Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Understanding Wu-Wei or Non-doing

I understand that this concept of non(t)-trying can be confusing. We are so used to trying to do or to control everything. We have strayed far from our True Nature and most have lost their way back. The whole point is simply that we are already in total control before we start trying to "control". This drive to "control" is your Ego fighting against your True Nature. In the calm center of the moment, the Present, when there is no thought or interference from the Ego, we are truly in control. The ancient Taoist principle of "wu wei" is exactly what I am talking about here. Please read this definition from Wikipedia:

"Wu Wei" means natural action - as planets revolve around the sun, they "do" this revolving, but without "doing" it; or as trees grow, they "do", but without "doing". Thus knowing when (and how) to act is not knowledge in the sense that one would think "now" is the right time to do "this", but rather just doing it, doing the natural thing.
"Wu" may be translated as not have or without; "Wei" may be translated as do, act, serve as, govern or effort. The literal meaning of "Wu Wei" is "without action" and is often included in the paradox wei wu wei: "action without action" or "effortless doing". The practice of wu wei and the efficacy of wei wu wei are fundamental tenets in Chinese thought and have been mostly emphasized by the Taoist school. The aim of wu wei is to achieve a state of perfect equilibrium, or alignment with the Tao, and, as a result, obtain an irresistible form of "soft and invisible" power."

All of the true disciplines such as Yoga, Tai Chi, the myriad of meditation practices, and everyday disciplines such as boxing, dance, and archery, teach this concept too. It is only in the Present, where no thought occurs that we are at our best. This is when we are all powerful and fully human. This is the only way to achieve oneness with our True Nature, Self, God, Tao, or whatever you choose to call "that which can not be named". It is our Source and is the Source of everything in the universe. It is who we are even though the Ego "says" we are something separate. The Ego is nothing more than interference - no different from static on a radio is as it drowns out a station you want to listen to. Tune out this noise and the signal comes in strong. Silence the mind and act without thought. "Doing" is acting with thought so your energy is scattered, not focused, and far less gets done. "Non-doing" is acting without thought so your total being is completely focused on the act and therefore all is done. "Doing" is hard work. "Non-doing" is relaxed and effortless. Simply put, doing and thinking oppose each other and diminish the act. Non-doing, in contrast, is acting without internal opposition so one's total ability is focused on the act. Chapters 48 and 38 of the Tao Te Ching by Lao-tse show the importance of non-doing:

The student learns by daily increment.
The Way is gained by daily loss,
Loss upon loss until
At last comes rest.

By letting go, it all gets done;
The world is won by those who let it go!
But when you try and try,
The world is then beyond the winning.
~ Translated by Raymond B. Blakney

Chapter 38(partial)

A truly good man is not aware of his goodness,
And is therefore good.
A foolish man tries to be good,
And is therefore not good.
A truly good man does nothing,
Yet leaves nothing undone.
A foolish man is always doing,
Yet much remains to be done.
~ Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English, 1972

The principle of wu-wei contains certain implications. Foremost among these is the need to consciously experience ourselves as part of the unity of life that is the Tao. Lao Tzu writes that we must be quiet and watchful, learning to listen to both our own inner voices and to the voices of our environment in a non-interfering, receptive manner. In this way we also learn to rely on more than just our intellect and logical mind to gather and assess information. We develop and trust our intuition as our direct connection to the Tao. We heed the intelligence of our whole body, not only our brain. And we learn through our own experience. All of this allows us to respond readily to the needs of the environment, which of course includes ourselves. And just as the Tao functions in this manner to promote harmony and balance, our own actions, performed in the spirit of wu-wei, produce the same result.
~ Ted Kardash

These Eastern concepts can be a little confusing at first but after one tries to understand for a period of time, then just relax, clear the mind, and you will understand.
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  1. Thanks so much for the message. :) … this post clears the concept. But as you told one should put more time and effort into it if she/he wants to fully understand and then apply it.

    We seemingly don't need our intellect at all. I clearly remember times when I was guided by my intuition… but was confused because I had started to look into it logically…

    Pure love… :)

  2. :)

    eastern religions are confusing to many until you give up... but strangely its the same for many things... look at how people learn to swim

    until you relax into the water you can't truly swim. That's acceptance. Take a practice based pretty much 100% on acceptance... then you can see why it's so hard for westerners to let go into acceptance of the Taoist thoughts...

    peace my friend