Yesterday the sun shone and I laid on my back, in the long grass, in the country park. I was in a world of my own, which is the very best of places, believe me, when some distance above me a red kite moved into my line of vision. Maybe a 100 metres above me, turning lazy circles in the warm air. It really was poetry in motion and we communed for maybe 10 minutes before the bird turned and rode away. In all that time it never moved a wing, not even once. Truly a most majestic thing. As I laid there on my own I realised that nature has everything so totally together and yet we choose to both ignore and violate so much of it.
The Chinese have a term (yes, I’m back in oriental cultures. I am beginning to think that I live in the wrong land) for the sort of thing I had witnessed. It’s termed Wu Wei, which basically means non-action, not laziness but a deliberate choice to embrace the flow and allow that to enable you to achieve results. The red kite chose to ride the thermals and so travelled across the sky with no effort. It’s a perfect example of Wu Wei. Another, and the one commonly used is water as it will always follow the path of least resistance as it flows. Yet with no apparent effort, over time, it will wear away and remove obstacles, it will smooth its path and straighten its flow. In nature Wu Wei delivers perfection but does so with patience. Everything is as it should be at this moment and it is only this moment that should be our concern although concern is the wrong word as it speaks of the angst of becoming and possibly more. This moment is the only reality we possess.
Realise deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.Elkhart Tolle
Remember our dear old friend Pooh? Remember his Tao? Well in there the writer Benjamin Hoff says:
When we learn to walk with our own inner nature and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes.
So my friend the red kite emulated the principle to perfection. I could have laid there all day, soaking up the sunshine and witnessing perfection in action.
Now before you suggest that I’m lazy, I want to offer up my best defence. This really isn’t about laziness. No far from it. But it is about a huge change of mindset. Massive, for you and me, and anyone else who picks this letter up after you leave it laying about!
Because we have long lived in a world where we’ve been taught that everything is about effort. I was raised on a continuous reminder that everything was about being the best, out performing others which runs hand in hand with hard work. Wu Wei is not about this, about being better than the others. No. It’s about being the best you can be, but it’s holistic in its achievements so being the best is about your whole being. It’s not about over achieving in one area of your life if you have to pillage other areas to do this. It’s about listening to your body, to your whole inner nature and working in harmony with it. Once we learn to listen to our inner nature we will discover what a perfect guidance system it is even though I’m thinking that this will take us some time to achieve as, if you’re like me, you’ve so long ignored it. Indeed, we have filled our lives with so much that militates against the voice of our inner nature. Know that the world finds no profit in a person who is at peace with them self and requires no material affirmation of their being.
The person who commits to a pursuance of Wu Wei is a person who has also understood and accepted that there is a driving force behind the workings of the world. Call it God, call it Source, whatever, but the individual draws assurance and comfort from the knowledge of a higher power. Wu Wei was actually a construct of the Tao, or the Way, a Taoist belief system. The Tao is itself beyond description but is believed to be before all things and has set in place the perfection of the Way. Sound familiar?
The Way never acts, yet nothing is left undone.Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
If your mind is as adept as I believe it to be then you’ve already found a number of other beliefs and systems which have a like teaching, all be it given in different words. I am convinced there are spiritual laws which are common to, and find expression in many texts and beliefs. Love, gratitude, fellowship, kindness repeated throughout various texts. Did Jesus himself not declare he was the Way? And it is moving within the Way that leads to the path of least resistance. Our red kite understood this perfectly.
All this said, the path of least resistance may not be the path of greatest ease. Being also the path of love and kindness it will run contrary to the path of the forces that seek power and do so through oppressive methods and greed. Remember the water that runs into the rock and around the rock? The rock determines the path or so you would think, but as time passes, sometimes much time, the water wears the rock away. The water, in following the path of least resistance overcomes the rock in time.
If you want to see an example of this in life read your history on Ghandi and his path of non-violent resistance to the British in India. How he was able to bring down the might of an empire using the path of least resistance. I suppose we’d be bothered by the time scale. These things are seldom done quickly and in an age of instant everything the Way will seem very foreign, even undesirable. But the water does not avoid the rock if that is the path and if that is where the Way leads.
First they Ignore you, Then they laugh at you, Then they fight you, Then you win.Ghandi
If love and kindness brush against an obstacle, the obstacle’s continual exposure to these will cause it to be worn down, eventually. Patience, perseverance, persistence and the soul deep knowledge that the Way carries the adherent beyond this life to greener pastures. It is that knowledge “of the things we hope for…the things we cannot see”, as the Apostle Paul put it, that enables us to embrace the path and follow our inner nature and accept there is a better way.
Yours, all for the path of least resistance and laying in the long grass,