I won’t lie to you. This is the hardest exercise in the book.
Recently, my eight-year-old son has taken to pointing out that it’s impossible to do “nothing.” He’s very proud of having been able to figure this out, and he can go on in great detail about how many things you’re actually doing when you seem to be doing “nothing.” He’s right, of course. And you’re right to wonder why in this exercise you’ve been sent off on such a fool’s errand. What is the point? I used to ask this same question when, as a child, I was told that I was supposed to try to be like Jesus, who, as I was also told, was “perfect.” It’s not possible, I’d say. Be as much like him as it is possible for you to be, was the response. That answer used to rankle me so much. I felt like I was being set up. I could only fail. But in retrospect, I can see a different sort of wisdom in attempting to emulate an ideal that is inherently unachievable.
Why try to do nothing?
Because trying, in and of itself, transforms our awareness. In the act of attempting to achieve a state of nothingness, we reveal to ourselves how many layers of “something” we are doing at any given moment. It brings us face-to-face with ourselves in the present moment. It brings us into reality.
And reality is a very good thing indeed.
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