Trying Not to Try

The Art and Science of Spontaneity

By Edward Slingerland
(Crown Publishing Group (NY), Hardcover, 9780770437619, 295pp.)

Publication Date: March 4, 2014

Shop Local
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.

Go


Description

A deeply original exploration of the power of spontaneity—an ancient Chinese ideal that cognitive scientists are only now beginning to understand—and why it is so essential to our well-being
 
Why is it always hard to fall asleep the night before an important meeting? Or be charming and relaxed on a first date? What is it about a politician who seems wooden or a comedian whose jokes fall flat or an athlete who chokes? In all of these cases, striving seems to backfire.
 
In Trying Not To Try, Edward Slingerland explains why we find spontaneity so elusive, and shows how early Chinese thought points the way to happier, more authentic lives. We’ve long been told that the way to achieve our goals is through careful reasoning and conscious effort. But recent research suggests that many aspects of a satisfying life, like happiness and spontaneity, are best pursued indirectly. The early Chinese philosophers knew this, and they wrote extensively about an effortless way of being in the world, which they called wu-wei (ooo-way). They believed it was the source of all success in life, and they developed various strategies for getting it and hanging on to it.
 
With clarity and wit, Slingerland introduces us to these thinkers and the marvelous characters in their texts, from the butcher whose blade glides effortlessly through an ox to the wood carver who sees his sculpture simply emerge from a solid block. Slingerland uncovers a direct line from wu-wei to the Force in Star Wars, explains why wu-wei is more powerful than flow, and tells us what it all means for getting a date. He also shows how new research reveals what’s happening in the brain when we’re in a state of wu-wei—why it makes us happy and effective and trustworthy, and how it might have even made civilization possible.
 
Through stories of mythical creatures and drunken cart riders, jazz musicians and Japanese motorcycle gangs, Slingerland effortlessly blends Eastern thought and cutting-edge science to show us how we can live more fulfilling lives. Trying Not To Try is mind-expanding and deeply pleasurable, the perfect antidote to our striving modern culture.




About the Author
Edward Slingerland taught in the School of Religion and Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California, where he was recipient of the 2002 General Education Teaching Award. He is currently Associate Professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia and is Canada Research Chair in Chinese Thought and Embodied Cognition. His previous books include The Annalects of Confucius and Effortless Action: Wu-wei as Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China, which won the American Academy of Religion's 2003 Best First Book in the History of Religions Award.
Indie Bookstore Finder
EBbooks and EReaders
Find great gifts: Signed books
Link to IndieBound






Update Profile