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Wu Wei

The essence of wu wei is that often small indirect actions or even absence of action when it might be otherwise expected, can allow the harmony of the universe to be restored in the most effective manner. Wu Wei is a principle found in Taoism that involves harmonizing effort with the fields of energy around us. When this is done at a high level, it can result in complete inaction, but inaction is not the essence of wu wei.

Wu Wei translated literally means “not doing”. Some interpretations of this include an absence of purpose, or acting without purpose. This does not imply random actions but does imply an abandonment to the harmony of energy in the universe. Wu wei can imply a state of constant action, but actions that all follow a natural course of harmony.

Wu wei tells us to be quiet and watchful, to listen to many sources, and to experience ourselves as connected to the oneness of the TAO and promoting harmony and balance. From this state, action becomes flowing, spontaneous and natural, or “without purpose”.

Taoism – The Wu-Wei Principle, Part 4

A key principle in realizing our oneness with the Tao is that of wu-wei, or “non-doing.” Wu-wei refers to behavior that arises from a sense of oneself as connected to others and to one’s environment. It is not motivated by a sense of separateness. It is action that is spontaneous and effortless. At the same time it is not to be considered inertia, laziness, or mere passivity. Rather, it is the experience of going with the grain or swimming with the current. Our contemporary expression, “going with the flow,” is a direct expression of this fundamental Taoist principle, which in its most basic form refers to behavior occurring in response to the flow of the Tao.