<>b>Wisdom from Books

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Stephen Lau's website on getting your wisdom from books.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Why the Difficult Has Become the Popular


Why the Difficult Has Become the Popular

I have become so fascinated by Tao wisdom that I have published several books based on Tao wisdom. First of all, Tao wisdom is the wisdom of Lao Tzu, an ancient sage from China, who was the author of the immortal Chinese classic “Tao Te Ching” on human wisdom.


I remember I had to memorize a short excerpt from “Tao Te Ching” when I was about eight or nine years old. Back in those days—when I was in Hong Kong before I came to the United States—students had to learn by memory some classical Chinese poetry; it was difficult for most students because they were clueless about the meanings of the texts they had to memorize. Any excerpt from “Tao Te Ching” is especially difficult to memorize, not to mention understanding.


But it is the difficulty in understanding “Tao Te Ching” that has made this immortal Chinese classic become one of the most translated works in world literature, ranking with the Bible among of the top ten.


Let me explain why it is difficult to understand, and why it is the difficulty that has fascinated readers worldwide. 

The difficulty was "deliberate" on the part of Lao Tzu. First of all, he believed that “words” do not represent the “truths” or the “realities” in life because words simply “point” to the truths or realities, which are absolute and they had existed long before there were words. Another reason was that Lao Tzu was “forced” to put down his wisdom in words before he was allowed to leave China for Tibet. According to the legend, he was stopped at the city gate and was told that he would be allowed to leave the country only after he had put down his wisdom in words. Reluctantly and deliberately he put down his wisdom in exactly 5,000 words without any punctuation mark. Quite different from English, every Chinese word may have multiple meanings. As a result, what Lao Tzu put down in words could be interpreted in many different ways, especially without any punctuation mark to clarity the meaning. The text is therefore abstract and controversial, and this is the reason why it has fascinated many scholars worldwide.


Here is one of the many English translations of the First Chapter of the original text:

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
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.
(Chapter One, Tao Te Ching)

               

             

                  

              

         

(the original Chinese text; the punctuation marks were subsequently added by scholars)

Here is my explanation and interpretation of the original text:

Tao (or the Way) is the pathway to wisdom, which is self-intuition through self-awakening. Once it is expressed in words, it is no longer the pathway. Anything with a name immediately assumes an identity and thus becomes pre-conditioning and self-limiting—obstacles to freedom in thinking, which is the source of human wisdom.


“Like water, soft and yielding,

Yet it overcomes the hard and the rigid

Stiffness and stubbornness cause much suffering.

We all intuitively know

that flexibility and tenderness

are the way to go.

Yet our conditioned minds

tell us to go the other way.”

(Chapter 78, Tao Te Ching)


The wisdom of TAO wisdom begins with the power of intent in the mind to know and to learn more about the true “self”—after all, wisdom is about self, and about how it reacts with everyone and everything around. In the quest of wisdom, the revelation of having no ego-self is the turning point, where you may begin to embark on a different life journey with a different mission. Your “conditioned” mind thus begins the journey of “reverse thinking” which will ultimately change your life, making you a better and happier you.


TAO wisdom enables you to see the wisdom in the oneness of all life—that everything exists because of its “opposite” and that everything will ultimately become its opposite, just as youth becoming old age, and life becoming death. Spontaneity, which is following the natural laws of nature, holds the key to attaining true human wisdom to live your life as if everything is a miracle.



Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, December 13, 2018

TAO Wisdom Is Both Simple and Complex

True wisdom is inexplicable and inexpressible. That is to say, there is no blueprint for truly profound human wisdom. As a matter of fact, Lao Tzu, the author of the famous ancient Chinese classic Tao Te Ching, recommends giving up language because the true human wisdom cannot be expressed in words: Tao, (the word derived from the title of Tao Te Ching) which means the wisdom of Lao Tzu, is nameless, goes beyond distinctions, and thus transcends any language.

According to the legend, Lao Tzu was born more than two thousands years ago with gray hair (a sign of wisdom related with age and experience). He lived in ancient China at a time of feudal warfare and constant conflict. At the city gate, riding backwards on an ox, he was “forced” to put down his brilliant ideas in writing before he was allowed to leave China for Tibet. Reluctantly, he put down his wisdom in 81 short chapters with exactly 5,000, but without any punctuation mark.

Tao wisdom in simple but profound; it is paradoxical but illuminating. It is all-embracing in that it is applicable to every aspect of life and living, even in this day and age. Tao wisdom is universal and timeless wisdom. To fully understand and internalize Tao wisdom in living, you must, first and foremost, have an open mind or an empty mindset that would be receptive to any unconventional thinking. In fact, you must not only think out of the box but, more importantly, create your own box of thinking. Your mind must not have any preconditioned ideas about anything. That is to say, you must have an empty mind for reverse thinking before you can intuit the true wisdom of Tao.

"Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one sees only the manifestations.
And the mystery itself is the doorway to all understanding."
(Tao Te Ching, Chapter One)th 

My words are easy to understand
and easy to perform,

Yet no man under heaven
knows them or practices them.”
(Tao Te Ching, Chapter 70)

According to Lao Tzu, Tao cannot be expressed or described in words, because Tao is not a concept. Tao is something that existed before there were words, before there was human speech, before there was even human thought. Tao is something that one must live and experience in order to fully appreciate and understand what it is -- and that is the true human wisdom.

The simple answer is usually better than the complex one. There is much more to it than meets the eye, so we need to look inside of ourselves to fathom the unfathomable wisdom of Tao. Paradoxically, Tao wisdom is both simple and complex. The explanation is that it is simple and easy to intuit, but difficult to put it into practice. Well, maybe the human mind is complex, and that is why an empty mind is the prerequisite to understand Tao wisdom.

Visit my websites: Wisdom in Living and Wisdom from Books.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Everything Is Nothing

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.

Remember, everything is nothing.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Human Wisdom to Understand Biblical Wisdom

Human Wisdom to Understand Biblical Wisdom

Understanding Biblical wisdom requires human wisdom. Reading the Bible may not lead you anywhere unless you have an open mind, or the "reverse" mindset of Lao Tzu, the author of Tao Te Ching, the ancient immortal classic from China

Interestingly enough, both 
Tao Te Ching and the Bible are among the most translated and extensively read books in world literature. 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. 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 and eternal truths of human wisdom in Tao Te Ching.

Wisdom is the essence in the art of living well, especially in your senior years. Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. Therefore, acquisition of knowledge and information does not necessarily bring wisdom. 

TAO The Way to Biblical Wisdom: Get the ancient Chinese wisdom from the ancient sage Lao Tzu, the author of the immortal classic on human wisdom Tao Te Ching. The book explains what human wisdom is and how to get it. It also includes all the 81 chapters of Tao Te Ching with Biblical references. The book concludes with interconnection between human wisdom and Biblical wisdom. 

TAO The Way to Biblical Wisdom contains the complete 81 short chapters of Tao Te Ching, the essentials of Lao Tzu's wisdom to help readers understand not only the text but also the wisdom of God. Given that Tao Te Ching is a difficult book with its multiple paradoxes and deliberate perplexities, I have also provided everyday examples to illustrate their relevance to contemporary living and the wisdom of the Bible.  

Stephen Lau 

Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Monday, November 26, 2018

An Empty Mind for Longevity

TAO wisdom is anti-aging in that it provides blueprint for living in balance and harmony, that may enable you to live to 100 and beyond. Of course, living a long life is contingent on many other factors, such as genes, disease vulnerability, lifestyle, and among many others. TAO wisdom begins with an empty mindset. 

"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)

With an empty mind, you begin to look at everything with totally different perspectives,

An empty mind is like letting go. If you don't let go, you would not be able to receive. Remember, it is always more blessed to give than to receive. If you hold on to something,  you would not be able to receive -- just like if your mind is loaded with pre-conceived ideas, you would not be able to accept new and unconventional ideas. 

An empty mindset not only provides clarity of thinking, but also frees us from the many shackles of life that enslave us, keeping 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 and we are in total control, but in fact we are no more than slaves. You are the master only when you have complete control over your life, or rather your way of thinking. Remember, your mind controls you, especially your subconscious mind—what you do, or how you act and react in different circumstances and situations in life.

How do you gain or re-gain control over your life in terms of your career, human relationships, time management, and daily stress, among others? It is not easy because most of us have a pre-conditioned mindset that we must do this and do that in order to succeed in life. To illustrate, in our subconscious minds, we want to do well, and, to do well, we must set life goals; to reach our life goals, we must exert efforts; after accomplishing one life goal, we need to set another higher one, and yet another one higher than the previous ones. In the end, our lives get more complicated and even out of control; as a result, we are no longer masters but only slaves to what we have accomplished for ourselves. As a further illustration, Lance Armstrong, the once-famous-and-now-disgraced cyclist, used performance-enhancing drugs to win his races in order to sustain his ego to win, which is compounded of his winnings, that ultimately brought about his own downfall. 

With an empty mind, we live in the present. The past was gone. Never look back in anger or with regret. Only the present is real. Do what you can with what you have, but with no expectation -- unlike Lance Armstrong, who expected to repeat his winnings, and he did more than what was necessary. Let go of all expectations in life. Letting go holds the key to the art of living well, even at any age. 

Tao wisdom teaches that all things follow a natural order: what goes up must also come down, just like life is inevitably followed by death.

Essentially, TaoAO wisdom shows you how to live a stress-free life. Remember, stress is the enemy of longevity. Let go of your ego-self to let God take over the control. Understandably, it's not that easy. But with both human and spiritual wisdom, everything is possible.

Tao wisdom with an empty mind is anti-aging. Live your life as if everything is a miracle.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Living in the Now

Daily living wisdom is living in the now, not the past. Yes, we all have a past; some of us may have a pleasant one, while others a less pleasant one. No matter what, the past was gone, and no longer real, except the memory of it. Only the present is real, and that is why it is called "present" -- a gift or present from the Creator.


Letting go of the past may hold the key to living a stress-free life. It is the wisdom of living well in this day and age. In this material world, many of us believe that more is always better. Why do we want more? The explanation is simple: we tend to identify all material things with our ego: the car we drive, the house we live in, the clothes we wear, the career we have. But they are all in our minds, and they don't last. Knowing this ultimate truth, we still hold on to everything in our possession, refusing to let go. This is how we have created stress in our lives.


According to the ancient wisdom of Tao, which is the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China, who was the author of the immortal classic Tao Te Ching, one of the most translated works in world literature, letting go begins with the mind first:


"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.

Blessed is he who has no attachment to worldly things.

He will be compensated with heavenly riches.

Blessed is he who has no ego-self.

He will be rewarded with humility to connect with the Creator.

Blessed is he who has no judgment of self and others.

He will find contentment and empathy in everyone.


Letting go of everything is the Way to the Creator."

(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 9)s


To find out more about the essentials of Tao wisdom, click here.


Life is about mind over matter. To fully harness your mind power, first of all, you need to fully understand the role of the mind and how your mind works, so that it may work for you, instead of against you; and then learn the strategies to fully utilize your mind power. You think and your thoughts become the raw materials with which you weave the fabrics of your life, including your choices and decisions, your actions and reactions; your thinking is based on your perceptions of your past experiences, and the memories of those experiences.


According to Lao Tzu, an empty mind means you let go of all your memories that are responsible for inflating your ego. Without your ego, you have no stress.


Stephen Lau 

Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Monday, November 19, 2018

TAO and Adversities


TAO and Adversities

Life is never smooth sailing, and life journey is always a bumpy ride. Tao wisdom may help you in the art of living well. Tao wisdom comes from the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage who authored the immortal Chinese classic Tao Te Ching, which has been extensively translated into many languages worldwide. Tao wisdom can show you how to heal your pain and sorrow.

For example, after the death of a dear friend or someone close to you, you may experience a period of denial—refusing to accept the harsh reality of death. This is the human mind's way of protecting us from painful emotions associated with grief and sorrow. Tao wisdom emphasizes the dualism of life: that is, good and bad co-exist just as happiness and sorrow; and they complement each other. Without sorrow, there will be no happiness, and one gives way to the other somehow and some time.

Sorrow may bring anger: anger with yourself or whoever responsible for the death of your loved one. The human mind always looks for an answer or an explanation of why something undesirable happened. If you blame yourself, then guilt and regret may ensue; if you blame others, anger is generated. According to Tao wisdom, anger is the source of human sufferings. Anger originates from desires and expectations that are not met or fulfilled.

The next phase is bargaining with God about reversing what has happened to you. You use "what if?" and "if only" sort of pleas to bargain for second chances. Tao wisdom says you should live in the present, and not the past which was gone, nor the future which is uncertain. According to Tao wisdom, you simply embrace whatever that comes along in your life without judgment.

After the initial denial, reality begins to sink in. You start to feel the bereavement that cause you to sink into deep depression with negative emotions of grief, regret, and sorrow. This is the darkest or even the longest stage of grief and sorrow.  Spontaneity is of one the essentials of Tao wisdom; it means everything in life follows a certain natural order, such as the four seasons, or life becoming death. Understanding the natural order of things may deliver you from your depression and lift you out of the darkness of sorrow.

The way to overcome pain and sorrow is acceptance. Sooner or later, you will come to terms with the death of your loved one when you become aware that everything is going to be OK, that you will survive the loss of your loved one, and go on living as if everything is a miracle even though your life may be different without your loved one.

Tao wisdom is profound human wisdom that requires you to have an empty mind free from pre-conditioned thinking. Living in the present enables you to become mindful of your thoughts so as to have clarity of mind, which is human wisdom. With wisdom, you begin to see things as they really are and not as what you “think” they may be. More importantly, it allows you to let go of all your attachments, including your attachment to your ego, to material things, and to your loved ones. Letting go lets you see the nature of everything, including pain and sorrow, and even death.

To find out more about the profound wisdom of Tao, click here.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Living with Tao Wisdom

Living with Tao Wisdom

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

What is Tao wisdom? It seems its too profound for human understanding. As a matter of fact, over the centuries, many people have found it intriquing and controversial, to say the least.

The ancient Tao wisdom is expressed in the book Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese classic. "Tao" means "The Way" to understanding the human wisdom in living; "Te" means "virtuosity" and "Ching" means "classic." The book, written by Lao Tzu (meaning "old master"), contains 81 short chapters (only 5,000 Chinese characters), expressing succinctly the wisdom of the great Chinese philosopher. According to the legend, Lao Tzu, who was born with gray hair (a sign of wisdom related with age and experience), was stopped at the city gate when he was riding backwards on an ox; he was just about to leave the ancient capital of China for another country. Lao Tzu was "forced" to record the essence of his teachings; at first, he was reluctant to put anything in writing because he believed that true human wisdom was ineffable and inexpressible, and anything that could be expressed in words would be self-limiting.

Tao Te Ching, written around the 6th century B.C., has become one of the most translated works in world literature because it is regarded by many scholars as one of the wisest books in the world.

Why is it difficult to understand Tao wisdom?

Tao wisdom in simple but profound; it is paradoxical but illuminating. It is all-embracing in that it is applicable to every aspect of life and living. Tao wisdom is universal and timeless wisdom. To fully understand and internalize Tao wisdom in living, you must, first and foremost, have an open mind or an empty mind that would be receptive to unconventional thinking. In fact, you must not only think out of the box but, more importantly, to create your own box of thinking. Your mind must not have any preconditioned ideas about anything. That is to say, you must have an empty mind for reverse thinking before you can intuit the true wisdom of Tao.

"Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Every desiring, one sees only the manifestations.
And the mystery itself is the doorway to all understanding."

(Lao Tzu, "Tao Te Ching," Chapter One)

To fully understand the wisdom of Tao, with an empty mind ready for reverse thinking, you must be "ever desireless" because your desires, once conceived, will "dictate" how you "would" like to live, rather than "knowing" the true wisdom of how you "should" live your life. In other words, if you have set your goals in life, you are in fact shaping your own life according to your goals; however, this may not be the true life that God has intended for you. Therefore, "ever desiring" will let you see only the manifestations of your life, not the "mystery" which holds the key to unlocking your understanding of true wisdom. In real life, if you are too preoccupied with what you want, you will miss the essence of life and the true meaning of living.

Visit my website: Wisdom in Living.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Monday, November 12, 2018

The Way to Biblical Wisdom


God’s omnipresence is a manifestation of His creations. Seeking God means we see His presence in everything around us, both visible and invisible. God’s mystery, on the other hand, is manifested only in His wisdom, expressed in the Bible.

In the Bible, Jesus is the personification of God’s wisdom. Only through Jesus can man come to know God’s wisdom.

The Bible is the Word of God, and therefore a source of God’s wisdom through reading its verses. Reading the Bible can provide spiritual wisdom to many, which is necessary for their spiritual growth in order to understand and appreciate God’s wisdom.

Intent to Seek

First and foremost, the human mind must demonstrate its intent to seek God’s wisdom through specific knowledge of the Bible. In other words, the mind must be in a seeking-and-learning mode to grow in the knowledge of God.

How Tao May Help

Lao Tzu believes the desire to seek the wisdom of the Creator begins with self-discovery: understanding true human nature.

“The ancient prophets follow the Way to the Creator,
the Way to re-discover our true nature,
which is being one with the Creator.”
(Chapter 21, Tao Te Ching)

“Living is but an expression of the life given by the Creator.
Our true nature is a reflection of that expression.
Those who are with the Creator, the Creator is also with them.”
(Chapter 23, Tao Te Ching)

Knowing the origin and the nature of things, we may begin to perceive the purpose-driven life God has created for each and every one of us.

“Seemingly intangible, and seemingly elusive,
the Way leads to the origin of all things,
both visible and invisible.

Since the beginning of the beginning, this has been the Way
to the life force of all things,
both past and present.”
(Chapter 21, Tao Te Ching)

Therefore, Lao Tzu urges us to remain faithful to our true nature.

“So, whatever we do, we do not abandon our true nature.
The world around us is riddled with worries and distractions.
We remain stable, steady, and steadfast
We do not let ourselves be blown to and fro.
Otherwise, we lose touch with who we really are;
or worse, who the Creator is.”
(Chapter 26, Tao Te Ching)

“Separating from our true nature,
we struggle with forms and functions
Returning to our true nature,
we find ourselves being one with the Creator.”
(Chapter 28, Tao Te Ching)


Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau