Wu wei (無為)

“Wu wei, often translated as ‘doing nothing’, means not overdoing. It means not doing anything to an extreme, such as overeating or overexercising, which cause bellyache and exhaustion. It means doing just enough and no more. It means not doing anything against nature or against your own nature. It means using the least amount of energy to get the most done. It means not forcing, not exhausting yourself trying to make anything happen — whether a piece of art, a job, or even a relationship.

Wu wei is ‘learning to allow’, letting things develop in their own way and in their own time. We are able to adapt and, like water, to take the shape of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. Chuang Tzu says, ‘Let things unfold naturally and let your mind be free. Accept what you can’t control and continue to nourish your internal spirit. That is best. You must be willing to act in accordance with your own destiny. Nothing is simpler than this and nothing is more difficult’. It is so difficult, because wu wei asks us to refrain from anything extra or beyond what is naturally suitable or adequate in any situation.”

“Practicing the Tao Te Ching” by Solala Towler

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