Wu Wei. Action of Non-Action

“When we Learn to Work with our Own Inner Nature, and with the Natural Laws Operating Inside of us and Around of us, we Reach the Level of Wu Wei. Then we Work with the Natural Order of Things and Operate on the Principle of Minimal Effort. Since the Natural World Follows that Principle, it Does not Make Mistakes. Mistakes are Made or Imagined by Man, the Creature with the Overloaded Brain who Separates Himself from the Supporting Network of Natural Laws by Interfering and Trying too Hard.” Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

The common translation of ‘Wu Wei’ is ‘non-action’. However, a meaningful translation is the ‘Action of Non-Action’. This seems paradoxical and may be misinterpreted as apathy, laziness or missing of direction.

However, in the context of taoist scripture, it means to not go against nature or to not force something to happen at any cost but going kindly along the flow of life, exploring all the aspects of our essence.

Wu Wei is a Chinese concept central to Taoism and a core theme of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and it is described as cultivated state of being effortlessly in alignment with the intents and flow of the cosmos respecting our own nature as individuals. It is a kind of “going with the flow” that is characterized by a significative ease and awareness, in which without even trying, we’re able to adapt to any situation that might arise.

The true nature of Wu Wei is not inactivity but perfect action, because it is act without activity. In other words, it is action not carried out independently of heaven and earth and in conflict with the dynamism of the whole, but in perfect harmony with the whole and the nature of who fulfill that determined action. It is not mere passivity, but it is action that seems both effortless and spontaneous because performed “tightly,” in perfect acordance with our nature and the nature of things.

Natural world does reveals many perfect examples of Wu Wei. The cycles of the sun, the rotation of the earth, the cycles of the moon, the motion of the tides, the flow of tivers to create and feed valleys, the life of a tree to grow and give life to so many others. Each is highly productive, fit for the purpose to naturally deliver that which it was born to deliver. Each does its work without doing it.

The spontaneity of Wu Wei is a different sort of energy than we may be accustomed to conceiving. It is not an energy that can be forced by the will.

It is, according to the Platonic philosophy, the noumenal experiences of being in harmony with the cosmos, in accordance with the deepest elements of our souls and in a perfect equilibrium between one with the others. 

Infinity Says we’re everything, fragments of the endless, while finitude says we’re nothing. Between the two, we flow and rvolve. It’s in this In-between where the power of spontaneity can be itilized, where we are both the seer and the seen and in this state of mind the universe and the nature of things become aware of rhemselves. 

Author: Cristina Capucci 

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