May 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm #37371
From You Wei to Wu Wei
May 23, 2011 Chun-man Sit
By Chun Man Sit
Wu Wei 无为
Wu wei is a Daoism term. It can be translated as non-doing. Even though wu wei is not as glamourous as enlightenment, a word much loved by the Zen practitioners, its good enough for taiji and qigong practitioners.
While enlightenment is easy to understand (but difficult to achieve), wu wei is not. It is not easy to cultivate something that you dont have a clear idea of what it is.
Here is my interpretation of wu wei:
The Chinese character wei means action with a purpose, or to do something. The word wu means no, non or without. Wu wei together means without action, or non-doing. Wu wei is difficult to explain because it is a Daoism and Chinese concept. It doesnt mean not to do or dont do it. In fact, it can be explained as to do something so naturally and effortlessly as if youre not doing it.
You Wei 有为
The word you means to have, or to own. You wei means to pursue something actively, or to have some outstanding achievement. It generally means worldly achievements such as money, fame and skill. You wei is a positive term and a compliment to anybody. We can translate it as doing.
You Wei vs. Wu Wei
Many people think that you wei- doing, is the opposite of wu wei non-doing. They chase after wu wei and avoid you wei thinking they are on the right path towards the Dao. But according to my understanding, this is not true.
Just like yin and yang, you wei and wu wei are the opposite sides of the same thing. Many Daoism students who look down on you wei are making a big mistake. By avoiding you wei one will never achieve wu wei; because a coin has two sides, not one. And you wei and wu wei are the opposite sides of the same coin.
Training in Circle
Lets take the example of taijiquan (tai chi chuan) training. At the beginning, you learn the basic stances and hand moves; then you learn the taiji form, the body-structures and the applications, etc. You are learning to increase your knowledge of taiji. You have to work hard both mentally and physically, paying great attention to the details. You may have to learn for 2 to 3 years until you can get things right. But you should understand that all these hard trainings, all these careful studies are actually you wei in nature. Think about it. You are increasing your knowledge of taiji. And you are working hard mentally and physically on your forms and push-hand. Is this not you wei?
After you have developed a strong jin (energy), and your taiji forms are looking good, you are still at the mid level. You have finished only half of the circle, which is the level of you wei. Now you are ready to begin the training of wu wei, the other half of the circle. This is where the real taiji training begins.
From you wei to wu wei
The key of this training is to decrease, to cut down and to use less. You need to use less physical force but maintain the same motion. Use more yi (intention) to perform the form; cut back on physical strength. Try to be as soft and gentle as possible. Sometimes it takes several thousand form repetitions to reach this goal. Then you should try to use less yi (mind) while practicing the form. Because focusing too much on yi can create tension in the mind. Using less yi gives you space to think. In the art of taiji, less is always better. It gives you room to move, in other words, freedom! After lots of using less yi you will reach the stage of practicing taiji forms with your intuition. Then everything will become effortless. You can follow the rules but still be completely free. This is called wei wu wei do the non-doing. The Dao De Jin said, Do the non-doing and theres nothing you cant do. At this point you have completed the other half of the circle.
What are the examples of people who have achieved the wu wei level? Well, nowadays you can check out the taiji postings on you-tube. But beware of the fake masters. Great taiji masters always perform in a soft and gentle manner. Their applications should appear to be effortless, at times even seem to be quite weak.
Observe Fred Astair in his dancing performance and you can see that no matter how complicated and difficult the moves, he is always at ease, his steps light and nimble. Watch Jimmy Hendrix playing his guitar and you can understand what is wei wu wei or do the non-doing. Hendrix played his best songs as if hes not ever touching his guitar; you can almost feel the freedom. Those are the true masters of wu wei.
If you are not free, you havent reach wu wei. And if you want to attain wu wei, you must first attain you wei.
[Master Chun Man Sit was born in 1951 in southern China. His family moved to Hong Kong when he was six. He lived in Hong Kong for twenty years. In 1976 he moved to the United State. He lives in Overland Park, Ks. with his wife Mary Ann. Master Sit began his martial art training in 1969. He has learned and practiced continually for forty years, learning many styles, such as: Karate, Tai Chi, Qigong and Kungfu. He is the expert on Wu style Taiji, Tai Hui Six Elbows Kungfu, and many Qigong methods, including 6 Healing Sounds, Drifting Cloud Moving Qigong, Nei Gong, Silk-reeling Gong, etc. Master Sit has been a chief judge in many national Tai Chi and Kungfu tournaments in the USA for the last 18 years. He has taught workshops on Tai Chi, Qingong and Kungfu. His articles appear regularly in Tai Chi and Kungfu magazines. He is currently writing a book on Tai Chi.]May 24, 2011 at 3:14 am #37372
On my primitive view, wu wei its the tip of the iceberg, all what is under water is you wei..May 25, 2011 at 3:21 am #37374
According to the author Daniel Levitin, who wrote the book “This Is Your Brain On Music”, the only thing in common between experts in any field whether it is sports (martial arts), music, or meditation, is over 10,000 hours of practice. That means three hours a day for 10 years, or 1.5 for 20 years etc.
It is after this amount of time that virtuosity becomes second nature and people can perform effortlessly – the best make it seem effortless! Only people who are awesomely good at something make it look easy and effortless, and this has very little to do with “talent”. There is always something very real behind the most opaque concepts.May 25, 2011 at 3:39 am #37376
The author of this article that Michael posted teaches Wu style Taijiquan in Kansas city, and was the first teacher that charged money to teach Six elbows Kung Fu in North America that I know of, as well as openly calling it by one of its names not normally advertised to the public. The form is also called Tai Xu quan and after viewing some of the forms of his students on youtube, they look “different” than the ones I have seen here in Vancouver. Here is a blog by a man in Guangzhou on the recently formed official association. The founder also traces it back to Zhang San Feng, and whether it is traceable to him or not, I could care less, but I like the form! It works on a different principle than Taiji.
Here is Mok Sifu (recently passed away) who brought the form to VancouverMay 26, 2011 at 11:53 am #37378
Is wu wei a thing to achieve or a way to live life?May 26, 2011 at 3:55 pm #37380
Although I tend to agree, over 10 000 hours of practice may not be enough, unfortunately. A lot of people don’t even master their own native language after a life of practice because basically they don’t care enough to pay attention and ask how they could express themselves more gracefully. M.Winn wrote in an essay that qi is a language, right? So practice is important but there is no guarantee. Some are fast learners, others not.Some practice mechanically, others put 100% of themselves into what they do.
I heard somewhere that when you can dream in the language you learnt, you can say it is really part of youserlf. I wonder what could be a qi-dream?
milletMay 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm #37382
>>>I wonder what could be a qi-dream?
Doing alchemy/meditation during the dream state
and getting a powerful qi response, c.f. post below
on qigong/meditation while dreaming.
SMay 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm #37384
>>>Is wu wei a thing to achieve or a way to live life?
It is a way to live life, but for those that don’t live
that way, it is therefore both.
SMay 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm #37386
Yes! Thanks Steven, this makes sense. I still haven’t reach that point 🙂May 27, 2011 at 4:08 am #37388
My familiar very cool playing on gutar.
When i ask him how fast he study to playing like this, he say that you can quickly learn to play masterly if you will not squander time on not necessary training.
So i think that often learner stay on his level and dont see another ways to improve practice. And often his practice becoming routine, mabe some times you need it. But if you not raise you have problems in your practice. Often people practice for support their level.
I think that wu wei – non doing its level of awareness of you wei.May 28, 2011 at 3:01 am #37390
When the way is lived as the way, the question answers itself
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