Some Wu Wei wisdom (non-doing as path to freedom)

The concept of non-doing has been a big part of my practice lately. It’s a way to always have exactly as much energy as we need. It is what happens when we find ourselves living in synch with nature. Paying attention in mindfulness helps one get a sense of this being a profound living reality of which we need only become aware. Below are some quotes to peruse on the subject.

First from Wikipedia a quick definition for those of you who’ve perhaps never heard of the idea:

Wu wei (…) is an important concept in Taoism that literally means non-action or non-doing. In the Tao te Ching, Lao Tzu explains that beings (or phenomena) that are wholly in harmony with the Tao behave in a completely natural, uncontrived way. The goal of spiritual practice for the human being is, according to Lao Tzu, the attainment of this purely natural way of behaving, as when the planets revolve around the sun. The planets effortlessly do this revolving without any sort of control, force, or attempt to revolve themselves, instead engaging in effortless and spontaneous movement. more from Wiki here

And the quotes for contemplation are below.

A person who speaks as if he knows everything soon drives away his listeners. The Universe communicates itself to us in many ways, and sometimes, it is through the words of others. If we act the know-it-all, others may refrain from talking to us, and we may fail to get the message they could have given us.
― Wu Wei, I Ching Wisdom: More Guidance from the Book of Answers, Volume Two

and

The path that one person follows is not the correct path for any other person. Each of us must walk his own path to enlightenment— that is the way.
― Wu Wei, I Ching Wisdom: More Guidance from the Book of Answers, Volume Two

and

When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around 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.

When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress, no struggle. Egotistical Desire tries to force the round peg into the square hole and the square peg into the round hole. Cleverness tries to devise craftier ways of making pegs fit where they don’t belong. Knowledge tries to figure out why round pegs fit into round holes, but not square holes. Wu Wei doesn’t try. It doesn’t think about it. It just does it. And when it does, it doesn’t appear to do much of anything. But Things Get Done.

When you work with Wu Wei, you have no real accidents. Things may get a little Odd at times, but they work out. You don’t have to try very hard to make them work out; you just let them. […] If you’re in tune with The Way Things Work, then they work the way they need to, no matter what you may think about it at the time. Later on you can look back and say, “Oh, now I understand. That had to happen so that those could happen, and those had to happen in order for this to happen…” Then you realize that even if you’d tried to make it all turn out perfectly, you couldn’t have done better, and if you’d really tried, you would have made a mess of the whole thing.

Using Wu Wei, you go by circumstances and listen to your own intuition. “This isn’t the best time to do this. I’d better go that way.” Like that. When you do that sort of thing, people may say you have a Sixth Sense or something. All it really is, though, is being Sensitive to Circumstances. That’s just natural. It’s only strange when you don’t listen.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

and

Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? ~Lao Tzu

and

Non-action does not mean doing nothing and keeping silent. Let everything be allowed to do what it naturally does, so that its nature will be satisfied. ~Chuang Tzu

UPDATE: This is one I just added about 12 hours after I posted this post:

When life is not interfered with in any way, it becomes highly fluid and efficient. The more you try to force life to flow where you would like it to go, as opposed to where it wants to go, the less efficient you become and the more energy you use. (…)

To echo the words of the great sage Lao Tzu: “The very softest thing of all can ride like a galloping horse through the hardest of things. Like water, like water penetrating rock. And so the invisible enters in. That is why I know it is wise to act by doing nothing. And how few, how very few understand this!” — Richard Rudd (2013-05-09). Gene Keys: Unlocking the Higher Purpose Hidden in Your DNA

and finally

Practice not-doing. And everything will fall into place. ~ Tao Te Ching

Posts on Beyond Meds that explore the nature of meditation:

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Your ordinary mind, just that…

taoYour ordinary mind, just that is the Tao. Whatever state you have now, regardless of what you think of it and regardless of its nature, is absolutely It. You therefore cannot enter It, because you have been It from the very beginning. ~ Zen Master Nansen

There is an excerpt of the Tao Te Ching on Beyond Meds that this quote gave me cause to remember. It’s always nice to revisit the Tao Te Ching.

Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?

bentDo you have the patience to wait until your mud settles

and the water is clear?

Lao Tzu

Tao Te Ching

This is an excerpt of the text of The Tao Te Ching I studied in college. This exact translation, in fact, and though I’ve been told by many it lacks scholarliness, I’ve always liked it. Perhaps because it is what I started out with. I also met the translator, Stephen Mitchell once when he spoke to our class and afterward he invited any of us who wanted to go out and sit on the grass with him which turned out to be a small intimate group and I really enjoyed it.

So I’m going to put the first few chapters here and then if you like it I will direct you to where you can read the whole thing.

rockstackChapter One:

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

Chapter two:

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

Chapter three:

If you overesteem great men,
people become powerless.
If you overvalue possessions,
people begin to steal.

The Master leads
by emptying people’s minds
and filling their cores,
by weakening their ambition
and toughening their resolve.
He helps people lose everything
they know, everything they desire,
and creates confusion
in those who think that they know.

Practice not-doing,
and everything will fall into place.

Chapter four:

The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

It is hidden but always present.
I don’t know who gave birth to it.
It is older than God.

Chapter five:

The Tao doesn’t take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn’t take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.

The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Hold on to the center.

_______________________________________________________

To read in full online the rest go click here.

To buy this translation: Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Perennial Classics)

The Tao Te Ching

rockstackThis is a text I studied in college. This exact translation, in fact, and though I’ve been told by many it lacks scholarliness, I’ve always liked it. Perhaps because it is what I started out with. I also met the translator, Stephen Mitchell once when he spoke to our class and afterward he invited any of us who wanted to go out and sit on the grass with him which turned out to be a small intimate group and I really enjoyed it.

So I’m going to put the first few chapters here and then if you like it I will direct you to where you can read the whole thing.

Chapter One:

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

Chapter two:

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

Chapter three:

If you overesteem great men,
people become powerless.
If you overvalue possessions,
people begin to steal.

The Master leads
by emptying people’s minds
and filling their cores,
by weakening their ambition
and toughening their resolve.
He helps people lose everything
they know, everything they desire,
and creates confusion
in those who think that they know.

Practice not-doing,
and everything will fall into place.

Chapter four:

The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

It is hidden but always present.
I don’t know who gave birth to it.
It is older than God.

Chapter five:

The Tao doesn’t take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn’t take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.

The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Hold on to the center.

_______________________________________________________

To read the rest go click here. To buy this translation go here.

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