Do nothing…

… and nothing will be left undone.

In ancient times, under the Heaven, in the land of Fu, , there was a great king, much loved by his people. His name was Qiang Ming,  強 明. His country was in order and his people content. There was balance because all followed the Tao of Heaven and Earth. One day, messengers came from a far part of his kingdom and reported that people were unhappy.

What was the reason for their unhappiness? It had not rained for several weeks, and their crops had dried, the green vegetables withered away, the brooks dried out and the fish had left.

People had very little to eat, only dried vegetables, smoked meat, nuts and rice. The king asked, “Are my people starving?” Messengers were sent to find the answer to his question.


Several weeks later reports from the furthest reaches of his kingdom told the king about the confusion and helplessness of his people. It still had not rained since, and the people had only rice to eat. Again, the king asked, “Are my people starving?”

This time he called his wise men, the counsellors, ministers and holy men and they discussed the matter. They all came up with different ideas.

The counsellors devised a promotional plan, which only aimed at motivating people. After this, they suggested, to wait and hope for the best. Maybe they could be encouraged to rally together by informing them of a more significant looming threat, such as the raising of arms in the neighbouring country Hiu by its wrathful King Li Pong.

The ministers developed an aid program, which would distribute food that was bought from the luckier neighbouring kingdoms. The establishment of a large organisation would be required, to generate the essential forms, needs assessments and list of procedures necessary to assure the correct and just allocation of goods.

The wise men suggested meditation and offerings to the gods so they would make it rain. They pointed out that maybe, the gods had been angered because the people had excessively enjoyed a carefree life for too long because after all, only the gods are meant to live in everlasting happiness.

The king also listened to the laments of the local representatives and their overblown stories that culminated in predictions of chaos. Their demands proposed the least constructive solutions. They were solely offered to demonstrate their own small personal importance.

All the advisors thought they had suggested good ideas, but the king preferred to continue to observe the situation and concluded to do nothing.


And what came about from this decision? Did all the people go hungry for a long time? Did they waste away and die of starvation? Was there malnutrition? No.

Once their storerooms were close to empty people began to work out new ways. Instead of relying on rain, they built dams and irrigation channels, they dug wells, and they planted their crops in the floodplains of the rivers.

For immediate relief from the food shortage, they asked for help from friends and relatives in the neighbouring areas who gladly gave what they had. They went hunting in the forests and not butchering life stock, which they needed in the future.

Since everything has a beginning and an end, the drought ended with a blissful steady rainfall. Celebrations and offerings to the gods happened all over the land. There was much cheering and happiness, and within a few weeks, all was back to normal and soon after all was forgotten.


King Qian Ming was hailed for his wisdom, and all loved him. And in the land of Fu, under the Heaven, harmony had entered again.


Wolfgang Köhler
07 December 2006

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This story is fictional.  They used to be called fairy tales.
Any similarity with living or previously living people is unintended and accidental.

You can leave it as it is, a story.
Or, if you like to read on where I offer my thoughts:

The king had followed the wisdom of the Tao. Knowing the innate nature of people, he allowed it to unfold through his non-action.

Non-action does not result from laziness, procrastination, inability, or ignorance. It is a legitimate choice concluded at the end of an assessment process. Through increased consciousness, the range of results is not limited to actions but also includes non-action to be a practical and sensitive choice of action.

One of the principles of Tao:

Actionless action, the action of non-action.

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