Ziran, a fundamental concept in Daoism, translates naturally or spontaneously in English. Comprised of the Chinese characters Zi (自) and Ran (然), Zi denotes self or from, while Ran implies correct or right. In Chinese culture, the term nose or Zi is a commonly used metaphor to symbolize an individual's perspective.
The concept of Ziran, with its roots in the Daodejing (specifically chapters 17, 23, 25, 51, and 64), dates back to 400 BCE. Ziran is very closely linked with the practice of Wuwei, or effortless action, and embodies a state of being that is natural and spontaneous - often referred to as as-it-isness. This state is considered the most crucial quality for followers of Daoist beliefs, and achieving it requires shedding oneself of artificial influences and returning to a state of pure nature. Ziran is also associated with developing a revised understanding of human nature and nature itself. Regarding Daoism's sensibility, the moral significance of ziran is especially apparent.
Comparison with Wuwei
Ziran helps us understand the natural world, the true essence of things, and how events unfold according to their inherent nature. On the other hand, Wuwei is a principle that guides us on how to act and make decisions in a way that is in harmony with the Dao and is more directly applicable to human behaviour.