View Full Version : Is wu-wei ( action without action) useful?

04-24-2007, 10:09 PM
I once ask my indian teacher ( Mohanty) is philosophy useful he answer mean philosophy is useless. Because of its uselessness it is useful . Not what in the world was he talking about?

In terms of Wu -wei. The principle of taoism, can action be acheive without any action at all? What is a person when one master no action, or doing little as possible in order to achieve?

04-24-2007, 10:21 PM
From what I understand wu- wei is letting things that are already in balance just "be." Refraining from action to avoid an unwanted reaction. I think the concept is somewhat similar to, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's not just avoiding action, but rather understanding and contemplating ones actions in order to decide whether they are just. I feel that the concept forces one to evaluate thier place in the world... and maybe find achievement in not acting impulsively, and irrationaly

04-24-2007, 11:34 PM
I agree 100% with CountingSheep on this one. Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching is an excellent read chock-full of references to and descriptions of Wu-Wei philosophy.

04-25-2007, 10:28 AM
I agree 99% Lao Tzu is the original, but the commentors make it seem they know but actually they do not know.

According to Wu wei then, to live is to what?

Uncle Lar
04-25-2007, 11:09 AM
Hello, Everyone!

I believe these classics express Wu Wei quite well:

"The Way of Heaven is to benefit, not to harm.
The Way of the Sage is to do his duty, not to strive with anyone."
(Tao Teh Ching, Chapter 81, Sentence 5, http://wayist.org/ttc%20compared/chap81.htm)

"The Art of Peace is the principle of nonresistance.
Because it is nonresistant, it is victorious from the beginning.
Those with evil intentions or contentious thoughts are instantly vanquished.
The Art of Peace is invincible because it contends with nothing."
(The Art of Peace, Chapter 50, by Morihei Ueshiba, http://www-cse.ucsd.edu/users/paloma/Aikido/artpeace.html)

In essence, I believe Wu Wei means to do the right thing without harming anyone.

"I don't want any trouble. I just want to enjoy my drink, have a good time, and go home."
(Uncle Lar)

I believe a modern concept of Wu Wei is to do less and achieve more, as expressed in this book:

Do Less, Achieve More: Discover the Hidden Powers Giving In
by Chin-Ning Chu, http://www.joyfuljubilantlearning.com/joyful_jubilant_learning/2007/03/the_chinese_wor.html

I hope all is well with you.

May you find Balance and Harmony everyday.


Uncle Lar

Uncle Lar
04-25-2007, 11:23 AM
Hello again!

I believe the concept of Wu Wei is present in the Essence of Ninjutsu (Ninjutsu Hiketsu Bun):

"Ninjutsu is the way of attaining that which we need while making the world a better place. The skill of the Ninja is the art of winning."

"If an expert in the fighting arts sincerely pursues the essence of Ninjutsu, devoid of the influence of the ego's desires, the student will progressively come to realize the ultimate secret for becoming invincible - the attainment of the "Mind and Eyes of God." The combatant who would win must be in harmony with the scheme of totality, and must be guided by an intuitive knowledge of the playing out of fate. In tune with the providence of heaven and the impartial justice of nature, and following a clear and pure heart full of trust in the inevitable, the Ninja captures the insight that will guide him successfully into battle when he must conquer and conceal himself protectively from hostility when he must acquiesce."

"The vast universe, beautiful in its coldly impersonal totality, contains all that we call good or bad, all the answers for all the paradoxes we see around us. By opening his eyes and his mind, the Ninja can responsively follow the subtle seasons and reasons of heaven, changing just as change is necessary, adapting always, so that in the end there is no such thing as a surprise for the Ninja."

(Ninjutsu Hiketsu Bun, by Takamatsu Sensei, http://hatsumi.free.fr/hatsumi-painter-art-work-takamatsu.htm)


Uncle Lar

04-25-2007, 03:36 PM
Uncle Lar

Base on your replies it seems that you have master Wu-wei because you kow so much about it. The doubtful thing that I am feeling is you just know but don't know how to perform.

Uncle Lar
04-25-2007, 06:01 PM
Hello again!

Here is a description by Zhuang Zi of the Ultimate Person who has achieved Harmony with the Tao:

"A fully achieved person is like a spirit!
The great marshes could be set on fire, but she wouldn't feel hot.
The rivers in China could all freeze over, but she wouldn't feel cold.
Thunder could suddenly echo through the mountains, wind could cause a tsunami in the ocean, but she wouldn't be startled.
A person like that could ride through the sky on the floating clouds, straddle the sun and moon, and travel beyond the four seas.
Neither death nor life can cause changes within her, and there's little reason for her to even consider benefit or harm."

(Zhuang Zi, http://www.daoisopen.com/ZZ2.html)

Thank you for your comments, dan020350. I seek to learn more about Wu Wei and would welcome input on how to perform it. I pay close attention to details and have a hard time letting things go or delegating to others. Do you have any advice?

Thank you, dan020350; your consideration is greatly appreciated.

May you achieve Harmony with the Tao.



Uncle Lar

04-25-2007, 08:07 PM
Uncle Lar,
I think you should seek for a taoist name. :)

Sleeping Dragon

Uncle Lar
04-26-2007, 10:14 AM
Thank you for your comments, dan020350!

I highly recommend this book, if you have not read it already:

Opening the Dragon Gate: The Making of a Modern Taoist Wizard
by Kaiguo Chen


"This text presents the authorized biography of Wang Liping (1949 -), the 18th generation transmitter of Dragon Gate Taoism. It is the true story of how a young boy becomes heir to a tradition of esoteric knowledge and practice accumulated and refined over eleven centuries. As told to his students Chen Kaiguo and Zheng Shunchao, the story tells of Liping's arduous fifteen-year apprenticeship with the masters, during which time he enters an ancient realm and learns the true source of health, healing, and long life. A compelling story of the making of a modern wizard, this book reveals never-before-available information about Taoist principles and procedures, people and places. Wang Liping imparts his knowledge on esoteric exercises, alchemical elixirs, mysteries of Man and Nature, and the secrets of inner transformation, making this a mystical and extraordinary book."

I hope you will continue to embrace change
and adapt adeptly always.

Keep up the good work, dan020350!


Uncle Lar

04-26-2007, 12:52 PM
Uncle Lar,

What you are doing is a spam- avertising. I don't appreciate spam comments.

Uncle Lar
04-26-2007, 01:54 PM
My apologies, dan020350. I am only using quotes from classic and trustworthy sources to help answer the Wu Wei question you asked earlier:

"In terms of Wu -wei. The principle of taoism, can action be acheive without any action at all? What is a person when one master no action, or doing little as possible in order to achieve?"

By the tone of your postings, you sound like one who presumes to know much, but actually needs to understand and experience more (as do we all).

I wish you the best of success in all of your future endeavors.


Uncle Lar

04-26-2007, 06:19 PM
I've read about Taoism, and wu-wei...but I can't seem to get the idea..maybe I'm missing something, but what's meant by 'noneaction' ? and to do less yet achieve more? isn't that a contradiction, how can you achieve more, without working more for it?!
Can someone clarify these points for me, please?

04-26-2007, 06:25 PM
my my you sound very humble and know my thoughts exactly. Uncle Lar.

you say I presume I know much, that means I do know much Wu-wei.
Because You already said that I know much.

Action without action can only be done when one is complete thoughtless or less thought when one performs an action. Or an action being down with less
thoughts, movement, or speech. Total simplicity,

Uncle Lar
04-27-2007, 10:19 AM
"Total simplicity."

Well said, dan020350!

Have a great day and a wonderful weekend!


Uncle Lar

04-27-2007, 10:22 AM
total simplicity= action without action

I believe it can only be master in terms of ? you have the answer uncle lar.

Uncle Lar
04-27-2007, 02:59 PM
I've read about Taoism, and wu-wei...but I can't seem to get the idea..maybe I'm missing something, but what's meant by 'noneaction' ? and to do less yet achieve more? isn't that a contradiction, how can you achieve more, without working more for it?!
Can someone clarify these points for me, please?

Hi, Nossa!

Here are my thoughts about what Wu Wei involves.

According to some sources, "Wu Wei" literally means "Without Action." Wu Wei is often included in "Wei Wu Wei," which means, "Action Without Action," or "Effortless Doing" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_wei). dan020350 seems to refer to Wu Wei and Wei Wu Wei as "Total Simplicity."

Here is an example:

1. A young girl wants to learn how to ride a Bicycle.
2. At first, the girl consciously struggles learning how to ride the Bicycle.
3. Eventually, the girl rides the Bicycle better, but is still very conscious and concerned about how she is riding it.
4. In time, the girl rides the Bicycle with confidence to the point where the act of riding is not complicated, but becomes an almost effortless task.
5. Now, the girl rides the Bicycle, with no thought or worries; she just rides.
6. Practice makes Perfect.

I hope this helps.

Have a great day and a wonderful weekend, Nossa!


Uncle Lar

04-27-2007, 03:06 PM
Aha!! So it means reaching a certain level of perfection, with which you don't even have to do that much effort in order to reach the utmost results you're seeking?!
Thank you for clearing this up...Good example btw :D

Uncle Lar
04-27-2007, 03:55 PM
No problem, Nossa.

Have a great day and a wonderful weekend!


Uncle Lar

04-28-2007, 12:13 AM
Uncle Lar is a taoist, and that is his taoist name.

04-28-2007, 07:27 PM
. dan020350 seems to refer to Wu Wei and Wei Wu Wei as "Total Simplicity."

according to chung zu, dan might be onto something here. he says, "we should stive to keep the world to its own original simplicity."

hows about wu-wei as people accepting themselves as they are. maybe this would disturb the social order far less than splitting themselves apart to strive after impossible ideals. by splitting, i mean the conventional split between self and other.

04-29-2007, 12:37 AM
I am not sure what you are getting at BillyJAck. To accept ourselves brings a new question. What do you mean accept ourselves?

The only way I see order is by locating the disorder, not looking for order which would bring in the the whole gang, of gurus, philosophers, religion and all) . In terms of western logic simplicity means to reduce to its simplest form, the problem is can do you know how to reduce and can you find what is?

05-18-2007, 03:18 AM
I still have much to learn on this, but from what I know I think there is a misconception here.

Firstly, I don't think Lao Zi is the original Tao theorist. Taoism goes back to the I Ching which was written by ancient Chinese looking at the stars. This was not a book of words, but rather symbols.

Later in the Shang dynasty when Zhou Wu Wang was captured, it was while he was in prison that he realised what the symbols meant. And so he wrote his interpretation of what it means. This is why the I Ching we study these days is called the Zhou Yi.

And the book is about how the universe works according to patterns people detected from the stars.

Lao Zi is somewhat an extension of this. In his book Dao De Jing, he keeps referring to this higher phenomenon which has created the world, and how it can't be explained (for if we can explain the theory that created the world, that theory is not one so powerful that created the world).

I think someone mentioned Wu Wei is about knowing one's place in the universe - I agree with that. It is about realising that what we see before us is not the absolute. You cannot say a mountain is "better" than another just because one is higher, because there are other things in both mountains that you cannot see.

Lao Zi also says it is this sort of comparison which creates violence in the world. For if there is no beauty, there can be no ugliness; for if there is no righteousness, there can be no evilness.

The "saint" is someone who understands that nature is created by this higher phenomenon that we can't explain, and so we should not try to stop how nature is supposed to operate. Hence Wu Wei. It is about not interfering with the way things are naturally designed to be. The saint will understand his place in the world and do what he is supposed to do, but without interfering with nature because of his own prejudice.

[In a way - as a side point- I think this is quite similar to the way Confucious says at 70 he is able to do whatever he wants without offending morals/breaching rules (even though he's not a Tao).]

As for Zhuang Zi, I don't think his emphasis is on Wu Wei. He is a Taoist in that his theories are on the path of getting people to think about things from different perspectives, and that there is no absolute, and it is also about how everthing has its own place in the universe. But I don't think he actually uses the word "Wu Wei". Please correct me if I'm wrong.

05-18-2007, 10:57 AM
You have study pretty well Chunwing. ( is that the name for Wong fei hung student the fat guy?)

You know the ancient people well. Do you know yourself well as good as you study dead people.