Tao Wu Wei 無為 - What It Is, What It Is Not - Detailed Information and Translations of 道德經 Dao De Jing #37 and #38

Tao Wu Wei

Way Nothing Guide

Tao Wu Wei 無為 - What It Is, What It Is Not

Detailed Information and Translations

of 道德經 Dao De Jing #37 and #38

Larry Neal Gowdy - Copyright ©2024 - February 02, 2024

Reading time: 78 to 99 minutes

Links to Page Sections

Wu Wei for Beginners

Brief Background History of Wu Wei

Brief Introduction to the Wu Wei Way

Two Different Taos

Guodian Texts Do Not Have Wu Wei


Definitions of Wu Wei

Buddhist Parallel

Brief Overview of Modern Wu Wei

Descriptions of Modern Wu Wei

Major Example of Failing Axioms

Zhuangzi's Anti-Confucianism

Three Levels

Scholars Change Words

Alan Watts' Wu Wei

Intellectual Differences

Know What the Wu Wei Topic Is

Know What the Wu Wei Wording States

What is Virtue

The Popular Wu Wei

What Dao De Jing States About Wu Wei

What Are the Ingredients

Common Translations of #37 and #38

What Wu Wei Really Is


Wu Wei for Beginners

Wave Law of Nature

©Copyright 2024 Larry Neal Gowdy - Wave Law of Nature

Everything in the universe that has boundaries (matter and energy) is wave-based. Everything in the universe is created upon the same law of three or more wave ingredients. #1 flour + #2 water + #3 yeast + #4 salt (plus heat and time) = bread. #1 cello + #2 cello + #3 violin + #4 piano (plus people) = musical quartet. #1 C note + #2 E note + #3 F note + #4 G note = chord. #1 selfishness tone + #2 uncaring for others tone + #3 ignorance tone + #4 impatience tone = hate tone. #1 caring for other people tone + #2 mindful tone + #3 intelligence tone + #4 patience tone = benevolence tone.

What goes in, comes out. Whatsoever a person inserts into #1 + #2 + #3 + #4 + etc., so will it create the product of its ingredients. It is a Law of Nature.

Nature created man. Man did not create Nature. All people exist within the Laws of Nature. No one is able to do anything whatsoever that is not permitted within the Laws of Nature.

Whatsoever ingredients a person inserts into their life, so will the ingredients create the product of the ingredients. Wu wei is composed of ingredients.

Wu wei is said to be 'non action', the act of not striving to attain a goal, to instead merely 'go with the flow', and, that, somehow, the 'going with the flow' will create virtue.

#1 selfish tone + #2 unmindful tone + #3 uncaring tone + #4 'go with the flow' tone = self-destructing tone.

The Laws of Nature dictate that wu wei (as it is popularly described by followers) can never produce a positive tone, nor is it able to create virtue.

Brief Background History of Wu Wei

The words wu wei are most often recited from the 37th section of the modern book Dao De Jing, which had portions written by and added by different authors between around 200 to 2650 B.C., with some sections perhaps having been written much earlier.

According to available sources, the philosophical idea of wu wei began in the China region at around 300-500 B.C.. The term wu wei has had numerous different English interpretations that include the ideas of 'non-action', 'no action', 'nothing action', 'nothing be', and 'nothing guide'.

Of the many different interpretations, the personal act of wu wei generally infers a person's firsthand choice to live within agreement of the natural way of Nature, and to do so by taking 'no action' themselves; the individuals merely permit Nature to make all of one's choices. Within wu wei it is generally believed that an individual will achieve harmony with Nature, and thus the individual will simultaneously achieve a form of fulfillment of the individual's own potentials.

Due to all known historical records having been altered by various authors, the history of wu wei can only be used as a generalized guideline of what may have happened during the past 5,000 years. This article's topic most focuses on how wu wei exists today.

Brief Introduction to the Modern Wu Wei Way

Wu wei 無為 is a Taoist term that is popularly said to be 'inaction', 'non-action', 'effortless action', and several other English terms. The idea of wu wei is most often referenced to have been written within the books Dao De Jing and Zhuangzi.

Individuals wishing to learn what wu wei is supposed to be, will have much difficulty learning because [1] there is no known useful description of what wu wei actually is, [2] different people describe wu wei differently, [3] many people claim that different things unrelated to Dao De Jing and Zhuangzi are wu wei, and [4] there are no fewer than four different polarities of how 'wu wei' is applied by different individuals.

It is statistically valid to assume that a master Taoist ought to be able to describe what wu wei is, and for the master to also describe the effects of wu wei, but all known available information about wu wei is void of descriptive descriptions and definitions.

This article's purpose is to present numerous different references and facts that are related to wu wei. Through use of the information, it is hoped that the reader will [1] be able to much more easily sum their own opinion of whether wu wei is true, false, or something else entirely different, all while [2] saving weeks to years of researching wu wei on their own.

Two Different Taos

One view of Tao, is that some people think of Tao as being a philosophy, a religion, or other ideological system of belief that has teachings for its followers to memorize and to obey. Similar to all other religions and philosophies, the people believe that they will receive a reward for following and believing in Tao.

What goes in, comes out. Followers of philosophical Taoism are selfish, greedy, wanting personal gain, and the end-product is always the lowered quality of the believers' lives.

It is a Law of Nature that low quality ingredients will always create a low quality product. The following of Taoism as a philosophy or religion, is a low quality behavior that cannot possibly create a quality behavior.

It is eternally impossible to be bettered by following Taoism or any other -ism. Nature dictates it to be so. The Source/god that created Nature's Laws, dictates it to be so.

The second view of Tao, interprets the Dao De Jing to be speaking of the laws of Nature, that of Nature's Laws themselves being the Tao-Dao-Way.

By interpreting Tao as the Laws of Nature, the written words within Dao De Jing then (sometimes) make sense. The words do not make sense if the words are interpreted to be a teaching to be followed.

This article was written with the second view of Tao, that of it implying the Laws of Nature, the laws that dictate that what goes in, comes out.

Guodian Texts Do Not Have Wu Wei

It is well-known that most or all ancient Chinese texts have been altered by different authors. Dao De Jing appears to have had no fewer than four different authors, and, the authors' teachings do not agree. Too, all ancient texts have been rewritten with modern script, which has caused losses of meanings within numerous ideas. Confidence in a book's authenticity of topic is all but nonexistent.

The Guodian slips are reported to have been discovered in 1995, and the slips are estimated to have been from the 300 B.C. era. Two items immediately stand-out: [1] the Guodian texts' script has different word meanings than modern scripts, and [2] the Guodian texts prove that there were different versions of Dao De Jing.

The item of focus at present is that the Guodian texts help to answer a few questions about wu wei within paragraph #37 of Dao De Jing.

From Dao De Jing #37: 道常無為而無不為侯王若能守之

Way constant nothing(not-exist) guide while nothing(not-exist) not guide

Nobleman king similar capable serve it

From Guodian Chu Slips: 道恆亡為也侯王能守之

Way continuous disappear-perish guide {pause or end of sentence}

Nobleman king capable serve it

The wu wei (not-exist guide) within Dao De Jing is wang wei (disappear (no longer exist) guide) in the Guodian texts. The Guodian texts, of course, may not be authentic either, but the value here is that the differences of texts do further illustrate that no text can be trusted as being an authentic reproduction of what the original text may have stated.

The Guodian text also lends weight to the probability that the 'Way' was interpreted to be philosophical, and not referencing 'Nature's Way'. If the 'Way' of #37 is philosophical, then it contradicts 中庸 Zhong Yong #1 which generally states 'Not able must a-moment leave... Leave, not way'. If a Way can be abandoned, then it was never a correct Way. The only Way that cannot be abandoned is Nature's Way.

Therefore, the Guodian texts illustrate that [1] the wu wei of paragraph #37 may not be authentic, and [2] the ideas of 'nothing' and 'disappear' do not lend a similar concept.

Many individuals will, of course, argue that 'nothing' and 'disappear' are synonymous, but in the end there is still the one hard fact: the Way spoken of in the texts is capable of not having a 'guide', which also mandates that the Way is not Nature's Way.


Before a thing can be judged as true or false, an individual must first possess the knowledge and standards of what is true and what is false. The following axioms are amongst the guiding principles that judge whether wu wei topics are plausibly true or false.

#1 : Nature rules man, man does not rule Nature.

#2 : Man can never leave the laws of Nature. The Way-Dao is Nature. There is no other Way.

#3 : If a belief disagrees with the laws of Nature, then the belief is false.

#4 : If a belief does not agree with the law of Nature that all things are composed (woven) of three or more ingredients, then the belief is false.

#5 : The ultimate value within Creation is creativity.

#6 : If a belief cannot be intricately described, then the belief is imagined.

#7 : If an individual does not have highly skilled personal firsthand experience with a topic, then the individual is unqualified to speak of the topic.

#8 : If the original source of a topic was written by an individual who did not fulfill axioms #3 through #7, then the written claims are false.

The eight axioms are very simple to see and to recognize that they are true. Unfortunately, almost everything that people believe in, fails at least two of the axioms.

All known recorded writings that promote wu wei fail axioms #3 through #8.

Definitions of Wu Wei

The popular definitions of wu wei have many different versions, including 'non-action', 'doing nothing', 'inaction', and 'effortless action'. There are countless writings about wu wei, as well as there being countless individuals following a behavior of 'wu wei—doing nothing', but no known writing actually describes what it is that the individuals do, and, without the descriptions, then dictionary word definitions mean nothing. A better choice for the definition of wu wei might be something near 'nothing guide'. The very vague idea is that an individual chooses to live life without the inner urges of self-striving to achieve a goal, nor to self-guide oneself's behaviors.

Using a contrast as an example, mowing one's lawn (as well as wearing clean clothes) is for the purpose of maintaining tidiness, orderliness, and cleanliness within one's environment, while also caring about other people's happiness, which is an outer expression of one's inner values. However, within some versions of wu wei the urge for tidiness, orderliness, and cleanliness are purposefully numbed, thereby permitting the lawn (and clothing) to be disorderly and trashy, and thus uncaring about other people, which again is the outer expression of one's inner values. The general underlying idea behind wu wei is to not 'guide' one's own behaviors, but rather to (allegedly) let Nature be the 'guide'. Therefore, wu is as 'none', and wei is as 'self-guide'.

(Humorously, all wu wei followers use Dao De Jing and other books as guides, all while the followers claim to be doing 'nothing guide'. Doing the action of wu wei is not 'non-action'.)

Many different polarities of purpose guide each single act. By how an individual wears their clothing, it illustrates the individual's inner nature of [1] a pompous self-centered desire to appear superior to everyone else, or [2] a self-centered uncaring for other people's feelings, or [3] a belief that material possessions are the sole scale of a person's value, or [4] sloppiness in one's own system of values, or [5] exerting personal effort while caring about other people's happiness, etc. etc.. Everyone at all times always 'self-guides' themselves to do and to behave in agreement with their own personal values. Purposefully changing a behavior is an act of 'self-guiding'. There is no such thing as 'nothing guide'.

Wu wei claims to eliminate specific types and polarities of self-guiding, but the elimination of one polarity is merely the raising of a different polarity. Wu wei is self-contradicting.

According to modern dictionaries, (wu) implies 'no, none, not, nothing, not-have, non-existence'. As wu is commonly used throughout Dao De Jing, wu more closely implies the idea of 'not-exist' or 'not-have'. Individuals who are accustomed to reading wu in the original texts may choose the English word "nothing" within a sense of it implying 'does not exist' (as is commonly done on this website). In English, 'nothing' is applied in numerous different ways to suggest an absence of everything, but 'not-exist' implies an idea of a thing that exists but does not exist at the moment. (Note that (wu) has a deeper meaning than 'not-exist', but, similar to words like 善, 惡, 孫, and 怨, and due to this article's topic being a focus upon the wu-nothing idea, plus how the meaning of (wu) changes much of Dao De Jing's ideas, then the clarified meaning of (wu) will not be given in this article.) Nevertheless, for this article, the definition of wu will be given as nothing.

Important of noting is that there is no known bone nor bronze script for the (wu) character. Dao De Jing and Zhuangzi were originally written within the eras of when bone and/or bronze script were used. There ought to be a pre-traditional script example of . The only known bone and bronze variations of relate to the idea of 'dancing', which is today written as (wu). It has been suggested that is a phonetically borrowed character from , which is okay if that did indeed occur, but still the original Dao De Jing and Zhuangzi had to have had written words that implied 'nothing'. What, specifically, was the written word? Was it the Guodian ? Without knowing how the original wu was written, then there can be no confidence that today's wu means the same thing as what wu meant 2,300 years ago.

Also, if did indeed imply 'not-have', then the original text would have surely merely used (bu) which means 'not', and (you), which means 'have'. Why then do the texts use instead of using 不有? The answer is easy; means something different. Wu wei itself is built upon multiple mistranslations. Nevertheless, since this article will not give finished translations, then the English words 'nothing' and 'not-exist' will be left as-is.

According to modern dictionaries, (wei) implies 'act as, be, become, make, serve as'. Wei is, perhaps, most commonly used with the meaning of 'be' or 'become'. Within the bone and bronze scripts, suggests a hand reaching down towards an elephant. It is said that elephants were once used as animals of burden, and if so, then might suggest 'hand guiding an elephant'. The hand element is also sometimes used within the idea of 'governing'.

Therefore, wu wei typically implies the modern idea of 'nothing act' or 'nothing become', but the bronze script would more suggest the idea of 'nothing guide'. Nevertheless, there are literally thousands of different translations of Dao De Jing, with none of the translations agreeing on what the book's words mean. Also, there are different versions of Dao De Jing, with each having different words. Also, no known extant version of Dao De Jing is written within the oracle or bronze script, which means that no known version of Dao De Jing is authentic of the original authors' intentions of word meanings. Confidence in the accuracy of translations and meanings, is tiny.

Nevertheless, and most commonly, instead of interpreting wu wei as 'nothing be' or 'nothing guide', a popular idea is that wu wei implies 'non action'. There are numerous sects that speak about 'non-action', while the followers are busily and physically rushing to 'do nothing', of which, of course, is a contradiction of ideas as well as a contradiction of behavior.

But what, exactly, is wu wei? What, precisely, is supposed to be accomplished by doing nothing? Are the claims of wu wei viable? The answers are small and easy, but to arrive at the answers, first is needed a knowledge of what the topic is.

Buddhist Parallel

The topic of Buddhism is related to the Dao De Jing book because one or more authors inserted Buddhist ideas into the book. The references were [1] not written with a similar style as the early author of Dao De Jing, [2] the references appear to attempt to give credit (glory) to Buddhism for any good things found within Taoism, and [3] the references attempt to twist the book's previous paragraphs into an agreement with Buddhism.

An example of Buddhism is the Eightfold Path which (in alphabetical order) is listed as right concentration (meditation), right conduct, right effort, right livelihood, right mindfulness, right resolve, right speech, and right view. The Eightfold Path is accompanied with the Four Noble Truths (the word 'noble' perhaps more accurately ought to be closer to the idea of 'understanding'): [1] suffering, [2] the origin of suffering, [3] the cessation of suffering, and [4] the path to end suffering (which popularly includes the idea of not reincarnating).

Now, observe that the Eightfold Path speaks of "right" behavior. The Eightfold Path does not speak of inner ingredients. Similar to western philosophy, the Eightfold Path points at external effects, not the internal causes. Also similar to western philosophy, the Eightfold Path uses the word "right" to be the judge of one's behaviors, but without first intricately describing what the word "right" means.

The Four Noble Truths may indeed be a reasonable assumption for most people, but not everyone interprets their own lives as 'suffering'. Everything in Nature is different. Nothing is identical, the same, nor equal. Not everyone "suffers" the same identical life as Buddhists'. Some individuals interpret their lives as having been born for the purpose to learn of life, and the only method of learning is to firsthand experience differences of life. Though some Buddhists may whine about suffering, some other people face their problems head-on, learn from the experiences, and then continue progressing towards their life's goal of achieving a purpose that is never shared with anyone else.

The inner value named 'appreciation' can only occur if an individual has first suffered from not having the thing that appreciation is learned from. Compassion can only exist when an individual has personally suffered the same manner of suffering as what another person is experiencing. Highly prized inner natures are to be able to have compassion and to appreciate other people and things. A life without suffering, can never be warm of heart, nor possess quality virtue, nor express benevolence, nor express compassion, nor attain 'enlightenment'.

Observe that the Eightfold Path and Four Noble Truths fail all eight axioms. The Buddhist teachings within Dao De Jing contradict the Way.

(A fun parallel to the topic is found within the Chinese drama Eternal Love (aka Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms) where the immortals and gods incarnate as mortals for the purpose of enduring intense sufferings so that the immortals and gods can learn what mortals experience. Similarly, individuals whose goals in life are of high quality, would be permanently harmed by wu wei and Buddhism.)

Brief Overview of Modern Wu Wei

The term wu wei 無為 (nothing action) is popularly reliant upon the wording within Dao De Jing's paragraphs #37 and #38, as well as numerous references within Zhuangzi. The Dao De Jing and Zhuangzi paragraphs fail all eight axioms, and thus, the Dao De Jing and Zhuangzi wording is false.

Practitioners of wu wei [1] cannot describe what their version of wu wei is, [2] they make claims that strongly disagree with the laws of Nature, [3] they deny that all things are composed of ingredients, and [4] they have no high skill with what they allegedly do. Therefore, as wu wei is presented to the public, wu wei is a false belief.

As stated on the home page, 'There can only be one true Tao-Way... It is Nature's Way'. No Tao, Dao, ideology, science, philosophy, wu wei, nor anything else can supplant Nature's Way. There is no rational reason to assume otherwise. Nature's way is continuously creative; what goes in, comes out. Regardless of which variant of wu wei a person chooses, still the same Nature's Way will dictate what is created. If a wu wei is lazy, then it will create a lazy person. If a wu wei is uncaring, then it will create an uncaring person. The wu wei that is described by its followers, is merely a name given to a person's choice to behave as the person wishes to behave. Though an individual may find value within their chosen wu wei behavior, still the value was enabled by Nature's Way, not enabled by wu wei.

Descriptions of Modern Wu Wei

One of the first things learned about wu wei (無為 nothing action) is that there is no definitive description of what wu wei is. Some individuals practice wu wei as a religion, some individuals practice wu wei as a philosophy, and some individuals practice wu wei as what they term to be 'enlightenment', 'perfect virtue', and 'magic'.

Similar to the idea of 'enlightenment', most everyone has a different interpretation of what enlightenment is supposed to be. Ask two people what enlightenment is, and you will get two different answers. Similarly, ask two different people what wu wei is, and you will receive two different answers.

The inability to describe a thing is very normal for normal people. The Sensory Quotient (SQ) tests verified that over 99.95% of all assessed individuals (irrespective of IQ) were unable to describe anything. The inability to describe a thing illustrates a lack of conscious attention towards the thing being described, as well as the lack of actually doing the thing. The inability to describe wu wei illustrates that the individuals themselves are not consciously aware of what they do, and, the lack of description also strongly suggests that the individuals are not doing wu wei at all, but rather the individuals have merely made stuff up in their minds and convinced themselves that the fantasy is true-real.

Also not present within the descriptions of wu wei is the information of which manner of cognition was present before and during wu wei. Different types of cognition will have different results. A mind that has only experienced one form of 'thinking', will not know of different forms of 'thinking', and, so, without a firsthand knowledge of different types of thinking, most people will assume that their manner of thinking is universal amongst everyone. Too, since most people are unable to be aware of and to describe their own minds, then it is normal for most people to not know what causes the acts within wu wei, and thus, it is common for the individuals to claim that wu wei is enabled by 'virtue', 'divine guidance', 'Tao', 'natural flow of the universe', 'in harmony with Nature', 'magic', and numerous other claims, all of which are illustrative of the practitioners not possessing the 'self-awareness' that they claim themselves to possess.

As a general idea, wu wei is often described as quietening the mind while physically doing an act. Common alleged examples include exercise, athletics, and martial arts, of the individuals going through the motions while with a mind that is not consciously thinking of which movements to make. Generally, the descriptions speak of muscle memories formed through years of practice, and then applied without the need for 'conscious diction'. The important point here, is that wu wei does not produce the acts, nor does wu wei occur without one's history of practice, and, thus, wu wei is much like a habit, like that of scratching an itch, drinking water, sitting down, or walking, of when people do things without having to process a conscious analysis or a willed behavior of what they are doing.

Also worthy of consideration is that common animals typically go "through the motions while with a mind that is not consciously thinking of which movements to make". If an animal were able to consciously think of which movements to make, then dogs would build their own dog houses. Some birds do indeed build beautiful nests, but the nests' designs are limited to what was built by the birds' ancestors. Birds do not build new structures that require conscious reasoning. Generally, the wu wei "going through the motions while with a mind that is not consciously thinking of which movements to make", implies a reduction of human intelligence.

As mentioned in Tao Mutually Arising, some individuals self-taught themselves when young to have conscious control over their thoughts and inner calmness, and to them, it is very easy to describe what 'enlightenment' and wu wei may imply. In the example of target shooting, the shooter willfully relaxes and quietens his mind and body, releasing most sensory perceptions (i.e. not giving conscious attention to biting bugs nor to any other discomfort while lying prone in a field of tall weeds), and when aiming the rifle's scope, there is no 'active thinking about 'guiding' one's aiming', but rather the shooter carefully aligns the scope's reticles to where the shooter remembers where he previously shot. The mental goal is not to shoot accurately, but rather the purpose is to accurately align the scope's reticles to precisely be where they were aligned in the previous shot. To know where the reticles were in the previous shot, the shooter [1] had to be consciously aware of where the reticles were, [2] the shooter had to use a form of mental processing that continuously analyzes one's own thoughts and body movements, [3] the shooter had to use a form of fluid mental judgments based upon weights and pressures, and [4] the shooter had to be capable of mentally processing the following shot's placement. Using the method, the shooter proves the method to work well by maintaining a ~.35" 5-round grouping at 200 yards (~.175 MOA (minute of angle)) while using factory Federal® Match .308 ammunition and a factory-stock Remington® 700-PSS. The individual also earns the #1 best marksman title in an officer's academy. The mental ability to think with fluid weights and pressures is not common, but it is not 'magic', nor is it 'divine guidance', and it is especially not "going through the motions while with a mind that is not consciously thinking of which movements to make".

The topic of interest here is that the shooting example illustrates two different 'polarities' of intent. Most people surely strive to 'guide' their aim for the purpose of accuracy, but the second polarity 'strives' to merely accurately repeat a previous act. The normal goal is for accuracy in the coming moments, but the other method's goal is for a repetition of previous moments. The two behaviors are sometimes vaguely analogous to popular modern ideas of wu wei, but the second behavior is most emphatically not relative to the wu wei 'nothing guide' because the second method contains ingredients of skill, inner centeredness, inner calm, maturity, inner virtue, emitting ( (she)) an actively caring heart-mind relationship ( (si)), and several other ingredients that are not present within wu wei (and are actually actively repulsed by the teachings of wu wei).

All known descriptions of wu wei are vacant of descriptions of active ingredients, and thus permanently fail axioms #4 and #5.

Top-ranked athletes and martial artists sometimes describe their own variations of mental attention with parallels to the shooting example. Unfortunately, no known reference has ever spoken of the artists' inner ingredients, and thus without the description, there is no reason to assume that the artists had performed a variation of wu wei.

Practitioners of wu wei are unable to intricately describe what it is that they do, which sums to the hard fact that the practitioners do not know what they are doing, and, their form of wu wei is a self-invented behavior that the individuals self-imaged what they want wu wei to be.

Since no known practitioner of wu wei has ever cared to intricately observe and to intricately describe their form of wu wei, then there is no rational reason for anyone else to care either.

Until a practitioner of wu wei is able to intricately describe what it is that they do, then there will be no confidence of what that person's variation of wu wei is supposed to be, nor will there be a definitive answer of what enables the common person's form of wu wei.

From what is observable and claimed amongst common practitioners of wu wei, the claimed behavior disagrees with the laws of Nature, the behavior denies that all things are composed/woven of ingredients, the behavior cannot be described by any practitioner, and none of the practitioners are highly skilled, which sums to the conclusion that the common versions of wu wei are false.

Useful of noting is that there is a specific form of processing thoughts that appears to mirror what some martial arts masters have claimed of themselves when they perform expert martial arts without the use of 'normal' thinking. As an example previously given on this site, when an experienced individual is surrounded in darkness by attackers at a distance of about fifty yards and approaching, the individual's mindset changes to strongly focus on sounds, aromas, and felt presences. Through extensive training and previous experiences, the individual already knows how to respond, but the moment's decisions are based upon the analyses of weights of sensory perceptions: two attackers to the east upon a hill, four towards the north, two to the west; the individual's response will occur relative to which attackers arrive first, and the response will remain fluid as the attack ensues. Within the mindset, there is no 'do this - do that', but rather the mindset is waiting for the moment of when to repel the attackers, and to do so with a forceful prejudice that permanently resolves the threat. Some individuals claim that the mindset is wu wei's 'nothing guide', but the claim is false because the mindset is simply a fully different method of processing thoughts and guiding one's actions as compared to peaceful environments.

The above-mentioned event has similarities to Bruce Lee's comments about 'nature of water'. Known individuals who respond 'like water', are very good at what they do, but their talents are theirs and theirs alone; no quantity of wu wei is capable of changing an unskilled individual into a skilled individual.

There is also a fourth polarity, but because of the complexities and the very uncommon act, it will not be described here. No known wu wei nor 'enlightened' person has ever alluded to the fourth polarity, which mandates that none of the individuals were 'enlightened'.

If the fourth polarity form of processing thoughts were indeed what wu wei is supposed to be, then the answers of wu wei are extremely simple, and extremely easy to describe, but, not possible to be comprehended by individuals who believe that their manner of normal thinking is universal, nor possible to be comprehended by individuals who believe that all consciousness and all thinking occurs within their "brains". As infants, some of us self-taught ourselves the 'fourth polarity' while self-observing and self-studying how the mind functions. Similar to the marksman example above, entering different states of self-awareness is very simple and very easy, but it does require self-awareness and self-will.

The point here is that there do exist at least four known forms of mental processing that can produce an effect that is analogous to 'wu wei', but until a practitioner of wu wei actually describes what their 'wu wei' is, there will never be a means of verifying what their 'wu wei' implies.

And it should also be noted that the above-mentioned examples of mental processing are in agreement with all eight axioms, while also proving that popular modern scientific beliefs of the mind are false.

Major Example of Failing Axioms

Within Tao Enlightenment Part Two #24 are mentions of Chuang Tzu, more popularly known as Zhuangzi. Zhuangzi is the alleged author of the second most popular book of Taoism, which is titled under his name: Zhuangzi. Below is a portion of Zhuangzi as translated by Lionel Giles.

"...replied Tzu Ch'i... Joy and anger, sorrow and happiness, caution and remorse, come upon us by turns, with ever-changing mood. They come like music from hollowness, like mushrooms from damp. Daily and nightly they alternate within us, but we cannot tell whence they spring. Can we then hope in a moment to lay our finger upon their very cause? But for these emotions, I should not be. But for me, they would have no scope. So far we can go; but we do not know what it is that brings them into play. ’Twould seem to be a soul; but the clue to its existence is wanting. That such a power operates is credible enough, though we cannot see its form. It has functions without form." (Musings of a Chinese Mystic - Selections From the Philosophy of Chuang Tzu, by Lionel Giles, ©1906)

My response to Giles' translation: "A quick and anxious rush to look at the original Chinese text resulted in a similar concept as Giles': 'preceding similar cannot know it location sprout'. And there, major fail... end of story... no excuses... no second-chances... the words put a full and permanent end to all things allegedly said of Tzu Ch'i. Any individual who cannot observe and intimately describe their own thoughts, senses, emotions, and body, the individual cannot possibly be 'enlightened', and, all that the individual believes must therefore be imaginary and false. There is no reason to read more of the book beyond Giles' excellent comments..."

Although it is now humorous that I did not know at the time that Chuang Tzu was Zhuangzi, the author of the second most popular Taoist book Zhuangzi, still my opinion has not changed: Zhuangzi is not worthy of being and translated, but, however, Zhuangzi does have importance because of it having sizable references to wu wei.

Other articles on this website have additional information of the current topic: Tao Enlightenment Part Two #24, Tao Enlightenment Part Three #25, Tao Philosophy #26, Tao Inside Outside #27, Tao Emotions #28, and Tao Conclusion Full Version with Chuang Tzu #30.

Zhuangzi's Anti-Confucianism

Zhong Yong Chi Dao gives a Confucian quote of 'Happy angry, grieve laugh, it have-not expressed, call it center' from the book Zhong Yong. Zhuangzi was reportedly born around 369 B.C., which was around a hundred years after Confucius' death. It is all but certain that Zhuangzi had read Confucian texts, including the wording within Zhong Yong.

Zhuangzi's manner of structuring his words "Joy and anger, sorrow and happiness, caution and remorse, come upon us by turns, with ever-changing mood. They come like music from hollowness, like mushrooms from damp" strongly suggests that his ideas were directly related to Confucius' ideas.

It is also useful to give notice that joy and anger are contrasts of approximated opposites, and sorrow and happiness are contrasts of approximated opposites, but caution and remorse are not contrasts of approximated opposites. Zhuangzi's wording illustrates an uncareful unknowing of what Confucius implied, as well as an uncaring invention that is not in harmony with the Confucian quote, and, it is also illustrative of how Zhuangzi unmindfully assembled all of his other words.

From what Zhuangzi wrote, as well as from what Zhuangzi claimed of wu wei, Zhuangzi was of the type of person who is unable to center and to have mental control over one's emotions, and thus, was incapable of achieving the junzi-like qualities that were promoted within Confucian texts. In a very real way, Zhuangzi was a 'tiny person', and Zhuangzi's wu wei is a 'tiny person's' version of Taoism. And that is highly intriguing because Zhuangzi's teachings further establish two different genres of people (junzi and tiny) and how the different genres naturally respond differently to life: quality individuals strive to better themselves, while tiny people strive to attain favoritism, magical powers, and prestige, all while the tiny people claim of themselves to be following Nature's Way.

The following is an excellent quote from Burton Watson's book The Complete Works of Zhuangzi:

In Zhuangzi’s view, the man who has freed himself from conventional standards of judgment can no longer be made to suffer, for he refuses to recognize poverty as any less desirable than affluence, to recognize death as any less desirable than life. He does not in any literal sense withdraw and hide from the world—to do so would show that he still passed judgment on the world. He remains within society but refrains from acting out of the motives that lead ordinary men to struggle for wealth, fame, success, or safety. He maintains a state that Zhuangzi refers to as wuwei, or inaction, meaning by this term not a forced quietude but a course of action that is not founded on purposeful motives of gain or striving. In such a state, all human actions become as spontaneous and mindless as those of the natural world. Man becomes one with Nature, or Heaven, as Zhuangzi calls it, and merges himself with Dao, or the Way, the underlying unity that embraces man, Nature, and all that is in the universe. To describe this mindless, purposeless mode of life, Zhuangzi turns most often to the analogy of the artist or craftsman. The skilled woodcarver, the skilled butcher, the skilled swimmer does not ponder or ratiocinate on the course of action he should take; his skill has become so much a part of him that he merely acts instinctively and spontaneously and, without knowing why, achieves success. Again, Zhuangzi employs the metaphor of a totally free and purposeless journey, using the word you (to wander, or a wandering) to designate the way in which the enlightened man wanders through all of creation, enjoying its delights without ever becoming attached to any one part of it. (The Complete Works of Zhuangzi, Burton Watson, ©2013)

Burton phrased it very well: "wuwei... all human actions become as spontaneous and mindless as those of the natural world". The Natural world has animals that selfishly eat, fertilize, and reproduce (EFR), without self-guiding themselves towards improvement nor towards creativity. However, wu wei people still wear clothes, still live in houses, still cook their food, still use the human language, and in most every measure the wu wei people never approach close to 'Natural world' living. Instead, the wu wei people are lazy, uncaring, slothful, and in most every measure they merely use the term wu wei as an excuse to be lazy while claiming of themselves to have their own version of "wealth, fame, success, or safety".

Known wu wei people rely on other people to make clothing, to build homes, to grow food, to produce electricity, and for most everything else that wu wei people consume. Known wu wei people are mere parasites, feeding off the labors of other people's. If wu wei people were sincere, then they would be as the EFR animals, nakedly scrounging for their own food, but wu wei people do not do that. The wu wei idea is hypocritical, false, and just plain dumb.

The Zhuangzi book speaks against Confucianism, apparently not because of a knowledgeable disagreement with Confucian ideas, but because Zhuangzi is as the tiny man's way of lusting for powers. Tiny people cannot be centered, cannot care for other people, cannot attain virtue, cannot control their own emotions, and cannot be calm of maturity. Again, wu wei is as the tiny man's way of wrongly claiming to be as good as a junzi, but without trying nor exerting the effort to self-improve.

Three Levels

From the human perspective, there are three general categories of existence: [1] the inert that has no mind nor means to choose for itself, [2] the animal way that eats, fertilizes, and reproduces while expressing and behaving upon the moment's desires, and [3] the thinking man's way of behaving with caring for other people and for Nature. Wu wei prohibits caring, but does not inhibit selfishness and greed for personal gain.

Scholars Change Words

Written words often get changed, sometimes by mistake, but usually on purpose. The Guodian slips are a good example. In the modern popular version of Dao De Jing, paragraph #19 reads '絕巧棄利盜賊無有' ('sever deceit, abandon benefit, bandit robber nothing have'), while in the Guodian it reads as '絕巧棄利盜賊亡有' ('sever deceit, abandon benefit, bandit robber perish have').

Too, I myself have not yet found a reference of a bone nor bronze version of wu. Without an example of how wu was written in the 500 B.C. era, there can be no confidence that today's version accurately conveys the same meaning as what the original authors intended. Might have been the original word?

The usefulness of the differences is that it illustrates that today's 無為 wu wei may have implied something sizably different when the Dao De Jing paragraphs were first written.

Confidence in Dao De Jing's accuracy of words, word meanings, and the different authors' meanings, is pretty much zero.

Alan Watts' Wu Wei

"THE TAO DOES NOthing, and yet nothing is left undone." [101c] These famous words of Lao-tzu obviously cannot be taken in their literal sense, for the principle of “nonaction” (wu-wei 無為) is not to be considered inertia, laziness, laissez-faire, or mere passivity. Among the several meanings of wei are to be, to do, to make, to practice, to act out; and in the 偽 it means false, simulated, counterfeit. But in the context of Taoist writings it quite clearly means forcing, meddling, and artifice—in other words, trying to act against the grain of li. Thus wu-wei 王為 as "not forcing" is what we mean by going with the grain, rolling with the punch, swimming with the current, trimming sails to the wind, taking the tide at its flood, and stooping to conquer. It is perhaps best exemplified in the Japanese arts of judo and aikido where an opponent is defeated by the force of his own attack, and the latter art reaches such heights of skill that I have seen an attacker thrown to the floor without even being touched." (The Watercourse Way, Alan Watts, © 1975 by Mary Jane Yates Watts) [Note: the above 王為 has instead of the unknown second word that Watts used for wu-wei. Also, the is wang, which implies 'king, emperor'. Although the misspelling was likely a typo by the publisher, it is unknown why the book used different Chinese words for wu wei.]

Alan Watts was a self-professed "philosophical entertainer", not a Taoist, nor a man of learning, and yet many people still uncarefully believe Watts' writings of fiction to be true Taoism. When people speak of their doing the wu wei as was written within Watts' books, it is evidence enough that the people have led themselves into self-delusion.

The following quotes are also from Watts' book, but first observe that the original text in paragraph #11 of Dao De Jing states two possibilities if were to imply 'nothing' or 'not exist': [1] 'pottery clay-soil, together() guide-become() utensil, equal it nothing, have utensil it usefulness', and [2] 'pottery clay-soil, use() guide-become() utensil, equal it nothing, have utensil it usefulness.' Note that (yi) is most commonly used within the sense of "together" in other sections of Dao De Jing, while (yi) is commonly used with the sense of "use" within other ancient Chinese texts. Nevertheless, both sentence versions sum similarly, that of the act of working clay enables it to become a utensil, and being a utensil is its usefulness. However, Watts stated something fully different:

"Shape clay into a vessel; It is the space within that makes it useful. ...I do not know if this point can really be argued in our logic, but I find it impossible to conceive any form whatsoever without the component of relatively empty space."

Watts had been adamant about wu in paragraph #37 being defined as "nothing", but in paragraph #11 Watts invented the contradictory claim that wu meant "space". Watts was similar to James Legge by dishonestly inventing different definitions of words for the purpose of claiming that the original Chinese texts agreed with whatsoever Watts wanted the text to say.

If wu means "space" as Watts claimed, then paragraph #37 ought to read as "THE TAO DOES SPACE, and yet space is left undone".

Similar to other known popular translators, Watts' ideas were invented fairytales, including his claims of wu wei.

Popular modern wu wei is based almost entirely upon obviously false information from Dao De Jing, Watts, Legge, et al, and thus popular modern wu wei is false.

Intellectual Differences

As the SQ tests and others have confirmed, there are several known different variations of intellectual functioning within humans. Each variation inhibits or facilitates specific mental abilities. The following are three variations amongst many, each of which amply illustrate what people might actually be doing when they do wu wei.

[1] Most people do not actively-consciously analyze (the individuals are alogicus). The absence of perpetual analyses prohibits the mental formation of firsthand understandings of what the person does. A popular example is of the Zen question given to a monk: 'On which side of your umbrella did you leave your shoes?' The ability to be actively aware of oneself is very natural to some people, but in Zen, Buddhism, and Tao it is popularly named 'enlightenment'.

[2] Most people's behavior is emotionally-based and reactive. The individuals may be 'conscious', but they did not analyze what they did in the past, nor do they analyze what they do in the present. It is a very common behavior for people to behave relative to their emotioned desires. To the individuals, the emotioned mental choices are what the people believe are acts of thinking. The story of Won Hyo's mistake of drinking water from a gourd, which was later discovered to have been a human skull, which then led him to 'instant enlightenment', is useful as an example of people not giving analytical attention to their own lives. To Won Buddhism, the ability to be consciously analytical is named 'mindfulness' and 'enlightenment', both of which must be taught to students because the students do not have mindfulness nor enlightenment.

[3] Most people have no mental control over their own minds and bodies. Everyone learns muscle memory, but not everyone learns muscle memory consciously-analytically. Learning muscle memory consciously, enables an individual to easily relax whichever muscles are wanted. Individuals whose mental choices are emotional, the individuals do not know what it is like to simply mentally choose one's body to do a specific task. In Zen, it is deemed 'enlightenment' for a Zen monk to mentally raise the warmth of a hand, but some people are naturally able to consciously change body temperatures, heart rate, and several other body states.

The infant, who at a few months old, while facing towards the northwest while on the bedroom floor, the infant gives notice of the discomfort of abrased elbows that were caused by crawling only with one's arms, who then consciously analyzes and reasons that less quantity of abrasion would be enabled by also using the legs, the infant then consciously self-teaches and consciously self-learns how to crawl on all four as he moves himself into the living room. The infant consciously self-teaches and self-learns how to control his own body, his own body warmths, his own heart rate, and numerous other self-chosen states of self. Conscious self-teaching and conscious self-learning is not common, especially not at an age of which scientists claim that no consciousness can exist.

It is obvious throughout the world; the common person believes that anyone who can do what the common person cannot do, must have some form of mystical magical enlightenment. Scientism does similarly, naming things that the sciencians cannot do, to be 'paranormal', 'supernatural', 'magic', or, most commonly, claimed to be "impossible".

Of everything known to have been written of wu wei, all of it suggests the three variables: [1] absence of conscious analyses, [2] presence of emotionally-based behavior, and [3] absence of mental control over one's body. To the individuals, it may indeed appear to be 'magical' or 'from the gods' to suddenly be able to analyze one's behavior and to then have mental control over one's own body.

Also useful of mentioning is that the common person's sensory perceptions are nil, which also inhibits an individual's ability to mentally analyze observations. Modern science is still extraordinarily primitive within its ignorance of even the most simple of sensory perceptions that are natural for some people. As many wu wei followers claim of their way being impossible without 'divine guidance', so does science always claim that mentally active sensory perceptions are impossible. The religiosity and other things within science and wu wei illustrate the normal person's way of interpreting their world.

People always do what they are able to do. People never do what they are unable to do.

Know What the Wu Wei Topic Is

The modern topic of wu wei is derived primarily from paragraph #37 of the book Dao De Jing.

First know what the Dao De Jing book topic is. The title Dao De Jing implies Way Virtue Weave. The book's title suggests that the book is about the way of how virtue is woven.

Know what the word weave implies. In English, the English word weave implies weaving threads together from top to bottom and left to right. Cotton clothing is made possible by weaving cotton threads together into woven fabrics, and then the fabrics are cut and sewn together. Your clothing is woven.

Nature's way is similar; all things are composed of other things woven together. Bread is composed of the ingredients of flour, yeast, oil, water, heat, and time. Much of today's electronics is made possible by 'weaving' electromagnetic waves together. All things in the universe are composed of ingredients woven together. Modern man commonly names the act of Nature's Way as 'physics'.

Your home is woven together with woods, plumbing, electrical, paints, and cements. Your body is woven together with organs, veins, cells, and fluids. Your mind's thoughts are woven of memories, sensory perceptions, and analyses. Your emotions are woven of thoughts, memories, body energies, and natural reactive physics. The emotion of appreciation is the woven product of not having a good thing, and then having the good thing. It is a very simple thing: all things are woven, and nothing exists that was not woven.

The suggested topic of the Dao De Jing book is the 'Way Virtue Weave'. All things in the universe are woven. Nothing exists that was not woven. Virtue exists. Virtue is the product of having been woven by other things.

It is very simple and obvious everywhere throughout the universe, and never does the act of creation ever occur without weaving.

Therefore, wu wei is a written topic within a book whose title suggests that the book ought to have information about weaving virtue.

Know What the Wu Wei Wording States

Below is my own draft 'dictionary words' translation of Dao De Jing paragraph #37 (I do not make my finished translations public). Some of the words have been changed into concepts to help convey what the original ancient Chinese wording likely implied. There are different versions of Dao De Jing, but the following is taken from the more popular version as is offered on ctext.org. The primary thought here is that the reader ought to remember what the topic is, and to remember that all things in the universe are woven. If a writing does not agree with the Way of Nature, then the writing is false. It makes no difference who may make a claim in writing — whether it be a man, a woman, or a religious book — still, if the writing does not agree with the Way of Nature, then the writing is false.


Way constant, nothing(wu) guide(wei) while nothing(wu) not guide(wei)

Nobleman king similar, capable serve it, ten-thousand thing offering oneself transform

Transform while intend compose, my offering compress it

Use nothing(wu) name, it rough-unfinished

Nothing(wu) name it rough-unfinished

Man also offering nothing(wu) intend

Not intend, use motionless, heaven below offering oneself establish

If Dao De Jing #37 agrees with the Way of Nature, then the words ought to be interpreted within a light of agreement. First I will present an interpretation of #37 that is in a positive light, and then I will critique the words and interpretation so as to verify or disprove that paragraph #37's wording relates to Nature's Way of weaving.

"Way constant, nothing guide while nothing not guide" — The Way of Nature is indeed constant. It is correct that 'nothing guide', because all things are the product of its ingredients, and yet there was no predetermined product to be created. Bread is the product of its ingredients; bread does not exist alone; bread is an invented idea of a thing that was woven together. Within one manner of interpretation, 'nothing not guide' is correct because some things are created while some things are not created, but within another manner of interpretation, the wording is incorrect because the wording does not explain what guides and what does not guide. When interpreted relative to the topic of virtue, the writing is sufficiently accurate: virtue is the created product of things are that are not virtue.

There is a tone that has never before existed. No one has ever heard the tone. No one knows what the tone sounds like. No one is able to describe the tone because no one has ever heard the tone. No one is able to create the tone without first knowing what tone is to be created. A man is able to cut down a willow tree, carve the willow trunk into a hollow, tautly stretch and attach thin green willow branches to the hollow, and then use a length of willow bark to strum the branches, creating a new tone that never before existed. The tone is a created product of things that are not the tone. Virtue is a created thing. Virtue is a specific tone. Virtue is a created product of things that are not virtue. If a man does not possess virtue, then he cannot know what virtue's tone is, nor know what virtue's ingredients are.

Way constant, it does not guide to a specific product, but the Way itself is the guide of how different ingredients will harmonize into a new creation. By how each ingredient behaves in unison with other ingredients, so will the new creation behave. Modern man calls it 'evolution', 'survival of the fittest', 'natural selection', and 'physics'.

Only sustineo reciproca hyperlogicus man has the choice to choose which ingredients he will place together within his own self.

'Nobleman king similar, capable serve it, ten-thousand thing offering oneself transform' — The 'serve' word points at a concept of holding items (details (cun-inch) of ingredients) within an enclosure. Metaphorically, as a king guides the items within a kingdom, so does the effect of weaving behaviors and customs create the nation. The 'offering' word alludes to an offering of a wooden table of meat to an ancestor, similar to how people often today offer flowers to an ancestor's grave. The act of 'offering' includes the inward emotion of heart-felt caring. Presenting to oneself, an 'offering', combined with heart-felt caring, provides the ingredients that weave together a new product. The quality of the ingredients, dictate the quality of the woven thing. The quality of bread's ingredients dictate the quality of the bread. Without the heart-felt caring being a prime ingredient, virtue will not be woven.

'Transform while intend compose, my offering compress it' — When oneself is transformed through use of intended weaving, the transformation is as the 'compressing' and blending of ingredients together. The act of intending to compose, is an important ingredient. The word 'intend' implies a logical mental choice, and the word is not synonymous to the word 'desire' which implies an emotional reaction. The ingredient of desire (as is normally defined), is dirty, and cannot weave virtue.

'Use nothing name, it rough-unfinished' — When a new woven product is created, there is not yet a name for what before did not exist. Without giving the new thing a name, the new thing is simply itself.

'Nothing name it rough-unfinished, man also offering nothing intend' — There is no existing name for a new thing. Man is also able to give heart-felt caring while without purposefully intending to weave a specific product.

'Not intend, use motionless, heaven below offering oneself establish' — There are at least two different manners of interpreting the last sentence. [1] If there is no intension, and if the individual has no inner stirrings of heart-felt caring, then Nature's Way will offer the establishing of oneself. The topic is weaving, and regardless of which ingredients are combined, still there will be a new product. If a man does not intend to self-create himself with consciously chosen ingredients, Nature's Way will do the choosing. [2] A second interpretation mirrors the first: dedication to heaven under (Nature) is one Way of how Nature 'offers' its ingredients.

But now back to the first sentence, and interpreted relative to the bronze script: 'Way constant, nothing guide-govern while nothing not guide-govern'. Again it is easy to make inferences that the wording implies Nature's Way of weaving, but also again is the required metaphorical interpretation that carries with it the preconceived idea that the wording must agree with Nature's Way. The core question here is to ask when the paragraph was added to Dao De Jing. Was it before or after the bronze era script? What was the original author's intention?

Nevertheless, as the sentences currently stand, the paragraph suggests that an individual has the option to "intend compose" with an "offering", or else "not intend, use motionless, heaven below (Nature) offering oneself establish". The sentences appear to correctly suggest that if an individual does not exert the self-effort to self-improve through self-chosen ingredients, then the individual will become whatsoever his own inner nature leads him to become (a tiny person). If an individual does not intend their composition to be of quality ingredients, then his ingredients will be of his own inner slothfulness, none of which are able to create a quality product. There can be no quality of self if an individual does not purposefully choose and intend themselves to be composed of quality ingredients. Wu wei has no 'intend', and thus cannot create a thing of quality.

Whether intend, or not intend, always everyone creates themselves by the ingredients that they themselves chose.

Nevertheless, while ignoring Nature's Way, wu wei claims to be a method of self-cultivation, of which, the 'nothing-action' behavior is supposed to spontaneously create the 'highest form of virtue'. What then is 'virtue'?

What is Virtue

Western philosophy has been debating the meaning of the word virtue for over three-thousand years, and yet western philosophy still has no answer. No other philosophy nor ideology has fared better.

Dictionaries say that virtue means 'moral excellence'. What then does moral mean? Dictionaries say that moral relates to the principles of right and wrong. What is right? What is wrong? Morality is said to imply behaving with what is good, while immorality is said to imply behaving with what is evil. What is good? What is evil? Who decides what is good and evil? Society?

Molech worshipping

(PD) Molech worshipping and the sacrificing of one's children to the false god Molech were socially approved as being good and righteous.

The dictionaries also say that virtue is 'moral excellence; integrity of character; purity of soul'. Look-up the definitions of 'integrity', 'purity', and 'excellence'. Within each will be continued circular reasoning, without any of the words being given a description of what they mean and how they apply. Normal people cannot describe anything, nor are dictionaries able to describe anything.

The question of virtue revolves back to the Way of Nature. What is Nature's ultimate value? The answer is easy; axiom #8 states that Creation's value is creativity. If a thing is creative, then it is good, and if a thing is destructive, then it is bad. There is no other standard possible within Nature. Nature rules man, man does not rule Nature. Nature's Way dictates what is good and bad, man does not dictate what is good and bad.

All things are composed of other things. All things are woven of their inner ingredients. All outward behaviors are the products of inner natures. Quality creative behavior requires quality ingredients. The quality ingredients require quality ingredients themselves.

The idea of wu wei enabling 'perfect virtue' is wholly and permanently false. One's self enables inner virtue. Following a teaching does not and cannot enable inner virtue. The outward expression of virtue, that of morality, relies upon the inner qualities of virtue. The behavior of worshipping Molech was socially promoted and approved as virtuous, moral, and righteous. Many of today's socially popular things also promote and approve the destroying of children's lives while claiming that the acts are righteous, moral, and virtuous. The following of wu wei is an act of oneself being socially agreeable.

If it became socially correct that wu wei included the worshipping of Molech, most wu wei followers would do so. Wu wei followers do what they have been told to do (canatim sapientes), and no wu wei follower thinks for themselves.

The topic is Nature's Way of weaving. All things are composed of the ingredients placed together. Following what other people tell you to do is what the Molech worshippers did. Following what other people tell you to do with wu wei is what the Molech worshippers did. Following other people's fantasies is an ingredient that creates an unproductive and disquality product. Refusing to take responsibility for one's own inner qualities is an ingredient that prohibits the creation of a quality product.

If no quality inner natures, then a quality virtue cannot be birthed.

The popular wu wei thing is based upon a full ignorance of what the word 'virtue' implies. A wu wei 'nothing act' lifestyle cannot enable the creation of love, heart-felt caring, virtue, nor any other quality product that harmonizes with other quality products. The topic is Nature's Way. Nature creates by combining ingredients. Only ingredients that harmonize are able to create a useful product. Creativity requires harmonious ingredients. Wu wei is a product of one's own existing ingredients, but wu wei is not an ingredient that can harmonize with creative ingredients to create virtue.

Partial evidence of the inaccuracies within wu wei is that no known Taoist has ever described what the "virtue" is that the Taoists allegedly create by 'nothing action'. If an individual cannot describe a thing, then the individual does not know what the thing is, and the individual does not possess the thing. There are many, many valid arguments against wu wei's contradictions.

Also very important of attention is that the Dao De Jing author did not exert an effort to explain his words. The author could have easily written something like 'heaven under way create new, way create new with harmony ingredients, harmony ingredients dance together, tone each ingredient creates song, song be new creation'. The absence of explanations is evidence enough that the author did not know what he claimed to know. Nevertheless, Dao De Jing is considered to be as if poetry, and, so, it is true that poetry most commonly does not delve into explanations, but, that also means that the poetry is not a thing to be followed as a teaching. As the Dao De Jing's text stands, the lack of explanations reduces the book to a level of mere wandering words.

Paragraph #40 is said to have been one that was misinterpreted by ancient Taoists, which led them to rebel against their nation: 'Rebellious person-ist dao it arouse'. Rebellions are not virtuous, nor moral, nor ethical, nor good. Just because a book has written something, and just because many people believe what the book wrote, it does not infer that the book's words are true, nor does it mandate that the followers' actions are virtuous.

Just because some people believe in and follow wu wei, it does not mandate that the wu wei thing is virtuous.

The Popular Wu Wei

Whensoever anyone claims "topmost" for an emotion, intelligence, skill, or any other inner attribute, the claim automatically falsifies itself. There is no such thing as a topmost love, nor a topmost virtue. The only limit to how strong love and virtue can become, is of the body being able to physically withstand the intensities of inner energy. Anyone who claims that they possess a "topmost' anything, automatically permanently-eternally proved that [1] they themselves do not possess the claimed thing, [2] they do not know what they are talking about, and, [3] it also permanently-eternally proved their philosophy to be unreservedly false.

As previously mentioned, and according to many sources, the act of wu wei will allegedly magically create the desirable product of "topmost virtue" within the individual. There, that one statement of only two words permanently-eternally proves wu wei to be a false philosophy. No excuses. No second chances. End of discussion. Any form of wu wei that claims "topmost virtue", is a lie, a very ignorant lie.

Nevertheless, since there are many different manners of wu wei, some of which may not make the claim of "topmost", it is worthwhile to continue investigating their claims.

Nature rules man. Man does not rule Nature. What goes in, comes out. Corn meal cannot make wheat bread. Rocks cannot make wood paper. A single 'G' note on a violin cannot make symphonic music. The act of not striving for inner qualities, cannot make a thing of high energy.

Things like virtue, heart-felt caring, and love are inwardly of high energy. Analyzing less cannot birth high energy. Wu wei contradicts itself in every measure while also denying Nature's Way.

People who create quality inner virtue, do so with high levels of self-effort and self-control. The laziness of believing that no personal effort is required to create virtue, is an ingredient of slothfulness, dirtiness, and selfishness, which are ingredients within anger, hate, and violence.

What is the topic? The topic is about weaving virtue. The topic is about Nature's Way of weaving ingredients to create new things. Whatsoever ingredients a person chooses for oneself, become the ingredients of what the person becomes. Laziness, slothfulness, dirtiness, selfishness, anger, hate, and violence are not virtue, nor do the ingredients exist within virtue.

Top quality athletes, martial artists, and marksmen may perform an act that outwardly appears similar as wu wei, but the skilled individuals already possessed the skills. People with no skills, cannot attain the skills by performing acts of wu wei. Individuals of high quality virtue created their own virtue themselves; people with no virtue cannot attain virtue by performing acts of wu wei.

What Dao De Jing States About Wu Wei

Three quick preliminary comments about paragraph #38: [1] The Chinese word for 'virtue' does not mean what virtue means in English. There does not exist a viable definition of what 'virtue' means in English, and even less-so can the unknown English word 'virtue' be an agreeable translation of the Chinese word (de). Depending on when the original text was written, can have several different meanings, including 'socially acceptable behavior'. [2] The use of the English word 'virtue' in the following translation is accepted to infer an outer behavior (as what 'virtue' is commonly interpreted to be in English), while no attention is given to any inner quality that would produce the outer behavior. [3] The word (shang) suggests 'above, top, topmost'. Although it is acceptable to use 'topmost' while knowing that the 'topmost' word infers 'above others but not the ultimate possible highest', for the following translation the word 'upper' will be used for the purpose of better clarifying each sentence's intentions. If the original author had indeed intended 'topmost none higher', then the paragraph would be automatically invalidated.

A quick 'dictionary words' draft translation of Dao De Jing #38:

upper virtue not virtue, right because have virtue under virtue

not lose virtue, right because not-exist(wu) virtue

upper virtue not-exist(wu) guide(wei) while not-exist(wu) use guide(wei)

under virtue guide(wei) it while have use guide(wei)

upper benevolence guide(wei) it while not-exist(wu) use guide(wei)

upper morality guide(wei) it while have use guide(wei)

upper manners guide(wei) it while no-one it comply

rule reject arm(the arm in wei?) while cast-aside it

therefore lose way while hinder virtue

lose virtue while hinder benevolence

lose benevolence while hinder morality

lose morality while hinder manners

man manners person-ist devoted trust it weak-thin-sparse while random-confusion it leader

former knowledge person-ist way it flowery while stupid it begin

right use great senior man position his substantial

not dwell his sparse

position his solid-real-true

not dwell his flowery

therefore leave that choose this

Although dictionary definitions of words always leave ancient Chinese texts to be more than a little absurd, still the paragraph appears to begin correctly enough: topmost virtue is not virtue because the ingredients that create virtue are 'underneath' virtue (so to speak, as what I myself have used with the analogy of a pyramid having each layer based upon the layer underneath). Figuratively, a person cannot lose 'virtue' if nothing is 'virtue'.

Nevertheless, if we took the two words 上德 (shang de) within Dao De Jing to mean "topmost virtue" then the whole of the chapter is garbage and is unworthy of being read. However, if shang is permitted to imply 'upper, on top of', then the words are acceptable contrasts to the sentences' following words that imply 'under'. Still, the sentences' interpretations rely upon the assumed inference that the words are pointing at how virtue is created. If all of the paragraph's words agreed with the 'upper-lower' idea, then the paragraph would be honorable, but the following sentences are weak and do not support what the first sentence suggests.

The next sentence 'upper virtue not-exist(wu) guide(wei) while not-exist(wu) use guide(wei)' appears to suggest that virtue exists without a 'guide', which from the Nature's Way point of view, is false.

The following sentences appear to lead into the author's belief that topmost (or upper) benevolence, morality, and manners are amongst the ingredients that create virtue. The text appears to then suggest that losing the dao-way hinders virtue, which hinders benevolence, which hinders morality, which then hinders manners.

While is may be true that a loss of inner virtue would indeed cause benevolence, morality, and manners to cease, the 'way' itself does not change, nor can the 'way' be abandoned. The text states 'lose way' which suggests that the text's 'way' is a manmade wu wei philosophy of outer behaviors, and has no relevance to Nature's inner Way.

Regardless of how an individual may interpret the words, the text's claims speak of external behaviors, the text does not speak of the internal natures (yin) of which combine to create a new product (yang), and thus the claims are inaccurate as worded.

Clearly, without inner virtue existing first (even if small and weak), there will be no benevolence, no morality, and no manners. Quality external effects arise from quality inward causes. Similar to western philosophy's inability to define what 'virtue' is, so does the text's claim appear to not know what virtue is, nor do the text's claims know of Nature's Way.

The topic is Nature's Way of weaving. Bread exists because its ingredients are internal. Virtue exists because of internal ingredients. External behaviors are the products; external behaviors are not the ingredients.

If the author were 'enlightened' as many people claim, then the author would have been self-aware, and from the self-awareness he would have known what virtue is, he would have known how virtue is woven, and he would have been able to describe virtue with analogies that illustrate the inner energy state of virtue. The author did not do so. The author did not illustrate a knowledge of what he claimed to know.

Also, it is not possible to "lose dao-way". As previously mentioned, if a Way can be abandoned, then it was never a true Way. From what the author wrote, it appears that his dao-way was a mere philosophy, and thus the paragraph does not speak of the one and only Way: Nature's Way.

Granted, the paragraph can be interpreted in different ways (and the first sentences are useful for illustrating worthy ideas), but, the core reality is that the text does not speak of virtue, nor does the text speak of Nature's Way of weaving. Regardless of how much we may want the paragraph to be sensible, still the wording does not suggest a coherent idea, nor does the wording suggest that the author knew what he was talking about.

Western philosophy bases all of its opinions on external behaviors. No known science nor philosophy knows what ethics are, nor what emotions are, nor what inner qualities are. The author of Dao De Jing paragraphs #37 and #38 apparently also did not know.

What Are the Ingredients

If an individual does not self-choose the self-exertion of self-effort to self-observe and to self-think, then the individual can never know what the Way is, nor know what Tao is supposed to imply.

If a person does not know what a topic is, then the person cannot know what the topic's words mean.

If a man knows nothing of yeast, then the man cannot be an expert baker.

If a man knows nothing of torque sequences, then the man cannot be an expert mechanic.

If a man knows nothing of sweating, then the man cannot be an expert plumber.

If a man knows nothing of romex®, then the man cannot be an expert electrician.

If a man knows nothing of oils, then the man cannot be an expert painter.

If a man knows nothing of bridges, then the man cannot be an expert violinist.

If a man knows nothing of bishops, then the man cannot be an expert chess master.

If a man knows nothing of chokes, then the man cannot be an expert electronic technician.

If a man knows nothing of tags, then the man cannot be an expert website programmer.

Biologists, psychologists, academicians, philosophers, and scientists know nothing about ethics, morals, virtue, quality, thoughts, memories, logic, consciousness, dreaming, beauty, emotions, sensory perceptions, nor anything else about the human mind, but still the biologists, psychologists, academicians, philosophers, and scientists claim of themselves to be experts about the very things that they know nothing about and are unable to describe.

If a man knows nothing of the Way of Nature, then the man cannot be an expert of the Way. The common Taoist knows nothing about the Way of Nature, and yet the common Taoist claims of themselves to be following and doing the Tao-Way.

No known American nor European academic author ever knew what Nature's Way is, and all of the authors translated the Dao De Jing book within a manner that did not relate to the Way.

Common Translations of #37 and #38

If translators actually did translate the ancient Chinese texts (instead of copy-pasting-paraphrasing each other's words), then all of the translators' translations ought to be similar. It does not happen. Instead, similar to Watts, all known publicly available translations are merely invented fairytales that do not relate to what the original texts stated. Below are four examples.

(#37) "(The exercise of government) - The Dao in its regular course does nothing (for the sake of doing it), and so there is nothing which it does not do. If princes and kings were able to maintain it, all things would of themselves be transformed by them. If this transformation became to me an object of desire, I would express the desire by the nameless simplicity. Simplicity without a name Is free from all external aim. With no desire, at rest and still, All things go right as of their will." (#38) "(About the attributes of the Dao) (Those who) possessed in highest degree the attributes (of the Dao) did not (seek) to show them, and therefore they possessed them (in fullest measure). (Those who) possessed in a lower degree those attributes (sought how) not to lose them, and therefore they did not possess them (in fullest measure). (Those who) possessed in the highest degree those attributes did nothing (with a purpose), and had no need to do anything. (Those who) possessed them in a lower degree were (always) doing, and had need to be so doing. (Those who) possessed the highest benevolence were (always seeking) to carry it out, and had no need to be doing so. (Those who) possessed the highest righteousness were (always seeking) to carry it out, and had need to be so doing. (Those who) possessed the highest (sense of) propriety were (always seeking) to show it, and when men did not respond to it, they bared the arm and marched up to them. Thus it was that when the Dao was lost, its attributes appeared; when its attributes were lost, benevolence appeared; when benevolence was lost, righteousness appeared; and when righteousness was lost, the proprieties appeared. Now propriety is the attenuated form of leal-heartedness and good faith, and is also the commencement of disorder; swift apprehension is (only) a flower of the Dao, and is the beginning of stupidity. Thus it is that the Great man abides by what is solid, and eschews what is flimsy; dwells with the fruit and not with the flower. It is thus that he puts away the one and makes choice of the other." (James Legge)

(#37) "(Administering the Government) - Tao is apparently inactive (wu wei) and yet nothing remains undone. If princes and kings desire to keep) everything in order, they must first reform themselves. (If princes and kings would follow the example of Tao, then all things will reform themselves.) If they still desire to change, I would pacify them by the simplicity of the ineffable Tao. This simplicity will end desire, and if desire be absent there is quietness. All people will of themselves be satisfied." (#38) "A DISCUSSION ABOUT TEH - Essential teh makes no show of virtue, and therefore it is really virtuous. Inferior virtue never loses sight of itself and therefore it is no longer virtue. Essential virtue is characterized by lack of self-assertion (wu wei) and therefore is unpretentious. Inferior virtue is acting a part and thereby is only pretense. Superior benevolence in a way is acting but does not thereby become pretentious. Excessive righteousness is acting and does thereby become pretentious. Excessive propriety is acting, but where no one responds to it, it stretches its arm and enforces obedience. Therefore when one loses Tao there is still teh; one may lose teh and benevolence remains; one may forsake benevolence and still hold to righteousness; one may lose righteousness and propriety remains. Propriety, alone, reduces loyalty and good faith to a shadow, and it is the beginning of disorder. Tradition is the mere flower of the Tao and had its origin in ignorance. Therefore the great man of affairs conforms to the spirit and not to external appearance. He goes on to fruitage and does not rest in the show of blossom. He avoids mere propriety and practices true benevolence." (Dwight Goddard - 1919)

"Tao is ever inactive, and yet there is nothing that it does not do. If princes and kings could keep to it, all things would of themselves become developed. When they are developed, desire would stir in them; I would restrain them by the nameless Simplicity, In order to make them free from desire. Free from desire, they would be at rest; And the world would of itself become rectified. However insignificant Simplicity seems, the whole world cannot make it submissive. If princes and kings could keep to it, All things in the world would of themselves pay homage. Heaven and earth would unite to send down sweet dew. The people with no one to command them would of themselves become harmonious. When merits are accomplished and affairs completed, The people would speak of themselves as following nature. (#38) The superior virtue is not conscious of itself as virtue; Therefore it has virtue. The inferior virtue never lets off virtue; Therefore it has no virtue. The superior virtue seems inactive, and yet there is nothing that it does not do. The inferior virtue acts and yet in the end leaves things undone. The superior benevolence acts without a motive. The superior righteousness acts with a motive. The superior ritual acts, but at first no one responds to it; Gradually people raise their arms and follow it. Therefore when Tao is lost, virtue follows. When virtue is lost, benevolence follows. When benevolence is lost, righteousness follows. When righteousness is lost, ritual follows. Ritual, therefore, is the attenuation of loyalty and faith and the outset of confusion. Fore-knowledge is the flower of Tao and the beginning of folly. Therefore the truly great man keeps to the solid and not to the tenuous; Keeps to the fruit and not to the flower. Thus he rejects the latter and takes the former." (Ch'u Ta-Kao - 1904)

"Reason always practices non-assertion, and there is nothing that remains undone. If princes and kings could keep Reason, the ten thousand creatures would of themselves be reformed. While being reformed they might yet be anxious to stir; but I would restrain them by the simplicity of the Ineffable. "The simplicity of the unexpressed Will purify the heart of lust. Is there no lust there will be rest, And all the world will thus be blest." (D.T. Suzuki & Paul Carus, 1913)

And where, within the four translations, was there a mention of Nature's Way? The topic is Nature's Way of weaving. None of the known publicly-available translations ever mentioned Nature's Way of weaving.

If a man does not know what the topic is, then the man will not know what the words mean.

What Wu Wei Really Is

Nature rules man, man does not rule Nature. Nature created man, man did not create Nature. Nature never changes, man's Taoism always changes. Nature dictates what is possible, Taoism does not dictate Nature.

Nature's Way creates by combining ingredients. Everything everyone thinks, says, and does, creates new ingredients that create new end-products. Most people are lax with their lives, and they exert no effort to achieve quality inner natures. The absence of effort, results in the people being wishy-washy, following the crowd, following fads, monkey-see-monkey-do what other people are doing, and joining herds, all while believing that they are achieving some unknown "topmost virtue" that they themselves do not know the meaning of.

Wu Wei creates the end-product that is composed of the ingredients that an individual inserts within his wu wei. Nature rules man, man does not rule Nature. Man can scream in defiance all he wants, but Nature will still create the man with the ingredients that he himself chose.


For many of us, we naively and very ignorantly assumed that Taoists knew something about Nature's Way since all of the Taoists are very vocal about Tao being "THE WAY". We were wrong; very wrong.

Some of us have purposefully applied Nature's Way to create new and extremely wonderful emotions of intense strengths that cannot naturally exist within society. Wu Wei cannot do that. Some of us have purposefully applied Nature's Way to create extreme forms of love that cannot naturally exist within society. Wu Wei cannot do that. Some of us have purposefully applied Nature's Way to create states of health that temporarily regain the energy of youth, the sensation of being young, and the absence of acquired pains that cannot be achieved through medicine, nor by science, nor by any other means. Wu Wei cannot do that. Some of us have purposefully applied Nature's Way to create new devices that can and have healed incurable ailments within moments, devices that no science, no philosophy, no religion, and no ideology knows about. Wu Wei cannot do that. Some of us have purposefully applied Nature's Way to create states of real virtue, of high inner energy, inwardly glowing, radiating from the inside, is emitted, and can only occur through Nature's Way. Wu Wei cannot do that. Some of us have purposefully applied Nature's Way to create states of high qi, able to be felt by other people at a distance. Wu Wei cannot do that. Some individuals have purposefully applied Nature's Way to visibly glow. Wu Wei cannot do that. Some of us have purposefully applied Nature's Way to measurably reduce our weight by around ten percent while standing on scales. Wu Wei cannot do that. The list is long of what is possible within Nature's Way. Wu Wei's list of accomplishments is as if blank.

The wu wei people are busy lusting for self-gain, all while ignoring the suffering of everyone around them, and while also carelessly adding to the decay of all life on earth. Where is the virtue? Where is the logic? Where is the intelligence? Apparently there is none; there is only wu de, 無德, 'nothing virtue'.

Statistically, there ought to be numerous good Taoists who know of Nature's Way, and who have used Nature's Way to self-create quality selves, but, as Enrico Fermi allegedly asked: 'where is everybody?'

All ideologies have good ideas and bad ideas. Wu Wei is a bad idea.