Mystic Mantra: Sit silently and let the grass grow by itself

Columnist  | Amrit Sadhana

Opinion, Oped

Some things happen through effort, and some things happen only through effortlessness.


The Zen master Basho’s famous haiku, “Sitting silently, doing nothing, and the grass grows by itself” is hard to believe in or to achieve in the days of workaholism and the fast pace of life. Who has time to sit silently doing nothing when you have to drive for two hours to attend a meeting or catch the train? And “doing nothing” is a most derogatory term in modern lifestyle.

Wait a minute — I am not regressing into ancient beliefs and traditions. Contemporary neuroscience shows that 50-year-olds can have the brains of 25-year-olds if they sit quietly and do nothing for 15 minutes a day.

Neuroscientist Sara Lazar of Mass General and Harvard Medical School started studying meditation by accident. She sustained running injuries training for the Boston Marathon, and her physical therapist told her to stretch. So Lazar took up yoga. And the yoga stretches introduced her to the inner realm of meditation, exactly what Basho says — sitting silently, doing nothing — and the grass may have grown or not but her cortex definitely grew. Her grey matter enlarged just by sitting silently on the floor with herself. She noticed that she was calmer. She was better able to handle more difficult situations. She was more compassionate and open-hearted, and able to see things from others’ points of view.

This increased grey matter in several areas of the brain, including the auditory and sensory cortex, as well as the insula and sensory regions.

This makes sense since mindful meditation has you slow down and become aware of the present moment, including physical sensations such as your breathing and the sounds around you.

This is what Osho says: Truth is something that happens on its own accord. All that is needed from your side, from your end, is receptivity, a relaxed receptivity.

Some things happen through effort, and some things happen only through effortlessness. Some things will never happen through effort, and there are things that will never happen through effortlessness. All that is mundane happens through effort; all that is worldly happens through effort. And all that is sacred, other-worldly, happens through effortlessness.

That which is outside you has to be reached through action, and that which is inside you has to be reached through inaction. And this statement is about the inner. I am not saying: sit silently, doing anything, the spring comes, and you become the richest man in the world. I am not saying that. You will not become. You may become the poorest, but you cannot become the richest man in the world. I am not saying the spring comes and you become the President of America — that I am not saying. But God comes only when you are sitting silently, doing nothing.