Your “prayers not answered” means your “expectations not fulfilled.” The TAO wisdom explains why: your attachments to careers, money, relationships, and success “make” but also “break” you by creating your flawed ego-self that demands your “expectations to be fulfilled.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

How to Avoid a Dysfunctional Mind


The Awakening and Letting Go
                      
Letting go is the natural surrender of the human mind to any involuntary reactivity aimed at removing anything that might threaten or undermine the ego-self. Letting go should be a natural instinct, and not a technique that one has to learn and master; it is simply a spontaneous human ability to give up all human attachments that create the unreal ego-self.

According to the TAO, the wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China, it is the letting go, and not the holding on, that makes us strong because it overcomes the fear of the unknown and the unpredictable. Let go of yesterday to live in today as if everything is a miracle; let go of the world to have the universe. That is the only path to awakening of the mind.

Lao Tzu believes that the entire universe with everything in it flows with a mysterious force that not only controls but also maintains the natural order of all things. That ultimate reality is nondescript and paradoxical; all humans can know is that it is not only within and outside them, but also everywhere and nowhere.

“The Way to the Creator existed
before the universe was created.
Its essence is formless and unchanging.
It is present wherever we turn,
providing compassion to all beings.
It comes from the Creator of the universe,
who has no name.
To identify him, call him the Creator.
He can also be called the Great Mystery,
from whom we come, in whom we live, and to whom we return.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 25)

Accordingly, Lao Tzu’s emphasis is on being, rather than on doing.

This is how the human mind may have become distorted, delusional, and dysfunctional:

·       In the beginning, man did not know things existed, and so he had perfect knowledge.

·       Later, he found out things existed, but made no distinctions between them.

·       Then, he began to make some distinctions, but expressed no judgment about right and wrong.

·       Now, he makes his own judgments of right and wrong, and that leads to his own preferences of likes and dislikes, and thus creating his desires and expectations—the sources of his sufferings. In short, the human mind is like an unbridled horse: it makes judgments, making what does not exist, exist, and what does exist, does not exist. In the process, illusions and self-deceptions are created, and they become the attachments or substances of the ego-self.



Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A Simple Lifestyle


Living longer means you may live to a ripe old age, if you just don’t die. Is this really a blessing? Well, that depends on your state of mind, which is essentially your own perception of your life experiences. As aging continues, everything in your life begins to disintegrate and disappear, whether you like it or not. The reality is that you must learn to let go of everything. Take the example of Ann Russell Miller.

Ann Russell Miller was a celebrated socialite from San Francisco, also known as Sister Mary Joseph, She, who had ten children and nineteen grandchildren, had grown up in luxury and privilege, and had been living a life of incredible wealth. Instead of shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, and decorating herself with jewelry from Tiffany, she suddenly and surprisingly decided to give up everything, and became a nun devoted to living in poverty for the rest of her life.

That unbelievable event happened more than two decades ago, and was then widely reported in the media across the country. Why did she make such a drastic and incredible change in her life? She said she had a calling, a true vocation that was hard to understand for the general public, even for the close members of her family.

Ann Russell Miller just wanted to live a simple lifestyle, deleting all the trimmings of life and living, as well as all the attachments that she wanted to let go ot.

Do you have a lot of attachments to the material world you are living in right now? Take a look at your garage and basement. If they are packed full and loaded with many disposables, then probably you still have many attachments you are unwilling to let go of. Attachments are clutters that bring memories you are unwilling to let go of—memories that are reminiscent of your past accomplishments.

If you wish to be happy in your golden years, just live a simple lifestyle.  

Epicurus, the famous Greek philosopher, had this advice on how to lead a happy life: avoiding luxuries, and living simply. The explanation is that luxurious living may make you into a “needy” person whose happiness always depends on things that are impermanent and easily lost. When they are lost —because nothing is permanent—you naturally become unhappy and even depressed.

Stephen Lau      
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, August 3, 2020

Spirituality in Aging


SPIRITUALITY IN AGING

What is spirituality?

Spirituality, as opposed to materiality, is always invisible, immeasurable, and lasting. Spirituality is like the wind—it is invisible and yet palpable. It provides guidance, direction, and understanding to the mind or the soul. Spirituality takes the form of love, joy, and peace, and it is often expressed in human action and behavior. Materiality, on the other hand, is always visible, measurable, and transient. Humans need both spirituality and materiality: the former to understand the self, and the latter to understand the world and the universe. However, as aging continues, materiality often gives way to spirituality. Therefore, spirituality plays a pivotal role in the golden years.

Spirituality not only energizes the body but also inspires the mind—a body-mind connection necessary for holistic wellness and well-being in the golden years.

Spirituality provides the rites of passage from adulthood to the golden years. But this transition can be painful and even devastating, such as from the orderly to the disorderly, or from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Without the separation from the comfort zones, there will be no enlightenment leading to the ultimate transformation of self, which is essential in the golden years.

Spirituality, at a deeper level, means a desire to have a personal relationship with God.

How to believe in spirituality or discover your own spirituality?

According to St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo (354-430 A.D.), in life there are certain things we do not believe unless we understand them, and there are other things that we do not understand unless we believe them. According to St. Augustine, believing is not opposed to understanding, nor is it independent of understanding. His famous “faith seeking understanding” is a conscious act of believing first, without which unbelief closes the door to further understanding.

So, begin to believe in order to understand more. To begin your journey of seeking spirituality in your golden years, you must, first and foremost, believe in seeking knowledge to understand your spirituality. Do not close that door to further understanding.

Many people do not believe in spirituality because they cannot see it with their own eyes: they believe that “seeing is believing.”

According to Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher, seeing is not believing, but believing is the beginning of seeing:

“The more we look, the less we see.
The more we hear, the less we listen.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 12)

 “When a wise man hears of the Creator,
he immediately begins to do some soul-searching.
When an average man hears of the Creator,
he half believes him, and half doubts him.
When a foolish man hears of the Creator,
he laughs out loud.
If he did not laugh,
there would be no Creator.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 41)

“The more we look, the less we see.
The more we hear, the less we listen.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 12)

According to Lao Tzu, you must reverse the conventional mindset of “seeing is believing”; do not just think out of the box but create your own box to “believe in order to see.” That is to say, you must demonstrate the intent not only to believe in and also to seek spirituality in your golden years.

With the intent, come your awareness of your inner longings and your consciousness of an inner voice speaking to you.

Then you must persist and persevere in your search and pursuit of spirituality, such as daily prayers and acts of compassion.

Finally, down the road, life crises and problems may further awaken you to your own innate spirituality.

To sum up, spirituality is awareness of your true self with the desire to become wholesome, connecting your body and your spirit through your mind. Spirituality is also a deep longing to have a closer contact with the Creator to receive His divine guidance in your everyday living throughout your golden years.

Believing in spirituality may help you believing in yourself once again as well as believing in your own spirituality in your golden years.





Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Sunday, August 2, 2020

TAO Wisdom Is Daily Living Wisdom

Wisdom is an important aspect of living because we need it not so much to make a success of living as to live well. In order to live well, understanding the ancient Tao wisdom plays a pivotal role, especially in its application in contemporary living. Understanding the ancient Tao wisdom is to live well.

What Is Tao Wisdom?


Tao wisdom is the ancient wisdom from China based on the the sage Lao Tzu who was born a few centuries before Christ.


Lao Tzu was the author of the immortal ancient classic "Tao Te Ching" which has become one of the most translated works in world literature. The word "tao" literally means "way" or "pathway", and hence "the Way" referring to Tao wisdom, which is the wisdom of Lao Tzu. It must be pointed out that Lao Tzu was reluctant to write "Tao Te Ching" because he believed that true wisdom must be intuited and therefore could never be expressed in words. But he was told explicitly that he would be permitted to leave China for Tibet until he had finished his book. Very much against his will, he deliberately put down his wisdom in exactly 5,000 words, without any punctuation mark. As a result, his profound wisdom was concise, intriguing, and even controversial.

Tao wisdom plays a pivotal role in wisdom in living. For one thing, Tao wisdom enables you to live a stress-free life, which is almost impossible in this day and age. For another, it shows you how to have an empty mind, giving clarity of thinking without any conditioned mindset. The essentials of Tao wisdom provide a blueprint for living a life of balance and harmony, which is the prerequisite of self-healing or recovery from any autoimmune disease.


The Book of Life and Living is a 190-page book on wisdom in living, based on the integration of conventional wisdom, the ancient wisdom of Tao from China, and the spiritual wisdom. The art of living well is holistic living with harmony of the body, the mind, and the spirit.  Life is short. Make the best and the most out of your life. Learn how to use your mind to control your thoughts to live the life you want.

Also, visit my website: Wisdom in Living.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Right Mindset for Living Longer


Getting old is a new experience: it is quite different from what you imagined when you were young. You don’t know what getting old is really like until you have become old. To explain getting old to someone who is still young is like a bird explaining to a fish the sensation of flight.

Physically, you may have backache, short breath, and a host of other health problems. Emotionally and mentally, you may be preoccupied with the challenging thought that everything will not continue the way it is indefinitely: your health may deteriorate, and with its deterioration, everything in your life may fall apart. It is this challenging thought of unwelcome changes arriving suddenly and without warning that unnerves you. Another challenging thought of getting old is retirement, which may not be for everybody. There is a saying: “The more of a somebody you once were, the more difficult it is to revert to being a nobody.” Retirement may be rude awakening for many.

In life, you have opened as many doors as you have closed. You may have the challenging thought that this may be the one final door you will open, and then it will be closed on you for good.

Whatever problems you may encounter, you have to look at them in perspective. Remember, life is full of problems—at any age. Having the right mindset is critically important. It is all in the mind, and is always mind over matter. Use the mind to control your body to bring about self-healing, to deal with your emotions resulting from daily stress and challenge, and to enlighten your soul to find peace of mind.

Stephen Lau
Copyright © by Stephen Lau

Friday, July 31, 2020

How to Avoid Human Conflicts


Balance and Harmony

The Way Through Human Conflicts

Human conflicts are many. The Way is the only way to go through them, rather than avoiding them.

Balance and harmony

Always maintain your internal balance and harmony. Remember, the world around you is always a reflection of what is deep inside you.

“The Way is easy,
yet people prefer distracting detours.
Beware when things are out of balance.
Remain centered within the Creator.

Distractions are many,
in the form of riches and luxuries.
They allure us from the Way.
Accumulations are like extortions of the poor.
They bring only disaster and suffering.
Do not deviate from the Way.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 53)

“When there is no desire to be someone that we are not,
separate from our true nature designed by the Creator,
all things are in perfect balance and harmony.” (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37)

Five elements and natural cycle

The five elements of the ancient Chinese are: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth.

The five elements balance and complement one another to create both internal harmony and a natural cycle. To illustrate, water nourishes trees or wood; without wood, there will be no fire (which burns wood); without fire burning wood, there will be no earth (the ashes from the burnt wood); without earth, there will be no metal (from the earth itself); through condensation, fire heats metal to produce water; without metal, there will be no water; without water, there will be no tree or wood.

These five elements are interdependent on one another for their own existence in the form of a natural cycle. In many respects, human relationships and our dealings with one another attest to the cyclical nature of the world we are living in.
                                                      
TAO wisdom

Think about your own nature with reference to the five elements. Are you strong and independent like metal, bold and pioneering like wood, soft and flexible like water, fiery and passionate like fire, or nurturing and receptive like earth?

Also, think about the different natures of the people around you, or you have to deal with. Understanding their different natures may result in better and more harmonious relationships with them. Indeed, the five elements can give you profound wisdom and insight into many different life situations to help you avoid unnecessary everyday conflicts and disparities.

The bottom line: learn to live a life without any conflict and confrontation with others. To do just that, you need to know not only yourself but also others.

“Knowing others is intelligence.
Knowing ourselves is true wisdom.
Overcoming others is strength.
Overcoming ourselves is true power.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 33)

Everything will be in its natural place because everything follows a natural cycle. So why do you strain, stress, and strut yourself?

“We stay in the very center of the Creator,
and refrain from controlling our destiny.
Everything will evolve and fall into its natural place,
according to the laws of the Creator.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37)

Soft and flexible

To help you overcome conflicts and resolve issues, you need the flexibility of TAO. Always be flexible, instead of being strong-willed and uncompromising.

“The Way is paradoxical.
Like water, soft and yielding,
yet it overcomes the hard and the rigid.
Stiffness and stubbornness cause much suffering.

We all intuitively know
that flexibility and tenderness
are the Way to go.
Yet our conditioned mind
tells us to go the other way.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 78)

It does not mean that you let people walk all over you and do nothing. Just step back, giving yourself some open space to create a detached mindset. If you are combative and strike back with a personal attack, you are in fact driving a nail into wood with a hammer; when you pull out the nail, the puncture on the wood is still there. So do not do anything that you may regret for the rest of your life. Always defer your anger for later processing.

All in all

Having good human relationship with others may not only afford you joy and happiness, but also heal you mentally, physically, and spiritually through your own connections with others. On the other hand, having bad human relationships may make you feel sad, lonely, hopeless, and depressed.

“If we are in harmony with the Creator,
we are like newborn babies,
in natural harmony with all.
Our bones are soft, and our muscles are weak,
but our grip is strong and powerful.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 55)

We are all living in a world of speed in which nothing seems to last too long, including human relationships. In contemporary living, there is too much focus on speed. Given that life is short, there is a great deal to be done and accomplished. As a result, you may feel the compression of time, and you may have developed a compulsive mind with a multi-tasking mindset, such as talking and texting on the phone while driving at the same time.

Remember, it is your compulsive mind that makes you feel distressed and unhappy. Ironically, it is because you know and believe that nothing lasts, that you want to do more, much more than necessary, hoping against hope that some of the things that you are doing may last a little longer. Because nothing lasts, so you begin to look for new ones to replace the ones that have expired. An example is a love relationship: if it does not turn out to be what you have expected, you just let it end itself, and then start looking for another one because it is your belief that nothing lasts.

According to TAO, truly nothing lasts, but that is the wrong way to look at the impermanence of things. The right way is to look at everything with non-attachment, which is letting go of whatever that happens in your life, be it joy or sorrow, success or failure, happiness or un-happiness. Letting go essentially means understanding that nothing lasts, and that what goes up must also come down, because everything in life follows a certain natural order—just like youth becoming old age, and life transforming into death. Understanding the impermanence of all things may change how you are going to live your life and interact with others. If nothing lasts, then let go of everything, and live your life to the fullest, which is in the present. The past was gone, so let it go; the future is yet to come, so let go of your expectations. Only the present is real, so live it to the fullest.

“Therefore, we focus on the present moment,
doing what needs to be done,
without straining and stressing.

To end our suffering,
we focus on the present moment,
instead of our expected result.
So, we follow the natural laws of things.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 63)
 
Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Anti-Depression Love Recipes


Love Recipes

“Love” is a big word in all human civilizations. For all religious disparities, love still plays an essential role in all the world’s religions. Love plays an important role in human lives, especially living in a world of conflicts and aggression.

What is the real meaning of “love”? Love involves our emotions and feelings. We all love some things and some people. Love, ironically enough, gives us both happiness and unhappiness. When the love is fulfilled, we feel happy; when the love is rejected or unrequited, we then feel pain, which becomes the unhappiness. This, unfortunately, is the reality of love.

Loving others is not that easy, and loving yourself is sometimes even more difficulty. This is also the reality of life.
The truth of the matter is that to truly love someone is very difficult, if not impossible, unless you love yourself first.

Self-acceptance

In a general sense, self-esteem is the positive or negative evaluative perception of self.  It is a rating of self based on a partial assessment of current and/or past traits. Many mental health professionals claim that achieving higher self-esteem is the keystone of good mental health, in particular, in avoiding depression; such claims, however, are dubious at best.

Low self-esteem is self-doubt, often expressed in not asserting oneself in public or workplace, and not pushing past one’s comfort zones.

To love yourself is self-acceptance, which is accepting who and what you really are—and not who and what you wish you were (that is, your ego-self). It should also be pointed out that “loving yourself” and “loving your ego-self” are not quite the same. The former is loving yourself for who you really are despite all your imperfections; the latter involves loving or craving to be the person you wish you were. “Loving yourself” means you can love others as well because they are not very different from you in that they, too, are as imperfect as you are. On the other hand, “loving your ego-self” means it is very difficult to love others because you want to distinguish and separate yourself from others; accordingly, others must somehow satisfy your ego first before you can love them. That explains why if you have a big ego-self, you cannot easily and readily love others.

The bottom line: if you can accept yourself as who and what you are, then it may become much easier for you to accept and love others as who and what they are.

Oneness of all life

Accepting and loving others implies having mindfulness of the inter-connection between people; that is to say, no man is an island, according to the poet John Donne. This mindfulness leads to love, and then to the awareness of the presence of God or that of a Higher Being. Love is the first step towards spirituality.

The oneness of all life is one of the basic laws of Nature: that is, we are all inter-connected with one another. This universal moral principle holds the key to true and lasting freedom in living. Without that freedom, we are forever living in human bondage that inhibits further development of the wellness of the body, the mind, and the soul. Without this wellness alignment, there is no wellness wisdom.

An illustration

A pastor from Hong Kong was invited to give a sermon in China. A woman from the congregation asked the pastor if it was right to give money to get her son into an elite school. The pastor replied by saying: “Your son getting into that elite school would also imply depriving another child of that same opportunity you are seeking for your child.”

A year later, the pastor met the same woman, who told him that her son had got into that elite school but without using her kwanxi or connection. The pastor then said to her: “See, God is in control; if you would just let Him.”

Thinking question

If you were the woman with the money and the kwanxi, would you have done differently?

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

How to Avoid a Dysfunctional Mind

The Awakening and Letting Go                        Letting go is the natural surrender of the human mind to any involuntary reactivit...