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Excerpted from The Tao of Inner Peace by Diane Dreher. Copyright © 2000 by Diane Dreher. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Tao people are natural problem solvers."

  Diane Dreher, The Tao of Inner Peace, Part 3

Becoming a Tao Person

Whatever the conflict in our lives, the first step on the path of peace is to shift our attitudes. According to the Tao, what matters is not the situation, but the way we perceive it.

A Tao person is someone who recognizes and works with the patterns of nature. Whatever our religious background or national origin, we become Tao people when we learn to think holistically, seeing our part in the unity of life, respecting the natural cycles within and around us.

Tao people are natural problem solvers. While others often fear conflict and change, a Tao person realizes that conflict is natural, that life constantly evolves through cycles of change. Non-Tao people perceive the world through a reductive dualism that makes them cling to the status quo. Tao people realize life has many options. Creative and resourceful, they flow with change, seeing beyond problems to solutions. One with Tao, they promote greater peace in their world.

Resolving Conflict with the Tao

When we're not one with Tao, we often become defensive, turning problems into blaming games.

I worked for a year during college as a medical receptionist. One day while the office was filled with patients, workmen were laying carpets in the examining rooms.

The phone rang incessantly, patients came and went, when suddenly I smelled smoke. The workmen had gone to lunch, leaving a hot iron plugged in, burning down into the floorboard. I ran into the room, pulled the plug, set the iron upright, and returned to my desk.

Then the commotion began. The doctor smelled smoke and began shouting at the nurses, who shouted at the office assistants. I watched as their faces grew red, their voices strident and defensive. "Whose fault was it?" they shrieked. "Who should have checked the examining rooms?"

I wondered to myself, what difference does it make whose fault it was? The point was to solve the problem.

The Tao Te Ching teaches that

"Wise people seek solutions;
The ignorant only cast blame."
(Tao Te Ching 79)

In far too many conflicts, both interpersonal and international, people become so busy blaming others and defending their egos that they forget to solve the problem, which in this case was as simple as pulling the plug.

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