As we progress through the process of ascension, several stages occur. Among them is a shake-up which inspires an initial awakening, then the full realization of truth, followed by the development of discernment to ascertain a correct course of action. We wouldn’t try to ride a bicycle before building one, nor would we attempt to sail an ocean without a boat. When things get challenging in life, we can check to see if we are practicing Wu Wei in order to refine our actions. This is the art of effortless action as described in Taoist teachings.
1. No Action Doesn’t Mean ‘Nothing’ Happens
“The Tao does nothing and yet nothing is left undone.” – Lao Tzu
Wu Wei or 無為, translates from Chinese pinyin to mean “no-action” or “actionless action.” This is considered the ‘natural’ way to do things, as opposed to striving, opposing, and forcing, as well as lollygagging, or succumbing to complete inertia. When we are in alignment with the Source, or as Taoists call it, simply, the Tao, then we don’t have to ‘work’ at anything. This is not to be confused with doing nothing. The state of Wu Wei doesn’t give us an excuse to sit on the sidelines, observing life and critiquing others’ actions. Instead, it describes the inspired action of a person who is brimming with life energy, and that has dedicated their actions to a purpose which supports Oneness. This person does not waste energy, though, and moves only when the time is right, and then, with magnificent acumen, and seemingly magical support behind them.
The ancient ideograms and symbols used in the Chinese language and culture offer the most simplistic way to describe wu wei. We can observe this is the simple yin yang symbol. One side is active, or masculine, representing the energy of extending oneself into the world, and the other side of the symbol is passive, or more accurately, receiving, or feminine energy that causes an inward journey.
All Chinese medicine, martial, and internal arts from Tai Chi to acupuncture to meditation aim to help balance the masculine and feminine energies, the doing and ‘not-doing’ you might say, as a way to achieve wu wei.
2. The Cosmos is Not Working Against You
We aren’t sandwiched between heaven and earth, we ARE heaven and earth. To practice wu wei, we must first realize that we are connected to the Oneness of all things. Though we should have clear boundaries, like children given free rein to run and play within the confines of a beautiful park, we also should remain open to vulnerability and the lessons this may teach. Once we are open and protected we can begin to observe nature and embrace universal energy as it ebbs and flows. From there, we learn when to move with that energy – ebbing and flowing with our own actions in accordance with the Oneness of all things. An immense sense of freedom comes from knowing we don’t have to fight against the Cosmos, and understanding that it is never working against us – only we can choose to work against it’s flow.