<>b>Wisdom from Books

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

Monday, October 29, 2018

Human Fear and Worry

Fear and worry are deeply rooted in the human mind, because we all want things our way, or no way, with no exception. But, unfortunately, the human mind is always obsessed with the reality that things seldom, if ever, go our way.

So, fear and worry may make you want to follow the popular wisdom of the world: seeking what is good, and avoiding what is bad.

But the wisdom of the Creator may be unfathomable and unattainable to many, especially those who are proud, and who want things their way or no way.

“We are all desirous of making the right choices,
fearful of making the wrong ones.
We all pursue what others say is good,
avoiding what they say is bad.
We all follow the popular wisdom of judgment and preference,
instead of the wisdom of the Creator,
requiring us to be undesirous and unperturbed, just like a newborn.

The wisdom of the Creator may seem unreal, and even foolish,
while the worldly wisdom may seem smart and popular.
The Way to enlightenment and salvation is narrow and restricted,
while the way to human folly is open and wide.

The foolish all have goals.
The wise are humble and stubborn.
They alone trust the Creator,
and not the world He created.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 20)

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Inexplicable and the Uncontrollable

The Inexplicable and the Uncontrollable

In daily living, try not to explain why certain things happen, or do not happen—especially according to your own wish. Instead, obey and trust your Creator. Without that trust and obedience, there is no good communication, and hence no enlightenment.

After all, you are not in control of your own fate and destiny in this world. Striving to control the uncontrollable is human futility that ends in stress and unhappiness. Humans strive to control anything and everything because they want to create an identity from the attachments created.

If the Creator has no identity, why should you strive to create one for yourself?

An identity is no more than an ego-self that separates and distinguishes you from others—which is essentially pride.

With pride, you see more of yourself and less of others.
With humility, instead of pride, you may see things quite differently: more of the Creator, and less of yourself.

Live your everyday life not just for yourself, but also for others as well. Live a life of love and compassion to become a better and happier individual, being more connected with others. In any life situation, if you have to choose between “being nice” or “being right”, always choose “being nice.”

Look at the following from Lau Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, made up of 81 chapters on human wisdom:

“If His ways could be explained or understood,
the Creator would no longer be infinite.
If He had a name or an identity,
the Creator would no longer be eternal.

Being infinite and eternal,
the Creator is the origin of all things.
Once given a name and an identity,
mankind is only the source of all things.

Ever humble, we see the mysteries of all things created.
Ever proud, we see only the manifestations of all things created.

Only the mysteries, and not the manifestations,
show us the Way to true wisdom.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 1)

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Impermanence of All Things

Everything is impermanent, and nothing lasts.

“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.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 9)

According to Lao Tzu’s wisdom, impermanence holds the key to the art of living well. The reality, whether we like it or not, is that everything in this world is impermanent  because everything is forever changing. So, why do you fight a battle that has no chance of winning? Just be an observer of the combats of others, instead of becoming a participant yourself.

“The Creator seems elusive amid the changes of life.
At times, He seems to have forsaken His creations.
In reality, He is simply observing the comings and goings of their follies.

Likewise, we watch the comings and goings
of our likes and dislikes, of our desires and fears.
But we do not identify with them.
With no judgment and no preference,
we see the  mysteries of creation.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 7)

TAO is the only way through anything and everything in life. Understanding that everything is impermanent, we may begin to appreciate what we already have, instead of complaining the lack of what we desire or what others are having. More importantly, we may even have the wisdom of letting go of what we value. 

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Everything Is Nothing; Nothing Is Everything

Everything is nothing

Remember, life always begets death. What goes up must also come down. This is the natural cycle of everything in this world. Many people live without thinking of death or deliberately ignoring its existence, while others live but always with death on their minds—especially those elderly. Death is inevitable, but one need not anticipate it as if it is imminent, even if one is advanced in years. Nobody knows when death may descend. Just live your life as if there is no tomorrow, and live in the now, and live as if everything is a miracle.

Remember, whether you would like letting go or not, you came from dust, and dust you shall return to.

Remember your Creator before you return to the dust you came from. Remember him before your spirit goes back to God who gave it.
(Ecclesiastics 12: 7)

The bottom line: remember your Creator, or where you came from; everything is nothing in the end. So, why hold on to, and why not let go of, everything that eventually becomes nothing? Just let go to let God, who is in absolute control; everything must return to Him as nothing. Indeed, the wisdom of everything is nothing is the wisdom of letting go.

Nothing is everything

The realization that nothing is in fact everything gives you freedom and liberation from all attachments. Letting go to let God is self-enlightenment. Returning to dust is actually the only pathway to everything; physical death is just a way station on the road to paradise. Christ's resurrection is a testament that death can be a rite of passage to life eternal, and that nothing ultimately becomes everything in the life to come.

Believe that God brought you here for a purpose that you may not know. He will keep you in His love as long as you trust Him. To demonstrate that trust, you have to be obedient, which means you have to let go of all attachments that are no more than just distractions from your fear of the unknown ahead of you. He will make any trial in your life a blessing, teaching you a lesson He intends you to learn from it. He is giving you His grace to be bestowed on you. In His good time, He will deliver you—how and when you may not know, and this is the trust, without which there is no letting go. An inflated ego does not solve your life problems; it only increases them with more attachments. Letting go of your ego is the way to go. Attachments are no more than your emotional dependence on things, people, and thoughts that make your reluctant to letting go. Only letting go can create the “emptiness” to be filled by God’s wisdom to help you let go to let God.

Stephen Lau        
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, October 1, 2018

Why I Translated “TAO TE CHING” and Wrote A Book About the BIBLE

It never occurred to me that I would write a book about Tao Te Ching and the Bible—two of the world’s most translated and extensively read books of all time. I have neither the background nor the credentials to take up this huge literary challenge. But I have done it nevertheless. Maybe if there is a will, there must be a way somehow.

Where did my will come from?

My first contact with Tao Te Ching was probably when I was a 5th or 6th grader back in Hong Kong, prior to my coming to the United States. In those days, ancient Chinese classics were taught in Chinese classes; students were occasionally given a few verses from some famous Chinese classics, including Tao Te Ching, to commit to memory. In the texts from Tao Te Ching, the phrases taken were usually short and easy to remember, and the words rhyming and catchy; they were much like lyrics from a Chinese pop song. Other than those memories, the content made little sense to the students, including me.

Several decades later, when I began writing The Book of Life and Living, I did some research on Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. With Internet access, I was surprised to find that there are thousands of translations of the immortal classic of Lao Tzu.

I must say that many of the translations available in the Internet are imperfect (however, it does not imply that mine is in any way near perfection, or even good enough when compared with many of them). The reason is that the text of Tao Te Ching is in itself one of the most difficult ones in the world for intellectual understanding, let alone translating it into a different language. Without a sound knowledge of the Chinese language (which, to me, is extremely difficult to learn, not to mention to master) and a thorough understanding of the cultural background, any attempt to express its profound content in a language other than the original Chinese without any punctuation mark is an insurmountable literary challenge.

To me, the main reason for the imperfections in nearly all the translations, including mine, of Tao Te Ching is best explained by the famous Indian fable of the blind men describing an elephant. Like the blind men in the fable, each translator or interpreter of Tao Te Ching is always looking at the text from his or her own perspective. That explains why there is no perfect translation of Tao Te Ching: none of us is Lao Tzu, and each of us is striving to probe into the mind of the great sage according to our own perspectives and interpretations. But, by the same token, that is also the beauty of the book: it is open to any interpretation. For that reason, it is timeless; its value changes with the change of perspective of its readers.

Tao Te Ching is not meant to be read in a single sitting, and then forget about it; it is a book to be read, re-read, and then re-read as often as needed. Michael Crichton, the best-selling author and acclaimed film-producer, once said in interview with Amazon.com that if he were stranded on an island the only book he would take with him would be Tao Te Ching. His comment speaks volumes of the substantial intrinsic merit of this ancient Chinese classic.

Yes, Tao Te Ching is one of the world’s most difficult and yet most intriguing masterpieces. By design, the book is riddled with unexplained perplexities and contradictory possibilities through the deliberate use of simple, but vague and ambiguous words. The real essence of the book is its absolute and pure wisdom of living a life of balance and harmony, and thus enabling us to reassess our own lives through the many life lessons that we undergo in varying stages of life. Therefore, its unique content is eternal and timeless. That is why I would like to introduce Tao Te Ching to you, if you have not already read it.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau