Wu-Wei Again

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 57


To guide a country,
use administrative skills.
To wage a war,
use surprise tactics.
But to gain joy in living,
let life live itself.

What does, “let life live itself” mean?
The harder we try
the more our efforts fail.
The more we arm ourselves,
the more chaos we experience.
The more schemes we plan,
the less predictable are the results.
The more rules we impose,
the more we become rule-breakers.

So in this practice
we stop trying to change ourselves and find that we naturally change.
We stop trying to be good and find that goodness is our nature.
We stop trying to get rich and find that life is full of abundance.
We stop trying to get our own way and find that we enjoy our life.




I love the days when “wu-wei” (effortless living, non-doing doing) is the theme of Lao-Tzu’s poetry. Letting life live itself might sound naive to an administrator of business or government, but it depends on what we believe the essence of life to be. If there is no fundamental joy in living, of what purpose is efficient administration?

Today is forecast to be sunny and pleasant, so my intentions for the day include work on the property. I need to contact a carpenter for some drywall work. I need to haul firewood closer to the cabin. Etc. What I don’t need to do is force anything to happen. I will work and rest according to the flow of energy. I will find that accomplishment and joy will be natural byproducts of wu-wei. Nice to contemplate.

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