Action and Non-Action By David Holdefer
“The non-action of the wise man is not inaction.
It is not studied. It is not shaken by anything.
The sage is quiet because he is not moved,
Not because he wills to be quiet.
Still water is like glass.
You can look into it and see the bristles on your chin.
It is a perfect level.
A carpenter could use it.
If water is so level, so clear,
How much more the spirit of man?
The heart of a wise man is tranquil.
It is a mirror of heaven and earth;
The glass of everything.
Emptiness, stillness, tranquility, tastelessness,
Silence, non-action: this is the level of heaven and earth.
This is the perfect Tao. Wise men find here their resting place.
Resting they are empty…
From emptiness comes the unconditioned.
From this, the unconditioned, the individual things.
So from the sage’s emptiness, stillness arises:
From stillness, action. From action, attainment.
From their stillness comes their non-action which is also action.
And is, therefore, their attainment.
For stillness is joy. Joy is free from care.
Fruitful in long years.
Joy does all things without concern:
For emptiness, stillness, tranquility, tastelessness,
Silence and Nonaction,
Are the root of all things. [xiii I] Chuang-Tzu from Thomas Merton translation “The Way of Chuang-Tzu (1965)