The softest of all things overrides the hardest of all things.
That without substance enters where there is no space.
Hence I know the value of nonaction.
Teaching without words,
Performing without actions –
few in the world can grasp it –
that is the master’s way.
Rare indeed are those who obtain the bounty of this world.
Tao Te Ching, Verse 43.
It’s amazing the transformative journey one can have by not moving. Sitting on the ground with closed eyes, observing… nonactions can lead to profound results in a person’s life.
At the beginning of January, I had the opportunity to take a 10-day silent meditation course at a Vipassana centre in India. One is given a peaceful environment – free of talking, cell phones, books, paper, pens and all other distractions – to mediate for 10 hours everyday for 10 days. After the noble silence is broken on the 10th day, if students have done the work, they leave the centre feeling liberated and free. One no longer lives in imagination since they’ve come to see the truth. Vipassana is one of India’s oldest meditation techniques and means ‘to see things as they really are’. During those 10 days, students have the opportunity to transform their life by embarking on a journey of self exploration and observation in order to see the truth, the truth as it really is.
Since taking the course, I have wanted to volunteer at Vipassana and be a Server. Server’s support new and returning students during a 10 day course as they embark on this liberating journey of self-observation.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in a very unknown state of mind and decided I needed to stop moving and listen to my inner voice. I found a Vipassana centre in Kathmandu and immediately registered to be a Server and do selfless service for the upcoming course. I wasn’t getting the answers I sought in my life through action so instead I decided to invest my time in others and apply a nonaction practice to my life.
I think sometimes people undermine the importance of letting oneself wander without physically moving. I believe society has this belief that the more one does, the further ahead one gets. As the 43rd verse of the Tao Te Ching states, “The softest of all things overrides the hardest of all things.”
There is value in the nonaction and living softly.
Consider silence is a voice. Sitting rather than moving and observing rather than reacting are all valuable actions that have their place in our life. There is a layering effect which takes place in order to achieve a result, and each of these layers has their own unique source of power that is beneficial to individuals.
As a Server, we are there to serve; so my schedule was very different from that of the students. Although we mediated much less, Servers obtain a different kind of benefit from the course. On the last day when the noble silence is broken, students emerge from the hall and make eye contact with you. It is then you see that for 10 days each student was working diligently to eradicate their misery and sadness, and have entered a state of pure happiness. You realize that your service contributed to their success and for that reason you feel their happiness tenfold.
“Perform without action” as the Tao states. Consider there is much to be gained by not doing.
Who says an adventure can’t consist of doing less and experiencing something more deeply? It is in those quiet moments where you obtain the bounty of this world.
Vipassana centres are free to attend and are located in multiple countries around the world. To find a centre near you click here. Additionally, you may read my blog post about my experience as a Vipassana student here.