Wu Wei


Wu wei is an important concept in Taoism that literally means non-action or non-doing. In the Tao te Ching, Laozi explains that beings (or phenomena) that are wholly in harmony with the Tao behave in a completely natural, uncontrived way.

I have read the same book over eight times because of the pure joy and happiness it brings me. It had been adopted into my own personal philosophy and later formed a type of cult religion to me. I may even dare call it sacred for the mere pleasure I have experienced every time I have enjoyed it. This book is called The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.

Imagine learning Taoism from Winnie-the-Pooh. You may call it childish, you may say it’s silly. But oddly, you already understand the point (or at least some of it). Who else can explain the Tao than the simple, innocent bear from Pooh Corner. There is no other character throughout all literature that can be so effortlessly. Let me explain in the best way I know how.

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie
A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
“Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.”

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie
A fish can’t whistle and neither can I
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
“Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.”

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie
Why does a chicken, I don’t know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
“Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.”
                                              ~A.A. Milne

I am sure I have lost you by now. But give me the benefit of the doubt. There is true wisdom in these words. Let’s look at the first riddle: Why can’t a fly “bird” but a bird can fly? Nonsense or uncommon sense? The answer is that people are forever striving to be what they are not because they ignore the clear reality that they are everything they should be. Still not following? Try replacing Cottlestone, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie with Because Things Are as They Are or Ought to Be. So the new stanza becomes:

Because Things Are as They Are or Ought to Be
A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:

Because Things Are as They Are or Ought to Be.

In essence, come as you are. Cherish your integrity. Love who you turned out to be. This is the lesson of Inner Nature from the Tao. Then why can’t a fish and I whistle? The answer to this riddle is knowing yourself. It is about acknowledging your limitations. Try replacing A Fish Can’t Whistle and Neither Can I to I Have Certain Limitations and I Know What They Are. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not knowing how to whistle, especially if you are a fish. This is the second lesson about Limitations.

And why does a chicken chicken and why don’t I know why? Well let’s use the overly exhausted question: Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. Why does it even want to get to the other side or anywhere else a chicken might want to go? We simply don’t know and maybe even the chicken doesn’t even know either. It’s ok to not understand or (god forbid) that we don’t have an answer. We can always speculate but there will always be another question: WHY? Ultimately there is a cycle that leads to asking why a chicken wants to act or not act? So this becomes the third lesson: Freedom to Choose. Because we can.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin HoffIn a sense, this blog follows this Chinese philosophy. I believe that the purpose of my posts are to exist without effort. I intend to write naturally and in a way that captures my thoughts in the purest form. No censorship. No objective. No agenda. Just simple and free expression. More importantly, I want to form a more organized dialogue of my own ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. I expect there will be times that I won’t blog and my keyboard may even gather dust. Regardless, I am ok with that. I know that my time is limited and my desire to blog or not to blog (now that is the question) is my freedom of choice. I shall enjoy it for what it is and what it will be.

This blog was created for a theater class I am taking at Temple University. However, I seek to take advantage of this opportunity to mix my own passion for writing with my love for photography. I feel that I might find true harmony. So without an audience or a care for the structure of my voiced commentary, I think that (or at least I hope) I may create art for myself.

Maybe blogging may be my way to wu wei.


One thought on “Wu Wei

  1. Pingback: Word of the Day: Wu Wei 無為 | EF Foundation for Foreign Study Mid-Atlantic

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