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Wei Wu Wei

This may sound like a contrary statement at first, but devoting yourself to single-mindedness about meditation can be unwholesome. Such a mindset doesn’t take into account the world as a whole. Normally, we are in a state of thinking, “I want this but I don’t want that.” All day long we make decisions, which are largely emphasizing the self first. Rarely do we make decisions that put others or the world first, so in becoming obsessed with meditation and mindfulness there’s a good chance you will drive yourself crazy—usually expressed by finding fault with those who don’t devote themselves to mindfulness practice, feeling the need to persuade others to be Taoist or, worse, believing that your mindfulness is extraordinary and superior to others. These are the types of thoughts and behaviors that can develop when we practice meditation without including others and the whole world. When Lao Zi said we should “Embrace the One,” the One isn’t you. The One is the Tao, and the Tao is everything.

All we need do in meditation is to collect the mind so that it is quiet, having one-pointed concentration simply on the sitting itself. This is called “tending to the sitting, tending to the breathing, tending to your mind, and tending to the world as a whole.”

Sitting is not about thinking or doing something (even remotely) exciting, and there should be no concern about gauging the degree of your mindfulness. You cannot measure peace and harmony, you can only be in it. Also, no one can really say, “I sit with wholeheartedness,” because being “wholehearted” means doing something without any need for noting the degree of it.

When we look closely at Lao Zi’s term “wei wu wei,” active non-action, we should interpret it as “active non-calculation.” Why? Because when we are sitting in meditation we are doing something. It’s a quiet activity and if during that meditation we try to measure and calculate our state of mind, then we will go a little crazy. This calculating is what causes so much trouble. Going back to the idea of “I want this but I don’t want that” means you have disassociated yourself from others and the world. It’s better to talk with yourself before meditating and bring your mind into peace and harmony with everything, not just you.

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Sanctuary of Tao