The explanatory notes for § 5 of the introduction of the second book of the Yijing (易經, the Book of Changes) state:

     "........ that the Holy Wise Men turned their faces to the south when they set themselves for the purpose of the world." *


Chapter VIII of the first section of the second book of the Yijing starts with the following paragraphs:

§ 1 'The Holy Wise Men were able to oversee the diversity of things under the heavens. They observed the shapes and appearances of things and described them. ............... '
§ 2 'The Holy Wise Men were able to oversee all motions under the heavens. They observed how they interacted abiding their eternal laws. ............... '
§ 3 'They speak of the strangest multiplicities without abhorrence ...............'
§ 4 'That's because they observed before they spoke and discussed before they moved ..............'

These texts confirm that the Holy Wise Men were the scientists of the distant past. They set motionless, faced south. It was as written "for the purpose of the world" and obviously intended for getting a scientifically correct view of all events. The introduction of Duyvendak's translation of the Daodejing (道德) states the following:

    "In order to control the 'All-under-the-sky', the mythical emperor Shun put himself into a state of 'not acting'. He did accomplish this by sitting in a respectful pose, facing south, whence light and heat originate, and nothing more. Such non-acting is called Wu Wei in China. It means: 'doing by not doing'. Wu Wei enabled Shun [H. read: a Holy Wise Man] to do justice to the effects of De, "Virtue" or "the One", from heaven and earth. Then there is no danger of faulty actions by his side, which could cause disturbance.*


So Wu wei (無為) is not a simple passivity or inertia as often thought. On the contrary; According to Duyvendak, it is a state of the "highest magical potential".

Note 3 The Daodejing is Laozi's book of Dao and De.


Accordingly, one can interpret Wu Wei as a state of optimal subjective observation. In the following paragraphs, I will discriminate objective scientific observing (western style) from subjective scientific observing (eastern style).

Continue to: 1.4.2. The Sphere Observer and his reference frame