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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.

"Is a crisis in your life actually an opportunity to follow through on an unrealized dream? Take some time by yourself. Look within, and you will know."

  Diane Dreher, The Tao of Inner Peace, Part 6

The Strength of Bamboo

The Tao guides us with lessons from nature. For centuries, Chinese calligraphers have painted bamboo as a spiritual exercise. Bamboo is graceful, upright, and strong. Hollow inside, receptive, and humble, it bends with the wind but does not break.

Flexible, resourceful, open to new possibilities, people of Tao are strong in any situation. Avoiding pride and rigidity, they adjust to life's changes, harmonizing in their own patterns of growth. Non-Tao people only resist. The Tao Te Ching tells us:

"At birth all people are soft and yielding.
At death they are hard and stiff.
All green plants are tender and yielding.
At death they are brittle and dry.
When hard and rigid,
We consort with death.
When soft and flexible,
We affirm greater life."
(Tao Te Ching 76)

The most devastating experience many people face is being fired or laid off. A non-Tao person is often destroyed, unable to move forward, to overcome the shame and confusion. Many have fallen into severe depression, have even committed suicide.

The man or woman of Tao sees crisis as an opportunity. Like the bamboo, Tao people bend and grow, adjusting to the winds of change. They look within, take stock of their lives, and set new goals,

In 1986 a group of women were laid off when Bendel's, a New York specialty shop, was bought out by a large chain. People at Bendel's had been proud of their work, their reputation for creativity and resourcefulness. Some had worked there for thirty years and Bendel's had become another family

Losing this was a profound shock, yet within months these women began new ventures. Buyers Joy DaRos and Yelena Dieterichs opened successful boutiques, catalogue editor Pat Tennant became director of Monarch Catalogues, merchandising director Jean Rosenberg opened three designer shops, and Bendel's president Geraldine Stutz became publisher and president of Panache Press, a division of Random House. Instead of succumbing to despair, these women took stock of their lives, set new goals, and followed their dreams.

A Tao Question

Is a crisis in your life actually an opportunity to follow through on an unrealized dream? Take some time by yourself. Look within, and you will know.

There's an old saying, "When one door closes, another opens." Tao people recognize that door because they're open to new possibilities.

Opportunities often appear when we follow our natural curiosity. When I was a grad student at UCLA I noticed a new restaurant opening in my neighborhood, "Colonel Beauregard's New Orleans Restaurant and Gumbo Shop." Intrigued, I walked across the street and looked in the window. The owner peered out at me, asking if I wanted a job. I didn't. I was a research assistant at UCLA, but to make up for my curiosity I signed his register and promised I'd be back to try the food.

Weeks later, the UCLA budget was cut and all the research assistants suddenly laid off. My friend Janette and I were sitting in my apartment wondering what to do when the phone rang. It was the owner of Colonel Beauregard's asking when I'd like to come to work.

Two days later I was the cashier, enjoying a job that gave me the income I needed, a free Creole dinner five nights a week, and a pleasant diversion from my studies. Following my curiosity had led me into a new opportunity at just the right time.

The Tao encourages us to be spontaneous, to follow our natural inclinations, to keep on learning, and to watch the changing patterns within and around us. Remember, nothing in the universe stands still. We are evolving souls.

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