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Noted Expert on Chinese Thought Touts the Virtue of ‘Effortless Action’
Author:SUNY Optometry’s Confucius Institute   AddDate:2016-4-19   Hits:197
 

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
-Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher

We have all probably experienced it one point or another: Sometimes when we focus too much on something we get less-than-desirable results. While other times, when we know how to do something really well, we seem to achieve success with little effort at all. While modern Western societies tend to emphasize the importance of hard work and determination as a means for achieving one’s goals, is this always the right course of action?

Professor Edward Slingerland, an internationally renowned expert in Chinese thought, provided the SUNY Optometry community with an alternative view at a discussion at the College on April 13th. This event was sponsored by the Confucius Institute for Healthcare at SUNY College of Optometry, in collaboration with the Confucius Institute at Pace University. A professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Slingerland focused his talk on the concept of wu wei, an ancient Chinese notion that essentially translates to “effortlessness.” Wu wei, Professor Slingerland said, is about cultivating a purely natural, authentic and effortless approach as a means for achieving your goals—similar to the notion of “flow” that psychologists use or the way in which athletes talk about being “in the zone” when they are performing well.

        While this philosophy is often diametrically opposed to traditional ways of thinking in the West, Professor Slingerland spoke about the virtue of wu wei as a means for achieving both success and personal fulfillment. While Western thought usually stresses that effort is disembodied from thoughts, Professor Slingerland explained that with wu wei, mind and action are working together as one.

Professor Slingerland also addressed the paradox within the notion of “trying not to try” and talked about ways to mitigate this inherent tension. He also explained how the concept of wu wei could help medical students become a better practitioners.      

His second lecture “Trying not to Try: Early China, Modern Science and the Power of Spontaneity” emphasized how ancient Chinese philosophy influences the business world today. It was held at SUNY Global Center on the evening of April 13th.  The event was hosted by the Confucius Institute for Healthcare at SUNY College of Optometry, the Confucius Institute for Business at SUNY, and the Confucius Institute at Pace University.  Dr. Guiherme Albieri, American Director at SUNY Optometry’s Confucius Institute for Healthcare, was the moderator for both lectures.

       

Professor Edward Slingerland

       

Dr. Guiherme Albieri, American Director at SUNY Optometry’s Confucius Institute

       

Audience

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