Pete Weishaupt wrote a short blog post titled Wu Wei (The Art of Sailing, Not Rowing).

« There is a principle in Taoism called Wu Wei. Wu, meaning non, not, or no. Wei has multiple meanings. Some interpret it as action, or making. I prefer Alan Watts translation of “forcing” — as in “not forcing”. »

« We can see it illustrated in the performances of actors, athletes, and musicians. We sense it immediately when the performance is forced. » 

That’s a great explanation of the concept.

« According to Alan, many who study the Tao Te Ching interpret this principle as doing nothing…  It doesn’t mean that. »

« Alan says Wu Wei is based on knowledge of the tide. The drift of things; going with the flow. It is the art of sailing rather than rowing.  »

This is an important nuance. The path of least resistance need not mean laziness or being passive. It may be viewed as working with the natural forces in the world (like Judo or sailing) rather than against them. The latter is exhausting.


Benjamin Hoff also writes about Wu Wei in The Tao of Pooh.

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