Re: Not-doing LO1153

David E. Birren, MB/5, 608.267.2442 (
Thu, 11 May 1995 10:33 CST

Responding to Dick Althouse - LO1145

>Doing/not doing an artificial dichotomy. Like human "being," human "not

My dim understanding of this is that doing means imposing my own will or
purpose on a situation, while not-doing means allowing the situation to
play out according to its own nature, or as some would say, according to
the principles of "right living", which presupposes the interconnectedness
of everything. Not-doing may require action on my part, but it is action
that *supports* the natural way things are supposed to work, rather than
action that is done without regard to right living or the Tao. (For
example, I'm a 7th-grade teacher. Do I try to *teach* the kids, or do I
simply expose them to knowledge in a way that they will make sense of, and
let them learn? The answer depends on their readiness for whatever's at
hand, and for the teacher to know this involves seeing deeply into both
their immediate condition and the likely course of their lives.)

I've probably botched the explanation. The point is that doing and
not-doing are terms that have specific meanings different from our Western
concept of action and inaction. Maybe someone else has a better way to
describe this.

> It's not possible to "not be" except as a way of "being."

Buddhists say that not-being is the whole point of life - to strive for
enlightenment and a shedding of individual identity.

There's a Buddhist saying: "After enlightenment - the laundry." A nice
reminder for me to go back to work.

Thank you for the intelligence and probing questions you bring to this
subject, Dick. I feel I'm still confused but it's helping me see a little
better what this is all about.

David E. Birren Phone: (608)267-2442
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources Fax: (608)267-3579
Bureau of Management & Budget Internet:
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"To know, and not to act, is to not know."
--Wang Yang Ming, 9th-century Chinese general