Lao Tzu and Black Sabbath

The Tao of Doom

Andrew Macrae
3 min readMay 16, 2021


Photo by Datingjungle on Unsplash

Working without effort

I recently started dipping in to the Tao Te Ching again.

I first encountered it in my 20s, and it had a really powerful effect on me. All those seeming paradoxes somehow speak to the truth of being an effective human.

One paradox in particular that puzzled me the first time around, but which I now begin to grasp, is Lao Tzu’s dictum to ‘act without doing; work without effort’.

What does that even mean?

In our productivity-optimised culture, it seems absurd.

How can you accomplish anything without action and effort?

During my slacker phase in my 20s, I would have interpreted this incorrectly as a form of passivity.

But now that I’m older, I can see that ‘work without effort’ is indeed possible.

I think there are three parts to it:

  • loving what you do
  • being really good at what you do
  • being authentic.

Love what you do



Andrew Macrae

Freelance writer and editor. Sign up for my newsletter about writing, freelancing and whatever is worrying me