The Taoist concept of effortless action is interpreted differently by different writers, but I think the best example of this kind of functioning is the life of Eckhart Tolle.
As you may know if you are my regular reader, I hadn’t listened to him for years, but since I mentioned him in one of my articles and a video, I decided to look him up again.
It was pleasant to find that he remained the same as he was in his early fame, remaining his childlike self. He often emphasizes the importance of effortless action, as he explains it to be the only kind of action that is aligned with who you are.
His life is all about effortless action. For example, when he was talking to Oprah about how his second book, A New Earth, got written, he told the following story. He said that he did not plan to write a second book at all, as he covered all he wanted to say in the first book.
However, a strong impulse came for him to leave the UK and move to the US. He followed that clear impulse, and once he got there, an impulse came to write. When he wrote the first sentence, he realized that the book was waiting to be written by him.
It’s not the same as channeling, where an entity overtakes a person and writes through him or her. The impulse is one’s own, there is no external intelligence doing the writing.
And it’s very different from putting effort into creating a book, as then, as Eckhart explains, you are creating out of your ego, and, I should add, contributing with that creation to the general noise of today, rather than allowing the Reality itself to work through you to manifest things that are really necessary in today’s world.
The book was written effortlessly, without any mental strain. Sometimes only one sentence would come in a day, sometimes many pages. He allowed the creative process to unfold without putting any stress on it. And the book got written beautifully, and it was a huge success.
When people first hear of the term “wu wei” sometimes translated as “non-action”, they assume Taoist masters to be passive individuals just allowing life to happen to them and not responding in any way. Sometimes people think the same thing when they hear about the true awakening – the destruction of the surface mind.
But this is the very opposite to the truth. When you are not awakened, you function in an almost mechanical manner, reacting, rather than responding, to situations. However, when the awakening happens, there is no more any reaction but just the right response to what is in the present moment.
It’s not possible to just sit and do nothing all day with the exception of people who were active all their lives and after the awakening they will have to go through the period of passivity. But that period ends, unless, I believe, the body cannot adjust to another kind of functioning.
But for almost all people that passivity will be replaced by activity, and these will alternate, as they should. So if people don’t live in concepts but in the present moment, the Source would harmonize their lives and sometimes they will stay in total relaxation, and sometimes they will be in the midst of activity, but in an effortless way.
How different that is from the modern lifestyle of endless worry and stress! But this kind of effortless way of living can only be achieved by trusting that if you stay in the present moment the right action will always come.
If even unawakened individuals would apply the concept of “wu wei”, they would find that effortless activity follows after a period of relaxation, and that the action is taken at the right time, and it’s the right kind of action.
In order to employ this concept, one should stay present rather than being hypnotized by the mind. People today live not in the world but in concepts. That makes their reactions mechanical. But if you really live, with full awareness, then your actions will be aligned with that which is and perfect to the situations you are faced with.
There is no need to worry about the future as the right action will flow if you just stay in the present moment. You will respond in the most appropriate way and will not stress your body with worry.
Trusting the present moment is trusting your Source. And the Source, God, your Higher Self (which is the true you), loves you and wants only the best for you. If you allow It to work in your life through your trust, miracles will happen and everything will perfectly align for you to experience a truly fulfilling existence.
It’s of course difficult to retrain yourself and stop worrying about the future. But deep reflection of what this kind of worry made out of your life may give enough inspiration to try out this new way of functioning.
When you get the taste of this effortless existence, you will never again want to get imprisoned in your mental concepts which produces mechanical reactions to life’s situations and results in living as though dead, not being able to experience the magic and fullness of life.
When you get the taste of the effortless kind of living, you will relax into it, impulses will naturally come to take the action aligned with your life’s purpose, and your existence, if it was monotonous and dull, will change to the life of spontaneity, fulfillment and joy.
As Jesus said:
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(…) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God [which is within, your source], and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.Matthew 6 27-34