‘Wei Wu Wei’ or ‘do without doing’ is a balancing act if ever there was one. The tricky part is how our biology always pulls us to ‘do what we enjoy’ — pleasure attracts, attractive pleases — and always pushes us to resist doing what we don’t enjoy. This is what makes work feel like ‘work’. Contentment happens when work feels enjoyable, to the point where work and rest become mysteriously the same, to quote chapter 56. That can be a tall order. (graphic: do without doing)
Knowing what is going on ‘behind the scenes’ is very helpful; the hitch is being aware of this. This knowing is not something one can learn and stash away in memory somewhere. The knowing must be alive in each moment or it dies. Chapter 2’s practices the teaching that uses no words speaks to this. The teaching must be the living truth of each moment. Once we are generally aware of this dynamic, how do we do it? Yes, that’s the other thorny part. Chapter 70 sums it up well, My words are very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice, yet no one in the world can understand them or put them into practice.
It is difficult to know a solution, and be unable to do something about it. Still, I find Buddha’s ‘Right Resolution’, Christianity’s, ‘By the grace of God’ and, Islam’s, ‘If Allah wills’ helpful. After that, Do without doing (‘wei wu wei’ -为无为) feels like the way to go; there is no past to drag behind and no future to push forward. This is now!