<>b>Wisdom from Books

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

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

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