<>b>Wisdom from Books

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

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Why Is It Difficult to Love?


Love” is a big word in all human civilizations. For all religious disparities, love still plays an essential role in all the world’s religions. Love plays an important role in human lives, especially living in a world of conflicts and aggression.

But it is not easy to love, and that is the reality.

What is the real meaning of “love”? Love involves our emotions and feelings. We all love some things and some people. Love, ironically enough, gives us both happiness and unhappiness. When the love is fulfilled, we feel happy; when the love is rejected or unrequited, we then feel pain, which becomes the unhappiness. This, unfortunately, is the reality of love.

Loving others is not that easy, and loving yourself is sometimes even more difficulty. This is also the reality of life.

The truth of the matter is that to truly love someone is very difficult, if not impossible, unless you love yourself first.

Self-acceptance

In a general sense, self-esteem is the positive or negative evaluative perception of self.  It is a rating of self based on a partial assessment of current and/or past traits. Many mental health professionals claim that achieving higher self-esteem is the keystone of good mental health, in particular, in avoiding depression; such claims, however, are dubious at best.

Low self-esteem is self-doubt, often expressed in not asserting oneself in public or workplace, and not pushing past one’s comfort zones.

To love yourself is self-acceptance, which is accepting who and what you really are—and not who and what you wish you were (that is, your ego-self). It should also be pointed out that “loving yourself” and “loving your ego-self” are not quite the same. The former is loving yourself for who you really are despite all your imperfections; the latter involves loving or craving to be the person you wish you were. “Loving yourself” means you can love others as well because they are not very different from you in that they, too, are as imperfect as you are. On the other hand, “loving your ego-self” means it is very difficult to love others because you want to distinguish and separate yourself from others; accordingly, others must somehow satisfy your ego first before you can love them. That explains why if you have a big ego-self, you cannot easily and readily love others.

The bottom line: if you can accept yourself as who and what you are, then it may become much easier for you to accept and love others as who and what they are.

Oneness of all life

Accepting and loving others implies having mindfulness of the inter-connection between people; that is to say, no man is an island, according to the poet John Donne. This mindfulness leads to love, and then to the awareness of the presence of God or that of a Higher Being. Love is the first step towards spirituality.

The oneness of all life is one of the basic laws of Nature: that is, we are all inter-connected with one another. This universal moral principle holds the key to true and lasting freedom in living. Without that freedom, we are forever living in human bondage that inhibits further development of the wellness of the body, the mind, and the soul. Without this wellness alignment, there is no wellness wisdom.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Relationship between Tao Wisdom and Biblical 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

Monday, June 18, 2018

Tao Wisdom and Cholesterol


"Lowering Stress, Lowering Cholesterol
                 
Many cardiologists say stress is an under-recognized factor contributing to high cholesterol.

Mr. Edginton heeded the doctor’s advice. Now 69 years old, Mr. Edginton is down to one teaching job and some scaled-down responsibilities in professional organizations. His level of so-called bad cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), has dropped to 62 milligrams per deciliter from 121 mg/dL in 2012. (The latest cholesterol-treatment guidelines, from 2013, no longer set specific targets; his doctor says 50 to 70 is reasonable for Mr. Edginton, who had two previous heart attacks.

Of all the factors contributing to high cholesterol, many cardiologists say one often goes unmentioned in advice for patients: stress. Yet chronic stress from a tough job, a strained relationship or other anxiety-producing situations can play a role—along with poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise—in causing lipid concentrations to rise, they say. Cholesterol deposited by LDL can accumulate in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis, which can reduce blood flow.

“Stress will make your cholesterol go up,” says Stephen Kopecky, a preventive cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who is treating Mr. Edginton. “Without a doubt, that has been under-recognized.”

Understanding the effect of stress on cholesterol is becoming more important as people’s lives increasingly are crammed with obligations, and digital technology makes switching off harder than ever, cardiologists say. Nearly 28 percent of U.S. adults age 20 and older either have high total cholesterol or are on cholesterol-lowering drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC defined high cholesterol as 240 mg/dL and above.

As millions of Americans tackle high cholesterol, experts say one of the most significant risk factors — stress — is often overlooked.

Christopher Edginton was taking medication and trying to improve his diet when his cholesterol shot up anyway four years ago.

His doctor suggested a new approach. 'He said you’ve got to get rid of some things you’re doing, some of the stresses in your life.'”"

Nothing could be further from the truth than what was reported in the CNN news above. Stress is an enemy of holistic living, which involves alignment of the body, the mind, and the soul.

Firstly, stress is the underlying cause of many human diseases and disorders. Apart from elevating cholesterol, stress restricts the flow of life energy within the whole body system; this life-giving energy flow is responsible for the transmission of oxygen and nutrients to different parts of the body to maintain its overall optimum health.

Secondly, stress is an attack on the mind, which is directly and indirectly connected with the body. Anxiety and depression often result from stress.

The imbalance of the body and the mind may create many health issues and problems that lead to the dependence on medications -- another enemy of holistic living.

Exercise and other natural therapies, such as meditation, may target the after-effects of stress; they, however, do not deal with the causes of stress. The stressors in everyday living come from the ego-self -- or, more specifically, from the attachments that create the ego-self. Let go of attachments to career money, and relationship, among other things in the material world. Letting go of the ego-self is the way to go -- the only way to get rid of stress.

Having said that, letting go is difficult, if not impossible, without Tao wisdom, the wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China more than two thousands years ago.

No ego, no stressstress relief based on Tao wisdom.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Two-in-One


 You are two-in-one. In fact, we all are, to a certain extent.

There are two persons inside you: one is your ego-self; the other is your spirit. Your ego-self and your spirit co-exist; one is living in the physical or material world, while the other is living in a totally different environment. There is continuous interaction between the two until one dominates over the other.

Your ego-self tells you that you are separate from everyone else. Your ego-self wants more of everything not only to define who you are but also to separate you from others. Your ego-self is forever judgmental -- not only self-evaluating, but also assessing others through comparison and contrast. As a result, your ego-self is always shifting and shuffling between the past and the future -- how to better the old ego-self in the past, and visualize the new ego-self in the future. 

Your spirit is the built-in conscience that can tell you what is right and wrong, as well as what is good and evil. 

The classic illustration of the two-in-one is Robert Louis Stevenson's famous story of the dark side and the bright side of human nature -- the duality of man. In his famous story of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," he presented Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde both as having a dark side within them, where evil is always lurking underneath to surface anytime. Both of them hide their evil away, pretending that it never exists. In the end, it turns out that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are actually one and the same person.

In a way, we all have Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde inside us because we are two-in-one. Our ego  and spirit co-exist. So, how do we let one control, if not overcome, the other so that we can be a better and happier person? Click here for more details.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, June 11, 2018

Suicides Are Misperceptions of the Mind


The suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade last week shocked and stunned the world. To many, their suicides were inexplicable: they had fame, money, success, and public recognition. But they atre no more than perceptions or misperceptions of the mind.

Your mind perceives all your life experiences through your five senses: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. To most people, seeing is the most important perception; however, what they see may not be the absolute reality, because their visual perceptions may be conditioned by what they see, and distorted by many other factors during the processing of their perceptions. Remember, it is the intuition of your soul that really perceives your reality. The wise have known for a long time that what we know through our eyes are not the same as the intuition of the soul. If that is the case, sadly, most people rely on what they see, thinking that "seeing is believing," and thus lose themselves in external things.

As an illustration, in 1997, Richard Alexander from Indiana was convicted as a serial rapist because one of the victims and her fiancĂ© insisted that he was the perpetrator based on what they saw with their own eyes. However, the convicted man was exonerated and released in 2001 based on new DNA science and other forensic evidence. Experts explained that a traumatic emotional experience, such as a rape, could “distort” the perception of an individual.

The truth is that your brain is composed of grey matters and neurons or nerve cells that transmit information and messages; they are the building blocks of your brain for the processing of all your perceptions. Neurons are responsible for all your behaviors in the form of perceptions, which trigger a mental process that results in an action or an emotion. If the process becomes instinctive or habitual, then the output in the form of an action or emotion is also automatic and predictable. That is how attitudes and habits are formed, including the fight-or-flight response to any dangerous situation. This automatic or spontaneous mental processing is often not “by choice.” The fact of the matter is that this “learned” mental processing is responsible for the way you think and act, for your beliefs and emotions, for you attitudes and prejudices, as well as for your decisions or indecisions—in other words, every aspect of your life experiences.

Descartes, the great French philosopher, made his famous statement: "I think, therefore I am." That means, you think, and your thoughts then become who and what you think you are. But that may not be the real you

In many ways, the human brain is like a computer program. Your whole being is like the computer hardware with the apparatus of a mind, a body, and the five senses. The lenses, through which you see yourself, others, and the world around you as well, are the software that has been continuously programmed by your thoughts, your past and present experiences, as well as your own expectations and those of others projected into the future. In other words, you and nobody else have programmed your own present mindset. All these years, you might have been trapped in a constricted sense of self that has prevented you from knowing and bs Are Misperceeing who you really are. Your “conditioned” mindset might have erroneously made you "think" and "believe" that you are who and what you are; but nothing could be further from the truth.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Tao Wisdom Is Wisdom in Living


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.

The Book of Life and Living is a 190-page book on wisdom in living, based on the integration of conventional wisdom, the ancient wisdom of Tao from China, and the spiritual wisdom. The art of living well is holistic living with harmony of the body, the mind, and the spirit.  Life is short. Make the best and the most out of your life. Learn how to use your mind to control your thoughts to live the life you want.
Also, visit my website: Wisdom in Living.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Invisible and the Intangible


The Invisible and the Intangible

“The spokes and the hub are the visible parts of a wheel.
Clay is the visible material of a pot, which is useful because it contains.
Walls, doors, and windows are visible parts of a house.

We always look for the visible and the tangible without.
But what really matters is the invisible and the intangible within.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 11)

According to Lao Tzu, true human wisdom comes from within and not from without. Therefore, we should always look inside of ourselves to ask self-intuitive questions of who we are, what we need, not what we want, and why we need them. The outward appearance may be deceptive, leading us astray.

Even the Bible tells us that we should look for what is inside, and not the appearance.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16: 7)

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau