The serenity of non-doing
First, one needs to understand the duality of effort and no-effort, or doing and non-doing. We can see how our unique personality presents itself. Do we lean towards over-achieving or being couch potatoes? Then, in order to achieve balance in our storied life, we can direct ourselves to one side or another. We can find a more balanced position. A type of Right effort.
But, the non-doing that I would like to contemplate is beyond or below or something else, then our effort to become a more wise person or have a healthier balance. This goes without saying that a humane and just society depends on each of us, striving to be as mature and as developed a human being as we can be.
But the words, “try” or “striving” or “developing” all lands us in the same place of, “I hope the future me is better then the present me” and brings us into craving and suffering. That paradigm, in and of itself, is stressful, fatiguing, and unloving. This is the paradoxical human predicament. The razors edge between our karmic life story and our inherent Buddha-nature. This is where a deeper sense of practice lies.
There is a deeper level of non-doing. It is the awareness of the “completeness” or the mystery of each moment. With this awareness, we do not really have to “do” anything. It is a surrender to total dynamic working, Zenki. Then the “I” part of the story can begin to relax.
Non-doing becomes a surrender to life as it is and cause and effect as its law.
A spiritual surrender is not a passive waiting surrender, but an active use of the will; a total surrender of mind (thinking) and body (doing).
— From “Drop the Rock, Removing character defects,” Hazelden
That reminds me of:
Dropping off body and mind of Dogen-Zenji.
We surrender, give up, let go, of our thinking and our doing. We then can participate 100% in what’s actually happening in the present moment. In order to do that, we have to have faith or trust. In Buddhism, we have to take refuge, have faith in, let go into Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. We then feel the spaciousness of spiritual life even in the midst of the roller-coaster of pleasure and pain.
We can see zazen as an expression of non-doing at both the surface level (actually getting our body’s to be still and stopping our activities) and at the deepest level (non-thinking, entering into the deep quiet of no perception and no non-perception).
We can let go, receive life, and do nothing.