Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Flow Like a River

One of the many RSS feeds I subscribe to is Technorati:Taoism. As the philosophy of Taoism continues to gain traction in western circles, it provides me with the opportunity to discover more blogs authored by Taoists or that deal with Taoist themes.

Today I discovered a relatively new blog, A Tedious Existence. I'll check it out for several days to see if the author publishes frequently enough for me to add it to Taoist Links in the right sidebar.

Yesterday a entry entitled Wu Wei was posted. I think it offers a most beautiful and poetic explanation of the concept. It is provided below. I encourage folks to check out more of what's written at A Tedious Existence.
Wu Wei is a Taoist term meaning, "without action." It also is said to be, "action without action." Our closest term would probably be "go with the flow." In Taoism, the goal is to achive perfect equilibrium, or alignment with the Tao. To "become like flowing water" seems to be the essence of this idea.

Each human being is a river. All are unique with their own set of subtle fluctuations. These are caused by the distinct psychic topographies inherent in each one, just as each river has varying topographies that effect its flow. The water needs to flow unimpeded. When it becomes dammed up, there is the potential for disaster.

There will always be subtle fluctuations, but these are good. They make life interesting, give it character. But the energy needs to flow. The meandering stream must continue to wind its way through the land, unhindered.

I must become as water, which follows the path of least resistance.


  1. Isn't this also explained in the Tao te Ching? Or am I completely wrong. I do remember to have read something about this somewhere. Quite possible it was on wikipedia...bingo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_wei

    I do believe that Wu wei implies the general idea of what Lao Tze meant when he wrote down (or was it that soldier?) his great work.
    The perfect balance between work and rest, mind and body, ... The great river in our midst.

  2. Why of course! The author of A Tedious Existence has merely restated a time-honored Taoist principle in her/his own poetic voice just like you and I do in our own unique ways.

  3. I think of Wu Wei as "to do without doing".. which is an infuriating paradoxical expression. But it makes sense to me.


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