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Diane Dreher's Tao of Inner Peace Blog

In Search of Community

The Tao Te Ching, written over twenty-five centuries ago, says that

The wise leader creates harmony

Reaching out from the heart

To build community.

                            (Tao, 49)


Where do you find your community? Lately I've been walking up the street to the Little Free Library to leave books for my neighbors and see if there are any I'd like to read myself. Sometimes I just look inside and smile. The fact that my neighbors and I are sharing books makes me feel more connected and optimistic--It's a small affirmation of community.


Having a sense of community builds a world view of cooperation and trust where we feel connected to the people around us. Yet, sadly, the sense of community in this country has been eroded away—as neighborhood stores are being replaced by online shopping. It's easier to buy from Godzilla.com with a few clicks on the computer than to meet our neighbors at the local market or hardware store. Our young people spend more time on faceless social media than connecting in person. And the Covid pandemic has divided us even more.


What have we lost? Instead of relationships, we have transactions. When we're disconnected from community, we become isolated individuals subject to the whims of tech giants. Cooperation and community are replaced by authoritarian corporations, focused on the bottom line instead of personal relationships with customers and employees. Instead of cooperative "power with," as my friend Dudley Weeks describes it, there is  "power over" [1] other people and nature, which is destroying our environment. As the Tao Te Ching tells  us in words that ring true today:


Where there is no compassion or community

People become lost and fearful,

The country divided and polarized,

And fanatics cry out in anger.

                           (Tao, 18)


For our personal health and the health of our world, it's up to each of us to cultivate community, to reach out to support our local shops, get to know our neighbors, to live more cooperatively with the people and natural world around us. 


Please join me in this brief meditation on cultivating community.

  • Take a few moments to relax, close your eyes or gaze gently down.
  • As you take a deep mindful breath and slowly release it.
  • Now recall a time in your life when you experienced the joy of connection and community—with other people, nature, perhaps a dramatic performance or concert.
  • Where were you?
  • How did you feel?
  • Experience that feeling again now as you slowly breathe in and breathe out.

Now ask yourself, "How can I cultivate more community in my life?"


The answer will come—either now or later in a new thought or insight.

Follow that insight as you reach out to create greater community in your life and our world.


I wish you joy on the path.

[1]Weeks, D. (1992). The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution. Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy Tarcher.


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