When nothing is done

We take the train from Zagreb to Split, Croatia.

In Split, we walk through the market toward the palace built by the Romam Emporor Diocletian for his retirement in 305 CE. It was actually a walled fortress which housed his military garrison. After he died, the fortress was eventually occupied by the populace and today it is filled with shops, restaurants, hotels, apartments, and the remains of what he had built.

In the 7th century, Diocletian’s mausoleum, within the palace, was modified and consecrated as the Cathedral of St. Domnius (St. Duje). The bell tower was added in 1100 CE.

The Cathedral of St. Duje is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world still in use in its original structure without near-complete renovation.

We pay an admission fee. I approach the altar.


A man kneels before the relics of St Duje, a bishop beheaded by Emperor Diocletian in 304 CE.

I look at the ancient pulpit within the Cathedral of Duje and ponder the irony. The great emporor’s body is lost and his mausoleum is occupied by a saint he killed.

We visit the Temple of Jupiter, built by the Romans around the 3rd century. The temple has been modified for use by Christians. Inside are a statue of John the Baptist, a baptismal font, and the graves of two bishops.

We walk up Marjan Hill, a long, long way, passing the ancient church of St. Nicholas, a Jewish cemetery, and the Chapel of St. Jerome. We arrive at the cliff caves, occupied by Christian hermits in the 15th century.
These caves were a center for pilgrimage. These monks in the caves were following their inner path, living in a way that precluded a normal life.
I have been providing quotes from Lao tsu, the Chinese founder of Taoism, a man who advocates meditation, quietism, non-doing.
What might be discovered by someone devoting full time to the inner way?
All over the world, mystics have investigated the inner way.

I have taken part in over a dozen week-long silent Buddhist meditation retreats. This entails meditating from morning to night in silence. A Buddhist monk, one of my teachers, meditated in a cave for a year in India. He told me about men who spent decades doing this.

Here is the view seen by those living in the caves outside Split, Croatia.

Those who empty their minds become open to the inner way. This leads to compassion.

Lao tsu writes (chapter 48):
“In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In pursuit of the Tao,
Every day something is dropped.
Less and less, you need to force things,
until finally you have arrived at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.
True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can’t be gained by interfering.”

The Emperor Diocletian was competent and dynamic. Many modern people hope to achieve success through using these qualities. History tells us that Diocletian was troubled during his retirement. His empire was falling apart. After his death, his empire disintegrated and a saint occupies his mausoleum.

All over the world, mystics seek inner truth by shutting themselves off from the world. The delusions associated with grasping for things gradually pass away, allowing them to see clearly. We modern people can benefit from following this path in a modified, moderate form. You can achieve inner peace through meditation.


If you have been following these blogs, you know that I have been accumulating religious souvenirs. My wife and I walked from Lisbon to Santiago, Spain. Then we visited the bones of apostles. Now, I meditate before a candle from Finesterre, Spain (the end of the earth), St. Bernadette (Lourdes, France), St. Bartholomew, St. Paul, St. Peter (Rome, Italy), and St. Mark (Venice, Italy). These objects are actually of no importance but there is a kind of magic involved. You will see.

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