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The Effortless Life



"Life is a series of natural

and spontaneous changes.

Don't resist them.

That only creates sorrow.

Let things flow naturally forward

in whatever way they like.

Don't interfere with the flow."


Lao Tzu



Last month I wrote about the Taoist practice of Wu Wei; living and moving from the effortless flow of the Tao. Whenever I speak or write about this very powerful practice, people seem to take a very deep interest in at least hearing about this way of moving through life. Recently I came across a a YouTube video from another Taoist teacher that I deeply respect, Jason Gregory, who was also speaking about Wu Wei, but with a spin that I had not heard before. He spoke of it as 'non-interference' or, as he put it, 'minding your own business'. This definition really spoke to me, as so often the complications and 'problems' in life seem to stem from our putting our nose where it doesn't belong. This is true, not only of us as individuals, but also as a collective; whether it is political groups or countries (think Russia's 'interference' in Ukraine as a great example).


So many of the stressful situations in our life happen when we find ourselves offering our opinion to someone when it's not asked for, or trying to influence a situation that has absolutely nothing to do with us. All of us have found ourselves in these situations, and know that we only made them more tense or confused by putting our 'two cents in' where it didn't belong, or trying to force a situation to go the way we thought it should go. But what would happen to our lives if we simply practiced staying out of other peoples affairs, and tended to the our own garden? What if we dropped this insane belief that we know what other people should do with their lives?


The answer, according to the old Taoist Masters, is that our lives will flow with a much greater ease and simplicity, as we free up the energy we expend in trying to handle other peoples lives, and simply focus on our own. This will miraculously bring a much greater harmony and joy into our own relationships, while smoothing out the rough edges in the outer conditions of our lives. Of course, to practice this way of flowing with the current of the Tao, we must be willing to put aside our opinionated ego and keep quiet when we have the impulse to interfere in areas where we don't belong. It means being completely present in our own lives, and taking care of the moment that presents itself to us, without being concerned about what others might be doing (or not doing). We simply know that, everything that happens to those around us is their business, not ours, and unless we are asked directly for our sage advice, we remain silent, peaceful and in the spontaneous Flow of the Tao.

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