Doing Nothing; Nothing Doing

Recently, I was part of a discussion of the difference between doing nothing and doing nothing. The former takes the place from the perspective of the fictitious character that thinks there is a person who is able to and can do something or perhaps do nothing at all. Conversely, the latter can only be understood from the perspective of the absolute.

As I mentioned in a recent post, in Buddhism, the spiritual and material realm are often referred to as the absolute and the relative, respectively. The relative is the world of perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and form. It is the world that is experienced as space and time. It includes the projection of a ‘me’ upon this world.

Conversely, the absolute is not actually any thing, but contains everything. It has also been called emptiness, nothingness, deathless, oneness, wholeness, and the divine. But make no mistake: the absolute is not something. Although it is everything, it cannot be held, weighed, or measured. And even though concepts and labels are often applied to it, such as ‘the absolute,’ when experienced directly, there is the direct experience of there being no thing. Nothing.

So what exactly is the difference between doing nothing and doing nothing? Well, doing nothing is actually doing something. It involves an actor and a set of behaviors, even if the behaviors are sitting still, or thinking, or meditating, or watching a sunset. There is an observer and something being observed. There are perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. It is activity or non-activity from the relative perspective.

But doing nothing? Well, as the phrase was originally used, it means abiding as the absolute; as your true nature; as Oneness; as Awakeness; as the eternal, boundless no thing that you are.