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.”

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Money Detachment

Money is the second most powerful god. Beware of money—or rather the enticement or the love of money!

The following from Proverbs (1:10-19) may enlighten you:

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
do not give in to them.

11 If they say, "Come along with us;
let's lie in wait for someone's blood,
let's waylay some harmless soul;

12 let's swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;

13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;

14 throw in your lot with us,
and we will share a common purse"-

15 my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;

16 for their feet rush into sin,
they are swift to shed blood.

17 How useless to spread a net
in full view of all the birds!

18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they waylay only themselves!

19 Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the lives of those who get it.

The second most powerful god is money, which is controlled by Satan, or rather by our own greed. Money is even more powerful than Satan himself. Here are a two scriptures regarding "money-lust":

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:10.)

"You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below." ( Exodus 3,4.)

We all need money, and we cannot do without money. This reality may make money become a god if you have a lust for money. EVERYTHING you buy with money is only with you while you are on this earth; once you die, you cannot take these "things" into heaven. So, why would you want to worship money? "Things" only last for as long as you live on this earth. On the other hand, everything you'll ever need is waiting for you in heaven if you choose to worship the One and Only God. Do not worship money, and beware of money!

Buddha, too, said: "Craving is the root cause of all human miseries." So, just beware of money.

Stephen Lau
Copyright © by Stephen Lau

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No Judgment No Preference


No Judgmen, and No Preference

“The Creator has no judgment, no preference:
He treats everything and everyone alike.
Every manifestation attests to the mysteries of his creation.
So, we, too, embrace everything and everyone with no judgment, no preference.
His grace, never depleting and forever replenishing, shows us the Way.
Judgment and preference separate us from his grace, causing attachment.
Only with his grace do we find renewal and rebirth along the Way.”
(Lao Tzu,Tao Te Ching, Chaper 5)

The above is taken from Lao Tzu's immortal classic Tao Te Ching, one of the most translated books in world literature. Lao Tzu was an ancient sage from China, who lived several hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Lao Tzu's profound wisdom is known as Tao wisdom, or simply Tao (also known as the Way).

We all have a physical body, living in a physical world often filled with toxic desires. Do not let the body become toxic too. In the physical world, our bodies with their five senses (seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, and touching) are constantly exposed to sensual sensations around us that may create desires in our bodies. For example, when we see something that pleases the eye, such as an expensive Rolex gold watch, we become desirous of it. That perception can be voluntarily rejected by the conscious mind, but it may be imprinted involuntarily on the subconscious mind, which, unfortunately, controls and directs the conscious mind. So, if the conscious mind does not even voluntarily reject the perception, it may become a toxic desire. Ideally, the mind should control the body, but if the body controls the mind, that is, letting the toxic desire get out of control, the mind will do just anything and everything—even to the extent of breaking the law—to gratify that desire of the body. That’s how toxic desires in a toxic body come into being.

In addition, we all have both a conscious and subconscious mind that process and interpret our physical sensations, leading to thoughts that may be positive or negative, depending on our mental input. The mind plays a pivotal role in changing negative thoughts into toxic desires in a toxic body.

Our conscious minds voluntarily control our mental input (that is, what we want to remember and what we want to forget); but our subconscious minds involuntarily absorb all physical sensations we are exposed to.  The subconscious mind is the master mind behind all actions that the conscious mind takes; therefore, it is important to have the wisdom to understand better how the subconscious mind works in order to have better control of the conscious mind, lest the subconscious mind create toxic desires in a toxic body.

Remember, the toxic mind is often created by human judgment and preference. Many of us have a tendency to judge others (the Bible says "Thou shalt not judge."); judgment may create a toxic mind. By the same token, many of us tend to pick and choose -- picking what we like, and choosing what we think may bring success, while rejecting what we don't like and avoiding what we think may cause failure. The wisdom is to "embrace" everything that happens in our lives, because we can learn from both the good as well as the bad. Live in the present moment, and stop being judgmental. 

Read my book: The Complete Tao Te HYPERLINK "https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E76JP1C"ChingHYPERLINK "https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E76JP1C" in Plain English to learn more about Tao wisdom to let go of all attachments that may prevent you from living   as if everything is a miracle.

Stephen Laus
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Nothing Is Everything


EVERYTHING IS NOTHING

The Creator has created for us a world of changes: everything is changing with every moment, and nothing remains permanent. It is through changes that we transform ourselves into a better and a happier human being. Even in a difficult and challenging environment, we learn from our mistakes and wrong choices in life, and change ourselves. Transformation is educational and self-enlightening. Transformation is synonymous with impermanence, which is the essence of change.

Understanding that everything is nothing is self-enlightening. Nothing is permanent: the good as well as the bad things that happen to us are impermanent; nothing last forever. We all are aware of this universal truth. We all know that we cannot live to one hundred years and beyond, and yet we resist our aging, continuously fixing our faces and bodies to make us look younger. We may have the face of a forty-year-old but the body of the seventy-year-old,  We simply refuse to let go; we desperately and self-delusively cling on to the permanence  In other words, we wish the impermanent were the permanent. It is this wishful thinking that makes us unhappy. We were once healthy and now our health has declined, and we are unhappy. We were wronged by our enemies, and we hold on to our grudges, instead of forgiving and letting them go, and we are unhappy. Our past glories gave us the ego, which we refuse to let go, and we become depressed and unhappy.

Life is about changes, and living is about letting go of what is impermanent that we naively believe and wish that they were permanent. Remember, nothing is permanent, and every moment remains only with that very moment. Therefore, live in the present, and live your moments to their best.

Get the wisdom of Lao Tzu, the author of Tao Te Ching, the ancient classic from China about human wisdom to learn how to let go of the self-delusional mindset of permanence.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau



Challenging the Conventional Wisdom

“Most people see what they expect to see, what they want to see, what they've been told to see, what conventional wisdom tells them to see - not what is right in front of them in its pristine condition.” -- Vincent Bugliosi

The conventional wisdom is “conventional” in the sense that the majority of people have already accepted it as the norm, with the implication that others should follow suit—something like a blueprint.
However, if you want to live an extraordinary life, not necessarily living longer, you must think for yourself, do the unimagined, and create your own definition of the reality for living—that is, living according to your own wisdom, not necessarily following the conventional wisdom, or that of someone else.
Life is simple, and so are its precepts, but living is often complicated and mostly challenging.
It is definitely easier to follow the conventional wisdom in living longer, even though putting it into practice may not always be that easy. At least, it has been tried and tested by many, and it may indeed be a blueprint of success for many if they follow it to the letter. 
Ask yourself this question: “Can the conventional wisdom make my life extraordinary?”
In life, if you want more, you must be more. You need more than just “think out of the box”; you must create your own box of thinking—which the conventional wisdom may not be able to provide. The rationale is that the conventional wisdom may have become a crutch for countless individuals, who just hold on to it like leech, as if it were the only roadmap to living longer. There is nothing wrong with that if you are prepared to accept life as it is. However, if you want more, then the conventional wisdom may not suffice. In other words, you must not accept the conventional wisdom at the expense of your own personal growth and development. According to an old adage, “If you are not growing, you are dying.” So, do not let this happen to you at any phase of your life, especially if you want to live longer.
Wisdom is the product of intelligent thinking. But the conventional thinking is more a science than an art because it tends to focus more on specialized knowledge than on humanized knowledge in everyday living. Specialized knowledge focuses on specialization, instead of on integration; as a result, it may lack the element of true human wisdom, which is found more in the ancient rather than in the conventional wisdom. As an illustration, today’s Western medicine has become so compartmentalized and specialized that holistic healing is often overlooked.
In the conventional wisdom, thinking is now becoming more logical and less reasonable. To illustrate, there are three virtues in the American culture: efficiency, punctuality, and desire for achievement. Paradoxically, they may become the three American vices, especially if there is too much emphasis on logic and not enough focus on the humanity side of reasoning. Efficiency, punctuality, and desire for achievement have often created undue stress in the American culture that wrecks the lives of many.
According to the conventional wisdom, time is money. But time is not precious; time is but a construct. Efficiency and punctuality have imposed undue time-stress on nearly every one of us. According to Albert Einstein, time is only relative. Time-stress has led to multi-tasking. Nowadays, many of us are living for the future, and not in the present. That is why Albert Einstein also said: “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”
Given that it is human desire to see only one aspect of the truth we happen to perceive, we are more inclined to fashion it into a perfectly logical system, which we may also call the conventional wisdom. By the same token, philosophy is not wisdom: philosophy is just a concept of thinking, and a philosopher is merely a lover of that concept.
In short, conventional wisdom is based on logic, rather than on imagination. Albert Einstein has this to say: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Wisdom of Looking Inside

Always look inside yourself: that is self-introspection.

Ancient wisdom makes us look inside ourselves, while contemporary wisdom often makes us look outside. Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, once said: "who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes." It is important to look inside in order to discover the ultimate truth of all things, which is the essence of true human wisdom.

Looking inside is self-awakening. As we look inside ourselves, we begin to ask questions that demand answers that in turn lead to asking more questions. Self-intuition makes you think; without thinking, there is no wisdom, just as Albert Einstein once said: "Thinking is hard; that's why so few people do it." Therefore, put on your thinking cap and get wisdom!

Looking inside may help us understand the wisdom of "all-one" and "not-two." This ancient Chinese wisdom came from Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China more than two thousand years ago, who was the author of the immortal classic Tao Te Ching (The Book of the Way), which has been translated into multiple languages worldwide due to its profound wisdom in living.

What does it mean by "all-one" and "not-two"?

This is similar to what the famous poet John Donne said "no man is an island." That is, we are all inter-connected with one another somehow and somewhat. The capability to see this subtle connection further enhances the awareness to perceive the inter-relationship of all things, which holds the key to understanding the ultimate truth of all things. 

“A beggar has been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. ‘Spare some change?’ mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. ‘I have nothing to give you,’ said the stranger. Then he asked: ‘What’s that you are sitting on?’ ‘Nothing,’ replied the beggar. ‘Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.’ ‘Ever looked inside?’ asked the stranger. ‘No,’ said the beggar. ‘What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.’ ‘Have a look inside,’ insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to prey open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.”

The story above is taken from the beginning of the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Look inside! The wisdom is inside you, but you have to look!

Yes, looking inside is the key to understanding and embracing the ancient wisdom in living. When you look within, you begin to see the reality of all things; and this is the beginning of your understanding of Tao (), the ancient Chinese wisdom in living.

Yes, like the beggar, you have to look inside yourself to find the riches of life, or to attain your individual enlightenment, which is the ultimate true human wisdom.

“From knowing to not knowing,
This is superior.
From not knowing to knowing,
This is sickness.
It is by being sick of sickness
That one is not sick.
The sage is not sick.
Because he is sick of sickness,
Therefore he is not sick.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 71)

So, look inside yourself, be sick of sickness, and you will not be sick!


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, December 2, 2019

Mindfulness of Posture for Living Longer

Mindfulness

Consciousness of breath is the beginning of mindfulness, which is fixation of the mind on the present moment. When you are conscious of your breath, you subconsciously begin to slow down and notice how your body reacts to your breathing. Now, you  also begin to be aware that your body is yours only and is with you forever, as well as that the present moment is always here and is timeless for you.
This awakening awareness lets you see how your body, mind, and soul are all intricately interconnected with one another to make you feel wholesome. Feeling wholesome enables you to become more conscious of what is happening even deep inside your whole being, such as your relationship with others, as well as with the world around you. Once you see your connectedness to others and the world, you mind will intuitively know what your body needs, your body will respond to your mind accordingly, and your soul will then oversee the mind with directions and instructions. With this miracle of living, you may become more caring and more compassionate towards others; and you may also have greater clarity of mind to see what is really important to you in your life. The result is that you may begin to let go of everything peacefully and willingly—both the desirable and the undesirable, as well as the pleasant and the unpleasant. Mindfulness is profound wisdom that is necessary in the art of living well. Remember, life happens only in the present moment. However, many of us choose to dwell on the past and focus on the future, forgetting that the past was gone and the future is unknown and unpredictable. As a result, we are often distracted by our past thoughts and our future expectations that we become oblivious of what is happening right now, which is the only reality. Mindfulness makes you feel richer, more down-to-earth, and much more alive, irrespective of your current age and conditions.
With mindfulness of your breath, you will then learn how to breathe right, which is complete, natural, and slow. Correct breathing means you get more oxygen to your lungs, cells, and organs, and thus leading to better health.
If you are mindful of your breath, you will also become mindful of your eating, you will not simply shuffle and stuff food into your mouth without savoring each morsel of food in your mouth.

Posture

Consciousness of breath is optimal breathing, which ultimately affects your body posture. Good posture means in any standing position, you body posture should be as follows:

Your head is directly above your shoulders. Your ear, shoulder, and hip are in a straight line from a side view.
Your upper back is straight, not slouched.
Your shoulders blades, relaxed and straight, are flat against your back.
Your pelvis is in a neutral position (lined up vertically, not slanted)
Your knees are unlocked.

Consciousness holds the key to maintaining your good standing posture, which affects your breathing.

Steps for good standing posture

Stand with your feet hip-width apart (for better balance).
Align your ears, shoulders, and hips (Using a mirror for alignment, if necessary).
Unlock both of your knees (maintaining “neutral” pelvis; avoiding your pelvis from tilting forward).
Pull in your abdominal muscles.
Inhale naturally.
Exhale slowly while pulling your belly button into the spine.
Lift your rib cage (straightening your rounded upper back; while expanding your lungs for deeper breathing).
Realign your head over your shoulders (your head not leaning backward).
Pull in your abdominal muscles.
Inhale naturally.
Un-round your shoulders (by rotating your arms until your palms facing your thighs).
Gently press your shoulders down, away from your ears.
Pull your shoulder blades towards the spine.
Stretch your head upwards without tilting backwards.

It is highly recommended for men to wear suspenders, instead of belts. The explanation is that, whether you have belly fat or not, if you tuck in your tummy, you may have a tendency to “drop” your pants, so you tend to push your tummy “forward” instead of tucking it in—this is how you might have your bad body posture in the first place.

Exercise for good standing posture

Stand with your back against a wall with heels several inches away from the wall.
Relax your arms.
Slowly bend your knees, while pressing  the  small of your back against the wall.
Lift your rib cage and press the back of your head to the wall.
Press the back of your shoulders to the wall, while you pull your shoulder blades together.
Hold the position.
Press your back and shoulders to the wall.
Bend your knees and slide down the wall.
Slide back up the wall.
Relax and repeat.

Maintain your good standing posture through constant consciousness. With more practice, you will still be able to change your posture even in your advanced years.
Remember, good standing posture not only enhances your breathing but also makes you look and feel younger. You have seen many seniors walking with a crooked back, much like the hunchback of Notre Dame. A slumped upper back has many drawbacks: it decreases the capacity of your lungs, resulting in shallow breathing; it presses your rib cage downward, thereby exerting pressure on your heart, liver, and stomach; and it makes you look much older and shorter. But you don’t have to be like that if you are conscious of your standing and walking posture at all times.

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Think With Your Heart

In the TAO, you think with your heart and only feel with your mind, while in the conventional wisdom, you may use your mind to think, to reason, and to judge by logic. The way to the TAO is to let the mind do its natural function of both feeling and observing, instead of just thinking. More specifically, the main function of the mind is to observe the thoughts in the mind without any judgment. 
The Chinese for “I think” is literally “my heart thinks.” For centuries, the Chinese have been inculcated with the concept that the heart is responsible for the ultimate thinking process. However, that is not to contradict the Western concept that the mind thinks. In the TAO, thinking with the heart means consciously slowing down the mind, letting the mind observe the thoughts first, instead of having the mind controlled by the thoughts. Simply put, the mind mainly feels and observes; it does little thinking or judging before all the facts are made available.
To illustrate, the mind is like a car, just an instrument of the human brain. The driver is the heart that controls the steering. The car only observes and feels, just as the body does through its five senses; the car does not control the speed or the direction, but the driver does. It is important that the car does not exceed the speed limit, because if it goes too fast, it cannot properly observe the surrounding with its details, and thus compromising the safety. Therefore, it is also important for the mind to slow down, so that the driver can see more clearly where he or she is going. The TAO focuses on slowing down the thinking mind, letting it become only the non-judgmental observer so that the heart can make the intelligent choices and decisions in everyday life and living, just as the driver knows where he or she is going.

The Mind and the Now

The TAO focuses on consciousness of what is happening in the mind in the now in order to bring about clarity of thinking.
There is a close connection between the body and the mind. This body-mind connection in humans affects both the physical and the mental health of an individual, especially how that individual thinks and reacts. It is important to put the mind where the body is. For example, your body is now here—reading this book. But your mind may be somewhere else: your mind may be preoccupied with thoughts of the past, the present, or the future. In other words, your mind may be rambling and disconnected, although you may not be aware of it. A chaotic or compulsive mind produces adverse and detrimental biological and chemical changes, such as the production of stress hormones, and the reduction of human growth hormone (HGH), among others, that may accelerate the aging process in both the body and the mind.
Mindfulness begins with the body. Becoming mindful of the body in the present moment is putting the mind where the body is. This produces deep relaxation of both the body and the mind—an essential element for clarity of thinking that may be the path to attaining true human wisdom.

“watchful, like a man crossing a winter stream;
alert, like a man aware of danger;
courteous, like a visiting guest;
yielding, like ice about to melt;
simple, like a piece of uncarved wood;
hollow, like a cave;
opaque, like muddy water.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 15)

According to the TAO, only the present is real: the past was gone, and the future is uncertain and unpredictable. When the mind stays in the now, it may see the ultimate truths of the self, of others, as well as of everything around. Living in the now is an awakening to the realities of all things.

THE COMPLETE TAO TE CHING IN PLAIN ENGLISH
THE POWER OF NOW

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau