Hsin Shin Ming: “39. The wise do without doing, but the foolish fetter themselves.”
The wise are those who are enlightened. ‘Do without doing’ means not to be attached to, or not to be deluded by illusions. ‘Fetter themselves’ means to tie themselves with illusions or be deluded by illusions. To do without doing is possible only when we have realised that everything is empty and neutral.
Let’s suppose we did good to one of our friends for example. The wise regard their doing as empty and forget it as if they had done nothing. This is doing without doing. The foolish are likely to keep the idea that they did something good, as if to bank their money. Keeping the idea that we did something good is binding ourselves with an illusion that we did something good.
Let’s suppose that we are in such a needy situation that we are forced to ask the friend whom we assisted for help. When he complies with our request, the wise are as happy as if to take an unexpected gift form him and feel grateful to him. But the foolish are likely to take his help for granted just as if they withdrew their deposited money from a bank and so don’t feel as happy and grateful as the wise. When he refuses their request, the wise aren’t wounded by his refusal. However, the foolish will be wounded a lot and even feel betrayed, just as if their bank were to refuse them their previously deposited money when they wanted it back. In the end, when we fetter ourselves, we end up hurting ourselves even by doing good. So, ancient masters would say that doing good is not as good as doing nothing. The latter means doing without doing.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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