Wu Wei: Going With The Flow

This week’s Prompt For The Promptless is about Wu Wei:

Wu wei, or non-doing, is a Taoist practice involving letting one’s action follow the simple and spontaneous course of nature rather than interfering with the harmonious working of universal law by imposing arbitrary and artificial forms.  In other words, it is the action of non-action.

Huh. Who would have guessed that my life has just been a Taoist practice? I have been a wandering Taoist fish my whole life and I didn’t even know it.

My entire life has been spent like a leaf on a river; drifting along with the currents, sometimes getting tangled on the shore, but always eventually ripping away to some other unknown direction. Sometimes, I hit rapids; other times, the water is smooth with no perceptible movement, but It is always moving whether you can see it or not.

Image by Robin Loznak Photography.

Image by Robin Loznak Photography.

Unless you want to be a penniless traveling Monk or a tree, Wu Wei is a nice concept that doesn’t really get you anywhere in life. Sure, you will see a lot of things that some more intentional leaves won’t see, but experience is overrated. I’d do just about anything to rid my memory of some experiences. Experience doesn’t pay.

Lately I’ve been thinking about stepping off the path of non-action into action. Non-action isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, allowing things to take their natural course is great for trees, rivers and even architecture, but for humans who live in a modern society, not so much.

I don’t want to float down the river of life anymore. I’m tired of the currents. I’m tired of temporary. I want to choose. I’m tired of never knowing where I will be taken next. I want a home of my own with roots and a shotgun so I can say “get off my lawn” with authority.

So, to those of you who may think Wu Wei is where it’s at, I’m here to tell you that drifting around with no reason or intent other than “the harmonious working of universal law” ain’t all that. Unless you are a river, going with the flow is no way to go through life, son. Set your course.

There are 22 comments

  1. rarasaur

    “Going with the flow is no way to get through life, son” *giggles* I like it, and this whole post makes me feel way better about my inability to truly grasp wu wei. Hurrah for action! (Thanks for participating!)


  2. Pepper Culpepper

    I’m not sure where I’m at with Wu Wei. We studied it, discussed it and dissected it in my World Religion class last year. I’m what you call a Zen Catholic Jedi. I embrace all paths and I especially love Taoism.


  3. alexp01

    That’s one of the essential problems I have with peoples’ reaction to Taoism. Since it seems exotic to us gaijin we instinctively treat every morsel as incredibly significant divine wisdom. We shred through morsels of less exotic-seeming religions and philosophies with snarky gusto yet seem to shrink back from doing the same to the Tao.

    Except you! You gave the Tao a good, much-needed snarking.


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