Gulmohar tree in a park nearby.
Gulmohar tree in a park nearby.

“It means that Tao doesn’t force or interfere with things, but lets them work in their own way, to produce results naturally. Then whatever needs to be done is done.” ~ Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

During the last few months, I have been faced with an internal conflict. It has escalated after reading 2 Taoist books, especially The Tao of Pooh. I am just not able to get my head around it.

Some background on the book – written by Benjamin Hoff in 1982, it introduces Taoism through Winnie the Pooh comics.

What has got me thinking is the concept of non-doing.

I have grown up in a society which worships hard work. Without work, nothing is achieved. Education, career, relationships, life. And these things are supposedly linear; the more you work, the more you achieve.

But over time, I have found that life is nowhere near linear.

Add to that, there isn’t necessarily a clear cause-and-effect relationship between occurrences. A lot of randomness around.

I might attribute some success to a past activity or habit, but to tell you the truth, I really don’t know. (I could just have been in the right place at the right time.)

Come to think of it, there are many things which don’t require my active effort and still turn out pretty well. Like respiration, digestion. Actually life in general (as far as I eat and keep myself sheltered).

More salt to my ego’s wounds – there is another fact to be acknowledged – the world carries on its own whether I want it or not. The Gulmohar tree in a nearby park keeps blooming. The cuckoos keep cooing.

What does this all mean? Should I not interfere much with things? Should I stop making so much effort?

If yes, where is the line between making effort and letting go?

4 thoughts on “Non-do?

  1. Hi Pranav – You have raised an excellent point and I like to think of the effort v/s reward payoff not as a linear relationship (seems we are very engg. or scientific in our thinking) but more as one which is akin to the concept of marginal utility. As with marginal utility that after a certain point there is a decining return with increasing consumption so too it is with effort.

    I think the only difference is that for most people a base amout of effort is needed regrdless but additional efforts don’t always necessarily payoff at the same rate as the effort.

    There is always the impact of environemnt, fortune, and conditions that influence the outcome. For everyone the line to stop and or continue varies and it varies with what the situation is and for what it is. As long as you feel you have given it your best shot you will always be happy with your outcome.

    I find that in my case I never know if I really did put in my best effort. It’s subjective and we sometimes have trained ourselves to continually challenge our efforts so we can better ourselves and we need to rethink that at times. Just my 2 cents…..


    1. Jaideep bhai, thanks for your sharing your views. The marginal utility concept is interesting. But I have faced instances where I hardly put any effort and got unexpectedly high returns. But you are right, the line might be varying both people-wise and situation-wise. Perhaps, experience will only teach.


  2. interesting post tadi!! how have u been doing??? this dilemma was on the periphery of my consciousness once too.. but later i came to the conclusion that if i’m clear in my head and heart about things that matter to me, i find it easier to decide if i should wait for things to happen or induce activity myself. and constantly staying in touch with the big-picture helps me too, allowing me a perspective on how things can unfold based on my action or non-action. 🙂


    1. Hey Bhaval, I am doing good. 🙂 Long time! How is life your end?
      Good to know that you have found a solution. Guess I will try out what you say…


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