Taoism: Chuang-tzu (excerpts)
[from] The Wisdom of Laotse, Modern Library, translated by Lin Yutang

Unforced Action or Wu-Wei

There is great beauty in the silent universe. There are manifest laws governing the four seasons without words. There is an intrinsic principle in the created things which is not expressed. The Sage looks back to the beauty of the universe and penetrates into the intrinsic principle of created things. Therefore the perfect man does nothing, the great Sage takes no action. In doing this, he follows the pattern of the universe. The spirit of the universe is subtle and informs all life. Things live and die and change their forms, without knowing the root from which they come. Abundantly it multiplies; eternally it stands by itself. The greatest reaches of space do not leave its confines, and the smallest down of a bird in autumn awaits its power to assume form. The things emerge and submerge, but it remains forever without change. The yin and the yang and the four seasons move in orderly procession. Darkly and without visible form it seems not to exist and yet exists. The things of the creation are nourished by it, without knowing it. This is the root, from which one may survey the universe. (Chuangtse in The Wisdom of Laotse, Modern Library, translated by Lin Yutang, p. 68)

The Universe and the Sage

The heaven revolves and does not accumulate; hence the things of the creation are formed. The ruler of a state lets things run their course and does not accumulate; therefore the world follows and obeys him. The sage's influence circulates everywhere and does not accumulate; therefore the world pays him homage. To understand the way of nature and of the sage and to see the changes of the elements in time and space and apply them to the way of a ruler is to realize that each thing runs its own course and there is a state of quietude amidst all the activities. The sage is calm not becauuse he says to himself, "It is good to be calm," and therefore chooses to be so. He is naturally calm because nothing in the world can disturb his mind. When water is at repose, it is so clear that it can reflect a man's beard; it maintains absolute level and is used by the carpenter for establishing the level. If water is clear when it is at rest, how much more so is the human spirit? When the mind of the sage is calm, it becomes the mirror of the universe, reflecting all within it.

Passivity, calm, mellowness, detachment and inaction characterize the things of the universe at peace and represent the height of development of Tao and character. Therefore the ruler and the sage take their rest therein. To take rest is to be passive; passivity means having reserve power, and having reserve power implies order. Passivity means calm and when calm reverts to action, every action is right. Calm means inaction, and when the principle of inaction prevails, each man does his duty. Inaction means being at peace with oneself, and when one is at peace with oneself, sorrows and fears cannot disturb him and he enjoys long life. (Chuangtse in The Wisdom of Laotse, Modern Library, translated by Lin Yutang, p. 195)