this true? Do we have to beat our hearts? Digest our food? Grow the grass? Make the sun rise each day? Make gravity so we don’t fly off the planet into space? Make the rain fall so we don’t die of thirst? All of these good things happen without our having to do anything. In other words, ladies and gentleman, it is possible that doing nothing = good things happening.
IGNORANCE: And this now leads us to our third driver of the human-doing: ignorance. This is a huge one! Because we are ignorant of the amazing life-force energy that is on our side wanting the best for us, we are all stressed out doing-doing-doing since we believe we are alone in our actions. We are ignorant of the “mysterious powers and secretly decisive influences of existence.” Consider this quote by Sri Aurobindo:
“There has been a great and ordered classification and mechanisation, a great discovery and practical result of increasing knowledge, but only on the physical surface of things. Vast abysses of Truth lie below in which are concealed the real springs, the mysterious powers and secretly decisive influences of existence.” Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo is basically saying that, yes, we have come a long way and lots of helpful knowledge has been developed and helpful things have been created. But all of this discovery and creation is NOTHING compared to the VAST ABYSSES OF TRUTH lying beneath in the metaphysical world. AND – very importantly – that in this vast abyss are the real causes and powers that are determining and creating our existence. It is these mysterious powers about which we know very little. We are ignorant.
Michael Bernard Beckwith puts it this way “Consciousness always precedes form.” Consciousness arises from the vast abyss, and then puts on clothing in the physical world for the duration of its existence, whatever that form may be. If we can really understand this creative process and come to KNOW it to be true, we would spend a lot more time cultivating our sixth sense. More time navigating the vast abysses of truth. More time surfing the winds and waves of those secretly decisive influences of existence.
Cultivating this sixth sense has many aspects to it; it is the essence of personal transformation and spiritual evolution. Becoming a clear channel where “doing nothing” produces results might require emotional healing work, a regular meditation practice, visualization, contemplation, deep reflection, or any number of other transformational practices and processes. In the external world this work of cultivation might look like doing nothing. However, as you walk the path you will come to know, trust and love this mysterious power of doing nothing, doing less and less while achieving more and more.
To develop your partnership with the secretly decisive influences of existence, I invite you to engage The Major Good Mojo System.
Your Major Good Mojo Assignment:
Take five minutes and do nothing. Just sit and notice all the good things happening without you doing a thing. Notice that your body is being breathed, notice that your heart is being beaten, notice that your food is being digested, notice that the grass is being grown, notice that the sun is being shined, and notice that the breeze is being blown. What other good things happening do you notice while you are doing nothing?
Congratulations – you’re one step closer to Major Good Mojo!