Every week I become more acutely aware of the interconnectedness and sameness of every single thing. We spoke in class of the Wu Wei and “Thy will be done” my mind went to a Elizabeth Gilbert’s mention of a Sufi poem, “…God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now…” What is was always going to be…In the schools of thought (Tao, Christian, Muslim, and Judaism if you consider their notion bashert is bashert; destiny is destiny) it is all the same song in a different key. Que sera sera. If Tao is ‘the way’ is Wu Wei ‘the will’?
This thought of inactive action, doing without doing reminds me of a conversation I had with my best friend’s mother Tuesday night. She is a nurse that helps mothers learn to breast feed their children. She laughed at the lunacy of her position, “I get paid to teach women how to do what we are MADE to do! Its innate, and yet they give me the credit.” She shows them Wu Wei, to forget what we think we know and let our bodies take the lead. Coincidence that I had that conversation this week?
Stiff and unbending is the principle of death.
Gentle and yielding is the principle of life.
Thus an Army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.
– Tao Te Ching (76)
The soft and the weak…staying relaxed, being flexible; this submission to the Wu Wei is what I’m finding Tao is all about. In a counseling relationship, being able to move where the client takes you and stay clear of personal investment qualifies as a good counselor. That relationship is about the client’s Wu Wei, to introduce our own will only cause resistance until someone becomes softer. To be a good therapist we submit to the client (soft) and the client submits to The Tao, at least ideally. Isn’t that what we facilitate? Awareness so that one may knowingly “unknow” their current ways. Why is it so hard to unlearn and to let go? I just can’t help going back to Genesis…Eve ate from the tree of knowledge committing the original sin; we were NOT meant to know, and so now we work backwards.
Submission shows a level of trust and essentially faith. The surrender to Thy will, Bashert, Wu Wei, it allows us to actively rest and find balance. “Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least they do when you let them, when you work with circumstances instead of saying, ‘This isn’t supposed to be happening this way,’ and trying hard to make it happen some other way,” (Hoff,80). There’s a lot of maddening freedom in letting go.
I thought about Dr. Kim’s remark in class about meditation and about how focusing on your breathing helps to recenter you. This importance of being mindful. I feel strongly about increasing my own awareness in actions, staying present and when getting unfocused, to recenter myself. I’m currently reading, albeit very slowly, a book called Women Food and God by Geneen Roth. In it she writes: “As long as I believe that pain is bigger than me, as long as I define being open and vulnerable as being vulnerable to annihilation, I believe in an image of myself: that I am someone who can be annihilated. And when I believe this, I bolt from different situations by engaging in various mind-altering and body numbing activities. I shut myself down or walk out the door when pain threatens to destroy me–which is any situation that involves another human being or whose outcome I cannot control. I live an autistic existence (43).”
This is the opposite of mindful, but the way I find myself living sometimes. This week a client yelled “I am NOT an island!” I silently yelled it back in affirmation for myself. I have to stay mindful and aware even in times of great pain; how else will I know something needs to be changed? Perhaps this is the greatest threat to safety.