Virginia, I agree, Emily asks a great question. One that, like all great questions, refuses to be pinned down with an answer. The question itself is non-action!
How easy it would be to say what non-repose is: action. But, can that pure action exist? Action is always informed by the subauditory (my new word that I’m looking for an excuse to use.) No matter how spontaneous or urgent the act, close behind is its reason, its degree of importance to self-interest, an awareness of the amount of control the actor relinquishes.
You two inquirers of the uninquirable, do you think that if we can find an answer by moving action beyond those above-mentioned foundations to make it autonomous, and then say we've named non-action? Still, even after abstracting act from actor we would only have what non-action is not; what it excludes in order to be.
This brings us to creation myths, ontology, the bringing forth into being. In action the world is created, but who acts? The fact of the world’s creation, how it was once created, stands in the past. But how? How the past? The past is thought only now. The world is created as it is thought by experience. But do you know that? Are you conscious of making the world as you live it? No, of course not. So, action without actor.
In the above sense of creating the world by living is most obviously felt in joy and beauty. One dissolves in the experience. But as soon as the going gets rough, as soon as there’s a problem self interest exerts itself against the circumstances and non-action can be spoken of because the actor feels anxious while alone.
We may not be able to define non-action, but we’ve all felt it. Joy or ecstasy or submission, giving yourself to a problem, turns against you, destroys you as the source of your thoughts, and leaves you with only your body consciousness. You body becomes intelligent. It plumbs stopped time for a chance at precision and acts swiftly to the heart, but acts without your knowledge, only a grain of your permission. You wake up to a solution. Concentric, circumambient rings build your self back and you stand as if waking to a new creation.
My sense though, is that, like all things, non-action is only one pole and that life is lived on the continuum between that and self-interest. Can we say that to not act is to not become worried about not acting, but when it arrives to give it the same respect as everything else? If we say that non-action is more important that self-interested action we’ll miss non-action, which moves with you as your dance partner.