Health is wellness of the body, the mind, and the soul; their alignment with one another is the art of living well.


Wisdom is understanding of the self, others, and the nature of things; it is essential to  living as if everything is a miracle.
                     No Over-Doing

In TAO (the wisdom of Lao Tzu, the author of “Tao Te Ching”, the ancient Chinese classic on human wisdom), “nothingness” is paradoxically everything. The wisdom is that when you are in the middle of nothing, you are actually in the presence of all things, because everything originally came from nothingness, that is, before the Creation -- the "nothingness" is God. That also explains why TAO is beyond words, because words are finite and God is infinite.

There is a Chinese idiom that says: “Push the boat with the current.” It underlies the wisdom of availing an opportunity to move forward but without exerting any extra effort; or, figuratively, to make use of judicious guidance according to circumstances. It is the wisdom of choice to empty oneself of any pre-conditioned thinking, and go with the flow of the current, instead of against it. “No over-doing” is an act of "spontaneity" and "effortlessness" in accomplishing things.

“No over-doing” also means not going against the current by struggling against it, but by doing nothing -- just standing still and letting the current do all the work. It does not mean literally “doing nothing.” It is the wisdom of taking perfect action but without initiating the action. Doing too much does not guarantee success; instead, it is the wisdom of “less for more” and not “more for less.”

“Tao abides in non-action,
Yet nothing is left undone.”
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37

There was an ancient Chinese story . . .  There was a competition in drawing, in which candidates were asked to draw a snake in detail. One of the candidates finished his drawing sooner than all the rest of the competitors. Thinking that "extra effort" might give him extra credit, he took it upon himself to add some legs to the snake. As a result of his extra effort, instead of “no over-doing,” he was disqualified and lost the competition.

Even President Ronald Reagan made a reference to the Tao wisdom of “no over-doing” in one of his state-of-the-union addresses when he said: “Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish.” He was referring to “little or no intervention” in world affairs, just as when you cook a small fish, you do not flip it too much. Quite the contrast, currently, the United States is interfering too much in world affairs; as a result, it has got itself into financial and political problems of all sorts.

TIPS: “No over-doing” is the wisdom of developing daily habits of not making “much ado about nothing” in everything. “No over-doing” is not about idleness or laziness. Rather, it is about the wisdom of knowing when to act and when not to act, just as Confucius (the great Chinese philosopher) once said: “Going too far is as bad as not going far enough.”

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau