How to Do Nothing

Diana Klein

Tao Te Ching Chapter 3

I first learned the term wu wei studying philosophy and religion in college. Taoism—from whence the term comes—held immediate fascination for me.  The idea of not forcing anything in life held such an elegant sense, I could feel it down to my tiniest cells.  But that didn’t make it any easier to practice.

A few years later, I explained to my therapist my understanding of the principle of wu wei.  That it meant “do nothing”, but not really “do nothing”, just “do nothing” in the sense of, you know, not trying to make things happen in a certain way and stuff like that.  She demurred quite forcefully.  “No, wu wei, means, literally, do nothing!”  I didn’t really buy what she was selling.  Clearly, one can’t sit around “doing nothing” all the time and call it a responsible way of life.  One needs to grasp the bull by the…

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