Effortless Action arising spontaneously

In Daoism and Vedantic tradition, there is a term used for effortless action, which arises spontaneously. This is possible when personal doer-ship is not the primary driver or engine for action anymore. It is called Wu Wei in Daoism and Nishkaama Karma in Vedanta.
Typically, one does things when there is a personal motivation for it.  For eg:, I need something, and in order to get it, I have to do some work.This could be for personal reasons or some for the benefit of (or detriment) of someone else. The primary motivation is “me”, for whom certain actions will provide certain results. 
There are of course more altruistic motivations too, but in our mundane existence, we tend to operate on the basis of gratification of certain needs and wants of the individual personality.
After we have seen through the veil of the personality (which was identified with as being the self), the same actions that produced results that were sought after hitherto, become progressively harder. The resultant effect is one of exhaustion rather than fulfillment. A sense arises, that such action is not required at all, after all. 
Imagine a scenario where you have to dunk a piece of paper in a waste-paper basket from a distance (or dunking a basketball if that’s what works for you). Your experience might be the same as mine..the harder we try to make the dunk, the more likely we are to miss. If we just make up the intent that the paper needs to go into the basket and toss it in that vicinity, it will go in more effortlessly. 
Once we understand that inner feeling, of detached intent, that is required to dunk the ball (or paper), we can go on extensively without missing. To find that feeling, is hard, because the mind (and personality) is used to putting in effort, working towards the goal.  
The entire premise of “work and you will get the rewards” is turned upside down on it’s head in this scenario. So, there has to be some “effort” to learn to become effortless.
This is what internal martial arts like Taijiquan also espouse in the higher levels of practice. Effortless effort, in line with their Daoist roots — wei wu wei. A case in point would be that of learning to transfer power in taijiquan. 
One starts with learning the form, the physicality, the biomechanics. Then one proceeds to moving the entire mass as one. Then one learns how to release the jin, so the effect is proportionally greater than the action that triggers the effect – ie – moving the mass efficiently at once, releasing the jin. One then progressively lets go of physical effort all together, such that a mere movement of the hand or a part of the body will result in great power being issued. One goes from flexing and relaxing the muscles and boney structure, to moving the tissues and fascia inside the body, to moving the energy inside the body to moving the energy field outside the physical boundary.  This calls for being able to drop the thinking mind and using the heart-mind instead. 
This would be a good time to review the roles of the thinking mind and the heart-mind respectively. The thinking mind is a process that rises out of and subsides back into the heart-mind. Its job is to separate subject and object. It is a differentiating process. Me and the rest of the world, this and that, mine and not mine, and so on. It is the basis on which the intellect learns about “things”.
The heart-mind is the primordial awareness, and it is where all existence rises and sinks back into. So it does not see separation in the way the thinking mind sees separation. The “will” of this heart-mind, its intent, is what motivates spontaneous, effortless action. Words are woefully inadequate to express what it means, only that it is not thinking in the way one is used to thinking. It is more feeling,  but not in the sense one would use feelings as an alternative word for emotions. It is an energetic process. 
When the thinking mind is relaxed enough (ie it is left to it’s own devise and it does not interfere/try to run everything), the heart-mind or spiritual-mind becomes apparent. Then there is no motivation for action except action manifesting itself spontaneously. That is the intent of the heart-mind. You could call it the will of God, or the way of nature, or Dao.

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3 Replies to “Effortless Action arising spontaneously”

  1. Dear Dwai,
    What a beautiful presentation!
    You have clearly brought out the difference between thinking mind and the heart mind. An aspect would certainly be that only the latter is capable of truly effortless action.
    As an unfortunate possessor of a hopelessly 'thinking' mind, I find my mind wondering whether the accumulation of habitual thinking over several generations has made it totally incapable of the sadhana to transform itself into a heart mind. Will I be right in assuming that my earliest ancestor had a far greater chance of attempting the transformation?
    Regards. Partha

  2. HI Partha,

    Thanks for the comment.
    To answer your question —

    I think we cannot avoid that "thinking mind" being members of this modern society, which inculcates and encourages it. Don't get me wrong – the thinking mind is a very valuable tool. It might be that our ancestors were better equipped to act from the heart-mind, but it is not as dire a situation as it might seem for us. All it takes is a subtle shift of perspective. After all, the heart-mind is not something external to us. It is quite the opposite in fact. It is who we really are.



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