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Wu Wei: the philosophy of no action

Wu Wei: the philosophy of no action

April 20, 2024

The frenetic rhythm of current life, together with the situations of crisis that surround us and the need for speed and immediacy that transmits our own consciousness of Western culture, makes us wander through life over-concerned. This supposes an immense psychological wear and can bring about numerous alterations of the state of mind.

However, would we be able to adopt a different attitude or mental state? This is what Wu Wei proposes, an oriental philosophy which, through "no action" or natural flow, encourages us to understand problems in another way. From a very calm and leisurely perspective.

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What is the Wu Wei?

Of Taoist origin, the Wu Wei is a powerful philosophical concept that can be translated literally as "not-doing" or "without effort". Following this translation we will be able to better understand what this current of thought consists of.


According to Wu Wei philosophy, the best way to deal with a specific situation or life circumstance is not to act. However, this concept has been widely misunderstood in Western culture, since Wu Wei does not defend passivity, but in the idea of ​​not forcing the situation .

For Wu Wei's philosophy, not acting does not imply not doing anything, but doing things without overexertion and through personal growth. In other words, this dynamic of oriental thinking defends doing things in a simple and natural way, without seeking constraint or forcing situations.

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In defense of non-intervention

As we said, this philosophy is far from indifference or disregard. According to Wu Wei, inaction is something that happens naturally . A very recurring example is one that is illustrated by the growth of a plant. It grows through inaction, it does not force its growth; However, this plant continues to develop perfectly until it can even become a strong tree. On the contrary, if we look at those occasions in which we try not to think or not to do, we will observe that this requires a great effort on our part. It is very difficult to want to do nothing, therefore, more energy is spent than we let go or flow.


This is the reason why a large number of people who start in meditation end up giving up. The Western concept that has traditionally been had of meditation is to impose not think and try to leave the mind blank, but this is impossible. However, if they just let themselves be carried away by inactivity or "no action" they would concentrate and relax more quickly.

This idea of ​​getting carried away by "no action" is what the Wu Wei philosophy proposes. It does not consist in remaining inert or indifferent, but in the moments in which we must do something to face a conflict, problem or decision, we do it while we flow. The Wu Wei consists of a mental state in which we are able to discern between what really requires an effort and that for which said effort will only be a waste of our time and energy .


As a rule, in our day to day we are influenced by our state of mind and our disposition or mental condition, taking all kinds of decisions based on these conditions and not rationally, taking into account only the facts.

All these concerns, tribulations, prejudices and concerns are the direct antonym of the conception that Wu Wei has of the term flow. For example, when we think of a situation that we will have to face in the medium or long term, we let ourselves be influenced by intrusive ideas about what could happen or not, imagining all possible scenarios and wasting an immense amount of energy. All this is the opposite of Wu Wei.

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Inaction vs. passivity

As we have specified in the previous point, the Wu Wei does not defend passivity, if not the opposite, the knowledge do things spontaneously and naturally . Without letting ourselves be carried away by restlessness or restlessness.

To be more exact, one of the most important principles of Wu Wei is one that literally says "we should not leave anything to do", just that the idea is to achieve all our goals with the least possible wear.

To do this, we must change our way of dealing with situations, taking into account two basic aspects:

  • We must learn to trust events .
  • We have to take advantage of the circumstances that are presented to us.

Following the principles of Wu Wei does not mean giving up our dreams as long as we do not face a series of challenges; but to remain alert to those opportunities that are presented to us and take advantage of them to achieve our objectives with the least possible effort or wear.

Likewise, Wu Wei defends that once the situation has passed or we have solved the problem we should not think about it Otherwise, there is the possibility that we remain anchored in it, wearing down our mental health and interfering with our ability to perceive new opportunities.

The idea of ​​Wu Wei is to preserve our calm despite conflicts or problems that may appear along the way, because sooner or later these will be resolved.

How can we practice this philosophy?

It is usual that, due to our culture and the pace of Western life, we are programmed to face situations as we do, with worries, haste and anguish . However, although at the beginning it is complicated, if we decide to change these dynamics, we can adopt the philosophy of Wu Wei and its benefits.

For this we have to develop two basic skills in Wu Wei:

1. Learn to stop worrying

The first of these skills is to learn or get used to not worry. This step It does not consist in ignoring conflicts, but rather in putting things in perspective and give them the objective importance they really deserve, and then elaborate the relevant coping strategies.

This philosophy can be better understood under the famous precept of: "If they have a solution, why do you worry? and if it has no solution, why do you worry too? "

2. Learn to trust

Finally, Wu Wei transmits to us the need to maintain confidence in the course of life and events, as well as in our own capacity to face them. This, and only this one, is the only way to keep the mind clear and to be attentive to the opportunities that appear to us.


Art of Wu Wei : The Taoist Principle of Action in Non-Action (April 2024).


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