Lao Tzu on the Flow of Life: How to Get Through Life Well

In Daoism, the fundamental principle of Wu-Wei is often found. Wu-Wei is the principle of "non-forcing" by which one should be able to achieve one's goals, but Wu-Wei is often misunderstood - especially in the Western world. In the following quote it becomes clear how Wu-Wei is to be understood:

“Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.”

Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu or Lao Tzu was a Chinese philosopher who, according to legend, lived between the 4th and 6th century BC. According to tradition, he left his post as a civil servant to go into exile when he could no longer bear the decadent goings-on in high circles.

Even if no one knows where exactly he went, a book full of laws and principles was written down, through which the true way, or more precisely, of the Dao for us humans is set out.

But now back to the principle of Wu-Wei. As mentioned, it is the art of non-forcing.

The thought springs, like almost everything in Daoism, from nature, which seems to do things without tension.

Accordingly, such an attitude of mind is also advisable for our own lives. And indeed, I see it that way, too:

A lot of things come easier when you don't try to force it, but let things happen.

But the problem is that not-forcing is often equated with doing nothing. And that is not what we are talking about.

An example clarifies the whole perhaps:

When you start a garden, there are a few steps to take:

  • Digging the bed
  • Plant the seedlings
  • Water the bed

But then it's time for a break, because no matter what you do, the plants must grow by themselves and no force from your side will bring the growth to completion. On the contrary, it is quite possible that your rigidity will harm the plants. Be it by overwatering, overfertilizing or anything else.

It is therefore important to do the things that are good and necessary, but not to stiffen beyond that, to want to achieve one's own goal with all one's might.

Let it happen on its own. If it is in the nature of things, you will become active now and then. Then you sit back again and wait.

And very important: if things turn out differently than you expected, but you realize that you can't influence it (for that you have to look at the situation soberly and be honest with yourself), then accept it and be excited about what this unexpected turn of events will bring.

If you find it hard to accept things now and then, this article is just right for you. It is about the teachings of the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi.

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