From the Journal of Shifu Rinaldini: 1/19, 7pm

I’m now looking at a new book on Daoist studies by Louis Komjathy.
It’s called The Daoist Tradition: An Introduction. Honestly, I don’t
know why books like this are called “introduction” when there are so
many similar books on the same or similar topics. But with all respect
to the author, let’s move on.

There is a lot of information in this book and it is taking me time to
go deep into the book as a whole. At present, I am only digesting
parts of it as I find areas of concern to me.

One area of concern for me now is a deeper understanding of the Daoist
term “wuwei.” I’ve said elsewhere that I am frequently encountering
others who are using that term to describe their Daoist practices. And
I still say they are using it or understanding it incorrectly. They
sound like they are repeating phrases from the 1960’s and 1970’s when
it was in style to “go with the flow.” So let’s see how Komjathy
defines and talks about this important Daoist principle of
cultivation.

The practice of wuwei involves “effortless activity, non-interference,
and non-intervention.” It does make use of effort, though the effort
used is the least required for a situation. Komjathy says it is the
cessation of doing things that “prevents one from being attuned with
the Dao.” So, you see, wuwei still employs practices that require a
certain degree of effort as long as the intention or goal is ultimate
attunement or alignment with the Dao. Komjathy states clearly that
wuwei is “not ‘doing nothing,’ which is impossible.” Instead, wuwei is
about relaxation, ease, complete presence and conservation, or
non-dissipation. Wuwei is closely connected to the principle of ziran,
which is translated as “spontaneity or naturalness,” as well as
“suchness” and is the “state or condition realized when one returns to
one’s innate nature, which is the Dao.” This term is also confused in
modern culture as “following one’s own desires.” I like how Komjathy
sums up this discussion on wuwei and ziran by saying: “Practicing
wuwei and abiding in ziran requires the mastery of Daoist principles,
including decreasing desires.” P. 88 The Daoist Tradition

Thus to acquire “mastery” of any subject takes prolonged practice,
effort, discipline and commitment to a goal. This is far from simply
going with the flow, following one’s desires, and accepting things the
way they are. This is the “gong,” as in qigong or gongfu, that is, the
necessary work of perfecting a skill.

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