<>b>Wisdom from Books

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

Monday, April 30, 2018

Injustice and Tao Wisdom

We are living in a world in which injustice and vengeance are rampant. Many of us are in the midst of this storm of unfairness that causes unhappiness.

A Case in Point

In 1984, Archbishop Valerian Trifa was deported from the United States after being accused a Nazi supporter, who not only had incited attacks on Jews, but also was responsible for executing many Jews in World War II.

After World War II, the Nazi supporter came to the United States as a refugee immigrant. He assumed the name of Valerian Trifa, and was ordained as a priest of the Rumanian church soon after his arrival in the United States. He rose quickly to the rank of bishop and archbishop, and lived in comfort in a 25-room farmhouse on a 200-acre estate maintained by his church.

Later on, a dentist, who was a Nazi survivor, recognized the Archbishop as the Nazi supporter. The case against him was then pursued for more than a decade by survivors of the Nazi years, Jewish organizations, journalists, and the Justice Department of the United States. Their efforts helped focus public attention on Nazi war criminals who were living in the United States.

At first, the Archbishop vehemently denied his former identity, despite some handwriting experts confirming that his handwriting was identical with that in some of the execution orders he had carried out while he was a Nazi supporter. As luck would have it, with the advancement of forensic science, some experts could incredibly still retrieve some DNA from those execution orders. That was his undoing, and his final judgment.

The Archbishop was ultimately ordered to leave the United States in 1982, but spent two years trying to find a country that would give him refuge. Portugal admitted him in 1984, and he finally settled in Estoril, where he died at the age of 72 of a heart attack.

Tao Wisdom

Tao teaches that the Creator is in absolute control of everything that happens in this world, but only according to His own timetable. His “vast net” is encompassing and all-inclusive, and nothing slips through it.

“We try to be good, and do the best we can,
yet sometimes bad things happen to us.
We have no explanation for that.
We just follow the Way,
one step at a time,
accepting the good and the bad,
as essential parts of life.
We quietly respond to every situation
with neither strain nor stress.

We trust the Creator.
His net, vast and loose,
covers the whole universe,
and nothing slips through.
He controls all.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 73)

“When we are separate from our true nature,
we experience no natural goodness,
no compassion and no loving-kindness.
Our goodness then becomes contrived,
demanding fairness and justice,
focusing on appearance and superficiality.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 38)
The bottom line, do not waste your internal energy by striving to seek answers to those unanswered questions about unfairness, inequality, or injustice. Just accept and embrace whatever happens in your life, and the Creator will take care of everything. Just leave it to Him, and nothing slips through His vast net  of justice.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Divine Meaning of Pain and Suffering

On Nov 12, 2017, Rob Jones, a marine who lost both his legs, was running 31 marathons in 31 days to raise money for wounded veterans. Rob Jones, who lost his legs in 2010 in an explosion while serving overseas in Afghanistan, was traveling the country to raise money for wounded veteran charities. Despite the traumatic adversity that he had gone through, he hopes his new life journey will be an inspiration to other veterans. “Being a person that has successfully gone to Afghanistan and Iraq, had a traumatic experience, and now reintegrated into society, I am an example and want to show I've succeeded being a wounded but not a broken veteran.” Not being “broken” is a rite of passage to a new meaning of life for Jones.

Rob Jones sets an excellent example to show how one can learn from one’s pain and suffering. The most valuable lesson is awakening from the illusion that this physical life with its adversity and pain will go on forever. This awakening may help one re-discover one’s connection to others and, more importantly, to God, and hence may deepen the meaning of life, as well as one’s relationship with God.

Remember, if your life has a positive meaning, then human pain must also have its meaning for your body, mind, and spirit. You just have to look for its meaning.

Adversity is part and parcel of life. Adversity comes in different phases of life; it only becomes more intense and challenging as aging continues, causing more unhappiness. Adversity is like rites of passage, which come in three stages: the separation stage in which you feel separated from your comfort zone; the confusion stage in which you find yourself in no-man’s-land, at a loss of not knowing what to do next; and the transformation stage, in which you may initiate the life changes to cope with the adversity.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Way to Understanding Spiritual Wisdom

The Way to Understanding Spiritual Wisdom

Human wisdom is always imperfect. Lao Tzu never presumes that the Way is superior to common wisdom, or even close to godly wisdom; he simply points out the inadequacy of human wisdom, and it is up to each individual to deal with his or her own inadequacy. Tao is about knowing self through internalization. Awareness of the self in relation to people and circumstances around us holds the key to understanding who we are and what our roles are in the universe.

Reading the Bible is the only pathway to seeking God’s wisdom. Reading Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching may facilitate the understanding and application of God’s wisdom in everyday life and living. There is no short cut to seeking Biblical wisdom.

Unfortunately, many Christians do not read the Bible—at least not on a daily basis—and, therefore, do not experience much spiritual growth in their faith. Many non-believers have tried to read the Bible, but without much success in acquiring the wisdom for their conversion and salvation. Worst, many people have never read the Bible; they simply show aversion, prejudice, or skepticism towards the wisdom expressed in the Bible.

Lao Tzu says that true wisdom may be unappealing to many.

“The truth is unpleasant to the ear.
What is pleasant to the ear is not the truth.
Likewise, true wisdom is unpopular;
what is popular is not true wisdom.”
(Chapter 81, Tao Te Ching)

Reading the ancient Chinese classic Tao Te Ching may change our conditioned thinking: accumulation of knowledge does not necessarily make us wise; true wisdom comes from our own assimilation and internalization of the knowledge acquired and accumulated. Understanding this may help us seek the wisdom above and beyond human wisdom, which is Biblical wisdom.

“So, follow the Way.
Stop striving to change ourselves: we are naturally changing.
Stop striving to be good: we are naturally good.
Stop striving to get rich: we are naturally abundant.
Stop striving to control destiny: life is naturally living itself.”
(Chapter 57, Tao Te Ching)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Role of Spiritual Wisdom in Human Happiness

The Role of Spiritual Wisdom in Human Happiness

We are now living in a secular society, where science is the dominant religion. As a result, nowadays, many people do not believe in the existence of God. However, despite the absence of God in their lives, spirituality may still be present in the hearts of many. The explanation is that they may still believe they have a soul, which is essentially an unfathomable spirit providing the mind of an individual with spiritual direction, guidance, and understanding—most importantly, it may give that individual happiness.

For those who believe in God, the soul is the connection of man to God. This inexplicable connection is a line of spiritual communication in the form of prayers, moments of self-awakening, divine inspiration, and spiritual wisdom.

For those who do not have a specific religion, but still believe in the control of a Being greater than themselves, the spirit is the deep understanding of the inexplicable control and the natural cycle of all things—that is, certain things in life are beyond human control and understanding; certain things in life follow a natural cycle or order, such as life is inevitably followed by death.

For those who are non-believers, but still decent human beings, the spirit is the conscience that can tell them what is right and wrong, and not just following the law and order of their countries.

Spiritual wisdom oversees the mind that controls the body. The everyday life choices and decisions made by the mind affect the body with respect to how it acts and reacts in the physical world; spiritual wisdom provides the mind with guidance and inspiration, helping it to think right,

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 16, 2018

Nobody Is Perfect!

Depression is no more than a personal struggle against unattainable happiness, which is the essence of life and living. Therefore, almost everybody is always in quest of happiness. Sadly, to many, the quest for happiness is forever unreachable—just like a carrot-and-stick in front of a mule; the more pain inflicted on the mule by the stick: the more desire the mule demonstrates to reach out for the forever unattainable carrot in front. In many ways, a depressed individual is just like that mule with self-inflicted pain, which is the depression—the more unhappy that individual feels, the more depressed that individual will become, and the longer that vicious cycle of depression will continue, only plunging that depressed individual deeper into a fathomless black hole of despair and hopelessness. Depression is no more than a mental manifestation of the forever unattainable happiness that an individual strives to seek.

But why is human happiness so elusively and evasively unreachable and unattainable? The answer is, surprisingly, quite simple: happiness has to do with one’s perceptions of life experiences, and thus the thinking mind plays a pivotal role in that respect. That is to say, human happiness and the human mind are inter-related; without profound human wisdom, the pursuit of happiness is like wandering in the wilderness without a compass and a road map. Indeed, true human wisdom holds the key to opening the door to understanding true human happiness.

Given the close connection between depression and happiness, understanding true human happiness may help a depressed individual overcome his or her depression.

One of the causes of depression or human unhappiness is the human obsession with imperfections: many of us are aware of our own imperfections, making us striving to be someone we are not, while often comparing us with others.

There was an ancient Chinese fable of a stonecutter who worked so hard cutting stones that he often felt stressed and depressed.

One day, while standing behind a huge stone where he was cutting his stones, he looked up at the sky, and saw the beautiful sun. Then, he wished he were the sun that could give warmth and sunshine to everyone on earth. A fairy came to him and granted him his wish, so he became the sun.

For a while, he was happy and contented. Then, one day, a big cloud came over, blocked out everything from his view, and he could not see what was below. He became distressed and unhappy, and wished he were the cloud, instead of the sun. Again, the fairy came to his rescue, and granted him his wish. He became the cloud, and began drifting and floating happily and peacefully in the sky.

After a while, a strong wind came and scattered the cloud in different directions. Now, he wished he were the strong wind that could blow away anything and everything that stood in his way. Again, the fairy made his wish come true: he became the strong wind, blowing here and there. For a while, he was happy and contented.

Then, one day, he found out that he could not blow away the big stone behind which he used to cut stones. Worse, he was stuck there, going nowhere. Now, finally, he began to realize that was where he belonged. He made his one last wish to become the stonecutter that he used to be. The fairy granted him his last wish, and now he was contented to be the stonecutter again.

The moral of the fable: any comparison and contrast between self and others—or even between the current self and the self in the past—is often a stumbling block to self-contentment, the lack of which will direct one's thoughts inward and generate depression. Indeed, if you are discontent with what you have or what you are, while matching an area of your own deficiency with that of someone else’s obvious strength, you are in fact preparing the groundwork for your own depression. It is just that simple!

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Science of Happiness

In this day and age of technology, there are many psychologists, researchers, and scientists dedicated to coming up with a comprehensive measure of human happiness aimed at helping the many who are unhappy. Understandably, there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution to the universal problem of unhappiness.

According to the science of happiness, there are certain aspects of life and living that not only involve happiness but also demand conventional wisdom in life choices and decisions to avoid any predictable unhappiness, as well as to enhance any predisposition to happiness.

The Science of Happiness About Doing        

Life is meaningless without a purpose. To pursue that purpose, there must be goals, involving much doing. All contemporary experts have one consensus: happiness comes from doing certain things.

In the Stone Age, living was simple: survival of the fittest, which was hunting for food and running away from any external danger. Today, living is much more than just survival; it includes pursuing careers, making money, and doing many other related things that may bring happiness.

Today, living is all about doing this and that, while under-doing or non-doing is often frowned upon by the contemporary wise. For example, work hours nowadays have become increasingly longer; 24/7 has even become the norm for many jobs and professions. The conventional thinking is that doing more is always better than under-doing, not to mention non-doing.

But Happiness involves doing certain things in life, not necessarily doing more, but at least doing them right.

Get the happiness wisdom to know how to do them right.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau  

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Tao Wisdom and Money

Tao Wisdom and Money

Money does not bring happiness.  

As an illustration, Barbara Woolworth Hutton was one of the wealthiest women in the world. She endured a childhood marked by the early loss of her mother at age five and the neglect of her father, setting the stage for a life of difficulty forming relationships. Married and divorced seven times, she acquired grand foreign titles but was maliciously treated and often exploited by several of her husbands. While publicly she was much envied for her possessions, her beauty and her apparent life of leisure, privately she remained deeply insecure, often taking refuge in drink, drugs, and playboys.

Her son died in a plane crash in 1972, at the age of 36, leaving her devastated. Dying of a heart attack at age 66, at her death, the formerly wealthy Hutton was on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of exploitation, as well as her compulsive generosity and spendthrift ways.

What does TAO wisdom say about money?

According to TAO, money is neither positive nor negative; it is all in the human mind.

But how you make your money and how you spend your money may turn money into something either positive or negative.

To increase your wealth in a positive way, focus on doing what needs to be done, and no more. On the other hand, the more you do to make money, the less focused you become, and the greater are your expectations of the outcome. That may ultimately create not only undue stress but also internal disharmony in your life, turning money into something negative.

Increasing your wealth, however, does not necessarily mean spending your money proportionately. That is to say, an individual making more money does not have to buy a much bigger house than what that individual actually needs. To illustrate, Warren Buffet, the billionaire, has set an excellent example: he is still living in his $31,500 home he bought some decades ago.

Another classic example is Ann Russell Miller, a celebrated socialite from San Francisco, also known as Sister Mary Joseph, She, who had ten children and nineteen grandchildren, had grown up in luxury and privilege, and had been living a life of incredible wealth. Instead of shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue she used to do for decades—she suddenly decided to give up everything, and became a nun devoted to living in poverty for the rest of her life. That unbelievable event happened more than two decades ago: one day she held a celebrity party in which she announced her incredible decision, and her announcement was widely reported in the media across the United States. Why did she make such an incredible decision to drastically change her lifestyle? She said she her had a calling, a true vocation that was hard to understand for the general public, and even for the close members of her family.

Excessively increasing one’s wants often leads to unduly inflating one’s ego as well, and thus creating many negative attachments that are often packed in one’s own bag and baggage.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 2, 2018

What Is Tao Wisdom?

What Is Tao Wisdom?

The interpretations of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu are as many as its translations. They are all based on their own interpretations of Lao Tzu’s masterpiece with respect to their own views.

Tao or the Way is a means to an end, but not an end itself. That is to say, we follow Tao to some destination, but Tao is neither a destination nor the destination.

Tao is above and beyond human wisdom, but it is not divine wisdom. Simply, Tao may be the Way between human wisdom and divine wisdom. It helps us understand the true nature of man and his role in the world of creation, and thus connects us directly or indirectly to the Creator.

Tao is about the thinking mind. We are human, and it is human nature to follow and cling to human wisdom as a beacon of light to show us the way. As a result, we have developed a conditioned mind of thinking, which only further impairs human wisdom, already frail and fragile as it is due to human imperfections. In contrast to conventional human wisdom, Tao is about reverse thinking that renders the human mind more receptive to spiritual wisdom.

Tao is not a religion, although it has been associated with religions, such as Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism. Tao was never meant to be an object of human pursuit or worship; that is why Tao is also called “the Way” to show us a direction or pathway to divine wisdom. It is just a means to an end, and the end is spiritual wisdom.

Tao is not God’s wisdom; at best, it is only distilled human wisdom that may lead to the ultimate understanding of spiritual wisdom.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau