By Lee Glazier
I live by a pretty laid back philosophy when it comes to Right Action: Whenever possible, do nothing.
That isn’t as simple seems, man. They did a study once, Dude. They did a study where people had the choice between sitting in a room for 15 minutes doing nothing and giving themselves an electric shock to get out of it early, and most participants chose the to shock themselves. 15 minutes.
The principle is simple, though: Before doing something, ask yourself, “Do I need to do this?” If the answer’s, “No,” then, ya know, don’t do that thing.
Need is a loose word.
Everyone defines and prioritizes their needs differently. Someone might feel the overwhelming need to listen to Britney Spears; then I’d feel the need to ask them to leave my private residence.
Even though our needs differ, we all know whether we need to do something or just want to do something. I’d dig some tea right now, but do I need it? Nah, I’m not really that thirsty. There’s an itch on my foot. Is it annoying to the point of needing to be scratched? No way, it’s cool. Do I need to keep writing this? Yes, because I’m an alias created by a writer, so that’s the only thing I can actually do. The writer behind me also feels the need to write, but she or he doesn’t know where it, um, stems from. It’s probably some kinda disorder.
Uh, what was I talking about? Something about reeds? Oh, needs. Alright, party on, Wayne. Yeah, doing only what’s absolutely necessary is a radical way to unfuck one’s life. Most of the things that are, ya know, harmful to us are things we don’t need. The other area of life that harms us is neglecting things that we do need.
Once again, ya know, our needs differ. Someone following the Do Nothing principle might turn out to be super lazy and uninterested in social action; another might be vibrant, active and leading protests. There’s no one-size fits all, Dudes… for anything, including clothes. That one-size fits all robe you bought? I guarantee that that wouldn’t fit, I don’t know, it wouldn’t fit someone.
The point is to simplify and moderate every aspect of one’s life, dig it? When we do that, every action is the Right Action for that place and time. Though if you feel the overwhelming need to murder people, you should probably not do that and instead seek immediate medical attention. Yes, society is batshit crazy. No, you harming people isn’t going to change that. No, you aren’t going to be famous, you’ll eventually be forgotten like everyone else. And that’s okay. No one needs to be remembered for decades or centuries after they die. What’s the point of that? I mean, you won’t even remember yourself after you die, Dude.
If we take a step back, most of the utterly atrocious aspects of humanity stem from people doing inessential things; things that aren’t, ya know, geared toward getting by. And that’s all we really need: just to get by.
Excess never helped anyone be any happier. Usually it just makes things worse.
Anywho, uh, yeah, during those rare moments when I don’t absolutely need to do anything, I just sit there and look at stuff. I look around the room, look around my mind; just chillin’.
It’s a big lie, ya know, that we always have to be doing something to be considered productive human beings with worthwhile lives. Out of all the Zen Masters out there, I bet the “best” ones are mostly absent from the history books.
On that note, here are two Zen quotes to tie the room together:
“When hungry, eat your rice; when tired, close your eyes. Fools may laugh at me, the the wise will know what I mean.”
“Sitting quietly, doing nothing; spring comes and the grass grows by itself.”
“Dude” Lee Glazier is a Dudeist Priest, Zen adherent and Taoist enthusiast from Golden, Colorado. He likes reading, writing, hiking, taking baths, listening to classic rock, drinking White Russians, smoking, and having the occasional acid flashback. The only thing he truly believes is that everyone needs to slow down, mellow out, and unwad their underpants. He feels that that would solve all the world’s problems in a heartbeat. “Do you have the patience to let the mud settle and the water clear?”
Editor: Dana Gornall
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