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.”

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Control


CONTROL

Obedience and trust

What is obedience or disobedience to God?

An example of disobedience is lining up for hours to get your Power Ball.

What if it is God who wants you to win the lottery?

Well, in the first place, God did not create the Power Ball. It is your own choice and decision to go and get the lottery ticket; it has everything to do with your own greed and vanity.

Buying a lottery ticket is one of the many attachments to money and wealth. You may want to change God’s mind about what He has destined for you. Remember, if God wants you to be super rich, He would have given you all the tools in the form of God-inspired life passions.

Changing God’s mind for what He has already destined for you is disobedience. Obedience to God is graciously accepting and embracing any adversity and calamity in life so that you may learn lessons from them, thereby enhancing your spiritual wisdom to continue your pathway of trust and obedience.

“Teach us to number our days,
   that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
(Psalm 90:12)

What is trust in God?

Trust in God means believing in the veracity of His Word.

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
  It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
  and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
(Isaiah 53: 11)

Letting God Is letting go of your control
                 
God is in absolute control of everything.

 “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.’”
(Psalm 46:10)

Throughout ages, miracles have happened around the world—a testament to the indisputable fact that God is always in control of anything and everything, despite humans’ resistance to letting go of their futile endeavors to control their own destinies.

There was the story of Norbert Gennep, born in AD 1080, who came from a wealthy and influential family in Germany, with ties to the imperial court. At that time in history, it was not uncommon for those seeking political advancement to also acquire ecclesiastical offices. So, Norbert had himself ordained a Sub-deacon and became a Canon, although he had no real piety or religious inclination; his ultimate motive was to indulge himself in worldly luxuries and pleasures. 

Then, one day in AD 1112, while riding on horseback, he was struck by a fierce lightning, thrown from his horse, and remained unconscious for a while. On waking up, Norbert was completely transformed, and asked: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” He heard God’s voice, saying: “Turn away from evil, and do good.” Obediently, he gave up everything he ever owned, became a priest, preached the Gospel, and lived the simple life of a wandering preacher in barefoot. Norbert eventually became the Archbishop of Magdeburg in Germany, and was subsequently made a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

You do not have to be struck by lightning and thrown off the horseback before you would let go of your attachments to the material world, as well as your futile attempt to control your destiny. God can work miracles in your life if you are obedient, and if it is His will.

The origin of control

Control is basic human instinct. Humans are inherently controlling. Out of fear and insecurity, our ancestors living as early as in the Stone Age strove to control their environment in order to survive, and thus developing their fight-or-flight instinct.

Since time immemorial, control has evolved, and most of us are controlling to a certain extent. We, as parents, control our children’s destinies by striving to steer them clear of the wrong pathways we might have previously treaded ourselves. Our cultures tell us that we should be in control of everything around us at all times, including our futures and destinies. Controlling, to many of us, is synonymous with independence and power.

The irony of control

Stress in everyday life and living may make you want to control everyone and everything around you in order to de-stress yourself. Ironically enough, in the process of controlling stress, you may also have inadvertently created a vicious cycle of stress-generating-more-stress.

The anticipation of stress puts you on an alert system, producing stress hormones. Then You may have to make some choices—choosing this and avoiding that. Choosing in itself is stressful, especially when picking the wrong choices, leading to regret and disappointment. In addition, your expectation of the anticipated result may further intensify the stress, often making you do more than what is necessary to guarantee the expected result. Over-doing is stressful.

The irony is that controlling stress may only lead to getting more stress.

The different ways of control

Control may come in many different forms in life, and we are all susceptible to some forms of control.

Given that control is basic human instinct, we all spontaneously want to control how people perceive us.

If you ask a child “How old are you?”, the child may answer: “Five years and four months”, while also extending his or her four fingers to highlight the “four months.” The child wants to control your perception of him or her—that he or she is “four months” older than other five-year-old kids.

If you ask a teenager the same question, that teenager may answer: “I am fifteen”—implying that “I’m nearly old enough to drive soon.”

If you ask someone in the late twenties or early thirties the same question, that individual may answer quite differently: “I won’t tell you; just guess!”—that individual may want to control your perception of his or her real age in relation to his or her appearance.

If you ask an elderly person the same question, that person may be more willing to let you know his or her real age by saying: “I’ve just turned eighty.” That individual is, in fact, also controlling your perception: “See, I’m eighty, but I look much younger—probably like a sixty-year-old, don’t I?”

To a more or less degree, we all want to control how people think of us. Do you like to wear loose-fitting clothing to hide your belly fat? Do you use heavy makeup to mask your facial lines? Do you dye your hair to make you look younger? Control is about the perception of the ego-self by others.

In addition to controlling how people perceive us, we may also want to control how people act and react toward us by using emotions, such as anger, fear, and guilt, among other negative emotions. Furthermore, we may also want to control the circumstances we are living in, thereby controlling what is happening to and around us.

The bottom line: we are all controlling to a certain extent due to our attachments to different things in life that we think may define who and what we perceive ourselves to be.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The TAO of Depression


Can TAO help your depression?

TAO is neither a religion nor a philosophy.

TAO is simply a way of life about the Way of life, that is, a general way of thinking about everything in life. It is a pathless path of humanity to live as if everything is a miracle.

TAO is the Way through anything and everything in life in order to fully experience them and live in balance and harmony. TAO is not about avoiding or getting out of anything unhappy and undesirable in everyday life, such as depression; rather, it is about going through depression by experiencing every aspect of it in order to become enlightened, if possible, with the profound human wisdom to continue living in peace and harmony in a world of depression.

TAO is looking at life not as a series of both happy and unhappy episodes, but simply as a journey of self-discovery and self-awakening to the real meaning of life existence. You are defined not by your words and thoughts, but by the ways you act and react, as well as the impact you may have on others around you. You exist not because you are simply here; you are here in this world to love and to learn how to live, as well as to help one another do the same.

TAO is formless, shapeless, and inexplicable in words; after all, it had existed long before there were even words. TAO is infinite human wisdom, which is a pathless path to the infinity and the origin of all things.

TAO is not about making your life any easier; it is about acceptance of all aspects of your humanity that need to be fully experienced, embraced, and then to be let go of in order to become wholesome at other times of your life and living—that is the essence of TAO wisdom, which is true enlightenment of the human mind.

Living in a world of depression, you might want every-thing your way or no way. But TAO is the Way through your depression, enabling you to understand how and why you might have your depression in the first place.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Letting Go


What Is “Letting Go”?

“Letting go” literally means releasing your close or tight fist in order to abandon or give up something that you are holding in your hand. If you are close- or tight- fisted, you also cannot receive anything. “Letting go” is detachment.

The opposite of “letting go” is “attaching to” something that you are stubbornly holding on to.

To live well, you need to ask yourself many self-probing questions as you continue on your life journey in order to find out: who you really are, and not who you think or wish you were; what you really need, and not what you want from life; why certain undesirable things happened while certain desirable things did not happen to you. Without knowing the answers to those questions asked, you can never be genuinely happy because you will always be looking for the unreal and the unattainable, just like the carrot-and-stick mule forever reaching out for the unreachable carrot in front.

In many ways, the human brain is like a computer program. Your whole being is like the computer hardware with the apparatus of a mind, a body, and its five senses. The lens through which you see yourself, as well as others and the world around you, are the software that has been programmed by your thoughts, your past and present experiences, as well as your own desires and expectations. In other words, it is you—and nobody else—who have programmed your own mindset. All these years, you may have been trapped in a constricted sense of the self that has prevented you from knowing and being who you really are. That is to say, your “conditioned” thinking mind may have erroneously made you "think" and even "believe" that you are who and what you are right now; but nothing could be further from the truth.

By asking relevant questions, you may have the human wisdom to "change" that pre-conditioned mindset, and thus enabling you to separate the truths from the half-truths or even the myths that you may have created for yourself voluntarily or involuntarily all these years.

What Are Attachments?

An attachment is basically your own emotional dependence on things and people that define your identity, around which you wrap your so-called “happiness”, and even your survival. Attachment is holding on to anything that you are unwilling to let go of, whether it is something positive or even negative.

An attachment is no more than a safety blanket to overcome your fear—fear of change and fear of the unknown from that change. To cope with that fear, all your attachments become your distractions.

We are living in a world with many problems that confront us in our everyday life, and many of them are not only unavoidable but also insoluble. To overcome these daily challenges, many of us just turn to attachments as a means of distracting ourselves from facing our problems head on, or adapting and changing ourselves in an ever-changing environment.

All our struggles in life, from anxiety to frustration, from anger to sadness, from grief to worry—they all stem from the same thing: our attachment to how we want things to be, rather than relaxing into accepting and embracing whatever that might happen after we have put forth our best effort.

Given that attachment is closely related to the thinking mind: how it processes life experiences, it is therefore important to know and to understand the different phases of life.lo, such as the development phase, the transitional phase, the consolidation phase, and the letting-go phase.

The Letting-Go Phase

With advancement in age, and as age begins to take its toll on the body and the mind, most of the life habits that control how they should live have become well established. Their thoughts, based on decades of their past experiences, now dominate their thinking, and hence control how they live the rest of their lives. At this point, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to alter the way they process their experiences and perceptions—just as the saying goes: “It is difficult to teach an old dog new tricks.”

In this final phase in their lives, unfortunately, they have to learn letting go, whether they like it or not. Everything begins to slip away from their lives: their youth, their health, and inevitably their minds too.

All in all, how the mind processes experiences and perceptions determines the type of person you are and will become. The happenings in your life are real, but the way you process and perceive them may positively or negatively affect your life because they are stored in your subconscious mind, which may either give you valuable life lessons, or create delusions and self-deceptions that may not only confuse you but also lead you astray. True human wisdom, therefore, plays a pivotal role in how the thinking mind processes all life experiences and their respective expectations.

It is in this final phase that you must learn how to let go of anthing and everything in order to live the rest of your life as if everything is a miracle.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau




Friday, April 9, 2021

Oneness with All Life


Oneness with All Life

With both human wisdom and spiritual wisdom, you may see anything is everything not just for yourself but also for others as well. In other words, you may intuit the wisdom of oneness with all life, which is your interconnection with others, not just with those who are close to you,  but also with those  who are  distant and unrelated to you. Life is all about anything and everything.

No man is an island

According to John Donne, the famous English poet, “no man is an island”; that is, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. Therefore, we are all interconnected with, as well as inter-dependent on, one another in many different ways.

Connectedness

Oneness is the law of nature: what we do to others, we also do to ourselves, either consciously or unconsciously. It is the unity of all life—life is what we all have, and what empowers all of us, giving us the enlightening experiences and the holistic ways of living.

The Bible has repeatedly stated the significance of oneness of God’s creation and salvation to all.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1: 1)

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1: 16)

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles,  slave or free—and we  were all
given the one Spirit to drink.
(1 Corinthians 12:13)

According to Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage, one of the reasons why nature has continued to exist for thousands and thousands of years is that all forms of life in nature have their presence, which depends on one another for their co-existence. Just think about that: everything in nature does not exist just for itself, and that is why it can last forever.

Each and every being in the universe.
is an expression of the Creator.
We are all shaped and perfected by Him.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 51)

Blessed is he who has no ego-self.
He will be rewarded with humility to connect with the Creator.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 9)

So, always focus on others, instead of just on yourself all the time. Focusing on others also initiates your connection with the Creator, providing you with spiritual wisdom to guide you along the rest of your life journey.

According to Buddha, “Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.”  What Buddha means is that it is not uncommon for humans to blame their problems on all the things outside themselves—other people and circumstances that are beyond their control. But the connectedness with all life contradicts that common but erroneous belief; the reality is that what we see in others and in our own circumstances is a reflection of our inner life, of what we believe in—which is the main source of all human  miseries  and sufferings.  The truth  is that  all humans suffer because they do not see the miseries and sufferings in others, except in themselves.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist minister, and leader in the civil rights movement, once said: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” So, your connectedness to others plays a pivotal role in helping you become your true self, instead of who you wish you were.

Even John Lennon in his famous hit song “Imagine” says: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope one day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” That the world will live as one may indeed become a reality, and not just a dream.

To get your paperback copy of Anything Is Everything! Everything Is Nothing! Nothing Is Everything!, click here; to get your e-book, click here.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau




Thursday, April 8, 2021

BETTER ENGLISH FOR YOU - New Book

 BETTER ENGLISH FOR YOU


WHAT this book is all about:

This book is about every aspect of both written and spoken English.

It covers the basics as well as the essentials of good and effective written and spoken English.

It helps you avoid all the common errors made by both native and non-native speakers of English.

WHY you should read this book:

This book is for every one who speaks and writes English every day.

This book is especially for ESL learners who are not familiar with the use of the English language.

This book is also for native speakers of English, who need to write good English in their education, and throughout their careers.

CONTENTS

ONE: WHY BETTER ENGLISH
TWO: HOW TO HAVE BETTER ENGLISH
LEARING TO SPEAK BY SPEAKING AND TO WRITE BY WRITING
GETTING BASIC TOOLS FOR BETTER ENGLISH

      An English Dictionary
      A Thesaurus
THREE: BETTER WRITTEN ENGLISH FOR YOU
THE PURPOSE OF WRITING
THE ENGLISH GRAMMAR BASICS
     Nouns
     Pronouns
     Adjectives
     Verbs
     Adverbs
     Conjunctions
     Prepositions
     Interjections
THE ENGLISH SENTENCE
     Sentence Patterns
     Different Types of Sentences
     Balanced Sentence Construction
THE TENSES
THE PUNCTUATION
      The Comma
      The Semi-Colon
      The Colon
     The Dashes
     The Period (Full-Stop)
COMMON SENTENCE ERRORS
     Avoid Double Negatives
     Avoid Omission of Key Verbs    
     Avoid Omission of Words in Comparison
     Avoid Dangling Participles
     Avoid Misusing Dependent Clause
BEGINNING TO WRITE
     Paragraph Development
     Learn Commonly Used Difficult Vocabulary
     Learn Commonly Used Difficult Vocabulary
     Learn Idioms and Colloquial Expressions
     Learn to Know the Difference
     Learn to Avoid Wordiness
DEVELOPING THE TOPIC
     Point of View
     Tone
     Planning the Writing
     Writing the Introduction
      Planning the Outline
      Expanding the Writing
      Writing the Draft
GOOD WRITING
      Clich├ęs
      Figures of Speech
      Italics
      Simplicity in Writing
FOUR
: BETTER SPOKE ENGLISH

      Slang and Colloquial Expressions

Anything Is Everything


Anything Is Everything

Living in this material world is all about struggling and surviving. The good news is that it is a human race in which there are really no real winners and losers in the end. But no matter what, we all have to finish that race somehow, with no exception. Just do your very best, and let the Creator do the rest to help you finish your own race with grace and dignity. The wisdom of your body, your mind, and your spirit may awaken and rejuvenate you along the rest of your life journey.

Living is always a discovery process. Life is a journey of self-discovery—finding who you are, why you are here, what you really need, and how you may meet your basic needs, so that you, like every one else, can fulfill some of your life goals and purposes that are exclusively designed for you. But to do just that, you need profound human wisdom and spiritual wisdom to continue that journey as if everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein once said: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle.”

Indeed, life is a miracle in itself. Being alive is a miracle. Having your breaths is already a miracle. Everything in life is a miracle.

To truly believe and appreciate the miracle of life, you need the wisdom to grasp the full meaning of anything is everything, everything is nothing, and nothing is everything—they may all ultimately lead to your self-awakening, without which you will continue to live as if nothing is a miracle.

What is meant by “anything is everything”? It may have different meanings and different interpretations to different individuals.

First of all, human perceptions are subjective and individualized: they are affected not only by the five senses, but also by the unique experiences of an individual, as well as by the indelible memories of those experiences retained in the mind of that individual. Therefore, what is important to you may not be as important to others, and vice-versa. For this reason, anything could be everything to you, but not to others.

An illustration

Near the end of 2016, a road rage occurred in Arkansas that ended in the tragic death of a 3-year-old child. 

A woman, with her 3-year-old grandson sitting at the back of her car, stopped at a stop sign. A man in the car right behind honked her for not starting her car immediately, but the woman honked back; thus the road rage began with the man firing a gun shot at the back of the woman’s car.

Stopping too long at a stop sign,  or wanting to get to a place on time might be everything to the man. Having the right to remain where she was might also be everything to the woman, so she naturally honked back.  

Unfortunately, that anything-is-everything incident ended in tragedy—the death of the woman’s three-year-old grandson being shot dead while sitting at the back of her car.
In real life, anything could be everything to real people—it all depends on their respective perspectives of anything is everything.

A frog in a well

In many ways, many of us are just like a frog in a well, looking up at the limited sky above, in that we see only ourselves, and no one else, and therefore anything is everything to us. In other words, we see only our own needs and desires that have to be fulfilled and gratified no matter how, but without seeing those in others.

Just like the man in the car rage who saw only his own need to get going, but without even considering why the woman might be stalling her car at the stop sign and not moving ahead right away.

To get your paperback copy, click here; to get your e-book, click here.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Be Grateful for What You Have


Reconnect your soul or spirit to gratitude. If you are grateful to the Creator for what you have, you may look at the behavior of another individual with more tolerance, or even with a totally different perspective.

Blessings in life, such as the gift of life, are generally overlooked or even taken for granted. For example, if someone takes advantage of you, do not become angry immediately; instead, be grateful that you are the victim instead of being the person who victimizes others.

Gratitude enables you to develop the mindset for a positive outlook toward your soul. Smile more often. Keep complaints about people, things, and life in general only to yourself—unless voicing them will help bring about positive changes in others or in society.

Gratitude helps you see the good in others, letting you give them the benefit of the doubt. Try to remember that all people are created in the image of God. Focus on the individual as a person, rather than on the behavior or belief of that individual, which may not be appealing or pleasing to you.

Always be grateful that you have been given the opportunity to become either a teacher or a student in whatever circumstance you may find yourself in, and turn it into a miracle of life.

An illustration

At the end of 2007, John Kralik, an attorney who owned a law firm, experienced debts and disasters in both his life and career.

One day, after a walk in the mountains, Kralik became enlightened: as his 2008 New Year’s resolution, he decided to write a thank-you note a day for the rest of the year to everyone he knew.

Kralik’s  2008 “gratitude project”  had changed  his life completely. Instead of his feeling of discontent regarding his lack, and his envy of those who had what he did not have, he had learned to be grateful for his law firm, his practice, his friends, and his family, despite the many disasters and drawbacks he had previously experienced. Kralik’s gratitude began to change every aspect of his life. His relationships with his family, his friends, and his staff improved significantly; his law firm avoided bankruptcy, and turned around completely.

Gratitude is something that you get more only by giving it away more. Expression of gratitude generates happiness that overcomes the unhappy feelings of lack.

Are you grateful for what you have, and not getting what you rightly deserve?

THE TAO OF LIVING FOR LIFE

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau