The term Wu Wei (pronounced “ooh-way”) literally means “not trying” or “doing nothing”, but it is nothing to do with boring inactivity. It refers to the dynamic, effortless and non-self-conscious mental state of someone who is optimally active and effective. People who are “in Wu Wei”, often describe it as “virtue”, “power” or “charismatic power”. There is an energy radiation that others can detect, an external sign that someone is in Wu Wei.
How can we become Wu Wei?
Wu Wei is a real paradox. It is difficult to do your best not to do your best. To use your mind intentionally to silence itself, is a paradox in itself. That means that there is no easy answer to this question. All early Chinese thinkers thought they knew a way to become Wu Wei, but none of them had a solution that always works, in every situation. Wu Wei means being fully present, fully absorbed in what you are doing, or with whom you are doing it. In this way we soon realize when we are forcing something, or pushing too far.
Why is Wu Wei so important in today’s world?
Our society is very much focused on doing your best and on making more effort. We are taught that in order to achieve our goals, we have to try harder and harder. If we encounter a problem, you need to work more. This often happens with students. When they are struggling with a writing assignment, their solution is to work through the night and sit at a computer screen for hours. This can be fine if it works, but often when you work your hardest for a long time and achieve nothing, you have to let it go.
It is important to leave your unconscious to run free. One of the tasks of the unconscious is to connect things and help you see the patterns. We often ignore the subconscious, and when we do, we make bad decisions. Often, you only need to stop and have a good night’s rest, so as to give more space to your unconscious. That way your unconscious can talk to you, and share its findings with you. I have often experienced this.
Examples of the Wu Wei concept:
If you disturb nothing, everything stays fine.
“Wei Wu Wei” is acting without acting, without forcing. Smooth, effortless, going with the flow. Wu Wei, without action, without effort. Without resistance.
Wu Wei, non-doing (English), is a core value of Taoism.
However, Taoism is not a philosophy of laziness.
It is about living with open awareness.
Being in the flow. Being part of what is, part of nature.
Wu Wei. Do not try, because then you have a goal.
Trying to relax is not relaxing.
Seeds ripen before they grow.
Grass grows, a bird flies.
Everything happens in a natural order.
Everything will automatically get its natural space.
Follow your free will, the path of the Tao.
Live and work without striving, without resistance.
Be at ease but remain conscious.
Act freely, as you feel, remaining connected with the Tao.
Wu Wei, spontaneously being present, without working at it.
With focused desire, but without ambition as this limits possibilities.