Sunday, October 25, 2009

Real Life Tao - The Wu Wei Way

Allowing things to unfold in a natural way seems so unnatural for most of us. In western society, we're taught from birth to take the bull by the horns, that decisiveness and aggressiveness will win the day. Conversely, we're taught that passivity and reflection will land us at the bottom of the societal heap and may well lead to victimization. So, we go charging off into the world in the vain attempt to try to mold it to our will.

Unfortunately, the more we try to force things to unfold into the shape we want, the more unhappy and stressed out we become. This causes us to try to force things even harder, yet the outcome tends to remain the same. Our lives become treadmills that we can't seem to slow down or jump off of.

What I find most interesting is that the result of the effort to force things doesn't seem to change our reaction. Whether these efforts are successful or not, we feel the same amount of discontent and imbalance.

If our efforts are successful, we're filled with anxiety and tension because we're ever mindful that things can change in an instant. So, we stress about keeping the status quo where we want it to stay. On the other hand, if our efforts are unsuccessful, we're filled with anxiety and tension because of our personal failure or people are out to get us or the stars are aligned against us.

It is ONLY when we quit trying to force our will that we are set free. We allow ourselves the freedom to flow which ever way the water moves us.

A pertinent example is right in front of your face. Anyone who has ever had a blog understands the notion of writer's block. Whether your general readership can be counted on one hand or on hundreds of thousands of hands, you will not be able to retain them (except for close friends and family) unless you post frequently.

However, we all go through times when life gets in the way or we simply don't have anything urgent to write. Maybe we're entering a reflective phase or we want to get out to hike rather than spend time staring at our keyboard. If a person's blog is important to them -- hey, mine is -- it's not uncommon to try to force yourself to write a post when you don't really feel like it.

I used to fall prey to this and I think it's rather easy to spot the posts that fit this description! Such entries are clunky and they don't flow. I don't know about you, but when I go back to read them, I can easily tell they were forced.

I don't suffer from this malady half as much as I used to. When I don't feel inspired to write, I go read a book, listen to music or engage in my own form of contemplative meditation. And, here's the interesting thing: When I quit thinking about the act of writing, something usually comes to me that I want to write about!

Anyhow, I will return to the concept of wu wei again and again throughout this series. There are so many examples that I could probably write for years and years on no other topic. :>)

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. Someone said the trick about writing is not about having something interesting to say, but making what you say interesting.

    You post more in a day, than I do in a week! Bravo!

  2. Hey Trey,
    First, thanks as always for being such a font of information and reference.

    Wu wei is it. Allowing things to unfold naturally. I have placed all my eggs in the wu wei basket, even at work, ands there are times when uncertainty sets in--should I be more agressive, should I take the bull by the horns, should I be more "managerial." But I trust in the way, in the folding and unfolding, in letting things run their course. It's actually an amazing phenomenon to watch.

    Two things to watch for--not being gleeful in watching someone lead themselves to their own destruction--I think as things fold and unfold naturally, it is our responsibility to try to help others do their best. Also, we are not to be pushovers, victims, or doormats. We are called to stand up for the truth and justice, and to "admonish" others when it is our responsibility to do so. This is what makes us teachers. A sifu wouldn't be very good if he simply allowed his students progress to unfold naturally without correction and instruction(having just written that sentence I realize there are many instances where a sifu would do exactly that, but in a different context and actually as a teaching tool and under his watchful eye).

    In this life, when we are consumed by desires, even if they are simpler desires like being able to pay the rent and buy food, we sometimes become impatient with wu wei, but it's the way to go.

    Sorry for the long post.



  3. Baroness,
    I post a lot because I think a lot AND, unlike most of the rest of you, this is my primary social and intellectual outlet. Were it not for computers and the internet, I would hold conversations with rocks. :D

    No apologies needed!! You added much to this overall discussion and made some excellent points that I neglected. Thank you. Thank you.

  4. You are just one of two bloggers I either fully, partially or scan nearly each of your post. Your postings to me has nothing to do with writing as much as I sense your sincerity.

    You are a person I count on for "Honest" dialogue, you are a Taoist and yet you are not; I admire that about you. I love your writing, I consider you one of my confidant for The Way.

  5. Robert,
    Thank you for your kind words.

    Almost every blogger has, at least, one loyal reader -- some have thousands. Regardless of the number, we have a responsibility to write from the heart, not simply write for the sake of writing.

    I try to keep this in mind every time I sit down in front of my keyboard.


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