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nondoing … how’d you do that?

(Further to previous two posts.) Inspired by Lao Tzu’s writing, Greg Johanson and Ron Kurtz have developed hakomi as a style of psychotherapy that guides clients towards harmony of being and doing. Following a major loss 3+ years ago, I benefited from the skills and compassion of hakomi therapist who pointed and nudged, never getting in the way of my struggle to make sense of lived experience.

I post this shortly after leaving a friend who, while working on a writing project, first invites then stubbornly refuses to take my advice. Naturally, the word ‘stubbornly’ applies to us both: she does things her [inefficient] way and should do it my [better] way. I now realize that mine is the better way to go, but do her a disservice by insisting. In wishing to be of service, I got in the way of hers. Having walked away — with the door ajar should she decide to ask for help again — I’m left feeling incompetent. As Lao Tzu suggests, “Abandon sageliness and discard wisdom / Then the people will benefit a hundredfold.” 

“Together, nonbeing and notdoing support nonviolence,” Johanson and Kurtz continue,

nonviolence is an attitude of trust in the creation, especially the natural changes which flow from the interaction of being and nonbeing. It is a committment to not interfere with the processes of life, but to celebrate their spontaneous, organic intelligence. Nonviolence promotes a respect for subtle, almost imperceptible movements of mind, body, and spirit, and gives rise to a yielding or softness which follows and nourishes these movements rather than correcting or conquering them.

text sources: Johanson, G., & Kurtz, R. (1991). Grace unfolding: psychotherapy in the spirit of the Tao-te ching. New York: Bell Tower, p. xiv. Chan, W. (1963). (trans.). The way of Lao Tzu. New York: Bobbs-Merrill, no. 19. image credit:


2 responses »

  1. Often all you can do is say what you think might help, and then let it go. I’ve been getting lots of lessons in that regard lately. And perhaps being able to let go now, but remain open for when someone might be more receptive, is the most competent place.

  2. you’re so right, nathan. i had to bide my time and by the time i was ready to address the issue, my friend had figured out both the writing problem and her/our stubborness. lesson: you’re not alone. trust in each other’s intelligence and sensitivity.


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