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Do Nothing

Inner Peace for Everyday Living Reflections on Chuang Tzu’s Philosophy

Siroj Sorajjakool

"Words,"writes Chuang Tzu, "are for catching ideas; once you've caught the idea, you can forget the words." In Do Nothing, author Siroj Sorajjakool lends us some of his insightful words to help us all "catch" the provocative ideas of one of China's most important literary and philosophical giants—one who emerged at a time when China had several such giants philosophizing on Tao or "the Way."

Though his thinking dates back to the fourth century, Chuang Tzu's Tao has profound implications for our modern lives. He welcomes an existence that is radically removed from the image of normalcy that society often projects, wherein the individual must always strive for more, always seek greater productivity, and always try to better him or herself and his or her place in life. Chuang Tzu would posit that the definitions of normalcy, success, and happiness are arbitrarily assigned and that our rigid and unquestioning adherence to these so-called "norms" leads to existential restlessness and unease. Instead of striving, he would say, be still. Instead of acquiring, embrace nothingness. Instead of seeking to understand the limitlessness of the universe during your brief and extremely limited existence, enjoy the wonder of it.

Siroj Sorajjakool suggests that when we can embrace nothingness, we undergo a spiritual transformation that liberates us to see more clearly and truly find ourselves. He offers a very personal exploration of Chuang Tzu's Tao, first in its historical and literary context, and then in the context of our twenty-first century existence. What emerges is a liberating and highly readable meditation on the many lessons we can "catch" from Chuang Tzu on how we view our aspirations, our joys and sorrows, our successes and failures, and what it means to be a worthwhile person.

Join the conversation!: http://sirojdonothing.blogspot.com/

Foreword by John B. Cobb Jr. / ix

Acknowledgments / xiii

Introduction / 3

1. Chuang Tzu / 13

2. The Way / 23

3. Nothing / 33

4. Nothing and the Journey of Ninety Thousand Li / 45

5. Do Nothing / 57

6. The Nothing of Love and the Love of Nothing / 71

7. Good for Nothing / 83

Conclusion: Be Ordinary / 103

Appendix A: Chuang Tzu: Historical Background / 109

Appendix B: The Psychology of Nondoing / 115

Notes / 131

Bibliography / 145

Index / 149

This book, a Tao of being, is a paradoxical piece concerning the mystery of life. It's all about the courage to be in the face of nothingness and its wisdom resonates with the heart.

David H. Rosen, MD, McMillan Professor of Analytical Psychology at Texas A&M University and author of The Tao of Jung: The Way of Integrity

Reading Do Nothing is an extraordinary opportunity to explore Siroj Sorajjakool's personal wisdom and scholarship that explores the interface of East and West through encounter with the nondoing that leaves nothing undone, and the dissatisfaction with what is that transforms into the redeeming ordinariness of being more present with what is.

Gregory J. Johanson, PhD, Coauthor (with Ron Kurtz) of Grace Unfolding: Psychotherapy in the Spirit of the Tao-te ching

This book concerns a way of seeing that originates in a spiritual and intellectual context very different from our own. Dr Sorajjakool presents the teachings of Chuang Tzu in a clear and accessible language, adapting the notions and ideas of early Taoism to our present-day social and invididual world. He does so in a fresh and immediate way, but faithful to the spirit of those teachings—truly a rare gift.

Fabrizio Pregadio, acting associate professor of religious studies, Stanford University

Rambling Taoist—Online Blog

[A] real gem. . . . I would recommend this book to both novices and those more familiar with Zhuangzi's thought. I certainly wouldn't characterize it as light reading because Siroj challenges us to view life through a new lens—a lens that can help us to see the inner peace that already resides within each of us!

Library Journal

Sorajjakool approaches the notoriously elusive philosophy of Chuang Tzu on behalf of the general reader. Without yielding up his Christianity, he sees the useful heart of the Chinese sage's wisdom as a kind of "wise passivity," abetted, if not exactly endorsed, by the likes of Heidegger and Krishnamurti. For most collections.

RALPH: The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy, and the Humanities

He [Sorajjakool] has a mild and gentle way of seeing the world, and a mild and gentle message for those of us who are nervous, uncertain, fearful, foolishly freaking out.