Tom, "doing nothing" can be very important work. It doesn't mean stopping doing things. It means "non-doing" them, which to me, is almost a basic fundamental law of permaculture. Or at least, part of the (non) goal of permaculture.
"Non-doing" : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_wei
The term "wu wei" is Taoist, but I do not consider wu wei to belong only to Taoism.
I referred to Fukuoka because he is one of the forefathers of permacultural techniques. His original insight was just this: do less. That doesn't mean he was lazy or sat around, and in fact he had to work hard all the time. But it does mean that instead of trying to impose his view upon the landscape, he tried to read the landscape and the plants and insects FIRST, and then began his work. This is still work that we need to do today.
Many of our society's ills, in my opinion, come from one of our most cherished impulses: to roll up our sleeves and "do something". Work is a beautiful thing, but not unless we have right view of what we work for. I would consider this right view to be the same described as the first "fold" of the eightfold path of Buddhism, but I do not consider right view as neccessarily Buddhist.
In the words of one famous Buddhist joke: "Don't just do something. Sit there!"
This not only means that we may benefit from meditating instead of mindlessly doing, but to me it also means to do less. To go with the flow.
If we look upon the totality of civilization, it is a lot of "doing", and the doing gets faster and more frenzied the more "advanced" the civilization gets. Our thoughts get faster and more convoluted. Simplicity is not valued. This is not permacultural.
We want to impress our thoughts and desires onto the landscape, instead of allowing it to have its own subjectivity. We do not stop to read the text of the non-sentient beings around us, because we would rather stay in our heads, or because we are "too busy".
The more, and faster we do, the more carbon is used.
Every immoderate emotion, every overanalytic thought, every thoughtless action, and even every well-intentioned but misaligned action we do, uses carbon, uses energy.
Thank you for talking with me about this!
I am not worried about being off-topic here. For once, there is only one topic. I believe that is true permaculture.