the naughttao stillment is a counter-movement toward calm and stillness. based in taoist philosophy, the stillment encourages you to stop and be still. still your movements, your mind, your heart. still your life. to do this you must renounce your quest for the material minutia that the commercial commissars wish you to produce, possess, and proliferate. instead, make a shift to a new paradigm. one that emphasizes calm and quiet and combats the chaos of modern life. a paradigm that uses non-action for the individual in the same way gandhi used non-violence for the collective. reject all the stuff you have become and return to nothing. look at who you are. look at what you have. are they really supposed to be one? look again at what is essential in your life. you will find that many somethings convolute and complicate your life. the stillment challenges you to strip away all the complicated somethings and end up with nothing. a nothing that is the truth of who you are.
you came into this world with nothing and you will leave this world with nothing is a commonly misread idea. it’s true that to an observer you came and shall leave with nothing, and it is that nothing that you must rediscover. that nothing you came in with was full of love and you may leave with it. you came in with a spirit, a soul, a consciousness, a uniqueness of infinite dimension. and while all will leave when you do, your footprint shall remain. your footprint is made up of all the somethings you have accumulated and all the effects you have created. the multitude of somethings you accumulate does not increase who you are just as deprivation from amenities does not decrease you.
somethings cannot elevate or enlighten who you are. you are a who, not a what. we seek whats because they are comfortable and easily defined. you are a job, a car, a pair of jeans, a perfume, a hair style, sneakers. you are a father, a daughter, the oldest, the youngest, disabled, gifted, normal. you are extroverted, task-oriented, oppositionally defiant, depressed, dysfunctional, medicated. no, you are not. you are nothing. you are none of these things, they are somethings that happen to you or that you happen to. they are the masks we wear. the widely held belief that we are the sum of our experiences and possessions is a lie. while many have come to believe the latter to be true, they may disagree with the former. many who have abandoned the quest for material gain have sadly just transferred those desires to a new medium, experience, but it is just as false. just as the new car, living room suite, diamond, designer apparel, does not create who you essentially are, neither does the day at the louvre, the walk on the great wall, the trek through the amazon. you disagree? consider the many idiots and fools who have done or seen great things and have not changed in any way whatsoever. please realise also that we are all someone’s fool, just as we are all someone’s friend. consider those you know who have done or seen things you think should have been life altering but instead they have remained as stupid as you have always thought them to be. how is this possible? it is because who you are is in no way defined by the somethings you do or the whats you have seen.
the stillment challenges you to stop and rediscover the you that is nothing. that has nothing, worries about nothing, wants and desires nothing. it is a difficult thing to do.
in your natural state you are nothing. and nothingness is where you are most comfortable. with simplicity and nothingness you will in turn become whole.
not convinced? consider the many people around the world who have nothing and will go no where in their entire existence. by definition therefore you see them as in some way less than you. if that is true, then indeed you waste your time reading this. consider the many legions who have insurmountably less than you. those that have enough essentials to exist, and many who don’t even, are still often happier, wholer than you. why? consider the child. the child is empty of experience and for the most part devoid of actual possession. is she not nearer perfection than thee? is the child less of who he is going to be as and adult. parents will tell you that their child has been who she is for as long back as they can remember. she has been that way and done those things since she was a baby, they often remark. the child is the less complex, closer to nothing, version of ourselves. the conclusion is that we are and always have been exactly who we are. and we have been so all along with nothing. with nothing but who we are. the somethings and whats merely cloud, distort, confuse, and hide who we really are.
so what then? so get rid of them. strip away every something that you possess or desire or even need. impossible! impossible you will say. sadly, this is impossible to many who live in certain parts of the world. the stillment is not a drive toward returning humans to cave dwelling hermits, although it is suggested that you make a serious effort to be alone and in nature to aid in rediscovering your nothing. the stillment does not advocate some backward push into infantilism, although spending time with young people is also recommended. no, the stillment challenges you to be you, only slower, stiller, more awake, and more aware of your surroundings. so then it is conceded to be true that some somethings are truly essential to modern life. in turn you must concede that the necessity of a something, such as a car, does not mean that a luxury model is that necessary something. that is the trap the stillment challenges you to not only avoid but deconstruct. within you is a cancer of desire that has blurred the line between what somethings you need, and what somethings you want. again, look around, how many times have you told yourself lies of desire when acquiring something supposedly needed that was in fact really merely wanted. it may have been an actual need by modern terms in the beginning, but you dressed it up as a want didn’t you? with all the bells and whistles, because why should she have better than you, and you’ve earned it after all haven’t you? and why shouldn’t you be allowed to spoil yourself? you’ve worked hard haven’t you? listen to you. don’t you sound just like an ad man? sold. look around yourself and see what you’ve been sold.
look around. is that thing over there what you need or is that what you want? it’s what you’ve been told to want by someone who is consumed by wants himself. what do you need? ask someone who doesn’t want something from you, if you can find such a person. they’ll tell you, you need nothing. you need nothing. and a lot more of it. the excesses of man are just that. excesses of want and desire and we rationalise them as needs so we can feel better about our footprint.
as stated before your footprint made up of all the somethings you have accumulated and all the effects you have created.
a word about your footprint. a lot has been made about ecological footprints in the environmental realm, and justifiably so, humans are destroying the world. destroying it with excessive wants it may be conjectured. but there are other footprints. cultural, parental, emotional, societal footprints. or it could be simply that there is only one. one lasting mark made by you on the earth, its people and places. it is not being suggested that your actions should be guided by what is left behind, be it benevolence or cataclysm. for who could act simply on the grand notion of what to leave behind. a legacy is not a goal. it is decided by those that remain and therefore cannot be controlled by the individual in life. that is no way to live. no, it is suggested that by examining what footprint may be left that you can better understand how totally off course you have been pushed by your somethings and whats.
question: how much crap will someone have to clean up after you go? what or who was this crap for then if it is just going to be recycled into the world of useless possessions after you go? please don’t kid yourself on this one. they are just going to have an auction when you die, really, they are. it may seem important that you have these things but when you are gone others will see the folly of it all, if they don’t already. you don’t need to ask. you know it’s true. question: does this crap in life really make things better for you now? does extra bedrooms with useless crap, bigger cars with extra luxuries, more elaborate electronic devices with extra features, does all this stuff fill you up inside? can materials improve flesh, blood, and mind? no. nothing can. nothing can fill you. nothingness and knowing that you don’t need (see, really want) these things can fill you. stuff only fills landfill. look around at your footprint and determine what is wanted somethings and what is not. the first shall greatly exceed the second. then what? get rid of them? maybe not, that’s just more landfill. stop getting more, definitely. try selling it to someone who doesn’t yet understand? shame on you, that’s a transference not a removal of your footprint. you are still responsible. donate it? sure if someone can use it as a need, clothing is a great example of how your excess can turn into someone’s need fulfilled.
so you already know all this. maybe as stated earlier you already are a person who has forsaken consumption of goods in search of cultural experiences because you believe this will free you from the trappings of material consumption. perhaps you are wrong. you have replaced a misplaced desire for shallow accumulation of things with a misplaced desire for the shallow accumulation of experience. then again may be you have, and may be you have not. so, you have set forth on adventure to fill the hole left by removing the collection of crap from your life. what kind of adventure? what kind of experience? just like you were being sold value in your life by the ad man through commodity purchase in object form, are you now being sold the same bill of goods in your choice of experience?
yes, you are. just as you were told to buy objects to improve you, so are you being told to buy experiences that will. experiences that you have been led to believe will change you, reinvigorate you, reinvent you. and, as before, you are you no matter where you go or what you do. that will not change, nothing ever does. you will not find new parts of you in new york, london or madrid. not at the eiffel tower, nor the berlin wall, not in the markets of florence, nor the waters of the great barrier reef, not even in the ancient valley of the dead, nor on the peaks of the himalayas. you are not a scavenger hunt to be collected and constructed. yes, you may learn things in these places. you may learn much about you and the world. things only you can learn, if you are open to it. but, you will in fact return from these places the same you you have always been. again, consider all those who have done and seen so much and have remained so tragically unchanged. why? the reason is simple, the answer is the question, why? why go to these places? why do… anything?
you do what you do, want what you want? because you have learned to follow expectations of who you are supposed to be and what you are supposed to have. expectations built as much by you as anyone else.
most of what you have always done was done by you simply because it was what was expected of you. what you were supposed to do. you followed expectations of you. expectations either created by you, or by what you perceived others expected of you. be careful here, you can never say you did what others expected, only what you perceived their expectations to be. for you will never truly know what others expect. and most of your perceptions of these expectations most likely bare no actual resemblance to what others really expected of you. furthermore, the truth of the expectations is irrelevant because you can only ever act on what you know in any given situation.
while these may be the conditions of constantly flowing expectations we all labour under, that does not make them any more valid or true to you. the stillment proposes that you stop doing what you are told. what you are sold. stop doing the things, stop seeking the experiences that others have told you, have sold you on. experiences themselves are of great benefit, that is not being denied. only through the continual flow of experiences will you live, love, and learn. but the only experiences that can be learned from in any genuine sense are ones that come from motivation that is true to the self. all other motivations are driven by a sense of wanting to conform and our society is based on them, on that there can be no refute.
however, there is a gigantic difference between conforming for the benefit of a just society and conforming for the benefit of a commercial society. you have had trouble distinguishing the difference, not because you are stupid or easily led, no. because the deceivers have become so good at what they do. you are among them. you are your own best deceiver. but it is not entirely your fault even though it is mostly your fault. if you are a sheep, and you do not know, there is no sin. but a sheep who knows he’s a sheep and believes that fleecing will make him a better sheep, is well, sad and pathetic. question: do you want to visit insert location here because there is a deep connection felt with some unseen force driving you there; or do you simply want to go because you are certain others will be impressed by you having gone? it is that simple and that complex. ask yourself whose idea was it that you go there, do that, get that thing. truly for all of us it must be realised that almost every answer you have in almost every situation is: that wasn’t my idea, where did that come from? be honest, search yourself and you will find that this is the plain truth about living in most of the societies of the world and in living in our global economy. you have implanted wants and desires that are hard to distinguish from what you really need.
most of what you think you want, need, desire, you truly neither need, want, or even desire after scrutiny. this is the basis for buyer’s remorse. it’s not remorse, it’s realisation. you didn’t need it. you were driven by want that once fulfilled left you empty because it wasn’t the thing, it was the wanting of the thing that drove you. this definitely must stop. it is an outside force exerting itself on you. you are vulnerable to this force because you are in constant motion. you are always busy. there is always more to do. there’s never enough time to get it all done. never enough time to do what? what are you doing that is so important? are you saving the world? stop this nonsense. who would you be saving it for anyway? the stillment encourages you to still this constant movement. stop and think. stop and look both ways. stop and smell the roses. to paraphrase ferris bueller: life moves pretty fast, you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you will miss it. be still. you make so many mistakes when you hurry. stop and do nothing. become the nothing that you once were. in finding nothingness, in doing nothing, the pace of everything will slow and you will begin to see what is truly going on around you.
by doing nothing, the false expectations that drive you to do what you do will fade away, and you will emerge into a state of following nothing.
the stillment finds its basis in taoist teachings. wu wei, inaction or doing nothing, does not mean surrendering to fate or giving up. it means that you meet conflict, crisis, and chaos with calm. you find solutions with still clarity rather than with hurried panic. it is a simple yet profound ideology that you will find challenging to practice. in nothingness you will find everything you need. it will take time to break the commercial and cultural conditioning you have ingrained. you will feel silly, your mind will race. you will feel that there must be something more productive you could be doing. you will find your mind clouded by many voices saying contradictory things. and that is the beginning. when you begin to really hear the traffic of your mind you will begin to understand how to leave it behind.
do not concern yourself with finding ways or times in your life to schedule meditation or walks or doing nothing. this will only add to your multitasked frustration. there are already moments in the day when you find yourself tuning out. your mind wandering. your concentration failing through lack of opportunity to regenerate. go with it. wherever you are try to let it happen. instead of shaking yourself out of it, let yourself slide into it. soon you will discover activities for you that are non-activities, that are opportunities for inaction, for doing nothing. meditation, yoga, tai chi, walking, running, cycling, are all excellent activities for those whose minds insist in the beginning on forcing a productive outcome. but eventually you will learn to find random moments everywhere to slow, to calm, to stop.
consider the driver and the walker. the driver sees that he is moving quickly and knows of the potential danger, but he feels the illusion of control because he believes he can see ahead and clearly in all directions. but just looking straight out the side window would give him some sense of that illusion. when calamity hits, it will all be moving too fast to control. you are the driver and you are speeding through life. the stillment is walking through life. yes, you will not get there as fast as the rest, but consider the destination. the walker sees the truth of this. from her point of view she sees the highway traffic for what it really is, loud, fierce, frenetic, dangerous. you will see less of the world on foot metaphorically, or will you? what does the driver see? surfaces without texture. he is protected from the elements, prevented from the elements. the walker is in the world not moving over it. the walker can stop. she can sit. her mind can wander. the walker feels the earth beneath her. she feels her senses alive as they should be. the driver is enclosed, encapsulated, insulated. he is hurtling through space and time in a beautiful coffin. the driver’s destination is mapped and well traveled and he thinks he’s free because he can see the exit signs, but really he is lost. he only knows where the road leads, he does not know where he wants to go. because his experiences, his exits if you will, have all been preselected based on what outcome he thinks he wants, his destination, he has lost the opportunity to be truly in the world. lost the opportunity to be surprised, to learn, to find awe, the opportunity to find himself. when the walker gets lost, that’s when she finds things of beauty and importance, not about the world, but about herself. when you give up trying to know where you are going, what you are doing, that is when you will make many interesting discoveries.
once upon a time someone answered: because it was there. this person does not know why he climbed the mountain, but he knew he had to and he did not care that anyone knew he did it. he did not climb for glory, he climbed for himself. do you want to climb so someone will be impressed, so you will be elevated artificially? or must you because you always had to. the true artist declines credit for the art because she knows that it came from a place she doesn’t even understand. all she knows is it had to come out. you’ve done that. after a personal moment of greatness, be it small or grand, you thought to yourself: where did that come from? you are so far from you sometimes that you can barely recognise yourself, especially when you do well. you cannot know the source of who you are unless you know nothingness, quiet, and calm. but that knowledge comes with a price. it is difficult to return to you. it is easy to buy a replica you. so, do you want to drive in comfort, or suffer the pain and delight of the walker? what do you think, does the globe trotting debutant really see more of herself in the world than the single mother of two? will your life be better spent hiking the outback or reading to a child? finding your truth is painful, because it may not be what you were sold.
when you can become quiet in your movement, you can also still the mind. the cacophony that is your mind will quiet in nothingness and you will begin to hear yourself again, or maybe for the first time. it will be difficult and take much effort and time, but so did the process of your commercial conditioning. you will need to seek others who will support you in your efforts. they need not know your true motivations because they may not understand. they may also add to your problems by contributing their own version of active noise. as you begin to find your own rhythm and still strength you may be able to convey to them what it means to be still. but all must come to stillness on their own, at their own pace, in their own time. you will never be truly still. none of us ever is, but you will find more joy and contentment in life. and you will see things very differently.
gandhi said: live simply so that others may simply live. the naughttao stillment offers: live simply so that you may simply live. in this way, by example, by non-action, by not contributing to the noise, by reducing your footprint, you may live simply so others can simply live.