The Way of Wu Wei (Solala’s blog for week of 6/17)






In Chapter 9 of the Daode Jing Laozi says,


Overfilling a vessel is not as good as stopping before it is filled.

Oversharpen a blade and it will lose its edge.

Pile up gold and jade

and it will be impossible to guard it.

In going after rank and titles

in an arrogant and haughty way

you will bring about your own downfall.

Withdraw when the work is done.

This is the way of Dao.


It is so easy to overdo things in our modern fast-paced world. Whether it is food, drink, sex, work, exercise or even meditation – these are all opportunites to over do. It is the opposite of what Laozi teaches – the Way of wu wei (not doing). Of course, what one person experiences of overdoing may not be too much for another person. In order for us to really follow the Way of wu wei we need to learn just what are our limits and how not to go beyond them. This takes time and attention, two things that are also problematical for modern people.


Later on he says:


The five colors blind the eye.

The five tones cause the ears to go deaf.

The five flavors cause our palate to become dull.

Racing and chasing causes

our heart/mind to go mad.

Valuable and precious goods

hinder our actions.

This is why the sage cares

for her inner vision instead of

what she sees (with her eyes).

Chapter 12


Here we see that too much of the outside world can cause us to shut down or even go mad. The sage is the person who values what she sees with her inner vision instead of her outer vision. Many of us do well with controlling or balancing our diet, exercise, and our television watching but we race and chase after enlightenment or what the Daoists call immortality. How can this be a bad thing?


Whenever we go against the principle of wu wei, whenever we overdo or try to force things to happen (even spiritual attainment) we lose our way on the Way of Dao.



Laozi’s advice is this.


Allow yourself to become empty.

Abide in stillness.

The ten thousand beings rise and flourish

while the sage watches their return.

Though all beings exist in profusion

they all end up returning to their source.

Returning to their source is called “tranquility.”

This is called “returning to their original nature.”

Original nature is called “constant renewal.”

To understand constant renewal is called “illumination.”

Chapter 16



Sometimes, it seems, that by “doing nothing” we can accomplish a lot!