Non-Doing… We hear this a lot in the advaita world and intellectually it’s accepted but can we really see what this is implying? It says that nothing is ever doing anything, that you are not the doer and that although nothing is happening, nothing is left undone. Over the past couple of weeks I have been observing this non-doing, and allowing it to reveal itself to me in it’s natural essence however, as I am no teacher I don’t know how well this will bleed onto the virtual pages of the internet. I have come to see or to re-discover what this non-doing entails or might entail. I will try and explain it as best as I can but please take into account that this is a pointer in the direction where to look if you would like to see for yourself (and i encourage you to look so that you don’t have to believe me, but that you will see with your own eyes.)

What we seem to perceive as being movement really is nothing more than a play of shadows in light on a movie screen, except we believe it to be movement because we are so used to the assumption that just because something is moving that it must be doing something. However over the past couple of days I’ve observed I’ve come to a realization that this isn’t necessarily true.

Let me give you an example:

that came up in my vision when I was taking a trip observing rolling hills of beautiful grass while the wind was blowing on a beautiful sunny day. The grass was greener than ever and it was swaying back and forth as if it were full of life. (which isn’t incorrect, grass is life so it would only be natural to look this way.) As to doing or not doing, I can no longer say that it is doing anything other than what it is, grassing if you will. The grasses nature, out of all the manifestations that is Self, is to be bendable, to continuously  grow, and whatever mysterious things it may have up its sleeves, but it isn’t doing anything then being what it is. So to see it sway back and forth has nothing to do with the grasses nature, its natural ability to bend makes it seem so but this is not the grasses doing, this is winds nature. The winds nature is to be what it is, is it moving or in action? I can’t say that it is because winds nature is to be wind, it requires no action or reaction for it to happen. So the fact that grass is perceived to be moving isn’t so and the doing of wind is not a doing at all, as it is natural to wind to be it’s nature. I can suspect that wind wouldn’t be telling itself (I think I’m going to blow across this land right now) and so it does. I can suspect it is doing what it does best and that is to be wind. So then if you look at it from this perspective, who or what is doing? If you can tell me, please do, but there need not be argument for argument sake, but rather to look at it deep down inside and see that not even we are doers.

Our first defense is to defend the claim that we are in control of this body, that we are capable of so many outcomes, all of which we are in control of. I cannot find the one who is controlling the body though, who is it, and how can I point it out, it is as if a ghost is operating this system. I say a ghost for lack of a better word, something is there, but it cannot be logically pointed out to the mind, because everything that we have come to know or think we know, are all based around certain assumption so that it would make sense to the assumption of “I am this body.” So that it may exist without a not knowing state, and so that it may feel that it’s in control. This is how it feeds into not-doing though, is if the body is made up of millions of cells all of which because of their nature act through what they are manifested to do (allowing digestion to happen, respiration happening, thoughts to be caught) then who is really in control of the body, the mind that thinks its doing, isn’t really doing anything. All of the bodies “doings” are non-doings, yet nothing is left undone, the body does what it does to maintain the life that it is, and very beautifully might I add. Thoughts happen, but who is having the thought and who is observing the thought, and which one is it that is claiming to have and claiming to observe. All are just thoughts that are claiming, so when those thoughts are gone, what’s left?

Can we honestly say that we can point to a direct source and explain in words what is doing, and what isn’t doing. I question the one who is claiming they are doing, because I can no longer see doing, yet there is never anything undone. Tons of things are in continuous and absolute manifestation at every moment. There is a difference between non-doing and non-action. You can be in non-doing (in fact this is our nature) but this doesn’t necessarily mean that we are in non-action.


Nick Myers, a 28 year old serial blogger. Also minimalist, zen participant, philosopher, author of Emotional Alchemist, and tea disciple. I am one who sees a potential lesson in every experience in life. Life is who we are and life is our ultimate guru. I seek to bring us together through our own shared experiences. And hope to not only learn deeply who I am but to learn deeply who others are by dropping my ideas from moment to moment about you.

Posted in awareness, Contemplation
7 comments on “Non-Doing
  1. Pete Madstone says:


    but only said as a witness to the “doing” that is not done.

    Even the cell “does” not, but only witnesses such.

    Taking action in non-action, and taking no action in action is being centered in a unified field and only existing within what is BOTH at once, which, as usual, we have no word for (except maybe “being”).

    So then we could go on to say….

    Big luvin’ to ya, brother!

  2. mmhmm mmhmm,

    Because its not to say that just because there is non-doing, that no action is happening, if that were the case everything would be a snapshot, almost like all life would of been frozen in one state.

    Since everything is in it’s own particular nature which is a fraction of Self (or Awareness, or Consciousness, etc.) it all does what it does in it’s own “being” as we’re putting it today, allowing such a beautiful orchestra to play throughout all of life.

    You’re definitely right that non-action would not exist without action, and this all encompasses the whole of Self.

    Blessings out to you too Pete! =]

  3. If I understand correctly, you mean that non-doing is action without conscious intent. I hope I’m did not misinterpret your message or maybe that’s how my mind comes to understand what you’ve illustrated. I feel like there’s an infinite amount of action taking place at micro and macro levels and even on planes that we’re not capable or perceiving. Therefore, I think your definition of “doing” can only exist where consciousness can be substantiated. Which I believe it can’t (How do we know that what we know is real?) Thus, non-doing is what remains.

    Keep the thoughts flowing. It’s good food for thought.

  4. Hey conditionalcognition,

    Actually quite the contrary, non-doing isn’t recognized, but not in the respect that you recognize as someone seeing, but it is the seeing or it is the doing. There is no one to observe the doing or seeing, and never has been, attachment to the body wants to claim that there is a substantiation or isn’t. (mind loves taking credit for things that it isn’t actually doing.)

    Quite right that what truly is doing or non-doing can’t be held by the mind, in fact so much so that the mind can only make up little fairy tales like this one so that it can try to understand whats going on.

    What I’m pointing at is simple, there is nothing happening, for who is doing it. It is all un-caused, yet nothing will be left undone. It’s like a great orchestra, when one person plays the flute, you can enjoy the person, but the person with the flute sounds nothing like a beautiful orchestra all mingling their individual sounds together to make a magnificent piece of musical work.

    Thank you so much for stopping by conditionalcognition! =]

  5. This is one of the best descriptions I have ever read:

    from A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson:

    How to Build a Universe

    No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to grasp just how tiny, how spatially unassuming, is a proton. It is just way too small. A proton is an infinitesimal part of an atom which is itself, f course, an insubstantial thing. Protons are so small that a little dib of ink like the dot on a printed “i” can hold something in the region of 500 billion of them. Rather more than the number of seconds contained in half a million years. So, protons are exceedingly microscopic to say the very least. Now, imagine if you can, and of course you can’t, shrinking one of those protons down to a billionth of its normal size into a space so small it could make a proton look enormous. Now pack into that tiny, tiny space about an ounce of matter.


    You are ready to start a Universe.

    I’m assuming of course that you wish to build an inflationary Universe. If you prefer to build a more old fashioned, standard Big Bang Universe, you’ll need additional materials. In fact, you will need to gather up everything there is, every last mote and particle of matter between Here and the Edge of Creation, squeeze it into a spot so infinitesimally compact that it has no dimensions at all. It is known as a Singularity.

    In either case, get ready for a really big bang.

    Naturally, you will wish to retire to a safe place to observe the spectacle. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to retire to because outside the singularity there is no Where. When the Universe begins to expand, it won’t be spreading out to fill a larger emptiness. The only space that exists is the space it creates as it goes.

    It is natural, but wrong, to visualize the singularity as a kind of pregnant dot, hanging in a dark, boundless Void. But there is no space, no darkness. The singularity has no around around it. The is no space for it to occupy, no place for it to be. We can’t even ask how long it has been there, whether it has just lately popped into being, like a good idea, or whether it has been there forever, quietly awaiting the right moment. Time doesn’t exist. There is no past for it to emerge from.

    And so from Nothing our Universe begins.

  6. Hey Kitty,

    I really enjoyed the blurp from Bill Bryson, it has a really well written potency to it. It almost feels as if its a koan in its own right, but even saying that isn’t even touching its surface. I definitely enjoyed it though, and by the way, thanks for visiting!

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