4.The Characteristics of the Wu State

(excerpts from the Dynamic Tao and Its Manifestations)

Wu is not a state of nothingness, but is a state of completeness and harmony. In Tao philosophy, the Wu state is never completely hidden, since there is always a Yu state encoded inside it.

Wu is a positive state of Tao. This positive nature of Wu must be properly preserved in our interpretation of Tao. In the following sections, we want to eradicate such popular negative interpretations and hope to eliminate superficial paradoxes about the Wu state.

4.1 Wu as a State

The word Wu 無is often interpreted as an adjective, so the term Wu-wei "無為" has been taken to mean without action. In our analysis, we concluded that Laotzu has defined Wu as a state and used it as a noun to describe the state.

4.2 Wu-wei as Wu-action 無為

It is clear that Wu-wei 無為should not be interpreted as without action. Wu-wei is the spontaneous action that maintains harmonious interaction between man and heaven. We have translated Wu-wei literally as Wu-action or as the action according to the Wu state. By acting with Wu, we may maintain our harmony with heaven.

4.3 Wu-zhi as Wu-wisdom 無知

Some people have argued that Laotzu is anti-wisdom because he promoted ignorance. Laotzu’s concept of Wu-zhi 無知 has been interpreted as “without wisdom” or as ignorance. Such anti-wisdom interpretation has been detrimental to our understanding of Tao.

We should interpret Wu-zhi as the wisdom of the Wu state, or simply Wu-wisdom. This simple re-interpretation gives us a new state of mind to appreciate the positive nature of Tao. Tao becomes much more coherent and pro-wisdom.

4.4 Wisdom and Knowledge

Our interpretation of Wu-wisdom comes out of our analysis of the two words, ZHI 知 and zhi 智, used in the Tao Te Ching texts. These two words are used inter-changeably in many ancient Chinese literature. Laotzu used these words with clear distinction and with consistency in the Tao Te Ching. He used ZHI 知 as wisdom as associated with the Wu state - and zhi 智 as wisdom associated with the changing world, or the Yu state.

4.5 Wu-wisdom and Leadership

Laotzu said that the leader should have wisdom of Wu so he can lead. People at least should have enough wisdom of Yu, the knowledge, to be guided to follow Tao. Laotzu emphasized that wisdom at the Wu level is the ultimate wisdom that a leader should have in order to manage the people effectively.