Wu wei and mental actions

Actions speak louder than words, but what about the actions we perform inside our own heads?

Imagining, thinking, focusing, feeling, these mental functions can be defined as actions just as much as speech and movement can.

Why does this matter? Because when we act we are creating. Our actions add to the sum of our reality, and the quality of our actions is reflected in the fruit they bear.

Wu wei or “without action” signifies a state where our intrinsic nature responds spontaneously to the world around us in accordance with the way or Dao. It suggests a quality of action that is pure and perfectly inspired.

But wu wei doesn’t come from simply sitting still and refusing to move. It comes from wu xin, which means “without heart/mind”. Wu wei comes from having no contrived thoughts or intentions in our heart or mind because when we think or hold an intention we block the inspiration that comes from the Dao.

You can’t really listen to someone if you are lost in your own thoughts. You can’t improvise with someone if you are following your own preconceived melody. You can’t dance with someone if you are trying to force a direction. You can’t spar with someone if you are afraid of getting hit.

In the present moment your reality is your dance partner, your sparring partner, your conversation partner, your musical partner. If we want to flow and be inspired and feel the joy of the perfect response in each moment then we need to be, without anything in our hearts or minds that comes between us and the raw experience of this expansive, deep, and mysterious partner.

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