While it seems like a contradiction in terms, it takes a lot of hard work to achieve nothingness, as any zen master will attest.
But now it’s not only wise Buddhists who value the art of doing nothing. The University of Fine Arts in Hamburg is offering you the opportunity to turn your back on productivity — and be rewarded for it.
According to Friedrich von Borries, professor of design theory and creator of the scholarship project, our rabid belief in success, growth and money has led us to the precipice, both environmentally and socially. “We wanted to turn that upside down — giving a grant not for the ‘best’ and for ‘doing a project,’ but for doing nothing,” von Borries told CNN.
It’s what zen practitioners have long espoused: when one refrains from doing something, it will benefit others who would otherwise be impacted by the negative consequences of our actions.
But if you feel you lack the skillset needed to do nothing well, you might want to bone up on the practice before trying to convince the profs in Hamburg that you have what it takes.
From now until September 15th, you can apply for the scholarship designed to promote “active inactivity.” It may be the last actual effort you make for quite a while.*
*Naturally, there’s a catch. In order to claim the scholarship money, you’ll need to write an analysis of what it was like to try to do nothing. And since the audience for your paper are a bunch of academics, be prepared to sweat your tuchus off trying to win their approval.