Wu-Wei of White Water

Wu Wei of White Water  |  By Chuang-tsu

The great waterfall of Lu Canyon is thousands of feet high, with a halo of mist that can be seen for many miles.  Nothing survives the violent waters at its foot.  Yet once K’ung Fu-tzu saw an old man swim the tempest.  K’ung Fu-tzu and his retainers ran with ropes to rescue him, but when they descended to the floor of the canyon, they found the man sitting on a large boulder, quietly singing.

K’ung Fu-tzu exclaimed, “You cannot be alive!  What are your powers to allow you to do what you have done?”  The old mand turned and smiled, “I am just a man, but I began to learn as a boy, and I continue to practice.  I flow with the water, going up, down and around with it.  I forget myself and do not struggle against forces far beyond my control.  Then I use my meager abilities in the moments when the water and I share the same path.”

What is Wu-Wei?

This story is based on the Daoist concept of Wu Wei.  Often Wu-Wei is described as ‘nothingness’ but that is not entirely correct.  Wu-Wei is ‘perfect action’ or being ‘in the zone’.  Being able to act with calmness and without thinking.  Great actors and musicians improvise by feel, without thinking.  This is Wu-Wei.

The Lesson

Becoming great at something is not easy.  Wu-Wei is a result of time, effort, focus and repetition.  If you want to become a great parent, mentor, friend, or, yes, entrepreneur, start early and continue to practice throughout your life.

Maybe, one day, you will be able to sit on the same rock as the old man.

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