I know that when I’m at one with my Tao, or engaged in the flow, or however you’d like to put it, that things feel easier. I know that right there in the pit of my stomach that it feels good and right. Its a deep and sure and steady feeling of just knowing.
At times, when there is action about and I feel like this, like the wind is at my back and all good fortunes are with me, then it is very easy to be carried by the motion, to surf along on the wave. It’s exciting. The metaphorical – or even metaphysical – wind is in my hair, I know I’m on the right track and whoosh, the old adrenalin’s up and I know I’m headed for something good.
But as there are times of action, so there are also times of non action, times when it is not the right thing to make a move, or a decision. And I know these signs just the same as those that indicate action.
And that’s when it can get kinda difficult. Sure, I get still in mind and body, and I’m ok with that, kinda. I’m sure its the right thing to do, to be still and do nothing, but action is a little addictive. It also gives me an illusion of control over external events, like I’m directing the wave rather than just riding on it. So, when it comes for time to be still and that feeling of control is debunked, a mild panic sets in.
What to do? I still the mind (again).
Then I become aware of the activity around me. People scurrying about seeking the same results that I want to achieve. From the outside, they seem to be in control, they seem to be taking strides towards their goals, they seem to be achieving what they’re setting out to achieve, and here am I sitting still, doing nothing.
Two things can happen at this moment; the first is that I can act out of panic. Inevitably whatever I do in this situation gives immediate satisfaction, like a sugar rush that spikes but then plunges me back down into a trough of self recrimination for not staying true to my path. The results of the action rarely bear fruit that’s more than a momentary distraction.
The second thing I can do, if I’m calm and together enough, is to observe the people scurrying about in a detatched, yet compassionate manner. I am not them and they are not me. I have no way of knowing how connected or otherwise their activity is to their inner compass. In most ways its none of my business. My business is to be about my own business which is my path and my deportment in the world, in a manner as true to my own compass as possible.
This is what I try to do. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, and I keep my mind clear and ready to see the signs for action, expecting them, expecting only the best and trusting the Tao to provide them, things tend to go swingingly better. Patience (not my best trait) wins the day.
To finish, I was told this story by a man who was a soldier just after WWII, and I’ve often used it as a metaphor for myself and how to engage in Wu Wei:
“We were on manoeuvres on the Island of Arran. Arran has mainly two roads – one that goes around the perimeter of the island, and another, the string road, that cuts through a Glen in the middle of the island and connects the eastern and western coasts.
I was dropped with the other soldiers in my squad on Brodick Beach, on the Eastern side. Our mission was to get to the other side of the island and meet there later that day. I really didn’t feel like it, I’d been out drinking the night before and I watched my mates all run up the beach in front of me with their ‘AAARRRGGHHs’ and war cries as they fought the sand, jumped up onto the esplanade, crossed the road and disappeared into the Glen that carried the String Road.
I managed to get up the beach, climb the seawall and get up onto the footpath. I watched my colleagues disappear into the greenery – I was the last person there and I really doubted that I had the energy, never mind the will, to tackle the trek.
All of a sudden my vision of the Glen was obscured by a vehicle that pulled up in front of me. Turned out I had been standing at a bus stop and the door opened and the driver asked me where I wanted to go. I told him Dougrie and he said ‘jump on.’
In full uniform I didn’t have to pay a fare and I was at our muster point two hours before my mates after a very pleasant and scenic ride!”