Before I can write about how to manage the Tao of a situation, I feel it is good to share how one can be aware of the Tao. This question came up in my previous article on the Tao of Fish and Chips. It is a habit and a curiosity of mine to try to see to the core of situations that interest me. As such, my radar is on when it is important. If it is not, sometimes I notice the Tao and at other times, I do not.
As I said before, the Tao need not be an abstract or esoteric concept. It is practical to be aware of it if you wish to make the best choices in a given situation. Here then is the approach I take to be more aware of the Tao.
How to be Aware of the Tao of a Situation
1. Focus and Goals
The Tao is vast and boundless. It can encompass everything and yet mean nothing more than an abstract idea. Without focus, the Tao has little relevance in our lives. It is there, but you may not even be aware of it most of the time.
Thus, the key step to being aware of the Tao is focus. You must define the boundaries for the Tao of a situation. And to give the Tao of any situation further clarity, you must have goals. You must be clear about what you wish to achieve. Clear goals help you to see what is useful and what is not. Only by doing so will the Tao of any situation have relevance for you.
2. Information Gathering
The more you know, the clearer the Tao of any situation becomes. You will be able to see how the Tao affects the attainment of your goals. Thus, it is vital to find out as much as you can about a situation before you enter the fray. If possible, you could read up on it. Or, you could find out from someone who has had actual experience. I have always enjoyed listening to the insights of experts that I may otherwise miss on my own.
By keeping your goals in mind, you can learn what may advance or hinder you from attaining them. Then you will know beforehand what to look out for and do. With sufficient knowledge, the Tao becomes clear once you are in the midst of the situation.
3. Experience and Practice
Trial and error is usually the way many of us learn in life. This applies to being aware of the Tao of any situation as well. If you have the luxury of time and the stakes are not high, you can become aware of the Tao through trial and error. By learning from your mistakes and adapting as needed, you will know how to manage a given situation well.
While you may not be able to link all the dots at first, the connections become clearer with experience. More importantly, you will be aware of the Tao in a way that is most useful to your strengths and weaknesses. As you become more familiar with a situation, your view of it will also change. You will have to reassess your first impressions in the light of new insights. Additionally, you will also notice things you missed earlier. The best part of experience is that you can apply it to other similar situations. Truly, practice makes perfect.
Have you ever noticed how water flows? It always follows the path of least resistance. This is also the case when people act in accord with the Tao of a situation. They also flow along with little effort.
Another important way of being aware of the Tao is to observe all that is going on in a given situation. This approach applies when you are already in the midst of the action. If you have experience with a similar situation, the Tao should become clear soon enough. This is because you know what to look for. If not, you also have to observe to apply the information you gathered in its proper context.
But a key observation to make is the impact of the Tao on others. This is especially so if you are going in with little or no knowledge. There is always a reason why people behave the way they do. For some, it is out of ignorance and fear. These people are not in accord with the Tao and usually waste energy with little results. For others, they calmly flow with the situation and seem to be unruffled by all that is going on around them. They expend little effort and seem to get twice the results. These are the people to watch and follow.
Simple Tao Versus Complex Tao
If the Tao of a situation is simple, the steps above are sufficient to reveal it. But if the Tao is complex, then it may be beyond simple logic and intuition. There may be too many elements involved making it hard to discern how they interact exactly. As such, we may miss the complete picture and form flawed conclusions.
On the one hand, you need knowledge about a situation to apply logic in its proper context. With enough information, you can connect the dots and know what to do. But what may be common knowledge to insiders may not be common knowledge to outsiders. Without adequate knowledge, the use of logic is limited at best and faulty at worst. It is hard to be aware of the full Tao of a situation.
On the other hand, intuition does allow you to sense the Tao of the situation. But what you sense based on intuition alone may not be enough for you to use effectively. You might sense that something is wrong or feels odd. But apart from fight or flight, you may not know why, what, or where the danger is coming from. You might not fully grasp the situation. Thus, you end up reacting to events instead of pre-empting them. Also, when you sense something is wrong is vital. If you sense it too late, the best you can do is react. But if you sense it early enough, you can do more to prepare and pre-empt the situation.
And to complicate matters, the more involved you are in events, the greater the risk of having clouded judgement. This is especially so when the stakes are high. You may wish for a desired outcome and filter out all else in the process. This will have an impact on your logic and intuition making it hard to see the Tao clearly.
To be honest, I am not aware of the full Tao of every situation all the time. Without enhancements, my logic and intuition is no better than others are. Sometimes I see the Tao, but at other times especially when the situation is complex, I do not. It is largely a hit and miss affair for me as well. This is perfectly fine if the stakes involved are low. But if the stakes are high, then it is vital that I see the bigger picture and the Tao of the situation as it is.
Such knowledge is usually beyond the ability of most people. The exceptions are those who are in tune with the cosmos or have the means to do so. I fall into the second category. Only through divination with the Yijing can I tune into the Tao of each event itself to know what to do and what not to do.
Take job interviews for example. Without going into too much detail, both sides have their goals and challenges. Simply put, the interviewers have to think of the interests of the company. Meanwhile, the interviewees have to think about their own interests. Because both parties are working with incomplete information, their view of the Tao is limited. Thus, it is hard for them to make the best choices. But if both parties can see the Tao of the situation clearly, they will know the best approach to take to attain their goals.
This is one way I have successfully applied the Yijing to my life. Other areas include relationships, making informed choices about a major decision, business and so on. If you have any questions or challenges you are dealing with, do drop me an email. I will be happy to help you make the best choices with my consultation service. I can also help you to assess strategies to attain your goals.
In my next article, I will share on how to manage the Tao of a situation. For now, what other ways of being aware of the Tao of a situation can you think of that I have missed out? Do share your thoughts and comments below!