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The Art of Wu Wei... Moid Siddiqui,
Managing Director, Intellects Biz


‘Wu Wei is an ancient Taoist art of living, practised by most of the Chinese monks in good old days.

Lao Tzu’s work mostly reflects Wu Wei – the law of manifestation without or rather beyond human intervention. The art of Wu Wei is based on the universe law of energy response – let cosmic forces play their role. Let happenings dance on the cosmic rhythm. Let things happen without human intervention. Let life unfold and unfurl. Let…

What little I could understand about Wu Wei at my wrong side of fifties was revealed unto me by a pair of sparrows in my childhood.

During my childhood my sister, two years elder, was my guru. She used to take lead and I used to follow her depositing my sincerity at her disposal. We had lots of fun to do for we had lots of time to kid around. My mother was seriously ill and my father’s sole objective was to save her life. She was treated in a city hospital and we were brought up in a small town distancing us from our parents. We grew almost without parenthood, though ours was not a broken house.

Once we found a baby sparrow that had fallen from the nest made in the cavity of ceiling. The parent sparrows were perching on the ground making hue and cry trying to inspire the young one to get up and fly. The poor guy was making attempts but was not able to fly.

We were not the guys who would remain silent observers in our mini universe of childhood! We were active players born to make things happen. We immediately decided to help the baby sparrow. My sister took the lead and I obediently followed. To comfort and warm the baby-sparrow we first kept it in cotton gauze then started making all sorts of abortive attempts to feed it. She twisted a piece of cotton gauze and made a thread, and then she soaked it in milk. I forced open the beak of the baby-sparrow and she attempted pouring drops. The guy resisted but we went forcing our goodness upon it. The parent sparrows were hovering over our head making protest, but not loud enough to sensitize our innocent ignorance.

Then, after some time the parent sparrows decided to abandon their child. They flew away. As one can guess, the baby-sparrow died leaving us wonder struck!

There are certain things in life we must allow to manifest. What we call ‘make happen’ may sometimes hamper the process and rupture the product.

The other day I got an email from one my friend Charles. He enclosed an attachment – Butterfly. The creator of this marvelous text of wisdom requested the Internet surfers to send the message to the friends and show them how much you care. He writes, “Send it everybody that you consider a friend, even if this means it to be same person that conveyed it to you. If this message returns to you, you can be sure that your circle of friends is made out of true friends.

I ‘pay forward’ the good-turn that I received from Charles, my cyber friend.

‘One day, a small opening appeared in a cocoon; a little boy sat and watched for butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.’

‘Then, it seems to stop making progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it would not go any after. So the little boy decided to help the butterfly; he took a pair of scissors and opened the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily.’

‘But the little boy continued to watch because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would open, enlarge and expand, to be able to support the butterfly’s body, and became firm. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent rest of its life with withered body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.’

‘What the little boy, in his kindness and his goodwill did not understand, was that the struggle required for that butterfly to get through the tiny opening, with God’s way of forcing, fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from cocoon.’

Manifestation! Allow things to happen sometimes. You cannot always make things happen. There’s a divine distinction between the two. The wisdom that lets you understand the difference between the two is the secret of success. A winner knows when to act and when not to act. In life, there’s a time to be aggressive and a time to be passive, a time to work and a time to rest, a time to hurry and a time to wait and watch.

The art of Wu Wei is ‘wisdom in practice’ that gets you the required patience to wait, watch and allow thing to happen keeping a sharp focus on your objectives. This art enables you to chip in effortlessly without exerting. It lets you make your place and contribution in the ‘occurring’ event naturally.

In simple words, the art of Wu Wei is a Taoist practice of not working ‘against the grain of things’, of waiting for the right moment without forcing anything unduly. All that you have to do is to remain alert and focused on your purpose, and sooner or later the right opportunity would knock the door, things would start falling in place making way for you to proceed.

Both, in life and business, sometimes one must follow the art of Wu Wei, waiting for the right moment and getting into the process effortlessly. It is not ‘inaction’; it is seeing ‘action’ in ‘inaction’. It warrants a deeper sense of understanding to fathom this age-old Chinese vista.

Sought for the right moment without forcing anything unduly. Otherwise, you will either be killing a baby sparrow or making the butterfly a withered creature.

The Old Master, Lao Tzu says, “Managing a country is like cooking small fish. The more you stir them the less their shape can be maintained.”

Do little. Manage less to manage better.


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