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The Challenge Of “Doing Nothing”
Archived from Starlight Journal, Spring 2004 Issue
Boulder, Colorado, Public Meeting, May 5, 2002
Gangaji Satsang, Meeting, Retreat, Intensive, Gangaji Teachings, Article

Yesterday, I said to one woman, “Wake up and do exactly what you like.” Then I spoke to another woman (I think right after speaking to the first woman), and I said, “Stop thinking that doing what you like is going to get you what you want.” There was such beautiful symmetry in that, because they are both true. If you live a life doing what you don’t like, you are miserable, and if you live a life doing only what you like, you are miserable. That is part of the frustration that arises in the attempt to figure it out. “Well then, what should I be doing?”

The message from Ramana, from Papaji, is “do nothing.” But what gyrations we hear that with! So we take that very simple “do nothing” and make it into a “something”: to either continue to do what we don’t like or continue to do what we do like, and then wonder why we still suffer. It is the simplest statements that are always the hardest to really comprehend, because the more simple it is, the more it is distilled into its essence, the less it can be split into fragments. And when we take something that cannot be split and we split it, then it is not what it was. It is what we have made it: something that can be split. “Oh I tried doing nothing, and I just vegetated.” Or, “I am trying to do nothing; what I want to do is do nothing; what I don’t want to do is do nothing.”

There is an image of what “doing nothing” is; doing nothing means sitting at home, not moving, quitting work, not arguing with my spouse, or not saying no. All of this is the mind’s attempt to take “do nothing” and make it into something. So “do nothing” becomes just another thing that one picks up in spiritual circles, and probably after awhile, discards. Because if you do “doing nothing”, it is just as miserable as anything else. Ramana also said, “Be still. Just simply be still.” But because that is so simple, so profound, the mind cannot get around it, so it imitates being still—the moving still, the speaking still, the thinking still—until there is a kind of stupor or stupidity or deadness to the lie that one is “being still.” It can be experienced as better than the speed and franticness of life. But it is ultimately the same misery, the same samsara, the same suffering, because you cannot do “being still.” It is the same when I say “tell the truth, just tell the truth.”

Recently, I heard a report from someone who has come to lots of meetings, and she was speaking to someone else who has come to lots of meetings, and that someone else was supporting the first someone in just telling the truth. And her truth was, “I don’t want to work, I don’t want to help, I don’t want to do anything.” And so everybody was circling around her, supporting her in “telling the truth,” saying, “But she is telling the truth,” and “Of course, she doesn’t want to work. Who wants to work?”

That may be the tip of the truth; “I don’t want to work.” Great, but if you think that is the truth, then you are settling for something that is less than the full truth. Be willing to say, “Okay, I don’t want to work. I really don’t want to work,” and just stop there. Be still with that; see what is underneath that, and then tell the deeper truth. What does it mean, “I don’t want to work”? What if you don’t work? Who is it that works? What does it mean to starve—because that is what will happen eventually, unless you have devotees who are feeding you, and clothing you. So my point is, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. You start with what you think it means, but do not settle for that—if you really want to tell the truth, if you really want to be still, if you really want to stop. There has to be a willingness to delve very deeply into the uncharted territory, where you leave, really leave, what you want to do and what you don’t want to do, behind—just for an instant.

You know, there have been religions and monasteries and movements built around doing what you don’t want to do: hair-shirts, renunciation, extreme fasting, and a kind of imposed misery. Let’s say there is some benefit, but in general, it’s a limited benefit.) There also has been the other side; there have been great movements in religion about doing exactly what you want. And there is some pleasure in that. Clearly, there is pleasure in that. But ultimately, it is a limited pleasure and finally, there is misery. When there has been enough life experience there is a recognition of this. And it is at this point, that you can really hear “just do nothing” rather than what you think “do nothing” means.

Stop thinking what “do nothing” means. Just be still, rather than doing what you think “being still” means. Just be here: with whatever else is here, with whoever else is here, with whatever event, whatever emotion, whatever sensation, whatever. And in that instant there is the truest glimpse of “who you are.”

Now the mind being as it is, will then usually attempt to recapture that, or regenerate that, and it doesn’t work—because you cannot “do” that glimpse. But at any moment, you can stop doing anything. You can simply be still. Simply tell the truth. Simply be who you are. Then in a lifetime, there is choice. Before that, it is just a bio-robotic existence, built on stimulus response, at a very elevated level. From that glimpse onward, there is choice. Even more than choice, there is an opening through which truth enters. It is here that the truth can be told: the truth about doing, the truth about refusing to stop, the truth about the fear of being still, the truth about lack of trust, the truth of “who you are,” or the truth of the Force that holds us all together.For more information about Gangaji, the Gangaji Foundation, and meetings with Gangaji, visit her website at www.gangaji.org. You can enjoy a Gangaji Satsang, retreat or intensive, and her books: Satsang With Gangaji: You Are That, Volume 1, Satsang With Gangaji: You Are That, Volume 2, Diamond In Your Pocket, and Freedom & Resolve: The Living Edge of Surrender.

Gangaji's lineage: Ramana and Papaji. Gangaji gives a first hand account of meeting Papaji. Her beloved teacher Papaji was a student of Ramana, also known as Sri Ramana Maharshi, whose spiritual teachings have survived the test of time.

Visit the Christine Breese website to read articles on consciousness and awakening, visit University of Metaphysical Sciences Video Satsangs to see talks on spiritual subjects. Read articles on Wisdom of the Heart Church. Visit Starlight Journal for blogs, newsletter, and forums on spiritual subjects. Visit Christine Breese's Metaphysical Sciences youtube channel to view free video satsangs.


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