Last week, I talked about the value of allowing ourselves the gift of doing nothing. I am continuing to explore this concept for myself, since I am a do-er with a capital D. It is challenging for me to slow down, let alone stop and create space for “non-doing.”
I have been a student of the I Ching: The Book of Changes, off and on for many years. I find myself returning to it again, as I navigate the third act of my life – and the many changes this brings. I suspect most of you are familiar with this revered book, which for thousands of years has served as a profound guide to a principled life based on the universal law that everything in life is in a process of change.
The literal translation of “Ching” means “Tao” or Truth; the Truth of Heaven and Earth, and the Truth of Life. The I Ching is also based on the truth of change—called the Tao of I.
What, then, do we mean by change, and what is the difference between change and transformation? I prefer to think of change as movement that is primarily restricted to the outer / physical plane of our world and transformation as a process that involves an inner, more experiential movement. This experiential movement includes—and ultimately transcends—both the inner and outer realms. The difference, then, lies not only in the source and direction of the movement, but also in its intensity and effect.
In considering the changes I am experiencing and the deeper transformation I seek, I am particularly drawn to one of the basic concepts of the Tao, Wu-Wei, translated as non-doing. This is an important concept to not just learn, but to incorporate deep into one's being. Chapter 48 of the Tao Te-Ching, attributed to Lao Tzu, says:
In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.
Less and less is done
Until non-action (wu-wei) is achieved.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.
The world is ruled by letting things take their course.
It cannot be ruled by interfering.
(Translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English).
Wu-Wei is a gentle reminder to let go and accept the course of nature. I love this explanation by Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh:
“When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes. Mistakes are made–or imagined–by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.”
I invite you to think about ways to incorporate Wu-Wei into your own life. How can we practice Wu-Wei – and do less and less – in order to be more fully ourselves as we age? In letting go, we allow ourselves in…
Wishing you a wonderful week and much love,