Wu Wei is… Loving and Managing Your Ego – Part II

Flickr-lilly-Ron CogswellDavid James Lees, Guest
Waking Times

Note: This is the second of a series of 3 articles. Please read Part I here, and Part III here.

This is the second in a series of blog posts on my Taoist spiritual and professional interpretation of the Ego. In my last blog post I proposed that you could view your mind as if it were an energetic pendulum, where the two extremes would represent your Ego out of balance (both Yin and Yang), and the more central position would be Wu Wei, a place of energetic harmony or the ‘sweet-spot’ of effortless-effort.

Moving from Ego to Wu Wei

I believe that Wu Wei is the point at which as a human being you align most closely to what I refer to as your Tao or Spirit Centred Mind. To survive and thrive as a human being you cannot live totally within this spirit centre as this too would be an extreme imbalance. So when you’re operating from a place of Wu Wei you’ve not lost, rejected or eliminated your Ego or Human Centred Mind, rather you’ve harmoniously balanced it against your Spirit Centred Mind.

Wu Wei is essentially the most creative, inspiring, resourceful combination of your Spirit Centred Mind and your Human Centred Mind or Ego. This is Oneness and the wholeness of you and every other entity within the Universe!

Just as the Ego has many varied manifestations and characteristics, your position of Wu Wei balance will be entirely personal to you and should adjust according to each and every life situation you encounter. You cannot hold or fix any point of energy, mind-set or state of being and so, not unlike the river analogy that Taoists often like to use, your authentic Wu Wei mind should be flexible and responsive. It should maintain a balanced flow of energy, adjusting to the point of harmony within each moment.

By mindfully and skilfully flowing in your Wu Wei this will in turn align and connect you to the wider Universal flow of spiritual energy or Qi all around you. This allows for optimum well-being and a deeper spiritual connection, both of which harness your ability to thrive in human form and reach your true potential.

The Ego and your emotions

In my professional experience the main reason for a client’s emotional energy swinging into the Yin or Yang Ego extremes are the intensity of, and their aversion to, the uncomfortable physical feelings they experience. This, coupled with an absence of any form of ‘emotional education’, which would otherwise allow them to manage these feelings authentically and appropriately, means that they are often heavily influenced by their out-of-control Ego mind.

When you’re presented with a challenging or difficult life event, or what I refer to as a learning situation or ‘blessing’, this can often create uncomfortable ‘red warning light’ emotions and feelings within you.

Through a lack of emotional education your overwhelming Human Centred Ego response may be to avoid and protect yourself against these emotional feelings, rather than to sit with them a while, find your balanced Wu Wei centre, and grasp the spiritual opportunity and learning being presented. It’s not unlike hating the first day at school and stubbornly committing to never return… even though this would restrict your learning and development!

Tao Tip:

Stillness is found at the centre of the tornado.

Imagine that the Human Centred Mind or Ego is like a well-meaning but rather misguided guardian or an overprotective and frightened parent that’s worried and concerned about their child’s well-being and future. Often they believe they know best and so will start to try to subtly influence, manipulate and restrict the child’s life and activities under the loving guise that they have its’ best interests at heart. Such actions have the potential to negatively impact the child’s self-confidence, self-worth and self-love and, most fundamentally, gives them little opportunity to experience and hone their emotional education in preparation for adult life.

Tao Tip:

Adversity does not test you, it reveals you!

A fundamental characteristic of the Ego is that dislikes any intense emotional feelings. It views them as harmful and damaging and so sets out to protect you by projecting ahead and creatively anticipating scenarios that may trigger emotionally uncomfortable or painful feelings so that you can avoid them at all costs. It’s ironic that, given the power of the mind over your physiological responses, this Ego thinking only serves to make your anticipated feelings very real and present in that moment.

The Ego and its impact on your potential

If you let your Ego mind rule your thinking in this way it’s easy to re-infect your emotional feelings and in turn become overly preoccupied with them rather than calmly and rationally examining the situation (real or imagined), which generated them in the first place. This is also why you may sometimes feel like you’re constantly ‘fighting’ your emotions.

No matter how intelligent a person you are or how much common-sense you may possess, if your Ego is driving your decision making this will always be tainted and compromised by the Ego’s misunderstandings: it’s desire for emotional safety and it’s need for guarantees and assurances of success. You’ll work hard to emotionally protect yourself against each and every potentially difficult or challenging situation that you may or may not encounter. You’ll want achieve the unachievable by emotionally future-proofing your life!

Over time this cyclical process of self-perpetuating and damaging Ego thinking can become both habitual and subconscious. As a spiritual therapist and coach I work every day at Peak House Practice with highly intelligent and professionally successful clients that desperately hold onto this way of thinking even though deep down they know it’s impacting their personal energy, health, relationships and authentic potential.

Tao Tip:

Never compromise your self-worth to accommodate your Ego feelings

I believe that it’s your personal responsibility to manage the movement of your energetic pendulum and your Ego mind so that you can navigate a healthier, happier and more balanced Wu Wei approach throughout your life.

You may not be able to control the life events and situations that cross your path, and nor should you want to, but you can control your energetic response to these situations through your beliefs, thoughts, words and actions, so that you remain healthy of mind, body and spirit.

In my next blog post I’ll discuss how to spot when your Ego energy has swung out of balance, so that you can begin to rebalance yourself to a more harmonious Wu Wei

Tao Affirmations

‘My Wu Wei is unique to me’

‘I am strong, flexible, creative & in my Wu Wei’

‘I connect to Universal energy & abundance through cultivating my Wu Wei’

‘I see the blessing in all situations’

‘I do not hide from my emotions, I use them as a signpost to learning & growth’

‘I choose self-worth over self-comfort’

About the Author

David James Lees is a spirituality and wellness author, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, counsellor, hypnotherapist, NLP Master, and a Member of the British Acupuncture Council. David has a lifelong interest in Taoism, Taoist philosophy and Qigong, and was first taught meditation by Chinese Tibetan Buddhist monks when he was 16 years old, which helped him tackle a profound stutter. After qualifying as a TCM practitioner in the UK, David trained for a number of years as a Qigong instructor with Doctor Shen in London and Master Wan Su Jain in Beijing, and was later ordained as a Taoist Master in the sacred Wudang Mountains in China. Today, David is a trusted advisor and broadcaster on emotional health issues and alternative therapies in the UK. You can follow David on his blog: www.WuWeiWisdom.comFacebookTwitterPinterest and Soundcloud.  For the latest information on David’s therapies, classes, workshops and special events visit Peak House Practice.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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  • Veronika Rampold

    “It’s not unlike hating the first day at school and stubbornly committing to never return… even though this would restrict your learning and development”
    Why all this looking down on “stubbornness”?
    Isn’t it too a necessary tool of the Great Spirit to reach Its goals?
    How many decisions and committals of the kind named above, committals at first impression, without that oh-so-grown-up self-reflection lauded so much on wakingtimes.com and in many other books and sites…
    have actually been the BEST decisions,
    MOST appropriate to one’s mission during this Re-Incarnation on Earth –
    to one’s “TE” as Taoism calls it,
    or one’s “vision” as Native Americans call it?

    When I was three yrs old, I had already started to scribble and draw. With my left hand, knowing instinctively that it was my better hand.
    Mom, then, told me “at school they will make you use the right hand only” – intending that I schould start exercising my right hand in order to be and act “like the others” and avoid difficulties… for me, OK, but also for herself who would then get pressurized as a parent.

    I, being only a kid, did not think about others pressurizing mom for my decisions. I rather thought like a simple worker: “why use a bad tool if I got a good one? what a nonsense.” Thus I started to exercise with ma LEFT hand, like mad. My aim was to write fluently with this hand, at the age of six when I come to school; I thought “then they’ll allow me to keep using left hand; all else would be nonsense.”

    and I did reach my aim. When I came to school I wrote with my left hand without any mistake, albeit in print letters, not handwriting style. As I, then, already had the reputation of being “contrary” (a big error but it would lead us to far here to explain why and how they wwere wrong), the grown-ups who dictated my kid life decided to leave me left-handed in order to save themselves from the toil and trouble of forcing me into right-handedness.

    They only taught me whole-word handwriting instead of “printing”, with my pencil, single letters upon the paper.
    And they built in a little harassment, to punish me for not wanting to be like all others:
    I had to use an ink-pen during the “Schönschreiben” (kalligraphy, beautiful handwriting) tests which were normal that time, as all others did. But if one writes with an ink-pen left-handedly instead of using the right hand, he / she will wipe the fresh ink with his/ her ball of hand and stain the writing; then it is no longer “schön” (beautiful) and of course one gets a bad mark, E or F, then no matter how beautiful or orderly his / her handwriting really is. I too always got E and F (in Germany: “note 5” und “Note 6”) in Kalligraphy. Thru four years, and in spite of the frequent handwriting exercises Mom did with me!
    This actually made me believe that my handwriting was bad and ugly!
    It was not before my 40th year of life that I recognized this belief to be wrong, and the “setting” of my Kalligraphy tests to be a harassment.

    (So easily gets a human mind programmed into believing nonsense – if it comes from those who are said to know the truth, as teachers, priests, or anyone else whom the person trusts. NB human openness for false programming is nothing less but THE proof of man’s basic goodwill, and THE disproval of the destructive delusion that “human striving is toward Evil from youth on” which is found in the Bible – unmistakably a “Satanic Verse”! Let us return to me: the fact that I kept a false view of my handwriting for SO long proves clearly that my intention, or state of mind, was not “contrary” at all.)

    But when I was an elementary School child I did not think of this setting being a harassment. I did NOT demand a special writing-tool… not even thought of it! I only, often, reflected the minor practical value of Kalligraphy lesson: it was given only at Elementary School and not at higher grades, and censures one got for it would not influence the result of Certificate at the end of school, i.e. the chances for a good profession. So I submissively “did my time” during the four years of Kalligraphy lessons, and took a breath of relief when they finally were over – like a worker having had to use bad tools, again.
    (Was this worker’s, or peasant’s, state of mind that I had as a small child, perhaps, something similar to the “p’uh”, the Uncarved Log of Wood, often named as an example in Tao Te King?)

    See, if you quote
    “a child’s stubborn decision at first impression”
    as something wrong –
    you miss the mark,
    and contradict what I know to be the meaning of the Tao Te King!

    If I had seen first-impression decisions as “wrong” and “stubborn” when a kid, I would have allowed the grown-up dictators of my life to make me write with my weaker and less skillful hand… which, as we know to-day, can do harm both to central nervous system and self-esteem. “Grown-up reason” would, thus, have misled me badly! My instinct, which at most instances needs hardly any lapse of time between impression and decision – it even can see, feel and decides at one time -, knew better.

    I could narrate many other example stories for this fact, from my life and that of others. The example above, about writing with left vs right hand, however, seemed easiest to understand.

    • Thank you for taking the time to reply and sharing your story. I think you slightly misunderstood my point.

      I agree with you, you SHOULD connect and follow your authentic path with determination, vision and passion, which as your story demonstrates can be very challenging for a child if that means going ‘against’ what parents or society believe and teach.

      The point I was making was the same, perhaps coming from the other perceptive: you should not stubbornly follow an inauthentic path against yourself and self-worth.

      Hope that helps to clarify, please contact me again if I can help further.


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