Wu Wei

Wu-Wei is the state of being natural
and acting without conscious effort.

Wu wei

Wu-Wei is “being in the zone”, and extremely productive, pursuing our goals with too much conscious effort, so much so that we undermine ourselves. 

Cultivating a State
of Effortless Action

Wu-Wei is the state of being natural
and acting without conscious effort.

Wu-Wei is not something that is easily achieved

Wu-Wei is a cultivated state of effortless action. 

Wu-Wei is “being in the zone”, extremely productive, and pursuing our goals with too much conscious effort, so much so that we undermine ourselves. 

Wu-Wei is not something that is easily achieved. It's about relaxing our conscious efforts, shedding the artificiality of culture and allowing for natural states of flowing consciousness.

Our best performance is attained by cultivating a state of effortless action.

Wu-Wei can be considered an end state for human beings since being it resulted in gracefulness and extreme effectiveness.

Wu-Wei is about relaxing our conscious efforts

Wu-Wei is about relaxing our conscious efforts, shedding the artificiality of culture and nurturing our natural state of flowing consciousness.

Our best performance is attained by cultivating this flowing state of effortless action. Wu-Wei can be considered an end state for human beings since being it resulted in gracefulness and extreme effectiveness.

Wu-wei literally translates as no trying or no doing

In Trying Not to Try: The Ancient Art of Effortlessness and the Surprising Power of Spontaneity Edward Slingerland puts it eloquently: 

Wu-wei literally translates as “no trying” or “no doing,” but it’s not at all about dull inaction. In fact, it refers to the dynamic, effortless, and unselfconscious state of mind of a person who is optimally active and effective. People in wu-wei feel as if they are doing nothing, while at the same time they might be creating a brilliant work of art, smoothly negotiating a complex social situation, or even bringing the entire world into harmonious order.

Being in wu-wei is relaxing and enjoyable, but in a deeply rewarding way that distinguishes it from cruder or more mundane pleasures.

Wu-Wei literally translates as “no trying” or “no doing,” but it’s not at all about dull inaction. In fact, it refers to the dynamic, effortless, and unselfconscious state of mind of a person who is optimally active and effective. 

The Qualities of Wu-Wei

Fast, automatic, effortless, and mostly unconscious action. 

The qualities of Wu-Wei are fast, automatic, effortless, and mostly unconscious action

The qualities of Wu-Wei are fast, automatic, effortless, and mostly unconscious action. Wu-Wei is the opposite of slow, deliberative, and conscious action. Wu Wei is flowing or being 'in the zone', feeling effortless, natural and spontaneous.

Splitting of attention, between conscious effort, and being into action

Attaining Wu-Wei in action, requires splitting of attention, between conscious effort, and being into action in a natural, spontaneous manner. Wu-Wei requires drawing from a vast repertoire of implicit skills, habits, and perceptions to calmly and effortlessly complete a task. it's about suspending active self-monitoring, to flow with spontaneity. 

Wu-Wei is about using the flowing quality of your nature

Wu-Wei is a state of consciousness as Laozi once stated, worth striving for. Wu-Wei is about using the flowing quality of your nature, enabling you to draw on your natural power and the interconnectedness of all things. 

Wu-Wei enables you to to do the right thing well, and feel 'clean and happy'. We naturally perform well without even thinking about it.

Lao Tzu thought that less learning, and even the unlearning and renouncement of culture, was the path to achieving wu-wei. The key to it in his teachings was “not doing” or “turning back” from desires and the hedonic treadmill of society.

Many desirable states — happiness, attractiveness, spontaneity — are best pursued indirectly

We have been taught to believe that the best way to achieve our goals is to reason about them carefully and strive consciously to reach them. Unfortunately, in many areas of life this is terrible advice. Many desirable states — happiness, attractiveness, spontaneity — are best pursued indirectly, and conscious thought and effortful striving can actually interfere with their attainment. 

Many desirable states — happiness, attractiveness, spontaneity — are best pursued indirectly, and conscious thought and effortful striving can actually interfere with their attainment. — Edward Slingerland

The Right Kind of Effort

To cultivate Wu-Wei (effortless action) we nurture action that is fast, automatic, effortless, and mostly unconscious

The right kind of effort

The right kind of effort is required to achieve Wu-Wei, which is a paradox by its nature, as to 'try not to try' seems unattainable through conscious striving. 

Removing the conscious mind

The Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zhou, commonly known as Zhuangzi, and a follower of Lao Tzu, wrote removing the conscious mind was required for Wu-Wei to work on its own. This allowed qi (material energy) to flow by shutting down the cognitive controls of the conscious mind, just as children do when playing. This is the path to living in a state of Wu-Wei.

Nurture action that is fast, automatic, effortless, and mostly unconscious

To cultivated Wu-Wei (effortless action) we nurture action that is fast, automatic, effortless, and mostly unconscious. These actions will be the actions we find most exciting today.  

We pursue our goals without too much conscious effort, drawing on an established repertoire of implicit skills, habits, and perceptions. We calmly and effortlessly complete our tasks, We drop active self-monitoring and flow with spontaneity,

We just need to let it flow

To have Wu-Wei by nature, we just need to let it flow. 

To attain the fruits of our desires, we have to be free of those desires and nonattached to the fruits of our actions. We take actions on the things that excite us today, nurturing actions that are fast, automatic, effortless, and mostly unconscious. 

We’re already awake and that we just need to realise it.

The teaching of Zen is simple. We’re already awake and that we just need to realize it. We need to not get distracted by the teachings, which are simply a vehicle to Wu-Wei.

The most exciting thing has a powerful tendency to do itself. It is so easy that it is effortless.

Cultivating Wu-Wei in Daily Life

Our most relevant purpose and direction will be indicated by the things that excite you the most this week, this month, this year.

When you act on that excitement you will be on your purpose

When you act on that excitement you will be on your purpose. You’ll be on your path. You will be on track for the changes that are sure to come as you turn some corner somewhere going forward. 

Our creativity allows us many possibilities

Our creativity allows us many possibilities. Follow and act on the exciting ones. Don’t bother to follow your boredom. Not even for money!

Excitement is present when you are on your most profound inner path

Excitement is present when you are on your most profound inner path. It means that you are on your track, not someone elses' path of possibilities. So this weeks excitement leads you onwards to next weeks excitement and next year’s.

Excitement can be the silence before you pull the trigger

Following excitement does not mean that you must be jumping out of your jeans all the time. Excitement can be the silence before you pull the trigger.

There are potentially many ways or paths

There are potentially many ways or paths that lie before each of us. Some paths are probable today. Some ways will only come into their timing next week.

Act on it, be it, follow it

Act on it. Be it. Move it. Follow it. This is the energetic activity that will complete the manifestation of what you are imagining, what you are feeling, thinking and seeing.

Our most relevant purpose and direction

Our most relevant purpose and direction will be indicated by the things that excite you the most this week, this month, this year.

Our creativity allows us many possibilities. Follow and act on the exciting ones. Don’t bother to follow your boredom. Not even for money!

Who Will You Be Today?

The ingredients are all in the mixer. 

You can get any number of things happening

You can get any number of things happening, but only a couple of them will fit your easy natural self. Anything that you have to push into place will likely turn out to be a poor fit.

Trust deep and the dark of your own nature

Trust deep and the dark of your own nature. Trust deep and the dark of your own nature. The inner self is not out to get you. Nature is actually on your side. The universe is always leaning your way.

Be here now

Be here now. No need to be in tomorrow today. It doesn’t work to be here then. Be here now.

Excitement is creative energy on the move

Excitement is creative energy on the move. What you are excited about is on its way. Follow your excitement because what excites you the most is where you can win effortlessly

Trust that you are where you are supposed to be

Trust that you are where you are supposed to be. You are intersecting with the people and events that tell you where life is going for you.

Recognise success does not always come from more thinking or striving harder

Recognise success does not always come from more thinking or striving harder. But from letting go, flowing and being spontaneous. Spontaneous action is exciting, easier and lacks the 'getting things done' mentality.  

The Freemind Newsletter

A monthly email about creativity, wisdom and action.

Error. Your form has not been submittedEmoji
This is what the server says:
There must be an @ at the beginning.
I will retry
Reply