“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” [Lin Yu Tang, Zen tradition]
When the author of this quotation tells us that the wisdom of life consists in elimination of non-essentials, he is simply telling us to eliminate the noise in our lives. Is noise essential? No. It’s an illusory indulgence. Furthermore, noise is doing! You could take this as license to do nothing and yet, it’s not what the quotation speaks of. Rather, it speaks of letting things settle.
Is it really essential for you to do anything? I know you’re very uncomfortable when you’re not doing something. You’re not comfortable being still. You have to fidget. Something has to move—your physical body, your emotions, your mind. If you were a flower, you would keep playing with your petals. Why is this so?
Is it that you are so identified with the content of your life, which I’ll define as your noise, that you are frightened to be without it? Is there a security, a safety in your noise? If you stop fidgeting and just allow stillness, it doesn’t feel safe. It’s not secure because you don’t understand stillness. You know your noise. You’re very familiar with it. But stillness takes you beyond what you know and the result is you’re frightened because in stillness you must relinquish what you know--your virtual, illusory reality.
Therefore, the elimination of non-essentials is the elimination of the noise, the content, the illusory definitions that you are dependent upon and instead being still and opening the gateway to true reality. It’s the truth of who you are. It’s just life delighting in itself, consciousness, blissful for no reason.