Take Action VS Do Nothing

4,000 years ago, there was the Zen temple on the lonely mountain. There was the psychic master Kaijin, the old man but nimble, humble and venerable leader of Zen temple.

One day at night, while he was meditating with fellow monks, there was Jo, the arrogant monk with the giant face and the mighty red dragon tattoo on his back. He came in front of the master. “You must teach me your psychic power right now” Master, then,  simply whisper to him “Come here everyday when the sun rises with others. I will teach you all.”

After Jo got his promise, everyone finished meditation and walk back to their room except Monk Lee, the weak but intelligent novice monk with the rounded face and blue eyes. He came to master “Master, I come here not to master your psychic power. I came here to enlighten”

“Just do nothing”

“What? How can I enlighten by doing nothing. Let me do something”

“You will understand soon young monk. Just do nothing.”

Lee turned his face down and walked back to his room for training tomorrow. But actually, all of what he can do is just do nothing.

Time passing by so fast. Students kept practicing the psychic techniques from Master. Everytime they practiced, Jo would always be excellent and get compliment from Master….but poor Lee doing nothing. He felt so bored like the the dead cat.

Now come to the final examination. All monks including Lee walked and gathered in front of the Master. “For 15 years I trained you all. Now it is time for the final examination. (UhHm) There’ll be the only one passing the test, and this test will show up the next Zen master”

Jo felt so excited that his blood ran into his face “Split it out! Master. What is the test?”

“Simple, use your psychic power I have taught you all just to turn the candlelight off here in the meditation room tonight before the sunrise.”

Then, the master picked up his match, enlightened the candle and meditated. All monks sat in front of him to create the greatest psychic power, so they turned to sit down, close their eyes, gather their psychic waves and collectively concentrated on candlelight blowing off.

Nothing happen.

they became so frustrated. They used up all energy on concentration even Jo ran out of his power. The more they tried, the more they failed.

“The sun is gonna rise very soon. We should do something!”

“Yes, what should we do? otherwise, we all failed the test”

but Lee said “just do nothing. The candlelight will be blown soon.”

and he was right. Jo could not stand this anymore. He cried out “Argggh, I came too far to fail. I won’t give up!” Then he came near the candlelight and blow it with his mouth.

The candlelight was blown away.

“What did you do? We suppose to use the psychic power not your mouth. Thank you so much for being stupid. No one could pass the test. All effort for training was useless!”

Other monks became mad at Jo. Before he angrily stepped out of the meditation room, the sun rose. Master opened his eyes finishing the meditation.

“Congratulation Jo. You truly understand the basic that the psychic power is just to make what you expected happen. You pass the test.”

Suddenly, all monks turned angry “That is nonsense! For many years, we have put all effort to study 10,000 psychic techniques but he just blew away the candlelight with his mouth.”

“Silence! I didn’t finish my word” said master

“Now … I became so old to still be the master of this temple, so I would like to announce …. that Lee is the next zen master!”

Now every monk turned so uglily surprised..except Lee coming in front of the Master.

“Now I finally understood why you told me to do nothing.

I don’t have to master any power.

I don’t have to wave the ocean. It can wave itself.

I don’t have to burn the sun. It can burn itself.

I don’t have to change the world. It can change itself without my action.”

Master then, dropped his tear. He was so glad that his student turned to enlighten.

Remember this lesson fellow monks,


Taking action will bring achievement

but taking no action

will bring the enlightenment

Written by Jade the Mystic

The psychology and mindfulness writer helping you leverage your mind, understand life, reduce stress, relax and learn to heal your body and soul with meditation through life quotes, articles, books, speeches and advises.

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