Wei Wu Wei, the doing of not-doing, or not doing is a relatively simple practice within Taoism and the 4 Ascendant Tradition. Unfortunately, it is a concept that is often the source of one upmanship and contests of authority within the philosophical movement. That competition has tended to make the practice of wei wu wei (not doing) obscure and unapproachable.
Wei Wu Wei belongs to the family of natural practices. By that I mean it is designed to activate a process that is present in all humans, but that process has gone unused in most people because of the suppression by the Social Mind.
Put in simple, modern words, not-doing (wu wei–the common abbreviation of wei wu wei) is learning to not impose mind upon the world.
What Does It Mean to Not Impose The Mind on The World via Wei Wu Wei?
Let us first understand what a doing is. That is the step we need before we can not do.
We have within us the desire for things to be a certain way. We also have within us biases that tell us how to express ourselves in response to what goes on in the world around us. These desires and preferences are a sending out of our selves into the world.
In other words, doing is an overlay that is being placed over the top of the world.
As a result, rather than deal with the world as it is, we end up dealing with the world as we have formed it in our heads.
Is the World of Wei Bad?
Let’s look at 3 negative consequences of doing.
First of all, the map that we impose upon the world comes from where? The Social Mind.
Second, if you are dissatisfied with your life balance and that balance comes from your current map, how are you going to achieve satisfaction constantly using the current map? You can’t. You can’t form a new pattern following the same old road.
Third, the map breaks harmony with the Tao. Not doing is often a potent corridor to the mystical power of the Tao (i.e. tao te). Te of Tao is an often times unbelievable power that comes from achieving harmony with the Tao.
Advantages of Wei Wu Wei (Not Doing)
Not-doing creates an intensely receptive state that provides a clear perception of the world and moves you toward harmony with the Tao. That harmony will solve some of your life problems with no effort.
However, there are other challenges of your life that will not be solved regardless of the amount of time you spend in wei wu wei (not doing).
The disadvantage of wei wu wei comes from a human limitation. Humans lack the ability to be both in a state of doing and not-doing at the same time. This is a human limitation and not a limitation of all things in the universe.
Many of life’s challenges and the path of Spiritual Enlightenment can only be achieved through committed action, a doing.
As with most things Taoist, the answer of how to deal with these two apparently opposed forces is one of cycling and balancing periods of doing and not doing.
Keeper of the Gate of Man and Heaven
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