<>b>Wisdom from Books

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

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Control and Out of Control

Control and Out of Control

Letting go is difficult because there is one thing that most of us have overlooked: the wisdom of letting go to let God.

Life is all about living—it comes with some hard work, simple integrity, and, above all, the wisdom in living. If life is all about living—not just about making and spending money—then it is not about regrets and dreams.

Regrets look back at the past; dreams look forward to the future. Unfortunately, both are not within our control. If the value of money is solely based on accumulation of wealth, or the acquisition of material things, then living indeed becomes a labyrinth of regrets and dreams—regrets over the wrong investment decisions in the past, and dreams of the great fortune yet to come in the future.
A life journey is forever paved with many challenges and losses, many of which are beyond human control because they are often sudden and unpredictable.

Physical loss, including loss of vision and mobility, both of which may affect the quality of life with respect to independent living, may make living beyond control.

Material loss may include loss of property from natural disaster, such as flooding, tornado, and wildfire, loss of place and space, such as moving from a house to an apartment or to a nursing home. Downsizing also means the loss or forced disposal of treasured possessions that many are reluctant to let go of.

Memory loss may result in a severe loss of organizational ability and the ability to plan and function, resulting in loss of independence, which is a major setback for the elderly.

Loss of loved ones due to accidents or natural causes are devastating. Spousal loss is often the most devastating in that the oneness in marriage is forever broken, resulting in isolation and loneliness.

Losses that come in many different forms often become sources of unhappiness, but losses are no more than life challenges that are beyond human control.

But living, to many, is about controlling self and others; more specifically, purposely controlling the destiny of self, as well as directly or indirectly controlling the destinies of others around. The truth of the matter is that we are only humans, and we cannot control what is controlled by God. Being finite, with only limited intelligence, we are limited in our capability to control what is beyond human control. God, who is infinite, is in absolute control of everything. Our constant desire to control is displeasing to God—an expression of our lack of trust, and our disobedience.
Humans are always given a choice: continuing to control one’s destiny, or letting go to let God control. 
God has given each one of us a unique life and destiny that only we can complete it.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
(Psalm 139: 16)

However, the completion of that life and destiny in our life journey is according to His way and time, and not according to ours. In other words, it is all about what He wants for us, and not what we want for ourselves.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, January 18, 2019

Bible Is the Source of Human Wisdom

Why the Bible Is the Source of Human Wisdom

The Bible is the source of human wisdom.

A Book of Divine Wisdom

The Bible is the Word of God. Through the Bible, God speaks to each and every one of us, if we are willing. In other words, the wisdom expressed in the Bible is God’s divine wisdom to man.

The Authenticity of Biblical Truths

According to Guinness Book of Records, the Bible is the all-time best-selling book, as well as the most translated work in world literature. This indicates that many people do believe that the Bible is a book of absolute truths and divine wisdom from God.

The Bible is a book of wisdom based on Biblical truths that require faith to believe in the authenticity of historical manuscripts reporting those events that had already taken place.

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene.” (Luke 3: 1)

This Biblical truth is further attested to by human historical time scale: BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini—“in the year of our Lord”). Jesus Christ is a real historical figure, and His birth is a very solid historical fact reported by many historians.

The Old Testament and the New Testament

The Bible is made up of the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Old Testament comprises thirty-nine books: the Pentateuch, written by Moses, about how the Israelites came to be the chosen people of God; the historical books, written by numerous authors, about the history of Israel, from its rise in Canaan to its downfall in Babylon; the poetical books about wisdom and worship for the Israelites; and the books of ancient prophets, admonishing and warning the Israelites of destruction through their sinful nature and disobedience to God.

These religious writings of ancient Israel focused on the chronicle history of Israel, the questions of good and evil in the world, the subtle relationships between God and man through worship and regulations, and the Covenant of God with man. In short, the Old Testament is the revelation of God’s wisdom to man.

The New Testament is a collection of writings by eight different writers (the Apostles: Matthew, John, Paul, James, Peter, Jude; the Disciples: Mark, Luke), addressing different early Christian churches. This collection of twenty-seven books, comprising the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Revelation of John, appeared one after another in the second half of the first century.

The New Testament is explicit about the revelation of God’s wisdom to man through the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, and the Messiah of Israel. God’s wisdom is expressed through Jesus’ teachings, culminating in the Crucifixion, which symbolizes the conquest of human death due to sin, as well as the fulfillment of the Covenant of God with man.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Role of Spiritual Wisdom

The Role of Spiritual Wisdom

“Life lives itself in us, when we focus on the Creator.
From that focal point, around which all of life revolves.

We watch everything come and go,
with no judgment, no preference.
Everything that is, was, or ever will be,
will return to its origin: the Creator.
Understanding the comings and goings of things,
we fret not, and judge not.

Focusing on the Creator,
we are open to all of life.
Opening to all of life,
we embrace all with thankfulness for what we get,
with gratitude for not getting what we deserve.
Discovering the true nature of things,
we live with compassion and loving-kindness.
All endings become beginnings, all returning to the Creator.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 16)
        
To seek the Creator, take a look at nature. You will see why it lasts: the reason is that everything does not exist for itself, and that is why it can last forever—they are all inter-connected with one another for existence and survival.

So, focus on others, and not just on yourself. By doing so, you may discover the true meaning of love and loving-kindness.

Opening to all, you learn to appreciate others and connect with them.

“In the absence of the Creator, we forget who we really are.
Then we turn to other things to define who we are, what is good and moral.

In the presence of the Creator, we act according to our hearts,
instead of relying on rules and regulations from those above us.

Rules and regulations may bring fairness and justice,
but no more than a pretense of life.
A pretense of life is our inability to love indiscriminately.
Then we insist on those above us to heal our suffering,
which originates from ourselves.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 18)

Living in the world means following all the rules and regulations that are made exclusively for the world.

If you are in the world but not of the world, these man-made rules and regulations are no more than a pretense of life—abiding by them is not what you would seek in your search for the TAO of living for life.

Stephen Lau        
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Riches and Rags

Riches and Rags

From Riches to Rags

According to the Harvard Business Review, wealth and happiness are not positively correlated, because wealth may make people less generous and more domineering. In addition, wealth may not bring out the best of an individual: the more money that individual has, the more focused on self that individual may become, and so the less sensitive to the needs of people around, as well as the more likely to do the wrong things due to the feeling of right and entitlement.

A Case in Point

Barblara Woolworth Hutton, also known as “the poor little rich girl”, was one of the wealthiest women in the world during the Great Depression. She had experienced an unhappy childhood with the early loss of her mother at age five and the neglect of her father, setting her the stage for a life of difficulty in forming relationships.

Married and divorced seven times, she acquired grand foreign titles, but was maliciously treated and exploited by several of her husbands. Publicly, she was much envied for her lavish lifestyle and her exuberant wealth; privately, she was very insecure and unhappy, leading to addiction and fornication.

She died 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 own lavish and luxurious lifestyle.

Barbara Hutton was the unhappy poor little rich girl! She was widely reported in the media, and her story was even made into a Hollywood movie: “The Poor Little Rich Girl.”

From Rags to Riches

Christopher Paul Gardner, an American entrepreneur, investor, author, and philanthropist, was very poor and homeless in the early 1980s. Sleeping on the floor of a public toilet, Gardner never dreamt that he would become a multi-millionaire one day. His inspiring life story was made into a hit Hollywood movie: “The Pursuit of Happyness.”

Gardner was brought up with the belief that he could do or be anything that he wanted to do or be. He was homeless, but he was not hopeless. He dreamed of wealth and success, and his dreams were not mirages. Because of his right doing, he made his dreams come true.

Initially, Gardner made his living by selling medical equipment. He did not make enough money to make both ends meet, and his poverty made him homeless for a year.
Then, one day, Gardner met a stockbroker in a red Ferrari, who offered him internship because of his incredible drive and sustained enthusiasm. He had a successful investment career, and he subsequently opened his own investment firm, Gardner Rich & Co.

More than two decades later, after the death of his wife, who challenged him to find his true happiness and fulfillment in the remainder of his life, Gardner made a complete career change. He became a philanthropist and a motivation speaker traveling around the world, focusing not on his own wealth, but on humanity and helping others to get their happiness.

According to Gardner, life journey is always a process of lesson learning and forward moving:

“People often ask me would I trade anything from my past, and I quickly tell them no, because my past helped to make me into the person I am today.”

On that life journey, mental focus is essential: focusing not just on the big things in life but also on the small things as well; appreciating what you have rather than dwelling on what you lack.
       
“Then again, what seems like nothing in the eyes of the world, when properly valued and put to use, can be among the greatest riches.” 

“Wealth can also be that attitude of gratitude with which we remind ourselves everyday to count our blessings.” 

“The balance in your life is more important than the balance in your checking account.”

The bottom line: according to Gardner, everything begins with self-belief and doing.

“I just wanted to make a million dollars. But I couldn’t sing and I couldn’t play ball, so I said to my mother, ‘How am I going to make a million dollars?’ And she said to me, ‘Son, if you believe you can do it, you will.’” 

“It can be done, but you have to make it happen.” 

Conventional Wisdom

Studies after studies by psychologists have shown that there is no correlation between wealth and happiness. The only exception is in cases of real poverty, when extra income relieves suffering and brings security. But once the basic material needs are satisfied, the level of income makes little difference to the perceived level of happiness.

The bottom line: let go of the madness of materialism! The Beatles rightly said in their song that money can’t buy love, and neither can it buy happiness.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Changing Mental Perceptions

Changing Mental Perceptions

Be neither a pessimist nor an optimist. Extreme pessimism is a catastrophe magnified, but extreme optimism is reality denied. Neither is good for mental health. Given the same situation, a pessimist may give up while an optimist may strive to change the situation. A healthy dose of optimism can be uplifting and hopeful, while a healthy dose of pessimism can be realistic and wise. Achieving a balance of being realistic and hopeful is a challenge, but essential to positive mental health.

Remember this maxim: Your life experiences remain the same; but your perception and response to those experiences will make a difference in your life.

Accordingly, your mental perception plays a decisive role in your mental health. Fortunately, optimism can be learned, and pessimism can be unlearned.

Ways to become more optimistic

The first step to optimism is to identify the thoughts and beliefs running through the back of your mind after something unpleasant has happened.

Interpret repeatedly your beliefs and feelings.

Challenge, if necessary, your beliefs, not your feelings, because what you feel is what you feel and it is real to you; but your beliefs may change under the scrutiny of logic and perspective.

If you are paranoid about something, your fear is genuine; but challenging and rationalizing it with common sense and logic may change your feelings. If you act despite your feelings, your beliefs and emotions will follow right behind.

Next, record all your feelings about several events and your different responses to them. Do this for a few unpleasant situations, which may or may not be similar. You may then begin to see a repeated pattern in how you interpret and react to those events, and that will help you become aware of and, ultimately, change that unwanted pattern.

If pessimistic thoughts, such as “I will never be able to do it”, pop up in your mind, tell yourself that a pessimistic way of thinking is present for you. Once your thoughts begin to change, you may feel better, contributing to rejuvenated mental health.

The next step is to distract yourself from your pessimistic beliefs or dispute them.

Disputing pessimistic beliefs will bring deeper and longer lasting results than distracting will, but distraction can also be as effective and may sometimes be easier on you.

If you want to get away from a problem, you should not focus on it. Too much thinking and analyzing may make any problem seem worse than it actually is. Instead, focus your attention on something else, such as the possible solutions to the problem.

Disputing pessimistic beliefs involves replacing them with more logical and realistic explanations.

Step back and re-evaluate the situation, and your thoughts may come into focus, becoming more positive, and you may even be able to work things out faster. On the other hand, if you painstakingly ruminate and relive your experiences, repeatedly analyzing them, and getting in touch with your feelings about them, you will only reinforce those unhappy feelings; analysis creates paralysis.

If you are mentally healthy, you are forever caught up in the present moment, never thinking about the past or the future - both of which you have no control. Today is a wonderful day - live it in the present, and live it to the fullest! You will be surprised how this positive attitude can restore your mental health.

The mind and the will

Distinguish between your mind and your will. Your mind, a thought-producing machine, provides you with many options to choose from, but your will makes the final decision.

So much in life is beyond your control. Whatever, that is your life and only you can decide to be happy. You can choose to be happy regardless of your circumstances. Your happiness is a result of your decision to be happy. Your emotions and feelings are created by your thoughts.

Happiness or unhappiness cannot exist on its own. It occurs because of your thoughts, which can be changed by your will, if you decide to do so. If you can think, you can change.

Your past thoughts are about events, however glorious they might have been, that are no longer real. The good or bad experience is gone and exists solely in your mind as a memory. Yesterday is a bygone day, today is a new day, and tomorrow is another day. Ruminating about the past only paralyzes the present and may even doom the future with anticipatory anxiety. How you process your thoughts will make a big difference in your life!

Changing the thinking mind

Your brain is the hardware of your whole being. Make it functional! Make it productive, not lethargic as in the case of depression. A functional brain makes you younger for longer.

If you want to be what you really want to be, you must make your brain work for you, not against you. Your brain plays a pivotal role in your personality, feelings, and behavior because it is the seat of your perception and experience. It controls

YOU control your own thinking; your brain creates your own world—how you live your life, and how happy you are. It is all in your mind. You are responsible for how you feel - even the stresses in life.

Deep limbic system (near the center of your brain)

People and events do not necessarily cause your moodiness, irritability, negative thinking, decreased motivation, loss of appetite, and insomnia (all common symptoms of depression).

Your deep limbic system may be the culprit. How? Your deficiency of neurotransmitters may increase metabolism or inflammation in your deep limbic system, leading to its malfunctioning.

Overactive deep limbic system

An overactive deep limbic system may make you do the following:

You look back at the past, and you feel regret.

You look at the present, and you feel dissatisfaction.

You look at the future, and you feel anxiety.

These negative thoughts are known as automatic negative thoughts (ANT).

Healing deep limbic system

The only way to heal your deep limbic system is: change your moment-to-moment thought patterns. Learn to rethink your thinking. Change your thought patterns. Yes, you can do it! Everybody can!  Rethink your thinking of your thinking mind.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Wisdom in Forgiveness

The Wisdom in Forgiveness

Spiritual Wisdom

We must always forgive people their wrongs against us no matter how great the offense because God offers His forgiveness regardless of our own offenses. Therefore, we are expected to do the same, if we wish to receive His wisdom.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
(Luke 6: 37)

Conventional Wisdom

According to the Journal of Happiness Studies, human happiness may come from the quality of the friendship or relationship experiences that promote the feeling of uniqueness in an individual.

TAO Wisdom

According to Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage, judging nothing, you will be happy; forgiving anything and everything, you will be happier; and loving anything and everything, you will be happiest. Not judging everyone you encounter gives you better understanding of humanity, and thus instrumental in learning new ways to love and to help others. Forgiveness is a powerful spiritual medicine that cures all negative emotions and feelings.

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)

Stop striving to be righteous and wise to attain salvation,
which comes not from our efforts, not from something we must earn.

Stop abiding by rules and regulations to secure fairness and justice.
Compassion and loving-kindness come naturally to us.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 19)

True love is generosity, which is giving without expecting anything in return—a practical expression of compassion that provides lasting happiness and divine inspiration.

The Way may seem insignificant.
It is because it appears ordinary.
The Way is great beyond comparison.
If there were any comparison,
it would no longer be great.

The Way is great because of its three essentials:
compassion, humility, and faith.
With compassion, there is no fear.
With humility, there is no strife.
With faith, there is no impossibility.

Without compassion, fearlessness then becomes ruthlessness.
Without humility, efforts may become complicated and difficult.
Without faith, possibilities may become controlling and self-centering.
Compassion is the root.
Humility is the stem.
Faith is the flower.  
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 67)

Learn to let go of all grudges, the past, and live in the present as if everything is a miracle.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Living in a World of Depression

Living in a World of Depression

“Depression has been called the world's number one public health problem. In fact, depression is so widespread it is considered the common cold of psychiatric disturbances. But there is a grim difference between depression and a cold. Depression can kill you.“ David D. Burns

We all have a depressive mind because we are all living in a world of depression. The only difference is that our depression may all differ in intensity: slight, serious, or severe. The truth of the matter is that each and every one of us is depressed, without any exception, because we all experience our depressive episodes at some points during our lifespan, and it is very normal. However, many of us prefer to deny or ignore our emotional dysfunction due to the stigma that is often associated with depression.

Depression is not a new human disease or disorder; it is as ancient as man:

"so I have been allotted months of futility,
    and nights of misery have been assigned to me.
When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’
    The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.
My body is clothed with worms and scabs,
    my skin is broken and festering.
“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
    and they come to an end without hope.
Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;
    my eyes will never see happiness again.
The eye that now sees me will see me no longer;
    you will look for me, but I will be no more.
As a cloud vanishes and is gone,
    so one who goes down to the grave does not return.
10 He will never come to his house again;
    his place will know him no more.
11 “Therefore I will not keep silent;
    I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
    I will complain in the bitterness of my soul." (Job 7: 3-11)

“Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”
(Psalm 143: 7-8)

In modern age, Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, underwent serious bouts of depression during his country's national crisis in World War II. The fact is that depression is no respecter of persons—even for those with very high I.Q., such as the Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway who committed suicide just as his father did with the comment “I’ll probably go the same way.” Indeed, many of us are vulnerable to this genetic mental disorder.

Sadly, depression is currently increasing at an alarming rate because the world we are now living in is getting more challenging, more complex, and more complicated each day passingit has now become a world of depression.

Do not avoid depression with medications; instead, go through depression in order to overcome it. Follow the TAO, which is the Way through depression.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Watch But Judge Not

Watch But Judge Not

“The Creator has no judgment, no preference:
He treats everything and everyone alike.
Every manifestation attests to the mysteries of His creation.

So, we, too, embrace everything and everyone with no judgment, no preference.
His grace, never depleting and forever replenishing, shows us the Way.
Judgment and preference separate us from His grace, causing attachment.
Only with His grace do we find renewal and rebirth along the Way.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 5)

To pursue the wisdom of the Creator, you must think like Him.

He has no judgment; He is fair to all.

So, why should you judge others? Nobody is perfect, including you.

To think like the Creator, be all inclusive and all embracive.

“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)
         
We are living in a world of war and violence.

How could the Creator permit such evil to persist? Has the Creator forsaken those who are just and righteous?

If you choose to ask the Creator the above questions, maybe you should also ask yourself the same questions.

The bottom line: never ever judge; injustice in the physical world is one of the many mysteries to be resolved by the Creator, and not be you, because you are in the world but not of the world.

Stephen Lau        
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
                            

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Be Grateful for Everything

Be Grateful for Everything

Reconnect your soul or spirit to gratitude. If you are grateful to the Creator for what you have, you may look at the behavior of another individual with more tolerance, or even with a totally different perspective.

Blessings in life, such as the gift of life, are generally overlooked or even taken for granted. For example, if someone takes advantage of you, do not become angry immediately; instead, be grateful that you are the victim instead of being the person who victimizes others.

Gratitude enables you to develop the mindset for a positive outlook toward your soul. Smile more often. Keep complaints about people, things, and life in general only to yourself—unless voicing them will help bring about positive changes in others or in society.

Gratitude helps you see the good in others, letting you give them the benefit of the doubt. Try to remember that all people are created in the image of God. Focus on the individual as a person, rather than on the behavior or belief of that individual, which may not be appealing or pleasing to you.

Always be grateful that you have been given the opportunity to become either a teacher or a student in whatever circumstance you may find yourself in, and turn it into a miracle of life.

An illustration

At the end of 2007, John Kralik, an attorney who owned a law firm, experienced debts and disasters in both his life and career.

One day, after a walk in the mountains, Kralik became enlightened: as his 2008 New Year’s resolution, he decided to write a thank-you note a day for the rest of the year to everyone he knew.

Kralik’s  2008 “gratitude project”  had changed  his life completely. Instead of his feeling of discontent regarding his lack, and his envy of those who had what he did not have, he had learned to be grateful for his law firm, his practice, his friends, and his family, despite the many disasters and drawbacks he had previously experienced. Kralik’s gratitude began to change every aspect of his life. His relationships with his family, his friends, and his staff improved significantly; his law firm avoided bankruptcy, and turned around completely.

Gratitude is something that you get more only by giving it away more. Expression of gratitude generates happiness that overcomes the unhappy feelings of lack.

Are you grateful for what you have, and not getting what you rightly deserve?

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau