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Wu Wei

Posted by Relish Ubiquitous


Forum: Daoists Group

Sitting Quietly


"Sitting quietly, doing nothing,

Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself."  - Zenrin Kushu (The Way of Zen 134, 222)

Wu Wei is a complicated concept.  Actually much of translated Daoist literature is complicated because of the gaps between the languages.  For example some of the early German scholars in the late 1800s and early 1900s were then translated over to English, so oftentimes these sources can be two or more times removed from the original.

Wu Wei can be translated roughly as "effortless action."

It doesn't necessarily mean "doing nothing," rather it means allowing things to take shape without standing in the way.

Sometimes it's not despite our best efforts to achieve something and falling short, but instead precisely because of them.  As the Dao De Jing says, "keep sharpening your knife, and it will blunt."  

Wu Wei can apply to the mind as well.  We have what could be called "monkey minds" which are constantly swinging from branch to branch.  As Zhuangzi said, "If you are depressed that means you are living in the past, and if you are anxious that means you are living in the future.  Try living in the present." 

So what does Wu Wei really mean?  Or how can we apply it?

By letting go and following the path of least resistance we achieve Wu Wei.

A pine tree is stubborn and can be blown down, but a willow tree bends with the breeze.  ☯

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1 Reply

Reply by Mito7


A great reminder, enjoying your posts.

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