I want to talk about ceasing to do. It’s probably more accurate to say minimizing effort or ceasing to make an effort. Basically, it’s the realization that you can live in the world in such a way that you don’t have to use two oars rowing quite vigorously against the stream to try to get somewhere.

Instead, you can use one oar and fairly effortlessly steer downstream, using the entire strength of the river to reach your destination. So, this is a principle that I try to emphasize when I talk to people.

We have been engaging in various spiritual practices and attempting to achieve different goals for many years, but all this “doing” itself becomes an obstacle. Even many of the basic spiritual teachings we hear about are presented in a rather egoic, action-oriented manner. For example, we often hear phrases like “let go” or “allow,” but these can be interpreted as actions from the egoic perspective.

For instance, when someone says, “let go,” non-dual practitioners might respond by asking, “Who is going to let go?” To some extent, they are onto something because when you hold onto a bag of luggage, it remains in your hand only as long as you make the effort to hold on. As soon as you stop making that effort, the bag falls away, pulled by gravity.

Our inherent nature is not to hold on; it is we who are holding on. Therefore, it’s not so much about “letting go” (which still implies an action), but rather about ceasing to hold on. Similarly, you might hear people talk about the need to “allow,” but allowing can also be approached from an egoic perspective, where you try to allow. In reality, what we are often doing is resisting. The key is to cease resisting.

Once we stop resisting, allowing happens automatically. Some might say we need to “accept,” but acceptance isn’t the issue; it’s our tendency to deny that creates the effort. If we cease denying, acceptance naturally occurs. So, this principle is similar to the concept of silence or stillness. If the goal is to be still, the question arises: how do you do it?

Well, whatever action you take, however, whatever movement you make is actually counter to stillness. If you’re trying to achieve silence, whatever you keep talking about or making noise, you’re destroying the silence. The way to attain stillness or silence is to cease doing.

If you stop making noise, there is silence. If you stop moving, there is stillness. So, I try to reverse the approach and emphasize that it’s not about trying to do something in the same way. You’ll hear that it’s not about becoming, it’s about being. Becoming implies trying to do something, but it’s not about that. It’s about being or, at the very least, realizing what is, through the illusions of the mind and ignorance. Those are the obstacles. It’s not about trying to become something.

This represents a change in direction and focus because many people often ask me what they should do. I keep telling them not to do anything because doing is the problem.

They have been engaging in various practices, inquiries, contemplations, and everything else for years. So, I advise them to cease doing, to not do anything. If they need a practice, I suggest being aware and watching for instances where they are making effort, and then ceasing those efforts. This will naturally bring them back to a more natural state.

You often hear that awakening is about living from one’s being or the natural state, or however you want to describe it. So, how does one get to the natural state? By not trying to do something. Our doing is the unnatural part. Therefore, we need to stop doing or making the effort, minimizing our efforts, and allow stillness and silence. By doing so, awareness may see what is as it is.

I believe it’s important to realize or be aware of the amount of effort, doing, and practice we engage in, as well as what we are trying to become. We need to examine all of that and realize that it’s the wrong direction. It hasn’t brought us to where we want to go, and truthfully, it never will.

If enlightenment can be described as seeing through the illusion of the ego or the illusory self, then what can the ego do to see through itself? Absolutely nothing. Any attempt by the ego only reinforces and strengthens the illusion. Therefore, it’s not about doing; we do far too much. We need to step back from the doing and simply refrain from doing, which doesn’t require effort. Ceasing to do leads to stillness, silence, and so on.

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