The other day I asked a friend for some advice. He talked for a few minutes about his experience and concluded by saying “I’m not sure if that’s advice, or just me just blurting out some things.” Still I found his words helpful.
Advice that does not try to be advice is useful. To give true advice is to speak honestly about the world and how we are in it–to say what is. But the moment that a person begins to say what you should do or not do, it is no longer useful. When we see things as they are, it is obvious what to do.
This thought occurred to me when I was planning my day today. I have many things that I could do with my time at work. I have many lists of things with associated numbers to represent priority, magnitude and risk. I have many people that want me to do things and I receive messages through many channels of communication which present opportunities for action.
However all of these lists and channels cannot tell me what to do. They can only tell me what is on my lists. And what messages people have sent me. They tell me what is. What to do comes from some other place which I cannot write down. In order to see clearly what to do, I must first be aware of what is–without judgement–without deciding to do anything. Right action comes from a state of rest.
At my work we talk about our process which we always try to improve upon. We talk about what we are doing now and what we could do in the future. We associate numbers with discrete items on a list and change those numbers to move things up and down in relative priority. We try very hard to know what will happen in the future–what it will look like and how long it will take to arrive there.
This process is useful because it forces us to consider what is. But it is very easy to become too invested in our planning–to become deluded with the belief that we can predict and control whatever will happen. The truth is that our lists cannot tell us what to do. They can only tell us what we have written down about what is. And even that is imperfect because the world around us is always changing.
A good process is one that brings to light what is going on–that shows us what is. And reminds us, day-to-day, of what we could do. It is good advice. But it cannot replace that moment of creation which is the decision to act. That comes from a place of emptiness. That creation is how we move from one moment to the next toward our natural goals.