Dao, Wuwei, and Letting Go

Among the first things that I’ve learnt from Dao and Lao-tzu is to let go.

Really let go! Really loosen up! Not just relax.

If you observe carefully, in this aspect all peak performers are masters of Dao. Look at the prima ballerina that radiate splendor on stage! Had she not let go; her grace, her delightfulness and grandeur dim within seconds.

Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in their book Leaders, the Strategies for Taking Charge, talk about the tightrope aerialist who had never failed. He unfortunately fell to his death in 1978; when began to worry and repeatedly checked the guy wire.

In Laozi’s words, an enemy to full potential development is stiffness, which he likens to death (76).

”Man is born soft and supple;
dead, he is stiff and hard.
Plant is born tender and pliant;
dead, it is brittle and dry.
Thus stiff and hard
follow death.
Soft and yielding
follow life.” (76)


wuwei and letting go

Look at the newborn! Soft, supple, without self-doubt; and how rapidly she grows! We lose the suppleness, as we grow older. Look at the plants! How they thrive when they are soft and yielding. The moment when they become brittle, they soon die.

Keep checking yourself for stiffness in everything you do. The way you see yourself; the way you talk to others, the way you perform your tasks. Remind yourself, the moment that you become stiff and hard, it could be the beginning of failure, or even death.

Be soft and allow yourself to let go helps draws your inner potential out. You become unbridled, allowing your system to find its own balance. If you are a dancer, you mind and your body synchronizes in harmony with the universe. It allows you to harness the prowess of nature, rather than only the strengths of your own.

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You would find this familiar. A jovial, eloquent man who is care-free among friends, suddenly turned mute when he is taken to the rostrum. The stage fright turns his hands dripping with sweat and his tongue tied. Can the man overcome the stage fright by applying the Dao of letting go?

Suggested answer:

The man is a natural speaker, but stiffness kills his speech. He should get the ‘suppleness’ back.

To be himself again, he must let go. This can be as simple as acknowledging his nervousness by saying to the audience, “I'm so scared!” “What shall I do?” These statements carry little meaning, but they relax him mentally and physically.

The moment when he gets his ‘suppleness’ back, his speech would come to life.

It is a pity to lose one’s speech, simply by not being able to let go. In life, we could lose more. It could be personal relationships, career opportunities, and many aspects of joy in life.

Learn to let go, it enriches you life without having to exert yourself.

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