Friday, October 02, 2009

Wu, Wuwie and Te

Wu, Wuwie and Te

Questioner: Yoo Yuong Chon Private: no Subject: Taoism Question: Hello, I have three questions here about Taoism that I thought I could understand better if someone who actually knew about Taoism were explaining to me, instead of reading about it.

    1. For Taoists, their main belief wuwei, letting life just run its course. However, what if they are faced with a problem where doing nothing will just make things worse? Do they still stick with their principle, or take another route? For example, I was recently reading about the piled up debts of third world countries to those countries that are more developed. The more developed countries had attempted to help these underdeveloped places by loaning them money to begin their reconstruction. However, now, those underdeveloped countries are having problems repaying their debt in addition to all their other sufferings. Would a Taoist just stand by and let this go on, saying it is the flow of nature, or since this had been caused by interference, would they justify their own interference and tell the governments to cancel these debts?

    2. When Taoists talk about the Mandate of Heaven, what exactly do they mean? They seem to believe in a higher power, but they have no specific god they believe in. Do they believe that there is a supernatural being or do they just believe in a heaven? What exactly do they mean by this heaven?

    3. How do Taoists justify accomplishing anything in life if their main belief is wuwei? Exactly how strictly do practitioners of Taoism stick to their beliefs?

I would really appreciate it if you could answer these for me soon! Thank you so much for reading!

    -Yoo Yuong Chon

Here's My Reply

What are your thoughts on this?

Hi Chon,

While I have studied Taoism and spent some time living among Taoists, Taoism is not one my stronger suits (nor my personal practice). I will be happy to offer my take on these good questions with this disclaimer.

There are several types of Taoism. Some are more philosophical others are more pragmatic. Tao-chia is the school from which Lao Tsu and Chuang Tsu arose (authors of the Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tsu) and is but one school of Taoism.

The Mandate of Heaven (t'ien ming) is the self-revealing laws of the universe, what is Right, Correct, Self-Evident. The government is "right," else it would not be in place. If it ceases to be "right" it will be replaced when that is correct (no winter lasts forever). It is "right" to obey the king, the police, the soldiers etc. because he is the king, the policeman, the soldier. It is "right" to submit to those things beyond ones control that arise from T'ien Ming because without order there would be Chaos and Chaos is not the Way of Tao.

Of course this authority can be, has been and is even now (and always) abused however... this too is the way of Tao.

In essence, Wuwei or "non-doing" is the belief that Tao (the Unity of Yin and Yang: the polar opposites) is fully sufficient and needs no assistance to properly flow. "If nothing is done nothing will remain undone." All action that predominates either Yin or Yang leads to/results in disharmony. Tao is perfect Harmony.

However... we also are part of the "ten thousand things" that comprise existence. One who is at one with Tao (in "Wu") may feel that the flow is moving him to a certain point and he flows accordingly. When the wooden deck needs to be repainted it is time to paint. Doing so because the time has come to repaint is appropriate action. Repainting so it will be "pretty," "impress the neighbors," increase property values and so on would not be appropriate action (generally speaking). The sage paints the deck when it is time to paint the deck.

One does not "do nothing" when hunger rises, one eats because this is the natural flow of result of hunger. Wuwei is not "leaving undone" it is "non-doing." This can be difficult to grasp but when it is, it is the most natural of concepts.

Being in harmony with the natural flow of Tao is Wuwei. Opposing it would be action out of balance.

How does one know what to non-do? This requires emptiness or "Wu."

It is said:

"The still mind of the sage is the mirror of heaven and earth, the glass of all things. Vacancy, stillness, placidity, tastelessness, quietude, silence, and non-action - this is the Level of heaven and earth, and the perfection of the Tao and its characteristics."

One who is "Wu," who is empty, is at one with the Creator because Wu is the nature of creation. Creation is empty. It is filled by the ten thousand things. What is a glass? It is an empty vessel that waits to be filled.

One who has attained (and/or de-attained) to the state of Wu Consciousness will naturally and without effort "Te" or manifest Tao. Te is the expression of Tao. It is the nature of a glass to be filled. It is the nature of one with is one with Tao to Te (to reflect Tao).

If a Taoist finds himself in the position of leadership in a country and facing a decision, such as you describe, he would empty himself (his consciousness) and do what is appropriate (what is Te).

Once a debtor situation like these countries face (and the US for that matter) is established getting out of this spiral is difficult but still possible. Had good government been in place the whole time these conditions would never have arisen. Now that they exist, a wise ruler would deal with them through Wuwei. This might include measures cutting social service, forgoing all optional expenditures in order to pay off the loans, seeking other venues of revenue or even bankruptcy or dissolution of the state. These Globalist predators are making these loans for the purpose of taking over the countries of course.

I can imagine being a ruler and what I might do, given the authority, however until one is in such situation it is only conjecture and conjecture is not the way of Tao. The solution in any case could be (can be) found in Wu, Wu Wei and Te. Tao needs to be restored/implemented to these countries.

As with most cases, were everyone a Taoist this philosophy would bring world peace.

Since most people are not Taoist its benefits are limited.

Hope this is helpful,

    ~ John of AllFaith
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