Publish at March 05 2023 Updated March 06 2023

The concept of wu wei applied to professional training

The absolute art of letting go

Water lily flower

  "Water is soft and docile. But it weakens and corrodes hard surfaces. In the battle against hardness, it has no equal. The soft and gentle can defeat the hard and coarse"

Wu wei in the Tao 

The concept of wu wei appeared in China about 2,500 years ago in Daoist philosophy. Taoist philosophy is based on the Tao Te King written by Lao Tzu. In this seminal book, Lao Tzu advocates the way of the Tao, which is a life path of following the natural course of life without effort or manipulation. Wu wei is often translated as "non-action" or "action without effort" or "intention without intent."  This practice advocates conforming to the natural course of things without seeking to control or manipulate events.

This means being at peace with what is and accepting events as they occur, without trying to change or control them. Wu wei is considered a key element of Taoist philosophy, as it encourages simplicity, inner peace and harmony with nature. It is an approach to life that focuses on the quality of life rather than the quantity of possessions and accomplishments.

Over the centuries, the concept of wu wei has been taken up by other philosophical and spiritual movements, including Buddhist Zen  and Confucianism. Today, it is often associated with a holistic approach to life that focuses on personal well-being and harmony with the world around us. 

What is the right way to teach wu wei for oneself?

There is no one way to teach wu wei, as it is a personal approach to life that varies from person to person. The following are several practices that can be used to advance this path.

First, it is possible to give an explanation of what wu wei is and its philosophical underpinnings in Taoism, but beyond the brain, wu wei is first and foremost a personal practice that requires experimentation and practice to be understood. It is from practical exercises that it is possible to feel this teaching.  Wu wei involves an awareness of oneself and one's actions.

To train, it is possible to learn to focus on one's thoughts and actions, and to observe them without judgment. Welcoming life requires welcoming simplicity and perceiving how focusing on the essentials can improve the quality of life.  Wu wei often involves cultivating gratitude and compassion for oneself and others. Studying these concepts is another way to integrate them into one's daily life.

One of the most challenging points of this aim is  to accept events as they happen, without trying to control or change them. It is about exploring this idea and practicing it in your life. Wu wei promotes a holistic approach to life that focuses on personal well-being and harmony with the world around us. 

What teaching wu wei in facilitation?

The concept of wu wei can be applied in professional training in a number of ways to enhance learning and professional development processes. It is particularly suited to collective intelligence facilitation practices. The first step involves accepting events as they happen, without trying to control or change them. This can be applied in facilitation by accepting the difficulties and challenges that arise, rather than fighting or ignoring them.

Wu wei involves being at peace with the learning process and accepting events as they occur, without effort or manipulation. This can help create a state of flow  that is beneficial for facilitative learning. It is possible to simplify the learning processes and by focusing on the skills that are most important for professional facilitation.

Wu wei often involves cultivating gratitude and compassion for oneself and others. This can be applied in facilitation by encouraging participants to adopt a positive attitude toward the group and to cultivate gratitude for their learning experiences and professional development.

As  wu wei is associated with a holistic approach to life that focuses on personal well-being and harmony with the world around us, it is possible by creating a positive and collaborative learning environment to  encourage harmony and respect among participants.

The benefits of wu wei 

Wu wei is an interesting path for an educator, trainer, or facilitator because it leads to refraining from fighting events and situations that one cannot change. Instead, it invites one to focus on what is possible to control.

The slowing down practices advocated allow one to achieve a calmer, clearer state of mind, which helps one discern in muddled or undecidable educational situations. Learning to let go of expectations and desires, while focusing on the present moment is a good way to leave the primary focus on the learner and their ability to construct the direction of their own learning.

Acting with awareness with the clear consequences of one's actions allows one to enjoy security in existence and to place oneself in harmony with the natural flow of life. This posture is key to speaking with confidence and convincing without force. For a pedagogue the recommended simplicity leads to getting rid of all pedagogical artifice (chopsticks, post-it notes, bells, felt-tip pens, paper-boards), to get rid of unnecessary distractions, and in fine to be more effective in one's action.

Flexibility and openness in beliefs and opinions, opens to new ideas and perspectives. Recognition of what is there in and around the group creates a supportive non-competitive and cooperative framework. No need to compare or contrast, only seek to cultivate gratitude for what is there and contributes to the success of all.

Tao compassion can be translated in this way as an effort to understand the other, an effort to empathize. The greatest benefit is probably learning to keep one's  mind free of judgment and concern, in order to focus on inner peace and harmony. What better posture for a facilitator than to live this peace so that it spreads without a word being spoken? 


Our thoughts. Wu Wei. The Art of Doing Nothing  

Tao te king - Lao Tzu  

Zen Buddhism  


Welcome to the jungle -  State of flow 

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