Wu Wei – The Way of Non-Striving

Last time I talked about compromise to handle duality in reality. An improved way to contemplate this is Wu Wei.

Directly translated, Wu Wei (無為) means no action. But that completely loses the meaning and it may lead people to think it is some sort of fatalism. Wu Wei is NOT no action or simply not doing anything.

A better English interpretation for Wu Wei would be “the way of non-striving.”

The following questions are why this is very very relevant for our every day life. Ask yourself, are you struggling? Are you trying very very hard to achieve or become something? Do you feel that you deserve that something because you work very hard? And when you don’t get it, you feel sad and suffer?


The following may sound mad and completely contrary to common sense that we are taught. My realization is that when we try so hard, try too hard, often we don’t get what we want. And even if we do get what we want, we soon realize how big of a mess we have on our hands that will require much more effort to clean up than the effort we spent getting what we want.

Hence, I think it is important for us to realize Wu Wei. They always tell us to innovate and think outside the box, right? Well, here we go.

Wu Wei — the Way of Non-Striving. It is action without striving, without trying. It is more like natural action. Action that fits in the flow of situation, is appropriate to the objective reality, and harmonizes/supports/balances the many dualistic relationships we have around us.

Stop trying.

When you try, you don’t do. (you are not 100%)
When you stop trying, you simply do. (now you can be 100%)

Sound simple? It is. Is it easy? Not really. It requires much practice.

Whatever it is that you want to do, we continuously pay attention, learn, understand, practice, and repeat the process. At some point, after enough practice and repetition, you can let it go. Then you simply do.

Primarily, wu wei is recommended to be applied to living life… a life of awareness.

Some examples base on personal experience…

Like a pianist who needs to perform a piece, after much practicing, he knows exactly which keys he needs to hit and how exactly wants to hit it to convey his emotion. When he perform, he simply does it. However, if he has to think about it and tries to hit the key the way he wants, he will miss or play the note different than the original intention. Not only, he probably will lose his flow to finish the whole piece.

Same thing for a vocalist. The mere act of trying to hit a high note will disable his ability to do so because of the muscle tension that is generated from trying.

The same thing for basketball player. The talk about about play being “in a zone” or shooting “in rhythm”. Do you think the player is thinking how he wants to shoot the ball when he shoots the ball? Nope. He simply does it.

We always say we must be free. But the mere thought of that we must be free binds us to a concept which takes away the freedom.

We are always told that we must be happy. But the mere thought that we must be happy makes us try so hard to find happiness that we are not happy.

Our over zealous effort to control all things in life are nothing but self-defeating proposition. This “fighting” mentality is one such common sense that can be let go, if you sincerely want good things to happen.

One cannot ALWAYS be happy.
One cannot be perfect.
There is up and down.
People come and people go.

See things as they are and then simply react. Can you do that? Do you have doubt? Then you will keep striving.

There is nothing you can do about the problem because there is no problem. All the drama in life are all self-created. Yes, it is very real when you have created it. But can you not create it? Can you live without drama? Do you need to be excited, surprised, elevated all the time? Then it will be no end in sight. It will be a moving door.

There is not an end to strive for. That doesn’t mean you do nothing. That means whatever you do, with realization of Wu Wei, you WILL do your best… you are held back by no ideals nor desires. If you must conceptualize, it is doing for the sake of doing, for that moment of greatness. That is being in the flow. That is “playing in a zone”.

Without striving, you stop trying too hard.
You act when it is the time to act.
You don’t act when it is the time to not act.

How do you practice? For most of us… Slow down. Stop. Allow silence. Be Still. Breathe. Pay attention around you. Repeat. Thousand and thousand times.

Because of this realization, I am very wary to use terms such as “fight for”, “to defeat”, “to beat”… how we claim we need to “fight for peace”, or that “love and compassion can defeat suffering”. But there is nothing to beat. When you are aware, realize how all things are connected, you act without striving — Wu Wei. We will all simply love and be compassionate, and we simply do it because not just that it is good for us, but that things can be so much worse.

Let go of striving and you will also let go of suffering. You don’t try to let go. You simply let go. And by then, we no longer need to fight violence, no longer need to defeat suffering, no longer need to fight… we would “win” without a fight.

Additionally, in the act of fighting, attempting to defeat negativity, we validate the very negativity we want to defeat. We emphasize the negativity, and we make it an important thing in life. Is negativity what you want in your life? If not, then let go. Not saying they are not real. You decide for yourself if your pain, depression, problems are so important that you MUST fight to remove them. When you do that, are you not putting more emphasis on them instead, and with emphasis, are you not keeping them in your life?

The negativity may be very real it may take some time, but slowly, let it go bit by bit. Through practice, you simply let go. You act without striving.

But if you are a courageous soul, perhaps you just let go. That is also possible. In an instant, you would have realize Wu Wei. You ARE free. You no longer need to try to be free.

Practice, is simply living life with awareness. Observing yourself mentally and physically. Observing others around you. Observing events around you. Don’t try to see. Simply pay attention. As you learn to pay attention, the more and more you will come to see. Living in awareness becomes natural. And over time, life seems to be become easy, but keep in mind, making things easy is not the goal, the essense of Wu Wei.

If you can learn and live Wu Wei, I doubt your life will then be “that bad”.

You stop making a mess by trying too hard.
You act or not act without striving.
You simply are you.
You just be.

PS. This is kind of a sequel to The Agenda Mentality – Doing is Always a Mean to an End.

Originally posted 2009-06-09 22:38:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Are You Ready to Change?

Phew, the election is finally over. For awhile I felt like the news, rumors, absurdities, bashing, and Tina Fey would never end. We can now be relieved and start seeing and reading other things besides all things presidential and campaign related. By other things, I mean economic crisis news ONLY. Okay, enough sarcastic comments for the day.

Finally the president is decided. Now we can move on. I am glad. The biggest unknown and question now is, “Are the people ready to change?” Our future will result in two completely different ends depending on the answer. I wonder if people really mean it when they say change.

If they mean that they are ready to change and better themselves, this would be a good answer.

If they simply mean that they await for others and the world to change for them, this would be the disastrous answer.

Originally posted 2008-11-05 21:36:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Change That We Don’t Believe In

We believe in change where we force everything outside of ourselves to change for us, maintaining status quo or continuity as much as possible — even if it means beating everything else into submission with force, often in the name of goodness.

We don’t believe in change where we change and grow ourselves in junction with the ever changing world deemed external to us.

If genuine change means first to look into ourselves and then outside for understanding before the action of change, what we truly believe is pretentious change.

Thus we are now seeing the consequences in various aspects of society around the globe that somehow, and in most cases incomprehensible to our logical minds, turn out to be hideous and disastrous — despite all the claim and acclamation of goodness, morals, and positivity.

It is as if we are promised gold, but when we finally come to realization, we have cow poo in our hands. Except, it is none other than ourselves that promise us gold.

Originally posted 2011-01-22 15:07:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Wisdom and Knowledge

I asked the question, “What could be wisdom?” last post. Indeed, it is quite elusive. FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com mentioned common sense, and how her parents and grandparents have them.

So, old people come to mind when wisdom is mentioned?
Then, is wisdom simply old age?

Though, that still does not answer what wisdom is. Old age is also not it because there are many unwise old people. It’s just that they are more likely to be wiser than their young counterpart.

I find in eastern culture (not the eastern culture now), the people have more emphasis to wisdom due to the influence of Buddhism and Taoism. There were a bunch of people who were in search of being enlightened. Just look at the existing methodologies and techniques — meditation, yoga, reciting mantra, zazen, physical isolation, etc. The ones who become enlightened thus become masters and seem to have answers to everything in life. But some of them get there in a day. Some of them take several decades. Some died before.

Now, let me quote FB’s one sentence, “Wisdom is also common sense worked in with logic/rationality. Wisdom seems to be this part of us that works along side our rational mind.”

So wisdom is not so much information. Nor a skill that could be learned through discipline. But as said when I talked about eastern culture, wisdom seems to somehow needs invoking. Yet, it cannot be taught. What is it?

I can offer no definite answer either :P It seems to be the knowing of the known and unknown. Thus, it’s our full being that knows that we know what knowledge we know (logical mind) and ALSO knows that which is indescribable through the logical mind.

Wisdom then becomes the knowing, the understanding, the realization of our full being.

Thus, if knowledge, learned through intelligence of the logical mind, are puzzle pieces, wisdom is the one to put them together for the “optimal” result in life.

Taking that further, I would even say that if knowledge is the car, the wisdom is the driver. Thus, given 500 horsepower of knowledge, there needs to be a driver who can handle a 500 HP car. When a driver, who is only capable of driving 100-200 HP (normal) car, drives 500 HP of knowledge, we WILL have tragedy. That is definite.

Let me give another example, if you give the famous katana Mursame to a child to wield, it is with certainty that he’s going to lose a limp or two if not kill himself. So someone with great swordsmanship should wield it. But also, if fallen in the wrong hands, many people could be killed.

What about someone with a ton of wisdom but almost no knowledge? I don’t know, can we still call this person wise?

Jokes aside… Too much knowledge, not enough wisdom. I observe that is the state of affair our world is in.

A balanced person, a balanced world is when wisdom and knowledge are in proportion.

Wisdom being the knowing of our full being. When we accept and embrace our full being (if you let yourself into what it means), perhaps you can find wisdom there.

I think until then, we have to live in a world driven by knowledge, or rather, people who are drunk on knowledge that will continue to be more and more chaotic until we become wiser. In this sense, for future as humanity as a whole, economy and politics become “small problems” until we resolve this. This making philosophy more important than ever.

If knowledge is power and with power, comes responsibility, what does that tell us now?

The responsibility is not just how we are going to use the power (knowledge). More importantly, the responsibility is also knowing when to use the power and when NOT to use the power.

Of course, drunk people would not listen to this kind of crap.

Originally posted 2009-11-05 00:37:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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