Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | March 19, 2011

Dealing With Conflict the Taoist Way

The I Ching says in hexagram 6, “The proper response to conflict, whether it lies within or without us, is disengagement.” This is a hard concept to follow because we are wired to try to resolve conflict ourselves. But, as the I Ching points out, conflict draws us off balance, and balance is a fundamental principle of tai chi, both martially and as a way of life.

“Whenever we allow ourselves to be drawn off balance, away from the strength of quiet integrity, we are in conflict…Conflict provokes strong feelings of doubt, fear, anxiety, and impatience to resolve the situation. If you act under the influence of these inferior emotions, you severely complicate the misfortune…Waiting calmly in the center until the Higher Power provides the correct solution…Hold steadfastly to proper principles in all things…Through balance, patience, and devotion to inner truth we rise above every challenge.”(Brian Browne Walker edition of the I Ching).

It’s tough to be patient, to disengage, to stay to the center. But, through the workings of synchronicity, being in harmony with the flow of things, it more often than not works out that we rise above every challenge. Developing and cultivating the principles of the I Ching is the everyday work of the contemplative practitioner of tai chi(Or every good person on the journey). It’s natural to become anxious if you are faced with financial issues, if your car decides to spring an oil leak like a waterfall, to allow inferior emotions to rise to the surface in relationships, and on and on. But going to the well of the I Ching, and the interior well of our own good character, we regain our composure, regain our perspective, and regain the strength of quiet integrity.

One of the dangers or traps I know I fall into is to get really down about a situation, to withdraw, but not so much into quiet contemplation but into quiet, private wallowing and self pity. Throughout my life, I’ve found it can actually be quite enjoyable! But not really. It’s a negative response. But there are probably a lot of contemplatives out there in their monasteries or ashrams or caves or apartments, who have withdrawn for the wrong reasons, or have withdrawn with the wrong perspective. We all need to be on guard for this. I’m telling you, I want to go wallow right now, sit in quiet stillness, feeling bitter and jaded, but I need to fight the urge. Let it go, let the Higher Power work, let things ripen naturally, and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Ok.



  1. The study of Taijiquan is the study of Daoism. I think we can learn a lot about how we deal with conflicts from the Taijiquan form and push hands.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: