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Wu-Wei -To Do Without Doing

Wu-Wei -To Do Without Doing

Dr Madan Kataria
9 January, 2018

Nowadays, there is so much to do and very little time available. It seems life is on a fast forward button! In fact, there are some people who get so used to working that they feel uncomfortable when there is nothing to do. I'm talking about workaholics who can't relax ever. Even when they re on a holiday and supposed to relax, they get restless without any work. In effect, human beings are fast becoming Human Doings .

I want to share with you something different where you can do without doing . It is a concept from Taoism called Wu Wei which literally means to act without action. For the past several years, I have been studying about different emotions like anger, love, joy, fear, guilt, jealousy and have often speculated as to how people from different faiths, religions and philosophies deal with the most volatile of all emotions - Anger. While I toiled on the subject, I found an unusual solution in Taoism - quite the opposite to the Western philosophy which primarily focuses on the root cause of any problem and tries to fix it in order to stay conflict free. But, many times, despite our best efforts there may not be any solution to the problem. In that case, try Wu Wei. I tried it and can vouch that it really works and makes a lot of sense.

Here s my experience with this philosophy:

Laughter Club was started in 1995 as a social movement run by volunteers. These clubs are free and not much money is involved. A few years ago, a journalist asked me how I managed such a large network of Laughter Clubs worldwide. I told her, much to her amazement, that the Laughter Club movement is growing because I don't manage it! I said I don't control anyone, which is perhaps why the laughter leaders respect me. I only give guidelines and then leave it up to them. But on the flip side, there are times I do get into trouble when people don't agree with my ideas. I get scores of mail from laughter leaders complaining about those who are not conducting laughter sessions in the correct manner or following wrong practices to promote Laughter Yoga. They want me to give them strict instructions about rules and regulations. At times like this, I have no answer, I get stuck. I then try Wu Wei and it works. Read this story to find out how.

In 2004, while in Europe I got two e-mails from laughter leaders, one from Sweden and another from Germany, both complaining about someone who had his own idea about laughter sessions and was trying to promote Laughter Yoga in his own way. Both wrote huge mails expressing their concern. Unfortunately, or should I say fortunately, I barely glanced through their mails as they were too long and I was too busy. I had no idea how to solve the problem. I did not want to ignore it, but did nothing. A week later, when I reached Mumbai I received two more e-mails from them. The first was long and full of grievances, but the second one read as follows: Please disregard my first e-mail; all my problems are now solved. I laughed and realized that had I tried to do something and offered some solution, it could have complicated the matter. Everything was done without me doing anything.

This is how Wu Wei works. At times we all need to just leave off and not look for any solution. Let the natural process take its course. Taoism says if you don't understand what to do, don't do anything. In fact, if you get confused and stressed, chances are you may make a wrong decision. Therefore, take Time out like we say in soccer. I don't recommend you should apply Wu Wei everywhere, but if you can afford to wait and watch; some issues will definitely resolve without you doing anything.

The only important fact to remember about this philosophy is - if you are not doing anything or taking any action, you must still be aware about the problem. Do not be indifferent or ignore it. Stay in touch with the situation and maintain a continuous flow of positive energy from your mind towards the people involved. Keep a positive mental attitude of hope and optimism while saying in your mind that something will happen and the problem will be solved.

In my younger days when I used to read Dale Carnegie, I remember he once wrote if you have lots of problems in life, most will get solved with time. He suggested we write our problem on a piece of paper and stash in the drawer. After few days just cross out those which get solved without you doing anything. I do the same when I get confused and have no idea what to do. I just sit back and do nothing. Believe me; most things just fall into place. Have you had any experience like this? I would love to have your views.

I would love to have your comments and experience with this kind of philosophy.