Taoism > Basics


What is Wu-Wei (Nondoing)?

Wu-Wei - translated nonaction, inaction or nondoing - is one of the most important Taoist concepts. As one of the features of the Tao - the creator and sustainer of everything in the Universe – wu-wei means the actionless of Heaven, like in the following abstract from Tao-te ching:

    The Tao in its regular course does nothing (for the sake of doing it), and so there is nothing which it does not do. (Legge, chap. 37)

Regarding the human behavior, wu-wei refers to not forcing the things on their way, or to the action without effort. In the terms of Alan Watts, wu-wei is "what we mean by going with the grain, rolling with the punch..." (Tao: The Watercourse Way, Pantheon Books, 1973.)

aikido and wu-wei picture
Aikido is a living illustration of the Taoist wu-wei concept. The practitioner is moving along with his opponent instead of resisting his attacks.

To conclude with, wu-wei is a pragmatic concept inspired by the Tao itself which leads to a way of life proposed both to sages and rulers.

You may learn more about this basic concept by taking our email courses: Lao-tzu and Tao-te ching, and level 1 and 3 of our Taoism initiation course.

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