(Updated 1x)Wu Wei: A Form Of Struggle & Ease

“…In loving the people and governing the realm, can one practice Wu Wei? To produce and nurture yet not claim to possess, to act yet not rely soLeLy on one’s own ability, to grow yet not lord over. This is called the dark and profound Goodness.”  -The Book Of The Way And Its Power, Tao Te Ching, chapter 10

Wu Wei         It’s the key to the sovereign’s following of the Path (Tao/IsLam). Many Tao scholars define Wu Wei as “non-action” or “effortless doing that comes naturally and spontaneously”. I believe these terms, which may be technically correct, are misleading and may be even harmful to our pursuit of being on the Path. Especially, for the young brothers, I’m trying to expose the great teachings of Tao and Islam to. For us, there may be a better way of understanding Wu Wei: through the cycles of struggle and ease.

Chapter 41 of The Book Of The Way(Tao) And Its Power states:” When a superior person hears Tao they diligently practice it. When an average person hears Tao they half believe in it. When an inferior person hears Tao they laugh loudly at it. If they didn’t laugh it wouldn’t be Tao.” Now, the person that laughs at Tao is (1) doing something “spontaneous”, (2)+(3) doing something “natural” and “effortless” to him, and (4) responding to Tao: 4 major needs of practicing Wu Wei, according to many Taoist scholars; yet, many of us probably would say the laughing person isn’t displaying the essential nature of Wu Wei, which is the Tao cultivator’s way of life, which the Book Of The Way And Goodness  implies the superior person is who is practicing Tao diligently and most likely with some degree of difficulty.

“The sage regards everything as difficult and thus never encounters difficulty.” – The Book Of The Way (Tao) And Goodness, chapter 63

If you will bear with me, to say the sage never encounters difficulty seems to mean the sage never encounters difficulty because difficulty is the “normal” mode of existence and not just one minor branch of existence, like “easy” or “average””, which we variably experience, time to time. Struggle is the natural state of the sovereign.

We should remember that chapter 2 of the Book of The Way And Its Power says that difficulty and ease complete each other, and that the notion of  “the reversal” and “the opposite” is used by Tao to describe the movement of Tao( The Book Of The Way And IT’s Power). If Wu Wei is effortless doing, its inevitable opposite and reversal is struggle. Struggle is part of nature, too. Look at childbirth, which is a struggle for the woman giving birth and yet completely natural. If Tao’s foundation is too about discipline and diligence, and it is, then it has struggle as a basis, which we need as well as ease.

Certainly, We created man to face difficulty.” -Qur’an 90:4

“With difficulty there is ease” -Qur’an 94:6


Updated understanding: As we diligently practice Tao things become Easier and more orderly, overall. We still encounter chaos and struggle but, this is part of the Process of becoming at Peace, I believe. As I have been practicing my Tao lessons for about a year now, my productivity has about doubled or tripled, and the way of Peace has comforted my soul. Notwithstanding, my increased bouts with chaos. The ball once again is rolling for better, I believe. To paraphrase one of my Tao lessons: “As we practice Tao, we get more abundant results with less and less struggle.”

-Yu Muhammad Zhivago