as for Wu-Way

     Just what does wu-way mean? In Chinese it is transliterated as wu-wei, in Japanese as mui.  In the simplest and perhaps broadest understanding, it means not forcing things. The word signifies the inherent grace of nature's actions. It means to go with the flow, but not in a merely passive, listless way. For example, a young willow sapling bends with the snow but then snaps back because it’s springy. Yielding and lively; not either, but both. Wu-way implies that one can with spontaneity tack artfully with the wind across the flowing waters. It refers to getting with the intelligence and ever-startling beauty and providence presented by nature. Indeed, it is the very effort of nature that seems like no discernible effort at all. This is why technically, the expression signifies non-action or no-effort, but actually what is being pointed to is behavior that while perhaps appearing unplanned, random and without corporeal muster, nonetheless originates and sustains the width and breadth of nature’s artful actuality—that’s wu-way. It may be actualized as human heartedness engaging without distortion or guile with nature’s unselfish variety. Or as ease in striving, foregoing conniving, but not lacking wit.

     While this quality called wu-way may be only dimly explainable, it cannot be denied that this description-dodging liveliness, this apparent effortless action of nature, produces an unimaginable amount of work—and yet generally speaking, this colossal boundless undertaking of nature cannot make an aesthetic error. The coloring on a feather, the heavenliness of scudding clouds, foam patterns lapping on the seashore... the examples are endless.

     So how do humans tap into this current? How indeed! Wu-way signifies self-nature patterning with the ancient ever-new river of life that we mostly disregard because it both eludes description and in a way, our net of logic. Music, love, humor, flowers, children: all are subjects that can be neither disassembled to reveal their essence nor properly realized on a spreadsheet, yet without them would life be worth living?  Wu-way is like that, in that it is a name for a quality that eludes methodology because it acts of-itself-so, by nature. With intelligence, beauty and beneficence.


     As human beings this harmony with nature is not something we try to attain; it is more like something we remember and then may cultivate. A way of looking at the world with no fixed view. Of acting with a genuine effort that goes with the grain, the knots, and the unexpected. The approach of wu-way in building gardens, in considering ecologies, in blending and working with nature in our homes, offices and places of public life, is to stay open and reflexive. And to keenly offer our human capabilities of craft, knowledge, insight, and imagination in humble co-operation with nature's way. The way that brings us home and makes us happy, but naturally, can never quite be spelled out.