Do Nothing: The Best Advice I Ever Received

advice on meditating photo

This guest post from author Ann Purcell originally appeared on on November 18, 2015.

How can Do Nothing be the best advice I have ever received? It certainly sounds less-than-productive, and even suggests you drop out of doing anything. What I mean by Do Nothing is transcend — take 20 minutes twice a day for meditation to experience a state where you can simply just Be in stillness.

Let It Be

In his famous song, Paul McCartney advised that when you are faced with difficult situations just Let It Be.

I would like to emphasize the word Be. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2, verse 48, says Yogastah Kuru Karmani — established in Being, perform action. The experience of Being referred to here is a state of pure silence, where all the senses, mind, ego, and intellect are distilled to their essence, in an experience of pure stillness or nothingness.

Allowing our awareness to settle down to this state of Being, pure nothingness, is like pulling the arrow back on the bow to a point of pure stillness where you are not doing anything. The farther the arrow is pulled back, the faster it will hit its target when you release it from that point of stillness.

When we pull our mind back to that point of no specificity — silent nothingness — through techniques like Transcendental Meditation, we are more easily able to hit the target, to accomplish anything we want when back inactivity. We will also have more energy, like a battery that has been recharged.

The Ultimate Paradox

This is the ultimate paradox: the state of transcendental nothingness is also a level of pure dynamism filled with unbounded energy and intelligence, from where the whole universe springs. The closer you get to a source of light, the more powerful and intense the light is. When we align our awareness twice daily through meditation to this source of all energy and intelligence, we naturally bring those qualities back with us into activity.

When we have regular experience of transcendental consciousness, a fourth major state of consciousness, there eventually comes a time when this field of silence, which is also a field of dynamism, becomes permanently established in our awareness.

Cosmic Consciousness — Enlightenment

Establishing this level of silence is the state of enlightenment — cosmic consciousness — pure silence experienced together with our waking, dreaming, and even sleep states of consciousness.

The famous Chinese philosopher Laozi expressed this reality of cosmic consciousness: Those who attain the Way are like the axles of carriages turning in their hubs, not moving themselves yet conveying the carriages for a thousand miles, revolving endlessly in an inexhaustible source.[i]

The Way refers to the Tao, the unchanging source of everything, the transcendental state of Being.

Another ancient Chinese philosopher, Zhuangzi, said: He who practices the Way does less every day, does less, and goes on doing less until he reaches the point where he does nothing, does nothing and there is nothing that is not done.[ii]

Maharishi was fond of saying, “Do less and accomplish more, do nothing and accomplish everything.”

There have been so many times in my life, especially at the end of a day’s work, where I feel a bit overwhelmed with what I have to do, or there is a problem I am having difficulty solving in my mind. After my evening meditation, the worry goes away, there really is no problem, or it is reduced down to something very simple to deal with.

Taking 20 minutes to transcend and experience the state of nothingness provides a deeply rejuvenating rest, a fresh clarity of mind, and a burst of dynamic energy.

Who would have thought that doing nothing could be so powerful?

I hope this article has helped you in one way or another. If you have any questions or insights, please share them in the comments section below.

[i] Wen-Tzu, Understanding the Mysteries. trans. Thomas Cleary, 81. Quoted in The Supreme Awakening, Craig Pearson, 191.
[ii] The Complete Writings of Chuang Tzu. trans. Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), 235. Quoted in The Supreme Awakening, Craig Pearson, 196.

*****Read other post written by Ann titled: Heaven and Doing Nothing*****

Ann Purcell is an author who has been teaching meditation around the world since 1973. She has worked on curricula and course development for universities and continuing education programs. Her latest book, The Transcendental Meditation Technique and the Journey of Enlightenment was released on March 13, 2015.