Meaning of Wu Wei
Wu in English means no/ negation and Wei means action. Wu Wei thus translated in English means no action or actionless-action or best as Alan watts describes it Not-forcing.
Some people believe that Wu Wei is a call to inaction or cultivated passivity. They think Wu Wei is representative of being lazy or avoiding the work that is supposed to be done. That isn’t true.
In the central book of Taoism -Tao Te Ching, it is written.-
“The Way never acts, yet nothing is left undone.”–Tao Te Ching
Wu Wei thus means spontaneous action. Action where you don’t have to force.
It’s being at peace while being engaged in the most challenging tasks so we can deal with those difficulties in the most skillful and effective way.
Most athletes refer to it when they talk about the zone. A state where they don’t think before acting and yet everything happens of itself.
It’s like a state of flow when the person is one with what he’s doing.
Wu Wei is said to be the principle that nature works on. Just like the growing of a plant. It takes no force and happens naturally in itself.
What Wu Wei teaches us
Wu Wei says we should act with the currents of life rather than against them.
There is this example of a tree and a plant during a great storm. The small plant flows and bends with the wind and thus stays intact with its roots.
The tree, however, stays rigid and eventually falls due to the extreme force of the wind.
Wu Wei requires us to suspend beliefs that we try to force onto things and rather act accordingly to the situations.
This happens when we shun the critic inside us. When we are able to get rid of the ego we begin to experience a newfound connection within ourselves.
We start to observe the world and our surroundings not as separate entities but instead as interdependent objects in harmonious relationships with each other.
The one practicing the art of Wu Wei is unaffected by adverse circumstances that might completely break the spirit and resolve of those that have a rigid philosophy or a controlling mindset.
The paradox of Wu Wei
The principle in no way means that we lose our control on things.
The paradox of Wu Wei is thus that even though we let go of forcing and control we end up with more of it.
The action of letting go thus enables us to have even more control of the situations at hand.
Wu Wei allows us to bend around our challenges through perseverance and consistency.
It allows us to work around difficulties and over time resolve things that would have taken much longer to resolve or in some cases would have been impossible with strength or force.
How can we use Wu Wei
The Masterful passivity and art of acting only when required can reap great rewards in every field.
In Taoism, we are repeatedly told that rather than imposing our thoughts we should instead hold back and instead adjust towards the flow of circumstances.
The call for finding the inspiration within one’s self and letting the work guide your body rather than the other way around.
When we can do that we go beyond the outward appearance of things and dive deep into substance.
Rather than imitating someone’s art, we begin to explore the nuances and express the art in our own unique way.
This happens because our focus shifts from the result-oriented approach and instead goes towards the process.
With a constant focus on the process, we significantly improve the way things get done and hence achieve significantly better results in the long run.
Once you start integrating the principle of Wu Wei into your life you begin to see dramatic changes.
Impossible tasks seem more and more achievable. While working people can’t comprehend the things you do however when the task is completed the work done seems the most significant.
“The Great Tao loves all things but doesn’t laud it over them and merits are accomplished it lays no claim over them. “– Tao Te Ching
What this saying teaches us is to let go of ego and turn your complete focus on the task at hand.
Forget about the credit or rewards. Learn to enjoy the discipline and go with the flow.
The universe of interrelationships
“Wu Wei is Always to act in accordance with the pattern of things as they exist. Don’t impose on any situation as a kind of interference that isn’t in accordance with the situation. It will be better to do nothing than to interfere without knowing the system of relations that exists.”
The universe continues in a very peculiar system of interrelationships of things feeding off each other and cultivating each other at the same time.
Thus all relationships that exist whether they appear friendly or adversarial to us are all actually forms of co-operation.
When you do feel irritated at work or at home. Or if you find yourself tense in a situation. Pause for a moment and think are you forcing something to happen?
If the answer is yes then your task becomes to think of a creative way you can accomplish the same task without applying force.
Over repeated practice on this basic concept, you might begin to get better and better each time you try.
We urge you to explore what your callings are. Do you possess the courage to chase them?
We provide a free ebook called The perfect beginning that might help you in finding those callings.
Well, that’s all for this post. Have a good day and a good life.