Archive for December 18th, 2014

December 18, 2014

Wu Wei

tao of pooh

Wu wei [woo-wey] is an important concept in Taoism that literally means non-action or non-doing. In the Chinese classic text the ‘Tao te Ching’ (‘Book of the Way and the Power’) Laozi explains that beings (or phenomena) that are wholly in harmony with the Tao (‘the Way’) behave in a completely natural, uncontrived way. The goal of spiritual practice for the human being is, according to Laozi, the attainment of this purely natural way of behaving. He likened it to the planets revolving around the the sun, without any sort of control, force, or attempt to revolve themselves, instead engaging in effortless and spontaneous movement.

Several chapters of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ allude to ‘diminishing doing’ or ‘diminishing will’ as the key aspect of the sage’s success. Taoist philosophy recognizes that the Universe already works harmoniously according to its own ways; as a person exerts their will against or upon the world they disrupt the harmony that already exists. This is not to say that a person should not exert agency and will. Rather, it is how one acts in relation to the natural processes already extant. The how, the Tao of intention and motivation, that is key. According to Laozi: ‘The Sage is occupied with the unspoken, and acts without effort. Teaching without verbosity, producing without possessing, creating without regard to result, claiming nothing, the Sage has nothing to lose.’

read more »