PRAYERS ARE SELDOM ANSWERED

<b>PRAYERS ARE SELDOM ANSWERED</b>
Your “prayers not answered” means your “expectations not fulfilled.” The TAO wisdom explains why: your attachments to careers, money, relationships, and success “make” but also “break” you by creating your flawed ego-self that demands your “expectations to be fulfilled.”

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Emptiness and Impermanence


Essence of change

The Creator has created for us a world of constant changes: everything is changing with every moment, remaining only with that very moment, and nothing remains permanent. It is through changes that we may transform ourselves into a better individual. Even in a difficult and challenging environment, we may learn from our mistakes and wrong choices in life, and so change ourselves. Change is transformation, which is educational and self-enlightening. Transformation is synonymous with impermanence, which is the essence of change.

Understanding that everything is impermanent is self-enlightening. Nothing is permanent: the good as well as the bad things that happen to us are impermanent; nothing lasts forever. We all are aware of this universal truth of impermanence. We all know that we cannot live to well beyond one hundred years, and yet we resist our aging process, continuously fixing our faces and bodies to make them look younger. We may have the face of a forty-year-old but the body and the mind of a seventy-year-old. We simply refuse to let go of the impermanence of all things; we desperately and self-delusively cling on to the “permanence” of all our attachments.

The illusion or self-delusion is that many of us 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 still hold on to our old 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 of, 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 to be permanent.

Remember, nothing is permanent, and each and every moment remains only with that very moment. Therefore, live in the present, and live all your moments to their best and to the fullest as if everything is a miracle.
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Permanent truths

Impermanence and change are the undeniable and permanent truths of all human existence. What is real is the existing moment, the present moment that is a product of the past, or a result of the previous causes and actions.  Due to ignorance, an ordinary mind may conceive them all to be part of one continuous reality. But the fact that they are not is the permanent truth.

The various stages in the life of a man, the childhood, the adulthood, the old age are not the same at any given time. The child is not the same when he grows up and becomes a young man, nor when the young man turns into an old man. The seed is not the tree, though it produces the tree, and the fruit is also not the tree, though it is a product of the tree. This is the permanent truth of all life.

Emptiness and nothingness

Death empties anything and everything—that is, the ego and all its attachments to the material world. Emptiness is nothingness in which everything becomes nothing.
For all human efforts, death will come in the end for all and sundry. This is an indisputable fact. No matter how long a life you may want to live, you will, like everyone else, face dying one day. This is the way of all flesh because you have a built-in mechanism in your genes to ensure your mortality.

Perspective of death

According to CNN news, Cathrin Ertmann, a celebrated photographer from Denmark, chronicles the enigmatical journey of the deceased from death until burial. While keeping all her subjects’ identities anonymous, she diligently records all the different stages of death, including autopsies and cremations, in quiet detail.

Before  she  started  photographing  death, Cathrin Ertmann had never seen a dead body. Viewed through her lens while standing in a quiet morgue, it was, surprisingly, much less frightening and more of a quiet mystery for her to explore death and its implications.

“I was amazed about how peaceful and undramatic everything looked,” she said. “I got the chance to look at death without it being my own relatives, without feelings involved, and it gave me a peace. The imagination of what death looks like is way worse than what I experienced. . . . . .

I also saw a peace and beauty. Sometimes the scare is in the brief look at something. Like when you watch a horror movie, you only see a glimpse of the ghost, murderer or monster, and your imagination works all the fright up for you. I think I felt I need to see everything to make it ‘normal’ and undramatic. And I think it works the same way with our relation to death in general.”

A new study of death gave Cathrin Ertmann a new perspective on life. “After working in the morgue, I was walking in the street and I got really over-whelmed by seeing all the people just walking, chatting and laughing,” she said. “I wanted to yell: YOU ARE ALIVE, USE IT!"

Indeed, death is a leveler of all. We all have a life; so go out and live it as God has intended and planned for you.

You will have to work hard and sweat a lot to produce the food you eat.
You were made out of the ground. You will return to it when you die.
You are dust, and you will return to dust.
(Genesis 3:19)

The news on death by Catherin Ertmann is very illuminating: it sheds light on how we should all view death—or  rather  life  and  death,  which  are  always interrelated. Remember, life always begets death, and what goes up must also come down. This is the natural cycle of anything and everything in this world. Many people live without ever thinking of death or deliberately ignoring its existence, while others live but always with death on their minds—especially those elderly. That death is inevitable is an indisputable fact, 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, live in the now, and live as if everything is a miracle.

Remember, whether or not you would like to let go of your attachments in the material world, 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, anything and everything that eventually will become nothing? Just let go to let God, who is in absolute control; anything and everything must return to Him as nothingness. Indeed, the wisdom of everything is nothing is the wisdom of letting go to let God.

Death is emptiness, which brings an end to anything and everything in life. This emptiness, however, may have both positive and negative perspectives.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Meaning of "Prayers Not Answered"


The Meaning of “Prayers Not Answered”

Prayers not answered” simply means “expectations not fulfilled.”

But what’re your “expectations”? And where do they come from?

You experience your own life experiences through your five senses (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling) as a result of the choices of your actions, inactions, and reactions in your everyday life.

Your sensations often become your own perceptions, which then form your own assumptions and predictions; for example, a good education will lead to a successful career, and bring about a happy relationship.

All your “expectations” are only the personal and the subjective perceptions of your mind. But your “expectations” are often unreal and even self-delusive.

Even what you think you see with your own eyes may not necessarily be the reality.

To illustrate, in 1997, Richard Alexander from Indiana was convicted as a serial rapist, because one of the victims and her fiancé insisted that he was the perpetrator based on what the victim and her fiancé claimed that “they saw with their own eyes.”

But the convicted man was later exonerated and subsequently released in 2001, based on the 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. That explains why the woman and her fiancé “swore” that Richard Alexander was the rapist, but evidently he wasn’t.

To illustrate “unreal expectations”: Helen Keller, celebrated author, political activist, and philanthropist, was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree; she became deaf and blind at an early age of less than two.

Imagine you were Helen’s parents: would you have “darkened expectations” of the future of Helen when she suddenly became deaf and blind?

Another illustration of “unreal expectations”: Shon Robert Hopwood, a young American convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to prison, became well-known as a jailhouse lawyer. While serving time in prison, Shon started spending time in the law library, became a jailhouse lawyer for the inmates, and ultimately a very accomplished United States Supreme Court practitioner by the time he left prison in 2009. Currently, he is professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.

If you were the parents of Shon, would your own expectations of your son have fallen short after his conviction of 12 years of imprisonment?

The truth of the matter

Your perceptionswhether true or untruebecome your realities, and are then stored in your subconscious mind as your memories.

Whenever you want to make a choice or decision, it’s your subconscious mind that provides your conscious mind with your many attitudes, beliefs, and predictions—all based on your memories of your past experiences. Your thinking mind then begins to process and project them into the future as your “expectations to be fulfilled.”

Points to Remember

Perceptions may easily become distorted and unreal. So, don’t let your own perceptions become your assumptive predictions.

Expectations are in the future, and their timeline is indefinite. So, don’t jump to any conclusion yet.

The past was gone; the future is yet to come; only the present is real. So, don’t use the past to predict the future as “expectations to be fulfilled.”

Click here to get Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered.

Stephen Lau
Copyright © Stephen Lau



Sunday, April 18, 2021

Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered?


Why Your Prayers Are Seldom Answered?

Albert Einstein once said, “Thinking is difficult; that’s why so few people do it.”

Thinking is a process of self-intuition through asking relevant questions to create self-awareness and self-reflection. It’s the natural habit of the human mind to try to solve all problems by asking questions. Through the process of solving problems, the human mind may then make things happen.

So, asking all relevant questions is self-empowerment of the human mind to increase wisdom because it initiates the intent to learn, to discover, and then to change for the better.

Here are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself concerning why your prayers are seldom answered or not answered at all:

What’s a prayer?

Jesus said: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Is a prayer just your way of asking for something that you want?

Is it a personal request to the Creator to make something happen or not to happen in your life?

Is it a conversation or communication with the Creator to further develop your relationship with Him?

Is it a way of seeking advice from the Creator to help you deal with your own life’s problems and challenges?

Is it a means of asking the Creator for His blessings you think you may be entitled to?

Or is it none of the above?

How often is a prayer said or offered?

Before you getting up, and before you going to bed?

Several times throughout the day, such as before your meals?

While attending a religious service?

Seldom, if ever, unless expressing with your condolences to someone you feel sorry for?

There’s an old proverb that says: “He who cannot ask cannot live.” Life is all about asking questions, and seeking answers from all the questions asked.

By answering all of the above questions, you may be able to self-intuit why your prayers are answered or not answered at all.

Your self-intuition requires not only your spiritual wisdom, but also your human wisdom, in particular, the TAO wisdom of the ancient sage Lao Tzu from China, who was the author of Tao Te Ching, the ancient classic on human wisdom.

Click here to get Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered.

Click here to get The Complete Tao Te Ching in Plain English.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© Stephen Lau

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Money Fantasies and Money Miseries


If money really matters to you, then earn more.

To earn more, capitalize on the skills you already have, enhance and improve them, and look for better and richer employment. In addition, there are likely many other skills you may possess that cannot be or have not been fully maximized or utilized wherever you are working. Then, harness those skills and capitalize on them through doing some freelance work on the side to maximize your current income.

If, on the other hand, you do not have the basic skills, and you do not want to learn and acquire them, and yet you always crave money and wealth, then your cravings are only your money fantasies.

What are money fantasies?

Only your money wisdom can separate your money fantasies from the money realities.

There was the story of a beautiful and sophisticated woman in her mid-twenties who wrote to an investment counseling company looking for a list of eligible bachelors with earnings of at least $600,000 a year. That woman had money fantasies in her mind.

According to experts, using marriage as an investment is a money fantasy, and no more than a bad investment bargain—just like investing into a shrinking currency. Imagine, the beauty of that woman will shrink over the years, while the $600,000 may grow over the long haul.

So, marrying into money, buying the lottery, and winning at the casino are all money fantasies.

What are money miseries?

Money miseries are also the realities for many, who always feel dissatisfied, frustrated, insecure, and insolvent. This mental condition suffered by many is often a result of constant exposure to media news of the rich and the famous, as well as their own perceptions of “possessions equal satisfaction.” It is your own mental interpretation of what you see verses who you really are.

You have money miseries if you have a job with a modest income but still living from paycheck to paycheck. If you are struggling with money miseries, you need your money wisdom to change your belief system, to stop comparing yourself with others around you, as well as to identify all the whys of your emotional feelings about and around your money miseries.

Why so many are broke?

According to The Wall Street Journal, many consumers (nearly 70 percent) are living from paycheck to paycheck. More than 50 percent consumers worry a lot about money, such as retirement. Once they lose their jobs or encounter any financial crisis, they become broke.

Even wealthy celebrities, such as Mike Tyson and Michael Jackson, go broke.

Mike Tyson, a boxing champion with several heavyweight titles, earning over $300 million dollars during his successful boxing career, ended up in bankruptcy in 2003.

Michael Jackson, recording artist, dancer, singer and songwriter, earning more than $500 million dollars, was heavily in debt when he died in 2009.

Of course, you might say: “If I had those millions of dollars, I wouldn’t become broke?” But if you cannot change your current spending habits, it would be a lot more difficult to change them when you have become a wealthy celebrity, such as Mike Tyson or Michael Jackson.

So, going broke is no respecter of persons, whether you are poor or rich.

The bottom line: Everyone needs to have the money wisdom to know how to earn, invest, and spend money to avoid going broke.



Click here to ge your paperback, and click here to get your ebook.

NORA WISE
Copyright © Nora Wise

Friday, April 16, 2021

Does Money Make You Happy?


Human existence is meaningless, if it is devoid of human happiness.

Since time immemorial, man has been searching for happiness. Many believe that human wisdom holds the key to ultimate success in the quest for happiness. Hence, the pursuit of wisdom is also as old as age.

Happiness is like a carrot-and-stick to a mule—forever unattainable: the more pain inflicted on the mule, the greater desire it shows to reach out for that unreachable carrot in front. Maybe that explains the painstaking pursuit of happiness by many. Indeed, happiness is not only abstract and intangible, but also elusive and evasive.

Happiness comes in many different forms. What happiness to one individual may not be happiness to another—just as one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Happiness is uniquely personal. In addition, even if it is attainable, happiness comes and goes, just as day and night. Furthermore, no matter what, happiness has to come to an end with the expiration of life.

It is human nature to seek happiness by any means, and human wisdom is considered the most appropriate way to attaining human happiness. During the brief lifespan, humans seek their own wisdom to help them pursue their happiness that may come to them in many different forms, such as wealth, good health, satisfying relationships, successful careers and endeavors, and among others.

Sadly, the many different forms of happiness that most people crave and pursue in their lives may not bring them true and lasting happiness.

Why not? It is because there are certain myths about true happiness.

One of the myths is that happiness is about experiences. Accordingly, many use money to buy those pleasant life experiences, such as going on a vacation, throwing a party, or buying an expensive dress. The memories of those happy life experiences in the past, as well as the thoughts of those happy moments to be repeated in the future—both are unreal: the past was gone, and the future is yet to come. So, the happiness created by those memories and thoughts in the human mind is unreal and self-delusional at best.

Another happiness myth is that most happy life experiences have to do with sensual sensations, which are based on pleasures derived from the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. But sensations can provide only sensual pleasures—such as the excitement of new experiences, the thrill and passion of sex, or the delights of a fine meal—they last only a brief moment or two, and they do not contribute to true and lasting happiness.

The truth of the matter is that all your wonderful life experiences are only to be enjoyed, and then to be let go of, just as a delicious meal is to be enjoyed, savored, and then to be digested, and ultimately eliminated from the body. So, the continuous quest for happiness is elusive and evasive, just like chasing the wind.

The truth of the matter is that happiness is but a state of mind, and that is why it is abstract, intangible, and unattainable. It is all in the mind’s eye—just as John Milton, the famous English poet, says in his masterpiece Paradise Lost:

“The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n.”

According to the Harvard Business Review, money and happiness are not positively correlated, because wealth may make people less generous and more domineering. In addition, money 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 all the wrong things due to the feeling of right and entitlement.

An illustration of going from riches to nothing

Barbara 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.

Barbara Hutton 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.”

An illustration of going from rags to riches

Christopher Paul Gardner is an American businessman, entrepreneur, investor, author, and philanthropist. In the early 1980s, Gardner was very poor and homeless; he was often sleeping on the floor of a public toilet. Gardner never dreamt that he would become a multi-millionaire one day. His very inspiring life story was even made into a hit Hollywood movie, starring Will Smith: “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 often 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 own true happiness and fulfillment in the remainder of his life, Gardner then made a complete career change. He became a philanthropist and a remarkable 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.”
       
“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.”

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.” 

The above illustrations show that money can make you happy or unhappy, depending on your money values, and how you apply them to your daily life and living—that is, your money wisdom.

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NORA WISE
Copyright © Nora Wise




Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Importance of Money Wisdom


You are living in a world wanting wisdom. The majority of people experience the lack and not the abundance, while only a small number of people feel both the affluence and the wealth. Surviving and navigating in this world of money disparity require profound wisdom—the perspectives of human wisdom, Biblical wisdom, and the TAO wisdom from ancient China.

So, always ask yourself many questions regarding your money wisdom, given that money always plays a pivotal role in this world of both abundance and lack.

Charles Proteus Steinmetz, a German-born American mathematician and electrical engineer, once said: “There are no foolish questions and no one becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions.”

So, continue your life journey asking yourself many self-intuitive questions with respect to your money wisdom. The spirit of wisdom demands you to ask as many questions as possible on how you view the world today based on your past and present life experiences. Your money wisdom is your individual need to think more about your money. Do not bury your head in the sand! Just be wise on all your money matters!

Asking-questions-and-seeking-answers may give you your money wisdom. Your own life experiences are often responsible for your judgmental attitudes, your bias prejudices, and your assumptive presumptions—they may prevent you from knowing your real self, as well as from separating the truths from the half-truths or the myths about your money wisdom.

The truth of the matter is that your money wisdom is all based on your own perceptions and interpretations of your life experiences. That is why your money wisdom is uniquely yours.

Your money journey in this world is forever filled with missteps and detours, irrespective of your abundance or lack. Even if it may seem to be a bed of roses to you because of your abundance, it is always filled with some thorns. So, you need your spiritual wisdom to give you hope and guidance on your money journey.

To attain that spiritual wisdom, you need your faith—which is your trust and obedience to your Creator. According to Saint Augustine, faith is to believe in what you do not see, and you will then see what you believe. So, if you believe in your money wisdom, you will then see your security in every aspect of your life, whether you have abundance or lack..

To apply your money wisdom in the material world you are living in, you need the wisdom of the TAO—which is the humility to detach yourself from all attachments that you think define who you are. With no ego, you may then become self-enlightened: perceiving the “nothingness” of all things, as well as self-intuiting your “connectedness” to anything and everyone in the world. So, you are in balance and harmony with anyone and everyone, and you are no longer at war within yourself with your fear of insecurity—that is ultimately your money wisdom.

Click here to ge your paperback, and click here to get your ebook.

NORA WISE
Copyright © Nora Wise






Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Anything Is Everything


Anything Is Everything

Living in this material world is all about struggling and surviving. The good news is that it is a human race in which there are really no real winners and losers in the end. But no matter what, we all have to finish that race somehow, with no exception. Just do your very best, and let the Creator do the rest to help you finish your own race with grace and dignity. The wisdom of your body, your mind, and your spirit may awaken and rejuvenate you along the rest of your life journey.

Living is always a discovery process. Life is a journey of self-discovery—finding who you are, why you are here, what you really need, and how you may meet your basic needs, so that you, like every one else, can fulfill some of your life goals and purposes that are exclusively designed for you. But to do just that, you need profound human wisdom and spiritual wisdom to continue that journey as if everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein once said: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle.”

Indeed, life is a miracle in itself. Being alive is a miracle. Having your breaths is already a miracle. Everything in life is a miracle.

To truly believe and appreciate the miracle of life, you need the wisdom to grasp the full meaning of anything is everything, everything is nothing, and nothing is everything—they may all ultimately lead to your self-awakening, without which you will continue to live as if nothing is a miracle.

What is meant by “anything is everything”? It may have different meanings and different interpretations to different individuals.

First of all, human perceptions are subjective and individualized: they are affected not only by the five senses, but also by the unique experiences of an individual, as well as by the indelible memories of those experiences retained in the mind of that individual. Therefore, what is important to you may not be as important to others, and vice-versa. For this reason, anything could be everything to you, but not to others.

An illustration

Near the end of 2016, a road rage occurred in Arkansas that ended in the tragic death of a 3-year-old child. 

A woman, with her 3-year-old grandson sitting at the back of her car, stopped at a stop sign. A man in the car right behind honked her for not starting her car immediately, but the woman honked back; thus the road rage began with the man firing a gun shot at the back of the woman’s car.

Stopping too long at a stop sign,  or wanting to get to a place on time might be everything to the man. Having the right to remain where she was might also be everything to the woman, so she naturally honked back.  

Unfortunately, that anything-is-everything incident ended in tragedy—the death of the woman’s three-year-old grandson being shot dead while sitting at the back of her car.
In real life, anything could be everything to real people—it all depends on their respective perspectives of anything is everything.

A frog in a well

In many ways, many of us are just like a frog in a well, looking up at the limited sky above, in that we see only ourselves, and no one else, and therefore anything is everything to us. In other words, we see only our own needs and desires that have to be fulfilled and gratified no matter how, but without seeing those in others.

Just like the man in the car rage who saw only his own need to get going, but without even considering why the woman might be stalling her car at the stop sign and not moving ahead right away.

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Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau