A Definition the Term "Pu" in Taoism

The term "Pu" refers to a state of purity before the arising of conceptual distinctions.

The Chinese word "Pu" is often translated as "the uncarved block." and refers to a state of pure potential which is the primordial condition of the mind before the arising of experience. The Taoist concept of Pu points to perception without prejudice, i.e. beyond dualistic distinctions such as right/wrong, good/bad, black/white, beautiful/ugly. It is a state of mental unity which places the Taoist practitioner into alignment with the Tao.

The principle of Pu had political overtones at some points in Chineses history. During the Warring States period (485 to 221 BCE), for example, in opposition to the Confucianist championing of intrusive manipulative government, as represented by the elaborate carving of jade into intricate shapes, early Taoists championed the idea of a simple, hands-off "uncarved block of wood" approach to government. Closely connected to this was the idea of Wu Wei--effective action through non-action. To Taoists, good government and ethical life involved not exercising human willpower over one's self and others, but in quiet acquiescence to the power of the Tao.