This is one of my favourite verses from the Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese text overflowing with wisdom (If you have not read it, I highly recommend you do – it is easy to find a translation online).
Here in this verse we are instructed to let go, let go and let go again, until not even the notion of our very self remains. Here we have let go of all ideas of spiritual practice, of spiritual paths and of even letting go.
Then, perhaps, non-action will ‘happen’. This is the culmination of the so-called spiritual path: no-doer, nothing more remains to be done, nothing remaining undone – this is ‘mastery of the world’.
One who seeks knowledge,
learns something new everyday.
One who seeks the Tao,
unlearns something new everyday.
Less and less remains,
until you arrive at non-action.
When you arrive at non-action,
nothing will be left undone.*
Mastery of the world is achieved,
by letting things take their natural course.
You can not master the world,
by changing the natural way.
Tao Te Ching verse 48
*An alternative translation is:
‘When there is no doer,
nothing remains to be done’