<>b>Wisdom from Books

<>b>Wisdom from Books
Stephen Lau's website on getting your wisdom from books.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Knowing the Basics in Life

In addition to the basic human need for food, clothing, and shelter, there are some basics in life, which are fundamental to the art of living well.

Feeling Good About Oneself

In life, there are generally three things that most people want and desire: abundant wealth; good health; happy relationships.

Indeed, they become the life goals of many. Success in their pursuit of these goals makes them feel good about themselves, not to mention satisfying their basic need to feel self-important.

Ask yourself these questions: What are the things you desire most in your life? Why are they important to you?

Forming Good Life Habits

Living is about processing experiences in life. Living life to the fullest is contingent on how you process your experiences, which are the consequences of your choices in life, rather than due to your circumstances. Good life choices stem from good life habits. Your habits, good or bad, control you more than anything else does, in particular, your thinking mind. Given that your life is the sum of your thoughts, forming good life habits is critical because you tend to become a slave to your habits, once they are formed.

Ask yourself this question: What are some of the life habits that you must form in order to help you process your experiences in life?

Good life habits include: living in the present moment; developing body and mind awareness; embracing right conduct and positive thinking.

According to Aristotle, we are what we repeatedly do; therefore, excellence is also a habit that can be cultivated.

Being Who You Are
If you wish to create a better life for yourself, you must do it all by yourself; after all, it is your life and you must live it yourself. In other words, it is all up to you.

Be yourself: who you are, and not who you want to become. Being who you are means you must stop blaming others, who have nothing to do with who you are or what you have become for that matter.

Remember, no one else is to blame for your experiences, which are uniquely and totally yours.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, February 24, 2017

An Empty Mind to Begin Understanding

Tao wisdom—the human wisdom of Lao Tzu, ancient sage from China more than 2,600 years ago—is profound and controversial to many. The reality is that it is simple and easy to understand—if you have an empty mind.

Tao wisdom begins with having an empty mind. What is an empty mind? An empty mind is more than just "thinking out of the box": it is reverse thinking to create your own box of thinking. An empty mindset originated from Lao Tzu:

"An empty mind with no craving and no expectation helps us let go.
Being in the world and not of the world, we attain heavenly grace.
With heavenly grace, we become pure and selfless.
And everything settles into its own perfect place."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 3) 

There was the story of a professor visiting a Zen master to find out more about Zen, which is an Eastern philosophy. In the beginning of the visit, the professor kept on talking while the Zen master served him tea. At some point, the Zen master kept pouring tea into the teacup held by the professor even though it was brimming over. The moral of the story is that one must have an empty mind before one can accept new and unconventional ideas. Likewise, to intuit true human wisdom, one must have an empty mind capable of reverse thinking.

An empty mindset frees us from the many shackles of life that may enslave us and keep us in bondage without our knowing it. Are you the master or just a slave of your own life? Often times, we think we are masters of our lives, but in fact we are no more than just slaves. You are the master only when you have complete control over your own life, especially how you think.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tao Wisdom Opens the Door to Biblical Wisdom

Biblical wisdom is the wisdom that comes from God. Understanding Biblical wisdom may not be easy: it requires human wisdom to seek knowledge to understand the role of man in this world, such as finding out his self-worth, as well as his role and contributions to humanity and the world he is living in.  Jesus said: "Seek and you shall find." But, without human wisdom, man may seek other things in the material world he is living in, instead of God's wisdom.

Human wisdom does not come from knowledge alone. As a matter of fact, a knowledgeable person may not necessarily be wise. Human wisdom has to do with asking questions and seeking answers from the questions asked throughout one’s life journey. Reading the Bible may not lead you anywhere unless you have an open mind with spirituality to believe. Reading Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, the immortal ancient classic from China on human wisdom, may help you have an empty mind to find your way to Biblical wisdom.

Both Tao Te Ching and the Bible are among the most translated and extensively read books in the world. There is a fundamental connection between the two books, though some critics may disagree. Tao Te Ching is about human wisdom, and the Bible is about the wisdom of God. The former was written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ and the New Testament was even conceived. Because both books are about wisdom and true wisdom is universal and timeless, often sharing some common attributes, there are similarities in the Biblical truths expressed in the Bible and the profound truths of human wisdom in Tao Te Ching.

Given that Tao Te Ching is a difficult book with its multiple paradoxes and deliberate perplexities, I have provided everyday examples to illustrate the "reverse" thinking of Lao Tzu. Without understanding the "reverse" mindset of Lao Tzu, understanding the wisdom of God in the Bible is even more difficult.


My own translation of "Tao Te Ching" is based on my 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.

My book is divided into four parts.

Part One is about tmy 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 my own translation of the 81 short 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 -- the wisdom of Lao Tzu expressed in his immortal classic Tao Te Ching --  is the way to Biblical wisdom.

To get the digital copy, click here; to get the paperback, click here.

To date, I have published several books based on the wisdom expressed in Tao Te ChingBooks by Stephen Lau.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, February 17, 2017

Clarity of Thinking

Tao wisdom is human wisdom, and Biblical wisdom is spiritual wisdom. The art of living well in this contemporary world requires both.  But neither is easy to come by. Why? Because Tao wisdom requires an empty mind with no preconditioned thinking of conventional wisdom, while Biblical wisdom requires the suspension of disbelief. That is to say, both require clarity of thinking, which is not easy to attain, except through meditation and concentration, that is, focusing the mind on the present moment.

Your mind is incessantly alternating between the past and the future, going back and forth without consciously knowing it.

Say, if you are watching TV at the present moment, your compulsive mind is continually retrieving both conscious and subconscious thoughts and memories from the past directly or indirectly related to what you are now watching on the television screen, as well as projecting them into the future. Your mind never really stays in the present moment, although you think it does because you are watching the TV.

To illustrate, you are watching a CNN report on an accident on the freeway involving many cars due to poor visibility. A subconscious thought from your own past experience of driving under similar poor visibility immediately comes up and is projected into the future, to be stored in your subconscious mind to warn you in the future to drive more carefully if a similar situation occurs. Your body is presently watching the television screen, but your mind does not stay in the present moment. That is the reality. It is only a mental illusion that your mind is staying presently on the TV screen. Other subconscious thoughts may also occur at the back of your mind: “I am a more careful driver than those people”, “I hope that will never happen to me” or “I would not know what to do in a similar situation.” All these thoughts are stored in your subconscious mind.

Remember, you compulsive mind is thinking non-stop without your conscious awareness.

Because your mind does not voluntarily stay in the present moment, constantly shuffling back and forth between the past and the future, the only way to stop the thinking mind is to direct it to the present moment. When your mind stays in the present moment, it stops its thinking process of the past or the future—at least for the time being. To make your mind remain in the present moment—even though for just a short moment—you need acute awareness and deep concentration. To do that, you need constant and regular practice to focus or re-focus your mind on the present moment.

Once you can stop, at will, your mind from thinking, you have control over your thinking process, you are no longer a slave to your thoughts, and your mind becomes once again your friend, instead of your enemy. Learn to switch your mind on and off, just as you do with your computer.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, February 13, 2017

TAO Wisdom to Let 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 comfort zones in our lives . 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 world.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” Thich Nhat Hanh

It is letting go, and not 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 amiracle; let go of the world to have the universe.

Tao wisdom is profound human wisdom that requires self-intuition to have greater understanding of the Creator, who is in control of everything created by Him; this further understanding may be instrumental in enhancing human wisdom.

Tao wisdom begins with having an empty mind that may help you let go of all attachments to the material world.. 

"An empty mind with no craving and no expectation helps us letting go.
Being in the world and not of the world, we attain heavenly grace.
With heavenly grace, we become pure and selfless.
And everything settles into its own perfect place."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 3) 

“Letting go is emptying the mundane,
to be filled with heavenly grace.

Blessed is he who has an empty mind.
He will be filled with knowledge and wisdom from the Creator.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 9)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Paradoxical Tao Wisdom

The Tao wisdom of Tao Te Ching is paradoxical and even contradictory: it requires the reversal of the common or conventional thinking process in order to truly appreciate and comprehend what Lao Tzu was saying.

To illustrate, according to Tao wisdom, we think with our hearts and only feel with our minds, while in conventional wisdom, we use our minds to think, to reason, and to judge by using our common logic. In Tao, we let the mind do its natural function of feeling and observing, instead of thinking. More specifically, the main function of the human mind is to observe the thoughts in the thinking mind but without any judgment or interference. The Chinese for “I think” is literally “my heart thinks.” (我心想) For centuries, the Chinese have been inculcated with the concept that the heart, and not the mind, is responsible for the ultimate thinking process. However, that is not to contradict the Western concept that the mind thinks. In Tao wisdom, however, “thinking with the heart” figuratively means consciously slowing down the thinking mind, and thereby letting the mind observe the rambling thoughts, instead of having the mind being controlled and overwhelmed by those distracting thoughts. Simply put, the mind mainly feels and observes; it does little thinking and judging in deference to the heart.

To further illustrate the above point, the human 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 its speed or its direction, but the driver does. It is, therefore, important that the car does not exceed the speed limit, because if it goes too fast, it cannot properly observe the surrounding environment with its details, and thus endangering the driver. Similarly, it is also important for the human mind to purposely slow down, so that the individual or the driver can see clearly where he or she is going. Tao wisdom 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 life. According to Lao Tzu, true wisdom is total mental awareness—awareness of what is happening around us, awareness of the nature of things; true wisdom is not based on any human concept, let alone the pre-conditioning of the human mind. That is the reason why it cannot be expressed in words; it has to be experienced and self-intuited by each and every individual. There is no blueprint for all.

Indeed, the Tao wisdom expressed in Tao Te Ching is filled with many paradoxes and contradictory expressions, for example:

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

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Tao Wisdom to Understand Biblical Wisdom

Why Biblical wisdom?

The Bible is the Word of God. Through the Bible, God speaks to each and every one of us, if we are willing. In other words, the wisdom expressed in the Bible is God’s divine wisdom to man.

The Authenticity of Biblical Truths

According to Guinness Book of Records, the Bible is the all-time best-selling book, as well as the most translated work in world literature. This indicates that many people do believe that the Bible is a book of absolute truths and divine wisdom from God.

The Bible is a book of wisdom based on Biblical truths that require faith to believe in the authenticity of historical manuscripts reporting those events that had already taken place.

”Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,” (Luke 3:1)

This Biblical faith is further attested to by human historical time scale: BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini—"in the year of our Lord"). Jesus Christ is a real historical figure, and His birth is a very solid historical fact reported by many historians.

Biblical wisdom is not just for the Israelites; it is for all believers and non-believers alike because it is the only way to salvation, which is the ultimate conquest of human mortality.

Why Tao wisdom?

If the Bible is about God’s wisdom, then why should we read Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, which is, at best, only about human wisdom? Why don’t we just read the Bible instead, and forget about Tao Te Ching? Why should we settle more for less?

Why Less for More?

According to Lao Tzu, less is more.

“To guide a great country, we need a great ruler.
To wage a successful war, we need good strategies.
To live a life of harmony, we need letting life live by itself.
That essentially means:
the more efforts we exert, the more failure we experience;
the more weapons we make, the more danger we encounter;
the more laws we enact, the more law-breakers we produce.”
(Lao Tzu, Chapter 57, Tao Te Ching)

“Living our lives is like frying a small fish;
we neither over-season nor over-cook it.”
(Lao Tzu, Chapter 60, Tao Te Ching)

Understanding human wisdom is the first step in the journey of a thousand miles towards understanding God’s wisdom. Without human wisdom, God’s wisdom is even more unfathomable and forever unintelligible to many.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, February 3, 2017

The First Chapter of Tao Te Ching

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu is one of the most translated books in world literature. TAO wisdom—the wisdom of Lao Tzu—is profound human wisdom that is intriguing, perplexing, and paradoxical.

To illustrate, the first chapter of the book is short, but is capable of many multiple interpretations and translations.

"The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
As nameless, it is the origin of all things; As named, it is the mother of 10,000 things
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery of all things.
Ever desiring, one sees only their manifestations.
And the mystery itself is the doorway to all understanding."
(Lao Tzu,ally  Tao Te Ching, chapter one)

If we could understand the Creator or explain His ways, then He is no longer infinite and eternal.

What it really means is: Human wisdom is limited and therefore we can never completely understand the ways of Nature or the Creator.

Mankind, once given a name with an identity, is only the source, but not the creator, of all things.

What it really means is: Man invents but does not create something out of nothing; only the Creator, who is nameless with no identity, creates everything out of nothing.

Ever humble, we see the mystery of all things in the Creator's realm of creation.

What it really means is: With humility, we may understand why certain things were created.

Ever boastful, we see only the manifestations of all things created.

What it really means is: With pride, we see the wonders of our own inventions, but not the mystery of the Creator’s creations.

And the mystery itself is the pathway to attaining greater spirituality and further understanding of the Creator.


What it really means is: Not knowing everything leads to further understanding of the purpose of creation by the Creator.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau