Thursday, March 15, 2018

TAO Wisdom to Make You Better and Happier

Living in this contemporary world may often make you unwise and unhappy, leading to depressive episodes.

Be a Better and Happier You withTao Wisdom

This book contains the whole script of the 81 short chapters of Lao Tzu’s immortal classic TAO TE CHING, which underlies his wisdom (also known as Tao wisdom). Understanding his profound wisdom helps you attain true human wisdom  through asking self-intuitive questions, creating an empty mindset with reverse thinking to let go of the ego-self in order to become a better and happier you. Being better and happier is essential to living a life as if everything is a miracle. In order to do just that, you need how the human mind functions, and what true human wisdom really is, in particular, the wisdom of the ancient sage from China thousands of years ago.

Without any punctuation mark and in exactly 5,000 words, the language of the original text of Tao Te Ching is deliberately intriguing and even perplexing—one of the reasons why the book has become one of the most translated works in world literature. The  version and translation of TAO TE CHING is in plain English, very easy to understand. 

First and foremost, you must empty your mind of conditioned thinking, which is a common characteristic of the contemporary human mind. 

With an empty mindset, you begin to ask different questions to find out who you really are, instead of who you wish you were, as well as what you need and not what you want from life. Understanding of self and others is the pathway to understanding humanity as a whole. Better understanding of humanity lets you acknowledge the destructive forces of anger and envy, bitterness and resentment, as well as many other negative emotions, and thereby instrumental in reducing their strength. Tao wisdom, which shows you the importance and necessity of embracing all and everything—the easy and the difficult, as well as the pleasant and the unpleasant. In life, difficult and unpleasant experiences not only train but also enhance you wisdom to let go of control—controlling your life, the people and the happenings around you. Tao wisdom teaches you not to pick and choose but to embrace anything and everything in life because any situation in life can make you become either a teacher or a student. Life is about anything and everything that you can learn from, and this is where true human wisdom comes from.

Understanding that anything is everything may also make you see things very differently. People and things do not exist independently. When there is long, there has to be short; they do not exist simply because of their own nature. Everything in life is not only relative but also related. Viewing any life situation—whether it is good or bad—with this profound human wisdom may help you see that anything is everything, In other words, any life situation is not under its own power but depends on many present causes and conditions, as well as many past causes and conditions; otherwise it could not have come into being. With this perspective, you can see much more of the whole picture, and thus you can see the reality of the situation.

With wisdom, you may become a better and happier individual.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, March 12, 2018

Emotions and Depression

Emotions and Depression

Did you know that as much as 50 percent of diseases may be psychosomatic? Therefore, it is not an overstatement that the mind and diseases are interconnected.

Dr. Caroline B. Thomas
, M.D., of John Hopkins School of Medicine discovered that cancer patients often had a prior poor relationship with their parents, attesting to the pivotal role of emotions in the development of cancer. In another study by Dr. Richard B. Shekelle of the University of Texas School of Medicine, it was found that depression patients were not only more cancer prone but also more likely to die of cancer than the other patients. If emotions play a pivotal role in cancer, by the same token, negative emotions may also adversely affect the symptoms or prognosis of any human disease. Thoughts of anger, despair, discontent, frustration, guilt, or resentment are instrumental in depressing the physiological processes, including the body’s immune response—a formula for promoting the development of an autoimmune disease.

According to other studies, strong negative emotions, such as anger, can create destructive mental energy that is health damaging. However, it is not so much in experiencing raging anger as in not experiencing it, or not wanting to experience it that may cause diseases. In addition, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness may also aggravate the symptoms of a disease. When one feels being “trapped” with no way out—such as, when the doctor tells you that there is no cure, except controlling the symptoms of any disease you may have, you naturally feel incapacitated in thinking a solution out of the “dire” situation.

The feeling of being trapped is most destructive in that it incapacitates the mind to come up with a solution to resolve the apparently insoluble situation. This may cause the body to conserve too much oxygen—just like holding one’s breath much too long—that ultimately leads to suffocation, and even death. Continuous feeling of being in a deathtrap deprives one of oxygen, and thus inhibiting the recovery process.

Given the critical role of emotions in disease development, evaluate your emotions, and how your mind may affect them. Tao wisdom, the ancient wisdom from China, may provide guidelines on how to overcome your negative emotions that are the underlying causes of human unhappiness. 

Also visit my site: Anger Management.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Path to Spiritual Wisdom

Human existence is meaningless, if it is devoid of happiness. Human happiness is contingent on human wisdom, which holds the key to ultimate success in the quest for happiness. 

But the search for happiness is unattainable for many. The happiness quest is like a carrot and stick—forever unreachable and unattainable. Maybe that explains the painstaking pursuit of happiness by many through wisdom. Indeed, happiness is not only abstract and intangible, but also elusive and evasive. What happiness to one individual may not be happiness to another—just as one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Happiness is uniquely personal. In addition, even if it is attainable, happiness comes and goes, just as day and night. Furthermore, no matter what, happiness has to come to an end with the expiration of life.

It is human nature to seek happiness by any means, and wisdom is often considered the most appropriate way to attain happiness. During the brief lifespan, humans seek wisdom to help them pursue their happiness that may come to them in many different forms, such as abundant wealth, good health, satisfying relationships, successful careers and endeavors, among others.

Happiness can be achieved only with both human wisdom and spiritual wisdom: human wisdom to understand spiritual wisdom.. 

TAO: The Way to Biblical Wisdom

The author's own translation of "Tao Te Ching" is based on his belief that Lao Tzu's masterpiece is about the Creator of the universe, and that with true human wisdom man sees not only the manifestations but also the mysteries of His creation.

The book is about true human wisdom without the "conditioned" thinking of contemporary wisdom. Without the "reverse" mindset of Lao Tzu, man may have difficulties in understanding the wisdom of God expressed in the Bible.

The book is divided into four parts.

Part One is about the author’s reasons for writing the book, and also why "Tao Te Ching" is a "must read" for anyone who seeks real human wisdom.

Part Two is the author’s own translation of the 81 chapters of "Tao Te Ching" with respect to the Bible; each chapter is followed by some selected Bible verses for further reflection on what Lao Tzu has said.

Part Three is about the essentials of Tao wisdom with detailed explanation in plain English and with everyday life examples to help the reader understand the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu.

Part Four is an explanation of how Tao wisdom may help the reader understand God's wisdom in the Bible. Tao is the Way to Biblical wisdom.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Oneness of All Life

Living in this day and age is not easy, unless we have the wisdom in living.

Contemporary wisdom is exclusiveeven to the extent of wishing others fail so that one may succeed in life. In addition, it states that one must do this or do that in order to succeed and live well. Ancient wisdom, on the other hand, focuses on doing whatever one has to do but with a sense of true freedomthe recognition and realization of the wisdom in the oneness of all life.

Wisdom in the oneness of all life is based on one of the basic laws of Nature: that is, we are all inter-connected, just as the famous poet John Donne says: "No man is an island." .This universal moral principle leads us to true and lasting freedom and wisdom in living. Once we understand that the life flowing in our veins is the same as that flowing in the veins of others, we will learn how to show love and compassion towards others. After all, we are all created in the image of God, and we are no more than expressions of God.

Wisdom in the oneness of all life frees you from the bondage of anger, competitiveness, disrespect, discrimination, envy, ridicule, and many other negative attitudes of the mind, which adversely influence how you live your life. Jesus' saying of "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and Mahatma Gandhi's advocacy of non-violence must be understood in subtle ways. If you "kill" the enthusiasm of someone, you are "harming" that individual because you are in fact taking away the life within that individual. Remember, love and compassion are expressions of the oneness of all lifea mental attitude that liberates human bondage from self-centeredness, and gives freedom in the art of living well.

For more information on wisdom in living, read my book: The Book of Life and Living. 

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Tao Wisdom to Understand Self and Others

Living well in this day and age is not easy, in spite of the advancement of modern technology. Life itself is complicated and challenging; living well requires the wisdom of knowing self and others in order to live a happy and meaningful life.

A happy and meaningful life is forever bubbling with activities. It involves activities of self, as well as activities with others around you. In other words, activities become the raw materials of living well. However, these activities, more often than not, may cause physical, emotional, and psychological problems not just in self, but also in others through actions and interactions. Knowing yourself—who you really are, and not who you wish your were or who you want to become—holds the key to the art of living well.

Knowing yourself means self-acceptance, as well as acceptance of others.

Self-acceptance is not just "liking" yourself: essentially, it means you care "less" about what others may think of you, but "more" about accepting yourself as who and what you really are. If there are aspects that you don't like about yourself, and you are willing to change them for the better, then it is something else. 

Self-acceptance is unconditional acceptance of self, which is showing an intent to accomplish the goal you have set your mind to achieve, but without assessing or rating yourself based on what others may perceive you. In other words, the focus is on the intent and the effort, rather than on the outcome.

Conditional self-acceptance, on the other hand, is feeling "good" about yourself when you have reached the goal you have set in your mind. That is to say, it is your "good" feelings, thoughts, or actions that make you accept yourself. But that attitude of self-acceptance is conditional in that it is based upon your feeling "good" about yourself. In other words, if you fail to reach that goal, you cannot and will not be totally accepting yourself.

Knowing yourself means understanding that your Creator has created you for who you are and what you are. Your worth lies within yourself, just as Ann Frank in "The Diary of Ann Frank" said, "Human worth does not lie in riches or power, but in character or goodness." If you believe in the goodness in yourself, you will have unconditional self-acceptance. More importantly, you will also know how to treat another individual you encounter in your life: if you can totally accept yourself for who and what you are, you will also learn how to accept another individual for who and what he or she is. Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, once said that the key to instantly and successfully relating to people of different cultures, religions, and backgrounds is knowing that all your fellow human beings have the same desire to be happy and to avoid suffering, just like yourself. In other words, if you can accept yourself for who and what you are, however imperfect you may be, you will also learn how to accept other individuals for who and what they are in spite of their imperfections. It is all about acceptance!

Indeed, self-acceptance and acceptance of others may remove many obstacles in life that are caused by difficult human relationships and problematic interactions. Have the wisdom to know that in any conflict or interaction with others, your response naturally should become a reflection of your loving-kindness, rather than an aggressive reaction. Your world would be much better off if you have self-acceptance and acceptance of others.

If you can accept yourself as who you are, maybe you can also accept others as who they are. After all, nobody is perfect. Acceptance of anything in life holds the key to becoming a better and happier you, and just live as if everything is a miracle.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, February 26, 2018

Live by Zen

Contemporary life is like a pressure cooker into which are dumped obsessive thoughts and worries about career, money, children, relationships, health, and social responsibilities. As a result, contemporary living is hectic and stressful. The human mind often becomes a victim of undue tension and distress.

Stress is a complex problem involving the body's response to increased mental tension, which is a byproduct of contemporary living. 

Learn to live by Zen. 

What is Zen, or the way of Zen?

Zen is a way of living, which is crucial to contemporary living. Zen is a philosophy of living to deal with stress. Make no mistake, Zen is not a religious belief. Despite having its origin from Buddha, Zen is not the foundation of Buddhism. Zen is only a philosophical approach to human happiness through intellectual cultivation.

The word “Zen” is Japanese, but it derives from the Chinese, meaning “meditation.” It is an Oriental mental practice for self-enlightenment. More specifically, Zen is a transcendental mental state that affects the overall physical and mental well-being of an individual. 

Zen cultivates intuitive knowing, which is naturally knowing the ultimate truth of living. According to the ancient philosopher Plato, life is a process of “forgetting” with episodes of experiences and happenings that can make you “forget” how to live. The way of Zen is to help you re-discover that innate wisdom of knowing the eternal truth of living. That re-discovery is “self-awakening,” which cannot be taught but can only be intuited through stillness of the mind attained in meditation. Through "self-enlightenment," you will be liberated from the shackles of memories of the past and worries of the future. 

The way of Zen is simple: live in the present. Unfortunately, most of us don't live in the present: we live in the past, rummaging through memories of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and then projecting them into the future, striving to repeat the pleasant ones and to avoid the unpleasant ones. That is how many of us live in the past and the future, but not in the present. In the process of picking and choosing, we create not only stress for ourselves but also problems that did not exist in the first place. Zen living is living in the present, embracing whatever that may come along in life, without picking and choosing, and learning from both the pleasant and unpleasant experiences. Essentially, Zen living is learning how to relax by acquiring the wisdom of neither avoiding problems in life, nor seeking solutions to problems that might not even have existed in the first place.

Contemporary way of life is often an unhealthy lifestyle: it is much like living in a pressure cooker. The endless challenges, demands, and goals continue to churn out stress in every form. 

Zen living focuses on the present moment—not the past, and surely not the future

Zen living teaches us to relax through meditation that may give us the "self-enlightenment" to truly understand the essentials of life and living. 

The essence of Zen living may be summarized in the following Zen poem: 

"The perfect Way is without difficulty.
Save that it avoids picking and choosing.
Only when you stop liking and disliking
Will all be clearly understood.
A split hair's difference
And heaven and earth are set apart.
If you want to get the plain truth,
Be not concerned with right and wrong.
The conflict between right and wrong
Is the sickness of the mind."
from an old Zen poem

Start Zen: Learn the healing art of Zen meditation. Free yourself from the thoughts and emotions that are holding you back in your life. Dramatically improve the quality of your life by enhancing the quality of your mind.

Read my books: The Book of Life and Living -- a blueprint for living a stress-free life through an integration of the ancient wisdom of Tao, the contemporary wisdom, and Biblical wisdom; Your Golden Years and Santa Claus -- a book on the wisdom in living your best in your senior years. .

Visit my website: Wisdom in Living.

Stephen Lau
Copyright © 2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Over-Doing" Doesn't Payoff!

According to CNN news:

“A Hong Kong couple's claim that a former Harvard professor bilked them of $2 million on promises he would get their sons into Harvard is a cautionary tale for parents entangled in the highly competitive college-admissions roulette, experts say.”

Why would someone want to spend $2 million dollars to get a Harvard education?  A Harvard education would open many doors. That was a typical example of “over-doing” in this day and age: the more, the better. That might be the conventional wisdom. However, according to the ancient wisdom of Lao Tzu, the author of Tao Te Ching, the immortal ancient Chinese classic of wisdom, the converse is true—“under-doing.”

According to Tao wisdom, the source of all human miseries is the ego-self. We want to be someone we wish we were. To achieve or attain that so-called “identity” or false ego-self, we begin to have expectations. To realize the expectations or goals, we begin to have judgments and preferences in our actions. We begin to choose what we like and reject what we dislike. Our minds become preoccupied with thoughts of repeating past successes and avoiding past failures. In doing so, we live in the past, with projections of expectations in the future, and we no longer live in the present, which holds the key to wisdom in living. Lacking that wisdom, we indulge in “over-doing”—thinking that efforts will bring results.

A pastor from Hong Kong visited China. After giving a sermon, a woman in the audience asked him if it was ethical to give money so that her son would be admitted to an elite high school in Beijing.  In China, “kwangxi” or “connection” is especially important; you can hardly get things done without using your “influence” or that of someone who is prominent.

The pastor told the woman that giving money was her choice; however, he reminded her that her son’s acceptance would imply the rejection of another individual without the money. Giving the money would be “over-doing” and letting things happen the way they are supposed to would be “under-doing.” The woman chose the latter, and her son was admitted without spending the money. That would also be a strong testimony that her son was good enough, rather than haunted by doubt of her son’s academic excellence.

Another example of "over-doing" is former cyclist Lance Armstrong's doping scandal. Armstrong was stripped of his medals and honors due to his alleged role and involvement with the most sophisticated and successful doping program ever. According to allegation, he had been using dangerous drugs, evading detection, to gain an unfair competitive advantage over other athletes

The moral lesson: "Over-doing" doesn't payoff. The eternal wisdom: Do your best, and then let everything fall naturally in its perfect place, with no expectation, no anxiety, no judgment, and no "over-doing." In other words, leave it to God!

Stephen Lau
Copyright © 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Mind and the Ego

The Mind and the Ego

Your “thinking” mind is responsible for creating not only your so-called “realities” based on your perceptions of your life experiences, but also your personality, which also plays a pivotal role in your living in a world of depression.

It is your human nature to identify yourself with your thoughts created by your thinking mind. This identity begins to relate to more thoughts, both past and present, as well as their projections into the future as desires and expectations. These accumulative thoughts begin to take shape and form your ego-self. which all of us have, because it is the identity that separates and distinguishes us from others.

But is that ego-self for real? Or what exactly is the ego-self?

Simply look at yourself in front of a mirror. What do you see? A self reflection. Is it for real? Can you touch it? Not really; it is only a reflection of someone real—the real you in front of the mirror!

Your ego-self is your self-perceived personality. Just like the reflection in the mirror, it is not the real you.

Now, do something slightly different. Place a baby—if there is one immediately available—in front of the mirror. Now. see what happens. The baby may crawl towards the baby in the mirror. Why? It is because the baby in front of the mirror thinks that the baby in the mirror is another baby, and not his or her own reflection.

Likewise, your ego-self may look real to you, but it is not real  It is only a reflection of your own thoughts; that is, your ego self is what you think or even wish you were. The ego-self is gradually formed over the years, transforming you into someone else that you are not. Therefore, your only one true life obligation is to be the person standing in front of the mirror, and not the reflection of that person in the mirror.

Your ego-self, which is formed by your thoughts, often become your attachments. Too many attachments to your ego-self may become problematic, leading to depression.

According to Tao wisdom—the wisdom of the ancient Chinese sage, the author of the famous “Tao Te Ching”—the ego-self is the source of human miseries because it is the human ego that creates stress, leading to many human conflicts and problems.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Taoist Exercise to Overcome Insomnia

The Taoist Exercise

To overcome insomnia or get natural sleep, perform this simple Chinese Taoist exercise:

  • Lie on your back. Bend both knees.
  • Use both hands to pull your knees towards your chest, and breathe naturally.
  • Hold for one to two minutes, and relax.
  • Straighten your legs, putting your arms and hands at your sides. Relax for one to two minutes.
  • Take a deep breath, and stretch both arms upwards above your head.
  • Then, slowly bring your hands down while you breathe out.
  • Massage your body from your chest to your abdomen for a few minutes.
  • Bring both hands at your sides, and relax.
  • Repeat as necessary until you feel drowsy and fall asleep.
This exercise is good not just for insomnia, but also for your lower back pain, if it is performed on a hard surface.

Stephen Lau  
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ancient Wisdom and Modern Living

Ancient Wisdom and Modern Living

Everybody wants to live not only a better but also a longer life. Living well is a common human pursuit, but it may often turn out to be only a carrot and stick-forever unattainable. Why? It is because living well is an art that requires profound ancient wisdom, not just the conventional wisdom of modern medicine, in order to live a disease-free life.

The human body has built-in body wisdom that keeps it young and healthy, that is, an innate awareness of its basic needs, as well as its warning signs and signals of internal disharmony that may lead to imminent disease and disorder. Therefore, wisdom is required to enhance this human consciousness to create a new environment in which the biochemistry of the body becomes the substance of awareness of beliefs, emotions, and thoughts, thereby instrumental in maintaining and sustaining the overall wellness of an individual to remain disease-free as much as and as long as possible.

Body wisdom is no more than everyday eating and living habits. Eating is a science, and living is an art; they complement each other, just as "yin" and "yang" do. Human wisdom is, essentially, the capability in creating and managing this art and science to live a better and a longer life.

Ancient wisdom, however, is not the same as contemporary wisdom. The former has more to do with the mind-how it thinks and perceives; the latter focuses more on knowledge acquisition, and its practical applications in life.

A classic example of ancient wisdom is that of Lao Tzu, an ancient sage in China some 2,600 years ago. He was the author of the immortal Chinese classic "Tao Te Ching," which is one of the most translated and extensively read books of all time. According to legend, Lao Tzu wanted to leave China for Tibet, but he was stopped at the city gate, where he was forced to put down his wisdom in writing before he could leave. Reluctantly, he expressed his profound and eternal wisdom in only 5,000 words, and that was how "Tao Te Ching" came into being..

How does Tao wisdom help in living a better and a longer life?

Lao Tzu's wisdom is unique in that it emphasizes "reverse" thinking of the human mind, instead of the "conditioned" contemporary mindset. In other words, one must, first and foremost, have an empty mind before one can even think out of the box, not to mention creating one's own box in thinking. To illustrate, Lao Tzu's focus on "under-doing" (as opposed to "over-doing" or "the more, the better" contemporary mindset), "living in the present" (as opposed to "multi-tasking" modern lifestyle), and "no expectation of result" (as opposed to "goal-oriented" or "goal-setting" attitude of this day and age) is conducive to creating internal peace and harmony, which is the essence of living a stress-free life. The essentials of Tao wisdom are fundamental to the art of living well and the science of healthy living without stress.

In addition, Lao Tzu believed that true wisdom lies in internalizing and self-intuiting eternal truths. Unlike contemporary wisdom, Tao wisdom has no blueprint for all-just as the health of an individual is based on the unique body chemistry of that individual; true wisdom, therefore, is acute awareness of the needs of the body, which is known exclusively only to that individual.

Another example of ancient wisdom is that of Hippocrates (377-460 BC), the "Father of Medicine." His basic principles of health and wellness are profound. For example, Hippocrates said: "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." His wisdom is quite contrary to the conventional wisdom of modern medicine, which overtly emphasizes the use of drugs. The United States is the riches but also the sickest country in the world, and our healthcare costs have skyrocketed in recent decades.

Hippocrates also expressed his wisdom in the art of living: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The wisdom of modern medicine focuses on cure through drugs and procedures, rather than prevention through a holistic approach to health and wellness of the body, the mind, and the spirit. The wisdom of modern medicine is simply on quick fixing the symptoms, instead of preventing their occurrence in the first place.

The wisdom of Hippocrates echoed that of Lao Tzu's "non-doing" or "under-doing" when he said: "To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy." According to Hippocrates, "everything in excess is opposed to nature" because of the presence of the innate body wisdom in self-healing. Unfortunately, modern medicine chooses to do just the opposite, and thus opening the Pandora's box, creating many more human diseases and disorders through toxic drugs and procedures.

The Bible is the Word of God. It provides the ancient wisdom of God for health and wellness in the form of principles for the body, the soul, and the spirit. For example, in the Old Testament (Genesis 1:19), God prescribed ancient Hebrews with instructions to eat plants and seeds. As a matter of fact, in Hebrew language, the word "meat" is essentially "food" and not animal protein. However, it does not mean that God would like the Hebrews to become vegetarians; rather, fruits, vegetables, and herbs would have to be their basic or first diet. The Bible, in many instances, reveals the ancient wisdom in healthy eating to maintain health and wellness.

To conclude, wisdom is about acute awareness and profound perception through the human eye to see things as they really are, without looking at them through colored spectacles. In Matthew 6:22, Jesus said: "The light of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye be single, your body will be full of light." True human wisdom is how we perceive and internalize our life experiences, based on an understanding of who we really are and what our essential roles are in this world, as well as of the natural laws of things. With this profound understanding, we will look at everything and everyone around us in perspective. One final word: without true human wisdom, it is difficult to understand the wisdom of God.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau