Wu Wei – Success without Effort

Posted by Karen Degen on 4th February 2019

Tags: Wu Wei, paddling upstream, success with less action

I recently heard about the Taoist principle of Wu Wei, which translates more or less as ‘action in non-action’.  Or in other words, action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort. Wu Wei is the cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life. This going with the flow, although it may be greatly productive, is characterized by great ease, where we do the right thing effortlessly without trying.

It seems to be exactly what Abraham (Esther Hicks and the Teaching of Abraham) has to say in his analogy about paddling upstream.  His analogy describes why we don’t seem to be getting where we want to be in life and why it seems so hard.  He says that most people don’t go with flow in life because it seems lazy to do that.  We paddle upstream because that seems virtuous, and everyone in society measures themselves against others who are paddling upstream.  ‘Upstream’ represents struggle for achievement.  Not the achievement itself, but the struggle.  We wear our struggle like a badge and always talk about how busy we are or how stressed we are.  Abraham says “Why not turn and just go with the flow of the stream.  He says “Nothing that you want is upstream.  Everything you want is in the direction of the flow.  There is only one stream and it is downstream.  Just stop paddling upstream and the stream will turn you.”

Another thing that Abraham teaches is the difference between motivation and inspiration.  “Inspiration comes forth from within. It’s what the light burning within you is about, as opposed to motivation, which is doing it because if you don’t do it, there will be negative repercussions. Motivation is making myself do something that I don’t really want to do. Inspiration is having the clear picture of what I am wanting — and letting Universal forces come into play to get the outcome.”

So if it seems like you are paddling upstream in life, or are doing the opposite to the principle of Wu Wei (i.e. it seems that your effort does involve struggle or excessive effort) then I can help. Knowing there is a different way and actually being able to take it are two completely different things.  I help you to make the changes you can’t make on your own, whether in your happiness, health or success.