Wu Wei and “moving with the flow” –reposted

Reposted
Wu Wei and “moving with the flow” was origionally posted on 3-24-2011

 
There are  a couple distinctions in  Taoist philosophy::

The Subjective: The way people interpret and describe the way things happen.

The Tao: the way things, or Nature, truly happen, which transcends human description.

A person’s reaction to “the way things happen” influences how he/she internalizes the way things happen.

great discrepancy between:

  • the way nature happens(or Tao), and
  • how a person internalizes the way things happens,

…can lead to stresses, and chaos.

According to Taoism , no person can fully know the Tao, The universe, nature’s forces  and  ways of change… because the Tao transcend human senses, full rational dissection, and full description. (thus the “Tao is Nameless” other than “Tao”)

However. Taoism’s practice is interpreting, behaving(or not behaving), interacting, or patterning more and more with the way nature happens as it becomes more apparent to the person.

That is:  Move , work with, or flow with Nature, Act in Harmony with Tao and one will experience less stress and chaos and one will experience more happiness.

Wu Wei

Wu Wei is the principle of “No Action”. More Accurately, its defined as abstaining from excessive effort and excessive action beyond the way a situation naturally happens..

If person canoing upon a river is paddling against, or across the current, he must exert a lot of energy. If the person turns his boat and point to move with the river’s current, he may need no action. He moves along effortlessly with the current., as the river “happens”.
Think  of the river current as a metaphor of how nature changes or flows. In Practicing Wu Wei one uses his experientially refined ability to recognize the way nature flows, and moves with it
Go with the Flow. Action in Harmony with the Tao and no action beyond that.
This is Wu Wei

Wu Wei in our modern world:

  • If a person worryies too often  about things that are not important to  his present moment; or is  multitasking;or he is uses more effort and then situation needs, the resulting effect may be stress and fatigue.
  • A production worker may find he is more productive and happier outside of work, If he uses body in more natural positions of lifting, ergonomics, and works with ways that require less noneffective effort.
  • Permaculture designers create ecological garden and agriculture designs, that pattern nature and use of Wu Wei, resulting in relatively self  or long sustaining  systems of produce.

A person may increase ones capacity of authenticity, harmony or integrity of his internal way with the natural Way or Tao, by meditating: the witnessing the two-as-one, briefly . Others studies, are  Yoga, Tai -chi, or just taking walks.

From there they may be inclined  apply Wu Wei in what ever action or non-action they do.

As for the distinction of the “subjective” and the “Tao”, they may move together harmoniously.

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Te

In the ancient philosophy of Taoism,

 

Te flower.jpg
Te (Teh) is Virtue:  or  the personal truth and strength that one cultivates. It describes the way one cultivates himself and harmonizes with Tao.

Tao is defined as constancy and way all flows. I like to think of the word “Tao” as a default word to describe the totality of all the principles that govern physics, except that Tao, by definition… is mystical and lies beyond man’s  scope of knowledge.
Taoism is holistic. So Te is more than just intellectualizing ethics or a list of values. Te is acting (or idling) with character, being with ethics, being with authenticity, and being in manners that harmonize with Tao. Te applies to the person or organism as it lives in connection and integration with Nature or “the world”. Te is a quality.

If there is really a difference between wisdom, integrity and Te, I really don’t know.  Maybe it is cultivated and refined by the Authentic Experience that  Søren Kierkegaard    spoke of centuries after Lao Tzu, in other parts of the world.
perhaps its a universal concept and concern..

Tao Te Ching chapter 16

Laozi

Lao Tzu

Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind rest at peace.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
The way of nature is unchanging.
Knowing constancy is insight.
Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.
Knowing constancy, the mind is open.
With an open mind, you will be openhearted.
Being openhearted, you will act royally.
Being royal, you will attain the divine.
Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.

……………………………..
(translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English)
thanks to http://www.wussu.com/laotzu/index.htm

The  consciousness of  the happenings of one’s  body is his mind.  When he or she is  aware of  the particulars of  his body: thoughts, cognition,  feelings, perceptions, reactions – He   calls this  awareness  his  mind.

In Taoism and Zen, meditating is a holistic practice of consciously Letting Things Flow.
(“a thousand”) Things come and go in the moment.  If one is being mindful of things coming and going in the moment, without attempting to capture or control, suppress or force… Then his mind is  resting  at peace.
I have read many times the words “Let things go” during meditation. Its difficult to find the perfect description in contemporary English. What is really being let go of .. is   the clinging and coercing that we usually do of  things that come to mind. What  I really do is “Let things Flow“.

Things are  Happenings.
They  rise and fall  like a figure from a ground of some moving  painting or work- of- art.  No figure is ever truly separated from the ground.  The ground is Nature happening  or the” Tao”.  Things rise and fall, they exist in consciousness as  a singularity of two  (like  figure &  ground;   word & context;   matter & space)  but   the Tao is constant. The Tao flows, but is always here.

from the words of Lao Tzu  the supposed author of  the Tao Te Ching:
Being divine is harmonizing with the flowing nature.
And though the body dies, the Tao is Eternal.”

Zen is a Discipline

Zen is one discipline in realizing our everyday existence, Its primary method is Zazen or Zen mediation, in which one “empties” his/her mind of Language, Constructs,  Meanings, and  Concepts  for a short period. The focus of Zen is direct experience… centering ones attention to “The task at hand” so to speak, and  refining experiential learning   with  mindfulness of the unity all “things”, including the spontaneity of all “events”.

Zen or Zen Buddhism is a discipline and method. But it has long metaphysical roots.

Daruma Daishi BodhidharmaZen’s philosophical background evolved from Indian Buddhism and the influence of ancient Taoism as the two paradigms met and as people exchanged ideas in central Asia and China.

The origional school,  Ch’an started in the sixth century or earlier, and Its the exact history is debated. Some describe the philosophies leading to Chan (“Zen” in Japanese) as a Buddhist revival of Early Taoism with Ch’an being the  school emphasizing meditation.  As with the case of many school of thought in Asia: Zen is the mix of different influences.

Ch’an spread through North China and Korea. Chan would make its way to Japan originally as an academic interest where it would be know as “Zen“… Zen the Japanese pronunciation of “Chan”.   Zen is practiced all over the world today.

The Taoism of Zen thought.

In Taoism, The unity and spontaneity of nature is called “Tao“. Transcending any and all human intellect, the Tao is mystical truth… but not an entirely  illusive one. The early Taoist practice meditations (some later Taoist practice Tai chi with meditation), recited the Tao te Ching and practiced  Wu Wei to harmonize with the Tao or nature.

The “Buddha Nature” is to Zen Buddhism ….what ‘the Tao” is to Taoism.  It is unity, spontaneity . The life force, the true way nature happens. A Zen Buddhist meditates by “emptying his mind” or “stilling his mind” to  explore the  “Buddha nature” within him or herself.

Taoism and Zen’s philosophy are both holistic. Every particle is interconnected;  every particle interdependent with its whole.  The underlying principles of the universe , Scientific, Tao or Buddha Nature,  apply every where. In any description of a phenomena the least is the best. that is to say: one does not divide or atomize  the world with his/her intellect more  more than he needs to, as to do so is an artificial representation.

In both Taoism and Zen, The Tao, Buddha nature ,or ultimate reality transcend our human understand via language. historically Chan and Zen have deemphasized (or even rejected) the importance of texts, and written doctrines other than the influence of the four noble truths that is at the center of Buddhism.

Buddhism of Zen thought.

In a very broad sense, Buddhism sets out to solve a problem. The problem of suffering in existence.

Four Nobel Truths of Buddhism (said many ways).

  • Suffering Exists in Life
  • The Source of  Suffering is attachment
  • The Emancipation  of Suffering is attainable
  • The Path  or the “Eightfold Path” (wisdom, conduct, development)

Language including labels, signs and symbols;  Constructs such “self” , “social class”, “efficiency” and “-isms” ,etc.  Meaning including reasoning &  importance
and sentiment  including ideas connecting emotion to an object or  memories….

…  All these things are mental manifestations.

We are thrown in to the world,   As infants we start to define our “self”-concept from the rest of the world with our mind. We  learn language to further dive and label phenomena in our reality, introject concepts from  our peers.   We create definitions for objects and designate importance to events,  attach emotions and ideas to objects, beings, events, and even other ideas.   We fantasize. All this in our mind.

The Zen Buddhist argument is, for whatever reason these manifestations of mind come about…, these are  unreal attachments that shift attention away from the “Buddha Nature” and may cause suffering in life. For the strictest Zen Buddhist an existence that is empty of all mental manifestations is an existence totally free of suffering.

“Zen is a discipline of enlightenment. Enlightenment means emancipation, and emancipation means no less than freedom.”

D.T . Suzuki in his book:  Zen and Japanese Culture.

Enlightenment ( or Sakuri) is freedom of suffering and freedom from attachment.

Enlightenment is simply being.

Zen without Buddhism

I have seen the question on the Internet: Can one practice Zen without Buddhism? The fact is Zen can be used with many ways of thinking, and Zazen meditation for many purposes.

Zen can be a discipline of phenomenology.

Zazen meditation is used for health,   mental health,   sports training,   learning to clear or focus ones attention,   expanding ones mindfulness with any personal faith or way of thinking.

I would argue however, the practicing  Zen overtime , in being committed to Zen as daily practice , and thus experiencing the   mindfulness of how thoughts  arise:  that, some thought formations , thinking patterns and conceptualizations  can be unhealthy. Zen as daily practice,  may be a path to freedom from unhealthy or stagnating ways, or patterns of thinking.

My opinion(for what its worth):  is that there is always  Buddhism within committed Zen practice.  I am one who has suffered from th enslavement of  a restless mind. the daily commitment to Zen has been a huge part of  in continuing my freedom.  Overall I describe myself As Agnostic, but  Buddhism is in  me.

My Thoughts on Zen Thought

I do not wish to infer, with Zen, that I or anyone should be nihilists and say that everything  is just forms of energy and force, that we should reject words, meaning, sentimental attachments, as illusions that bring suffering on our selves or that we should ignore anything that isn’t nearby.

(I  participate in the modern world  and  conform with much of the norms of my culture, and love Art , Science and history.)

Instead ,with Zen and Zazen meditation, I may become more mindful of my own true nature, I may sense the unity and spontaneity of my world with a direct experience , while realizing the clinging and potential discomfort and dissatisfaction that my thinking and can produce. I am weary of the pitfalls of my intellect and  am more trustful of my senses.

Zen is  a discipline of realizing the “every-day-ness”  in here now moment,  mind empty of attachments, mindful of; and connected to  the world…

Zen is a discipline.

Alan Watts talks the human game (revised)

Alan Watts speaks of  human game , where he states much of our anxiety is our temporal interpretation of a “universe at play”:

video (with background  music )posted at Youtube by Mrdandylionfave.

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White Cloud, Blue Mountain, and Zen

“The blue mountain is the father of the white cloud. The white cloud is the son of the blue mountain. All day long they depend on each other, without becoming dependent on each other. The white cloud is always the white cloud. The blue mountain is always the blue mountain.”

Tozan, translated by Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Mind, Beginners mind.)

While Western thinkers debated through the centuries about  free will and determinism. the Zen mind found in him self  a fluid process, a relatively self autonomous being yet still interconnected to and affect by the otherness around him, embedded in his present circumstance. Always influencing and being influenced by ‘otherness” of  his world  still He is He.
A subject is a subject and his/her otherness is otherness, Yet they interconnected while being neither completely independent or dependent.

The organism and the field
breather and air
the teacher and the student
The husband and Wife.
Figure and Ground
“Heaven” and “Earth”

In a moment of  Zazen meditation one may  experience a sense of complete independence and dependence… a sense of freedom and singularity. Alluding to a metaphor of  Zusuki: one’s breathing is the swinging door between.

When one is  himself, he is at the center of is world, moment to moment he lives both relatively independent and dependent of the world. When living his active daily life that “swinging door” is often described as “Contact“.
Contact is the meeting of differences, a permeable boundary between two, a doorway to be mindful of.  Contact is also interdependence and difference, where two influence each other. From the first person point of  view, Contact is the swinging door between self (as subject) and other. When we meditate contact happens with  breathing.

In  Zen thought, one may be mindful of circumstances of when two are in opposition or when when two move together in the advantage of their harmony. One witness his  influence on his world and his worlds influence on him.  One recognize his autonomy and the world that is its own means.


video posted by Emptymindfilms.

We live in a series of “nows” one immediately after the other. Circumstances always change. The white cloud is always changing.The white cloud is always the white cloud. The Blue Mountain is always the Blue Mountain.

Wu Wei and “moving with the flow”

There are  a couple distinctions in  Taoist philosophy,:

The Subjective: The way people interpret and describe the way things happen.

The Tao: the way things, or Nature, truly happen, which transcends human description.

A person’s reaction to “the way things happen” is influenced on how he/she internalizes the way things happen.

great discrepancy between:

  • the way nature happens(or Tao), and
  • how a person internalizes the way things happens,

…can lead to stresses, and chaos.

According to Taoism , no person can fully know the Tao, The universe, nature’s forces  and  ways of change… because the Tao transcend human senses, full rational dissection, and full description. (thus the “Tao is Nameless” other than “Tao”)

However. Taoism’s practice is interpreting, behaving(or not behaving), interacting, or patterning more and more with the way nature happens as it becomes more apparent to the person.

That is:  Move , work with, or flow with Nature, Act in Harmony with Tao and one will experience less stress and chaos and one will experience more happiness.

Wu Wei

Wu Wei is the principle of “No Action”. More Accurately, its defined as abstaining from excessive effort and excessive action beyond the way a situation naturally happens..

If person canoing upon a river is paddling against, or across the current, he must exert a lot of energy. If the person turns his boat and point to move with the river’s current, he may need no action. He moves along effortlessly with the current., as the river “happens”.
Think  of the river current as a metaphor of how nature changes or flows. In Practicing Wu Wei one uses his experientially refined ability to recognize the way nature flows, and moves with it
Go with the Flow. Action in Harmony with the Tao and no action beyond that.
This is Wu Wei

Wu Wei in our modern world:
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