Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Wu Wei

Action without Gaining Idea
Aimless wandering, aimless gardening, business without profit motive, fame without fixation, wealth without attachment, power without control... the realization and understanding of wu wei injects a radical sense of sanity into our confused, delusional, and materialistic world of consumerism, selfishness, and aggression.

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Quotes (104)

“A man brings about real increase by producing in himself the conditions for it that is, through receptivity to and love of the good. Thus the thing for which he strives comes of itself, with the inevitability of natural law.”

Fu Xi 伏羲 c. 2852–2737 BCE via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 41, "Decrease"
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

Themes: Wu Wei

“A man brings about real increase by producing in himself the conditions for it that is, through receptivity to and love of the good. Thus the thing for which he strives comes of itself, with the inevitability of natural law.”

Fu Xi 伏羲 c. 2852–2737 BCE via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 41
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

Themes: Wu Wei

77. Stringing a Bow

“Do nothing through acting.
Do everything through being.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Witter Bynner, #37
(Lǎozǐ)
from Way of Life According to Lao Tzu

Themes: Wu Wei

“They do not-doing and all goes well.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Shan Dao, chapter #3
(Lǎozǐ)
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

“Don’t be materialistic trying to either create fortune or avoid misfortune.”

Wenzi 文子 (fl. 5th century BCE) via Shan Dao
(Wénzǐ)
"Authentic Presence of Pervading Mystery.”
from The Wenzi, Wénzǐ 文子

“Perfect truthfulness though unmoving, creates change; though taking no action, brings about completion; though making no display, becomes manifest.”

Zisi 子思 481 – 402 BCE via Daniel K. Gardner, Shan Dao
(Kong Ji or Tzu-Ssu)
Confucius' grandson and early influence on Neo-Confucianism
from Doctrine of the Mean, Maintaining Perfect Balance, Zhongyong 中庸

Themes: Wu Wei Paradox

57. Wu Wei

“[absolute sincerity] produces changes without motion and accomplishes its ends without action.”

Zisi 子思 481 – 402 BCE via Wing-Tsit Chan
(Kong Ji or Tzu-Ssu)
Confucius' grandson and early influence on Neo-Confucianism
from Doctrine of the Mean, Maintaining Perfect Balance, Zhongyong 中庸

Themes: Wu Wei

“not-doing is the opposite of inaction. Because acting without effort, each job does itself in its own time.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE
(Zhuangzi)

29. Not Doing

“The ancients ruled the world by doing nothing. This is the Virtue of Heaven — Heaven moves without moving.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE
(Zhuangzi)

Themes: Virtue Wu Wei

37. Nameless Simplicity

“Those who are skilled toil, and those who are clever worry. Meanwhile, those who do not possess such abilities seek nothing and yet eat their fill. They drift through life like unmoored boats.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE
(Zhuangzi)

Themes: Wu Wei

34. An Unmoored Boat

“To start from nowhere and follow no road is the first step.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Thomas Merton
(Zhuangzi)

from Zhuangzi

5. Christmas Trees

“The sage has no goal and people are transformed. He doesn’t talk but people are taught, doesn’t act but everything is done, speaks without intention and even beggars in the street benefit.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE
(Zhuangzi)

Themes: Wu Wei

7. Lose Yourself, Gain Your Soul

“When men are enlightened enough to follow their natural instincts, they will have no need of law-courts or police, will have no temples and no public worship, and use no money.”

Zeno Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεύς 334 – 262 BCE
(of Citium)

Themes: Wu Wei Money

70. Inscrutable

“Drifting here and there, I did not know whether I rode on the wind or the wind rode on me.”

Lie Yukou 列圄寇/列禦寇/列子 4th C. BCE via Eva Wong
(Liè Yǔkòu, Liezi)
from Liezi "True Classic of Simplicity and Perfect Emptiness”

Themes: Wu Wei

“The Way of Rulership is not the means by which one acts; it is the means by which one does not act.”

Liú Ān 劉安 c. 179–122 BCE
(Huainanzi)
from Huainanzi

Themes: Wu Wei

“Real people are those united with the Tao. Wandering in the vastness beyond mundane clutter, they work freely without making an issue of it, know without learning, see without looking, achieve without striving and understand without trying.”

Liú Ān 劉安 c. 179–122 BCE via Thomas Cleary
(Huainanzi)
from Huainanzi

51. Mysterious Goodness

“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”

Jesus 3 BCE – 30 CE via Matthew 6:26​

Themes: Wu Wei

“First, abandon all thought of action. Then see desirable objects as mere concepts, delusory mental pictures.”

Nagarjuna नागर्जुन c. 150-250 CE via Keith Dowman

Themes: Wu Wei Desire

“The nature of the myriad things is spontaneity. It should be followed but not interfered with.”

Wang Bi 王弼 226 – 534 CE via Wing-Tsit Chan

Themes: Wu Wei

29. Not Doing

“Those who seek the Tao seek to return to emptiness and nothingness. When something is done, something is left out. When nothing is done, nothing is not done.”

Wang Bi 王弼 226 – 534 CE

Themes: Wu Wei Emptiness

48. Unlearning
4. The Father of All Things

“When you try to stop doing to achieve being, this very effort fill you with doing.”

Jianzhi Sengcan 鑑智僧璨 529 – 606 CE
(Jiànzhì Sēngcàn)

Themes: Paradox Wu Wei

“What a pleasure it is, with a cask of sweet wine and singing girls beside me,
I am happier than the fairy of the air, who rides on his yellow crane,
And free as the merman who followed the sea-gulls aimlessly.”

Li Bai 李白 701 – 762 CE
(Li Bo)

Themes: Wu Wei

“Learning wu wei and empty-minded, I return.”

Layman Pang 龐居士 740 – 808 CE

Themes: Wu Wei

“The more you seek the Buddha and the Dharma, the further away they become.”

Rinzai Gigen 臨済義玄 ? - 866 CE via Shan Dao
(Línjì Yìxuán)
from Zen Teachings of Rinzai (Record of Rinzai), Irmgard Schloegl translation 1976

81. Journey Without Goal

“The secret of the magic of life consists in using action in order to achieve non-action.”

Lü Dongbin 呂洞賓 796 CE - via Richard Wilhelm
(Lü Tung-Pin)

from Secret of the Golden Flower 太乙金華宗旨; Tàiyǐ Jīnhuá Zōngzhǐ

Themes: Magic Wu Wei

“people should not miss the way that leads from conscious action to unconscious non-action... Non-action prevents a man from becoming entangled in form and image. Action in non-action prevents a man from sinking into numbing emptiness and a dead nothingness.”

Lü Dongbin 呂洞賓 796 CE -
(Lü Tung-Pin)

from Secret of the Golden Flower 太乙金華宗旨; Tàiyǐ Jīnhuá Zōngzhǐ

Themes: Wu Wei

“This thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it.”

Abu Yazid al-Bisṭāmī بایزید بسطامی‎‎ 804 – 874 CE

Themes: Paradox Wu Wei

“Turning away and touching are both wrong, for it is like a massive fire.”

Dongshan Liangjie 洞山良价 807 – 869 CE
(Dòngshān Liángjiè; Tōzan Ryōkai)
from Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi

Themes: Wu Wei

“The last line summarizes the entire 5,000 words of the previous eighty verses. It doesn’t focus on action or inaction but simply on action that doesn’t involve struggle.”

Wang Zhen 809 – 859 CE via Ralph D. Sawyer
from Daodejing Lunbing Yaoyishu, The Tao of War

81. Journey Without Goal

“Without spontaneous grace, no internal or external activity will bring about awakening.”

Indrabhūti ཨིནྡྲ་བྷཱུ་ཏི། 892 CE – via Keith Dowman, Shan Dao
("The Enlightened Siddha-King")
Mahasiddha #42

Themes: Wu Wei

“Where conscious effort and striving are present, the Buddha is absent.”

Kukkuripa ཀུ་ཀྐུ་རི་པ། 915 CE –
("The Dog Lover")
Mahasiddha #34

Themes: Wu Wei

57. Wu Wei

“Don’t recall, don’t imagine, don’t think, don’t examine, don’t control, rest.”

Tilopa 988 – 1069 CE

57. Wu Wei

“Directness can be used in governing, but nowhere else. Deception can be used in warfare, but that is all. Only those who practice non-action are fit to rule the world.”

Wang Anshi 王安石 1021 – 1086 CE

Themes: Deception Wu Wei

57. Wu Wei

“Sages… do not act unless they are forced. They do not respond unless they are pushed. They do not rise unless they have to choice. Thus, in their actions, they place themselves behind others.”

Lu Huiqing 1031 – 1111 CE

Themes: Wu Wei

66. Go Low

“If you go forward, you fall into the hands of the celestial demons. If you retreat, you slip into the realm of hungry ghosts. If you go neither forward nor backward, you will drown in the dead water.”

Touzi Yiqing 投子義青 1032 – 1083 CE
(Tōsu Gisei, “Zen Master of Complete Compassion”)

Themes: Wu Wei

“In the deep night, with the wind still, the sea calm;
I'll find a boat and drift away,
to spend my final years afloat,
trusting to the river and the sea.”

Su Shi 苏轼 1037 – 1101 CE
(Dongpo, Su Tungpo)
"pre-eminent personality of 11th century China"

Themes: Old Age Wu Wei

“Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing”

Omar Khayyám 1048 – 1131 CE
Persian Astronomer-Poet, prophet of the here and now

from Rubaiyat

Themes: Water Wu Wei

“If you start seeking, you are unable to see… As soon as you seek, it is like grasping at shadows.”

Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 1063 – 1135 CE via Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
from Zen Letters

10. The Power of Goodness

“Without leaving a trace, let mind and dharma become one and wander into the circle of wonder.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE
(Shōgaku)
from Cultivating the Emplty Field

“I seek no state of enlightenment. Neither do I remain where no enlightenment exists. If hundreds of birds strew my path with flowers, such praise would be meaningless.”

Kakuan Shien 廓庵師遠 1100 – 1200 CE
(Kuo-an Shih-yuan, Kuòān Shīyuǎn )
Most popular Ten Bulls artist/poet

from 10 Bulls

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی 1207 – 1283 CE
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
from Masnavi مثنوي معنوي‎‎) "Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”

Themes: Wu Wei

65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

“All works which come from within us are spontaneous… pleasant, whereas all those works which arise due to an external cause are constraining and enslaving. If these works did not arise due to something outside us they would not happen at all, and therefore they are constraining, enslaving and bitter.”

Meister Eckhart 1260 – 1328 CE
(Eckhart von Hochheim)

Themes: Wu Wei

57. Wu Wei

“A man must become truly poor and as free from his own creaturely will as he was when he was born... He alone has true spiritual poverty who wills nothing, knows nothing, desires nothing.”

Meister Eckhart 1260 – 1328 CE via Aldous Huxley
(Eckhart von Hochheim)

“Naturally occurring timeless awareness—utterly lucid awakened mind—the expanse of the naturally settled state that entails no effort of achievement.”

Longchenpa ཀློང་ཆེན་རབ་འབྱམས་པ། 1308 – 1364 CE via Richard Barron
(Longchen Rabjampa, Drimé Özer)
from The Basic Space of Phenomena

Themes: Wu Wei

“The way to heaven is the same from all places.”

Thomas More 1478 – 1535 CE
from Utopia

Themes: Wu Wei

1. The Unnamed

“Too much effort and diligence sometimes saps the vitality and powers of those who never know when to leave off.”

Giorgio Vasari dʒordʒo vaˈzaːri 1511 – 1574 CE

Themes: Wu Wei

“All the way to heaven is heaven.”

Teresa of Avila 1515 – 1582 CE
from Way of Perfection

Themes: Wu Wei

81. Journey Without Goal

“If someone wishes to be sure of the road they’re traveling on, they must close their eyes and travel in the dark.”

John of the Cross 1542 – 1591 CE

Themes: Wu Wei Paradox

“When the mind is not altered, it is clear. When water is not disturbed, it is transparent.”

Wangchuk Dorje 1556 – 1603 CE via Callahan​
(9th Gyalwa Karmapa)
from Mahamudra: The Ocean of Definitive Meaning

Themes: Water Wu Wei

“Rather than trying to become a buddha, nothing could be simpler than taking the shortcut of remaining a buddha!”

Bankei 盤珪永琢 1622 – 1693 CE
(Bankei Yōtaku)

10. The Power of Goodness

“The more you struggle to live, the less you live. Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. Instead, surrender to what is real within you, for that alone is sure... you are above everything distressing.”

Baruch Spinoza 1632 – 1677 CE

59. The Gardening of Spirit

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows, by itself.”

Matsuo Bashō 松尾 芭蕉 1644 – 1694 CE

Themes: Wu Wei

35. The Power of Goodness

“Whenever we endeavor to bring about our own perfection, or that of others, by our own efforts, the result is simply imperfection.”

Madame Guyon Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon 1648 – 1717 CE via Thomas Taylor Allen
from Autobiography of Madame Guyon

Themes: Wu Wei Karma

57. Wu Wei

“The greatest events occur without intention playing any part in them; chance makes good mistakes and undoes the most carefully planned undertaking. The world's greatest events are not produced, they happen.”

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg 1742 – 1799 CE
One of history’s best aphorists

“What can ever be lost? What can be attained? If we attain something, it was there from the beginning of time. If we lose something, it is hiding somewhere near us.”

Ryokan 良寛大愚 1758 – 1758 CE via Stephen Mitchell
(Ryōkan Taigu,“The Great Fool”)

Themes: Wu Wei

“I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day.”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

“You could construe abandoning all hope of results as being to your welfare. For example fame, renown, comfort, and happiness in this life, later happiness among gods or men, even the desire to achieve the transcendence of misery itself.”

Jamgon Kongtrul the Great འཇམ་མགོན་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ་བློ་གྲོས་མཐའ་ཡས། 1813 – 1899 CE
(Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé)
from Torch of Certainty

77. Stringing a Bow

“Sometimes I ceased to live and began to be.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Walden or Life in the Woods

Themes: Wu Wei

“Beauty—be not caused—It Is
Chase it, and it ceases
Chase it not, and it abides”

Emily Dickinson 1830 – 1886 CE

Themes: Beauty Wu Wei

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.”

Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894 CE

Themes: Travel Wu Wei

“Intuition is instinct becoming conscious of itself, set free from the slavery of exigencies it leads us to the very depths of life itself. A type of knowledge akin to art but having for object life itself, it transcends intellect but uses intellect grow beyond the limitations of mere instinct.”

Henri-Louis Bergson 1859 – 1941 CE via Dane Rudhyar, Shan Dao
from Creative Evolution

Themes: Wu Wei

“Wealth is dismal and poverty cruel unless both are festive. There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet

“When I think of all the books i have read, wise words heard... of hopes I have had, all life weighed in the balance of my own life seems to me a preparation for something that never happens.”

W.B. (William Butler) Yeats 1865 – 1939 CE

Themes: Wu Wei

“If we surrender to earth's intelligence, we can rise up rooted, like trees.”

Rainer Maria Rilke 1875 – 1926 CE
Profound singer of universal music

“What did these people do in order to achieve the progress that freed them? As far as I could see they did nothing (wu wei), but let things happen… The art of letting things happen, action in non-action, letting go of oneself as taught by Meister Eckhart, became a key to me with which I was able to open the door to the ‘Way.’”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Introduction to Secret of the Golden Flower

Themes: Wu Wei

57. Wu Wei

“Intuition is a kind of instinctive apprehension through which any one content is presented as a complete whole, the highest form of cognition... Since I know nothing at all, I shall simply do whatever occurs to me, my aim became to leave things to chance...”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE via Shan Dao
Insightful shamanistic scientist

Themes: Wu Wei

“Let yourself be carried away, like the clouds in the sky. You shouldn’t resist. God exists in your destiny just as much as he does in these mountains and in that lake.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE

“All that is best for us comes of itself into our hands—but if we strive to take, it perpetually eludes us.”

Ananda Coomaraswamy குமாரசுவாமி 1877 – 1947 CE
Perennial philosophy's Citizen of the World
from The Dance of Shiva (1918)

Themes: Wu Wei Desire

“The thought struck him like a bullet. Ambition dropped like a plummet. Rid of the heart-burn of rejected love and all the other stings and pricks of life’s nettle-bed his ambitions had burnt upon him, he opened his eyes which had been wide open all the time but had seen only thoughts.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE via Shan Dao
from Orlando: A Biography

Themes: Ambition Wu Wei

“Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.”

A.A. Milne 1882 – 1956 CE
(Alan Alexander Milne)
from Winnie the Pooh

Themes: Wu Wei

57. Wu Wei

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

A.A. Milne 1882 – 1956 CE
(Alan Alexander Milne)
from Winnie the Pooh

Themes: Wu Wei

58. Goals Without Means

“If you meet someone never looking for a reward, acting completely unselfishly but leaving visible traces on the world, you are in the presence of an enlightened, unforgettable character.”

Jean Giono 1895 – 1970 CE via Shan Dao
from Man Who Planted Trees

“If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE

Themes: Wu Wei

“Intuition begins with biological instinct and with awareness of self becomes holistic perception… a sudden identification of particular wholes with basic qualities in the unconscious”

Dane Rudhyar 1895 – 1985 CE via Shan Dao
( Daniel Chennevière)
Agent of cultural evolution
from Astrology of Personality, 1936

Themes: Wu Wei

“The best way to govern is to leave the people alone and to follow the course of taking no action. This ideal of laissez faire originated in Taoism.”

Wing-tsit Chan 陳榮捷 1901 – 1994 CE
from Way of Lao Tzu

“Moment after moment, everyone comes out from nothingness. This is the true joy of life… activity which is based on nothingness… Without nothingness, there is no naturalness – no true being.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Emptiness Wu Wei

37. Nameless Simplicity

“The most important thing is to forget all gaining ideas, all dualistic ideas… Then eventually you will resume your own true nature. This is to say, your own true nature resumes itself.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Wu Wei

45. Complete Perfection

“To do something without thinking is the most important point in understanding ourselves… when you just do something, and when your mind is just acting as it is, that is how you catch your mind in the true sense.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE
from Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

29. Not Doing

“Since all things are naked, clear and free from obscurations, there is nothing to attain or realize.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche དིལ་མགོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེ། 1910 – 1991 CE
"Mind" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from Maha Ati

57. Wu Wei

“The next age must reverse and become an era of spiritual culture that returns inward... an age of consolidation in which, taking the road of non-action and non-knowing, we elucidate the true nature of man.”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE
from Road Back to Nature

Themes: Wu Wei

“There is no one so great as the one who does not try to accomplish anything.”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE
from One Straw Revolution

Themes: Wu Wei

2. The Wordless Teachings

“philanthropists, like martyrs, missionaries, and apostles of the Good, have never been noted for their experimental spirit; they are philanthropists precisely because they know what is good and how to accomplish it... Their difficulties came, not from lack of a plan, but from too much of one... Their essential weakness was a frame of mind which stifled the spontaneous and experimental spirit which were the real spiritual wealth of America.”

Daniel J. Boorstin 1914 – 2004 CE
American intellectual Paul Revere
from The Americans (1958)

“to say 'must' to rhythm is to stop it dead... All perfect accomplishment in art or life is accompanied by the curious sensation that it is happening of itself—not forced, studied, or contrived”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from Psychotherapy East and West

Themes: Wu Wei

“You don't try. That's very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more.”

Charles Bukowski 1920 – 1994 CE
"Laureate of American lowlife”

Themes: Patience Wu Wei

57. Wu Wei

“The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don't know what to do.”

John Holt 1923 – 1985 CE
from Teach Your Own

Themes: Wu Wei

“The solution of the problem lies in seeing it—in the seeing, without wanting a solution, or dissolution—just seeing what’s there”

Toni Packer 1927 – 2013 CE
A Zen teacher minus the 'Zen' and minus the 'teacher.’
from Light of Discovery

Themes: Wu Wei

27. No Trace

“‘doing without doing’: uncompetitive, unworried, trustful accomplishment, power that is not force. An example or analogy might be a very good teacher, or the truest voice in a group of singers.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE

17. True Leaders

“It’s not a matter of transmitting teachings, but of working unbounded, unhindered, free from traditions, directly with whatever you have.”

Gesshin Myoko Roshi 1931 – 1999 CE
Moon heart miraculous light

Themes: Wu Wei

57. Wu Wei

“In a life properly lived, you’re a river. You touch things lightly or deeply; you move along because life herself moves, and you can’t stop it; you can’t figure out a banal game plan applicable to all situations.”

Jim Harrison 1937 – 2016 CE
"untrammeled renegade genius”
from Paris Review, 1988​

Themes: Wu Wei

“Stop acting, stop speeding. Sit and do nothing. You should take pride in the fact that you have learned a very valuable message: you actually can survive beautifully by doing nothing.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

Themes: Wu Wei Ambition

26. The Still Rule the Restless

“… crazy wisdom is absolute perceptiveness, with fearlessness and bluntness… being wise, but not holding to particular doctrines or disciplines or formats. There aren’t any books to follow, only endless spontaneity… all activity is created by the environment.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

41. Distilled Life

“It’s actually not trying to do anything at all (even relax). That’s the whole point.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Wu Wei

57. Wu Wei

“Doesn’t have a point of view, knows not where he’s going to… isn’t he a bit like you and me?”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE
from Rubber Soul

Themes: Wu Wei

“Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters.”

Bob Dylan 1941 CE –

Themes: Leadership Wu Wei

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“I have nothing much to do with the writing of them (songs that have been any good,). The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page.”

Joan Baez 1941 CE –

Themes: Wu Wei

“The answer is blowing in the wind.”

Bob Dylan 1941 CE –

Themes: Wu Wei

34. An Unmoored Boat

“Who am I to blow against the wind?”

Paul Simon 1941 CE –
Prolific planter of musical, cultural wisdom seeds
from I Know What I Know, 1986​

Themes: Wu Wei

“The game plays the game; the poem writes the poem; we can't tell the dancer from the dance.”

Stephen Mitchell 1943 CE –

Themes: Wu Wei

“The siddhas' action is not our ordinary action, although it may appear so on the surface. Quite the contrary is true, for their action is styled 'non-action.' Like the Toist concept of wu-wei, it is unmotivated and objectless... all actions have the same value. It is only the prejudices and limitations of the observer's dualistic mind that see one set of actions as harmonious, self-less and 'divine' and another as unconventional, outrageous, or insane.”

Keith Dowman 1945 CE –
from Masters of Enchantment

“The day you stop racing, is the day you win the race.”

Bob Marley 1945 – 1981 CE

47. Effortless Success

“Those who do not pursue praise and gain, those who do not shun criticism and loss may be stigmatized as insane because they cannot be lured by material gain, don’t look for thrills, have no face to lose, never do anything to impress people.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ། 1961 CE –
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

41. Distilled Life

“Magic, though, feels effortless… it is simply about knowing it’s there. Training yourself to see it.”

N. K. Jemisin 1972 CE –
from Broken Earth

Themes: Magic Wu Wei

“You don’t have to block whatever thoughts, emotions, or sensations arise, but neither do you have to follow them. Just rest in the open present, simply allowing whatever happens


Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

Themes: Wu Wei

“The Tao Te Ching itself provides an example of wu-wei […] a philosophy that embodies its own message.”

Yi-Ping Ong 1978 CE –
from Tao Te Ching - Introduction and Notes

Themes: Philosophy Wu Wei

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