To do or not to do…



That is the spiritual conundrum in many circles today.  To do or not to do…

Do you do something?  Do you meditate, pray, chant, try, struggle, give to the poor, go to workshops, attempt to heal, fix, fix, fix?

Or do you do nothing?  Just forget all this spiritual nonsense and love yourself the way your are, even with those flaws?

Tis a conundrum indeed.

The wise ones say that this moment of NOW is just as it is.  Recognition of you, in all your messy chaotic imperfection is enlightenment.

You can’t do anything to reach this recognition because it’s already here.

Yet you can’t NOT do anything to reach this recognition because, sure as bananas, you may continue to react from the throes of suffering until you take your last breath.

It’s a conundrum and one that has challenged most spiritual seekers until they run screaming into the woods.

I’m DONE with DOING!  you’ll say, and you won’t do.

Six days later, after a binge with anger, frustration, pain, annoyance, compulsiveness or sadness you’re ready to do ANYTHING, ANYTHING to make the world right.

I’ve learned the mind simply is not the correct instrument to solve this conundrum (even though the mind still thinks it is).  The mind, bless its soul, speaks only the language of duality.  The mind so often thinks the answer is either/or.

Either we do something or we do nothing, the Mind insists.  It has to be that way.

Yet what exists when the Mind isn’t trying to decide whether to do something or nothing?

When we forget the unsolvable conundrum of doing or not-doing, we’re brushing our teeth.  We’re going outside.  We’re feeding the birds.  We’re painting the deck.  We’re writing a blog.  We’re attending a workshop.  We’re singing in the shower.  We’re sitting still on the couch, not thinking.  Or we’re thinking up a storm.  We’re feeling sad.  We’re feeling happy.

In other words–Life is already both doing and not-doing.  Life is already choosing when to meditate, when to play checkers.  Life is choosing when to witness and when to drink wine.  Life is choosing an allergic reaction, a rising fury, a song of delight.

No matter what the mind decides–I shall do or not do–Life continues it’s doing and not-doing.  It continues its dance.  Awareness (beyond the duality of the mind) illuminates it, makes it shine in clarity.  It’s recognition that spirals this beyond the personal.

The trick is to see that the there’s no decision to be made.  Any decision is superfluous. Any decision for or against is an add-on to whatever is already arising. (Except when Life makes a decision and then makes an alternative decision.  Do you see how language trips us up so easily, making a claim and then refuting that claim because it simply can not fully be articulated in a dual language?)

To see that Life is already, delightfully, ridiculously, completely in control.  There is no way you can do or not do.  We are more than the Mind’s definition of a limited self–we are already Life itself, completely whole.

Life does.  We’re being done.

Oh yes, Life does, praise this next arising, and the next, and the next.


15 thoughts on “To do or not to do…

  1. “To do or not to do.. life does what it has to do and not to do..” i would say, I must learn this yet. From your wide & diverse experience, you have so much advice to be shared. Sometimes life surprises us. Sometimes we surprise ourselves by doing certain things. How did you come up with this thought Kathy? Thank you so much for this one. It gives a different dimension to us, to the way we look at things.

    • Sonali, I am glad you enjoyed this. I suppose it’s been a lifetime of observing, witnessing, thinking, feeling, reading,meditating, wondering. This ‘different dimension’ feels so peaceful and real that it feels more ‘true” to think of it this way.

  2. While reading this, I got the sense! You know the one, where the bigger me is in the front, instead of just all around the front. And I saw (or was it shown to me?) that the universe will use the idea of us choosing as a tool to guide us! Wow, language has not yet caught up with our evolving conciousness… I don’t think that’s new. Great post! It’s got me feeling the huge 🙂

    • Your words made me smile. You got the sense! Yes! The words themselves can only guide toward that sense. Your words “language has not yet caught up with our evolving consciousness” give me that sense back. Thank you for putting this into words and sharing.

  3. Yep, Uh Huh!

    It’s so odd to see the urge to have a supposed to, list to follow, that is supposed to lead you to yourself, a self that the list creates like an imaginary friend, but convinces us is real, improved, better. And a whole other book-like response, though I’ll just sip some tea and wander upstairs to read some more of Wendell Berry’s essays. I think that I wish that I could stalk him around his grocery store, so that I might know him and not have an improper image of him through my reading of his words. OR, to laugh and to get a fuller one of who he is and is not.

    • Oh yes, Elisa, I am so often smiling or frowning at that list in the head. You are right about the book-like response. I actually just read a book about stalking. I am wondering if you could stalk someone from here until forever and never really know the part of a person we think we want. Sometimes I look at Barry or the kids and realize they’re a mystery I’ll never know.

  4. yeah, I love this especially when that little mind voice in me responds with “it depends” when I am frantic for an answer on what – oh dear! should I do???? For the moment (at least) I am finished with the “go to” aspect of solutions. I am currently in the “coming to me” passive sort of watching and listening to what comes on my path (more on this in a blog at Living the Prayer hopefully some time this weekend). Life does, as you say. It rises and falls, comes and goes, sweeps in and out, and really does not care what I think about it.

    • Barbara, I know that little mind voice well. And also the rising and falling of it all, the coming and going. My mind wants it to stay, but alas, Life does what it wants, doesn’t it?

  5. I had forgotten about this blog. Thankfully, I think it was John Gardner at FB reminded me by promoting this one. I am now “following”. Thanks for continuing to write here, Kathy.

    • How nice to see you here, Deb. This is the place where I share my more “spiritual” musings, although, heavens, it seems impossible to label anything as separately spiritual anymore, doesn’t it?

  6. Lovely post. If only we were more able to “get out of the way” a little bit more, to allow Life to unfold, as it does, a little bit more… How delightfully ok Life already is. Even sadness reveals its beauty. Without trying to hold on, or to change, or to control, or to analyse, … how delightfully simple Life can become. And while allowing things to be, may we develop the wisdom to know when to act, when to change things, when to do.

    • Richard, it is lovely to see you commenting here. Your words are so true. So often wanting to sink deeper and develop that wisdom to let Life act rather than randomly following thoughts that are based on the past or imagination. Thank you for sharing this.

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