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Wu Wei-The Taoist |Art of Sailing

by Will Crossan, July 2023

I struggle with purpose. I struggle with excellence. Trying to find the best of myself I find myself wrestling with my essence trying to find it, mend it, bend it, better it. Many days I am seeking a quiet respite from myself. The noise of the mind seems to run endlessly, and the ache of my heart roils deep in my chest. My days are often spent searching for the peace of a placid soul and the embrace of a joyful heart. As a child I believed that I had to be excellent to be loved. I felt a deep need to be the best which put me at competition with everyone around me, all the time. If they were better than me at anything, then I wasn’t enough...even at the smallest things. This addiction of competition led me into the financial services industry where everything is measured and put on a scoreboard. Each day was an opportunity to power my way through the competition and win the trophy and top the scoreboard. Eventually my engine ran out of gas, and I started to slow down. As I did, I began to feel the ache of my soul and the suffering of those around me. I found myself in a room full of trophies and a reputation of a champion, but a soul left dry, empty and cracked. I wondered how I got here.

In the years since that moment, I have often reflected on the impetuousness of my youth. Driven and hungry, I powered violently through my days and accomplished a tremendous amount impacting numerous lives. But the powering led to exhaustion and stole the moments of those years that held the potential to be so rich with meaning and saturated with joy and gratitude. The powering was the call of my ego, the separate me needing a gladiator ring to prove myself. My reflections of all that was accomplished provide me a new perspective and open a new reality of the past which leads me to a new understanding of the past, present and future. Yes, I was present with all my excellence, my purpose, the best of me and the broken of me but I wasn’t alone. There was always this omnipresent force cooperating with me giving me all that I needed and wanted. I wanted struggle so this force gave it to me.

I wanted hardship to overcome and so it was gifted. And when I needed awakening, that too was gifted to me. This reality, that it was never just me making everything happen, shook my comprehension of what is and caused me to go on a journey to discover what reality I had been missing.

Wu Wei is the ancient Taoist concept of effortless action. It is the idea of sailing instead of power boating through our moments. It requires awareness and acceptance of the conditions surrounding the individual. When one becomes still and silent and opens to reality without judgement but with full awareness, the ability to discern what action is inline with the infinite conditions of the moment present themself. This moment that harmonize the internal and external realities presents the opportunity for the soul to sail. Often the ego is the blockage to this sailing as it has a need to powerboat but through the practice of surrender the soul begins to pick up the winds as they change and provide opportunities for effortless action. Action of the soul that move through the creative act. This mode of being expands time and saturates the present in rich meaning and joy and transform us from disconnected separate entity to a connected, expanding participant in the unfolding of the expanding universe. It requires faith, and daily acts of courage but each step towards the unfolding unknown and towards the belief in a provident, participating universe is the path, or the way. It is the walking of the plank that never ends that creates the experience of a depth of connection between self and other that confirms what the mystics have always told of. We aren’t some phenomena cutoff from the world around us. We are cradled in the hands of the Creator, safe in the universe, loved with a love so big it builds mountains and oceans, here to experience the unfolding of self and universe in the art of sailing. The Art of Wu Wei.