<>b>Wisdom from Books

<>b>Wisdom from Books
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