Blue Flower


Not doing is far more effective than doing if you would just not do not doing...


Once upon a time, my grandfather taught me to play golf and we played with his best friend, Mr. Palumbo. Mr. Palumbo had a lesson he was to teach me. I say this because my grandfather encouraged me to listen to Mr. Palumbo on this in a way that was far more like a father than a grandfather. He taught me how to golf decently with my eyes closed and by not being in control of my body doing what I wanted. I did learn to not do what he was teaching me but I did not know that was Zen until I read, “Zen and the Art of Archery” by Eugen Herrigel. However, the best example of this happened to a girl I met at a dinner party in Portland Maine and it describes the discovery of zen much better than telling all about how Mr. Palumbo taught me this simple “not-doing” of life.


I was living with my sister and her husband in Portland at the time and we were invited to a dinner party by one of our friends who was also living in Portland. These dinner parties were how we kept sane and we were glad so many of us chose to move to Portland at the same time. At this dinner party, one of the entertainments was a plastic cup, a golf ball and a putter. And then there was this actual blonde airhead sorority girl who said, “I want to know what Zen is!” And here is how that played out…


I said to her. “I might be able to show you.” She was intrigued and as I noticed the looming boyfriend as she ask if I would. I told her I would have to instruct her and asked her if she knew how to swing a putter. She said no so I went to handed the putter to the boyfriend to ask him if he would show her and he was quite glad to do so. After he gave her a basic lesson, I instructed her as to what to do to ‘not do’.


I had her practice swinging several times to get use to the motion and then asked her to step up to the ball and align herself like her boyfriend taught her. Then I had her close her eyes ready to swing. I told her to imagine the ball going to the back of the cup without moving the cup and let her body swing as she had just learned but only when her body wanted to. Remember, she had no idea how much force to apply as she had never even played mini golf. Then she swung and her life changed forever.


When she opened her eyes, she looked at the cup. She then bent down to see that the ball was indeed at the back of the cup. She looked up at me and said very matter of factually, “The cup does not look like it moved.” I confirmed for her that it did not though the shocked faces of everyone else should have given this away. She jumped for joy and hugged her boyfriend like she had just won the lottery and proclaimed, “I know what Zen is.” and I did not doubt her.

Try yourself with whatever doing interest you. See if you can ‘not-do’ it instead and discover why she jumped for joy.