“The Tao does nothing, and yet nothing is left undone.”
“One who lives in accordance with nature does not go against the way of things.
He moves in harmony with the present moment, always knowing the truth of just what to do.”
Here’s something about me.
My personality tends towards being …shall we say… rigid?
I have very specific standards for organization, cleanliness, and how the day to day activities should unfold.
This probably doesn’t make me the most easy person to live with, but after sixteen years of marriage, hopefully Mark and I have (mostly!) found a happy medium.
Well, starting this blog and trying to build something on my own has tested my need for control so much!
It’s a constant ebb and flow of making decisions, letting them go into the universe, making more decisions, and letting them go, over and over again.
It’s really been challenging living with more uncertainty in my life and learning what I am in control of and what I am not.
This is probably why I’ve recently been rereading the Tao Te Ching and some of my trusty books on Taoism.
I find that reminding myself of my role as part of the flow of the universe helps me to ease up on striving too much in my day to day life, and allowing what is, to be.
WU WEI: THE OPPOSITE OF STRIVING
One idea in particular has impacted me a lot. It is the concept of wu wei.
Living according to wu wei is essentially the lifestyle of someone who follows the Tao, or the dynamic universe.
Wu wei is directly translated as “not doing”, but I like Alan Watt’s more descriptive interpretation of it meaning “not forcing”.
When we try to force something in our lives, all we do is make our own lives more stressful and difficult, and we interfere with the universe which is always trying to find the fastest way toward achieving the intention we put out.
When we try to control ourselves and everything around us, we actually use more energy and take longer to achieve what we want.
The best and only way to make sure we aren’t forcing something to happen is to allow spontaneity as a way of being.
The Tao, itself, is not a static concept, but is a continuously unfolding whole.
So because all things that are part of the Tao work as a whole, it cannot do anything to itself.
Since we are part of the Tao, we can’t separate from it and do something to it to change it.
All our actions are part of the unfolding processes.
We are in a relational flow with the Tao. We affect it and at the same time, it affects us.
A lot of the time though, we have an agenda for our lives that doesn’t flow with the Tao.
We can tell when we begin to strive, and it feels really difficult to achieve something.
To allow the the best and most direct path to our happiness, we need to allow our minds and bodies to guide us to what we naturally feel like doing.
We know we are on the direct path of happiness when everything seems to fall into place, and it feels easy.
BUT WHAT ABOUT CREATING OUR OWN HAPPINESS?
At first, it might seem like the idea of wu wei seems to go against my previous posts about being proactive in creating our lives.
You might be asking, “How will I achieve anything in life if I’m not striving for something?”
It’s a delicate balance between being proactive in our happiness, and allowing spontaneity in our lives.
It means being aware of when we can and should take action, and when something should be left up to the universe.
The Tao is spontaneous by nature. It has to be because it’s constantly changing. Even right now.
So to go with the natural flow of the Tao, we must allow spontaneity and listen to the wisdom when the mind and body are harmonious.
We should just go with what feels right at the moment and then wu wei just happens.
We need to be wu wei, not do it.
“Superior wu-wei does not aim at wu-wei and so it truly is wu-wei.”
“Practice not doing…When action is pure and selfless, everything settles into its own perfect place.”
One way I’m trying to practice wu wei is when writing posts. Being who I am, I usually map out a plan for each week. But a lot of the time I’ve felt more inspired to write about something else.
It feels right at the moment to write about something else.
I’m trying to taking the way of least resistance.
The struggle is real though!
Hopefully we can all be more conscious of moments of spontaneity (and wisdom!) from the universe.