Saturday, January 10, 2009

How to Play Dead...Part 3...Wu Wei

I was first introduced to the Taoist concept of Wu Wei back in the early 70's by author Alan Watts. I recommend his writing as he was very influential in bringing and translating Eastern concepts to the West. He also led a very colorful life.

To get back to topic. Wu Wei (woo way)...and how does this help us manage pain and suffering in our lives. Wu Wei is one of those concepts that is tough to put into words, but in my mind it is 'Doing by not-doing'. It is a letting go and being with the flow of life or the Tao. It is non-ego living.

Taoists often used the analogy that the Tao is like a river. It moves constantly and is a very strong current. We can either fight against it or go with it. In the West we tend to have an attitude that anything worth having or achieving must be hard and you need to 'buck it up' and 'grit your teeth'...or as Larry the Cable Guy says, "Git er dun". It is a very Yang approach to life and as you are aware by now after reading my previous posts, this doesn't work well when needing to manage pain...or life in general.

Wu Wei is learning how to flow downstream with the river rather than trying to swim upstream. Most of are swimming upstream thinking everything we need or want is there. What we fail to realize is that our desires and wishes is what causes the river to flow. So setting goals, planning to the nth degree and believing the world is a 'dog eat dog' world and swimming upstream you are actually setting yourself up for failure. You are going in the opposite direction of your goals. This is the feeding of your bears! Your swimming upstream causes the sensation of the stream to move and feel faster and stronger. (It is also the sensation for those in mid-life crisis that life is passing them by!)

Did you ever have a moment perhaps during kumite when you had a 'magic moment' and techniques flowing effortlessly? Most of us have. This is called 'being in the flow' or 'mushin'.
It is a result of Wu Wei...of doing by not doing. It is not you doing the is the art transforming you. Remember, you are not the artist. You are the canvas...or the chunk of stone being shaped by the artist.

Wu Wei is just letting go and allowing yourself to go with the flow of where you are right now. Of surrendering to this very moment and aligning yourself with your this case managing pain. You then align yourself with the energy flow of healing and health. So, how do we do really let go and do by not-doing?

You already have what you need. Your Kata. The secrets are in there.

Mindfulness is also a wonderful practice to surrender to the flow of the Tao. Reread part 2. It keeps us open throughout the day.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to accord with the Way I will write about it in the next post. I have to go and cook breakfast now.

Floating downstream,
Shinzen Sensei

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