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  • Sherise Schlaht

NO-KNOWING AND NON-DOING

Before I plunge into this #thoughtfultuesday, I would like to indulge in a brief rant. With stability of mind and life circumstances, it appears to be ever more difficult to humour the creative process. Why is it that the most profound works of art are often born out of the depths of despair? I have been reflective of this phenomenon as of late, which hasn’t led to any significant insights other than refraining from seeking or conjuring chaos for the purposes of a “good” story. In light of this, apologies fellow readers if this post appears to be a little drab in comparison. Even though it does not account for the most eventful life, I am embracing these calm waters; perhaps the Universe is urging me to take some deep breaths and appreciate the serenity while it lasts.


In late adolescence, I was introduced to the Tao Te Ching. Although I didn’t comprehensively understand its passages, the poetically comprised words soothingly whispered to my soul. While living in Edmonton, I was indulging in an afternoon of window shopping when I discovered a quaint and inviting shop. Having an affinity for Asian culture, I was unable to pass it by as it sold Oriental souvenirs and clothing. I crossed paths with the shop owner amidst browsing; she radiated warmth, joy, and wisdom. A mere few weeks later, I found myself in her living room, sipping green tea and engaging in deep philosophical conversations about the Tao Te Ching. Here began my investment in and passion for Eastern Philosophy.


From the introduction of the Tao Te Ching to now, this verse remains my fondest:


Without going outside

one can know the whole world

Without looking out the window

one can see the ways of Heaven

The farther one goes

the less one knows


Thus the Sage does not go, yet he knows

He does not look, yet he sees

He does not do, yet all is done


Verse 47, Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition, Lao Tzu, Translation and Commentary by Jonathan Star


Each time I read this verse, new insights are revealed; it possesses such complexity and depth. In its entirety, this passage speaks to all that I aim to reveal in my posts. Before I delve into the specific interpretations, please be aware that they are exactly that: unique interpretations from my perspective. I would like to highlight that I share these insights from a place of knowing, not judgement; I too am a guilty human patron. Initially, the tendency (and might I say, conditioning) to seek outside of our selves is brought forth. I have spent a post or two speaking to my reliance on external seeking in attempt to fill an inner void. One of the reasons I feel akin to Lao Tzu’s teachings is his gentle urging to look within to find our true nature. It is evident in his use of words that the external pursuit is a fruitless endeavour. This is a dance that can continue for eternity; each seeking moving us further away from our internal truth.


In relation to looking outside of ourselves, there emerges the notion of the rejection of the now. For some strange reason, we want to be everywhere but where we are; constantly ruminating over some future or past moment. Is this “now” truly as unbearable as we make it out to be? The irony of it all being that once we reach the point that we thought we wanted, we fail to recognize our arrival as we are already onto the next future or past obsession. It is humorous the madness we put ourselves through all in the name of avoidance.


As someone who has been on a rather relentless seeker’s journey in the wake of “healing”, I like to say that I am practicing the art of effortlessness and non-doing. There is a formal movement around this practice called Wu Wei, but in its very spirit, I am refraining from studying or creating a regime around it (also known as “doing”). After all, at one point does a student become a teacher? One of the many consequences of wearing the shoes of an over-achiever is a default of utter obliviousness to my own voice and calling. After many years of external seeking, there were a multitude of voices pulling me in various directions. When it came to decision making, I was confused and debilitated.


As Lao Tzu suggests, the Sage does not do, but all is done. Accordingly, the less one attaches to the chaos of mind chatter and rests in silence, the more attuned one is to their true nature. Voila! By not “doing”, the path reveals itself. Sounds so simple, does it not? Although it is a tad cliché, I have found life to be much more straightforward when operating from a place of knowing. In my work with people, I find myself wishing there to be some way of packaging this knowing and gifting it. Much to my distaste, I am unable to offer a series of steps to awakening; I am not this said Sage. As a meagre human, it is my belief that a unique set of circumstances lead each of us to the discovery of our inner truth. Although we can receive guidance along the way, ultimately the journey home is one of solitude.


In attempt to part with a few seeds of wisdom, I share today knowing that I am walking this life with one foot in front of the other, making it all up as I go. In this way, we all are. The future has always been and will always remain unknown. Only when we allow the next moment to unfold exactly as it is presented can we fully embrace the excitement and magic of the mystery. So, my fellow sapiens, the invitation is to welcome this moment as if it is your last.


Carry on bravely,


Sherise

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