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.”

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Letting Go Attachments


The Origin of Human Attachments

All attachments originate from the ego-self.

What is an ego? Do we all have an ego-self?

An ego is an identity of any individual. Yes, we all have an ego-self, with no exception.

As soon as a baby begins his or her perceptions through the five senses, that baby begins to develop an identity, such as “this toy is mine” and “I want this.” Well, there is nothing wrong with that initial identification. However, as time passes by, the human ego may continue to expand and inflate to the extent that it may become problematic with all its attachments.

What is the ego-self?

Simply look at yourself in front of a mirror. What do you see?

self-reflection. Is it for real? Can you actually touch it? Not really; it is only a reflection of someone real—the real you in front of the mirror!

Now, do something totally different. Place a baby—if there is one immediately available—in front of the mirror. See what happens. The baby might crawl toward the baby in the mirror. Why? It is because the baby in front of the mirror might think that the baby in the mirror is another baby, and just not his or her own reflection.

Likewise, the ego-self may look real, but it is not real. To think otherwise is self-deception.

How is the ego-self formed?

Descartes, the great French philosopher, made his very famous statement: “I think, therefore I am.” Accordingly, you think and you then become what you think you are—the byproducts of all your thoughts and your own thinking.

Unfortunately, Descartes’ famous statement is only partially true: it is true that you identify yourself with all your thoughts projected into your thinking mind; but it is not true that your identities thus created by your thoughts and your own thinking truly reflect your true self. The fact of the matter is that you are not your thoughts, and your thoughts are not you. To think otherwise is a human flaw, which is no more than self-delusion or self-illusion. In other words, you are not what and who you think you really are.

Gradually, all your life experiences with their own respective messages—the pleasant as well as the unpleasant, the positive as well as the negative—are all stored at the back of your subconscious mind in the form of your assumptions, attitudes, causal concepts, and memories.

Accumulated over the years, millions and billions of such experiences and messages have become the raw materials with which you subconsciously weave the fabrics of your life, making you who and what you have now become—or so you think. In other words, they have now become your “realities” or your ego-self with its many attachments to make you believe you are what you think or wish you were.

Likewise, a baby originally does not have the ego-self (at least, not yet), and thus sees the reflected image in the mirror as another baby. But you, on the other hand, with your own ego-self, see the reflected image in the mirror as the same you, and not a different person. So, your ego-self is simply a reflection of you; what you see in the mirror is not real, just a reflection. But the problem is: you think it is the real you, and your false identity may lead to an identity crisis.

Learn how to let go of your attachments to the material world that define who you think you are, and these attachments may include your attachments to money and wealth, career and success, among others.

Stephen Lnd au
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Letting Go to Let God


THE MIRACLE OF LETTING GO TO LET GOD

Spiritual wisdom facilitates the process of humans’ letting go, and spiritual wisdom comes from faith, which is belief in God.

“Belief in God” means complete trust in Him that has to be expressed and validated by obedience; in other words, let go to let God.

Does the wisdom of letting God sound simple and straightforward?

According to Albert Einstein, knowing and understanding are the essentials of wisdomthey are also critical to attaining the wisdom of letting go to let God.

The mysteries and the manifestations

Have more knowledge of the invisible and the inexplicable that is happening to you and also around you, as well as have better understanding of the mysteries and the manifestations of all things created by God, who is the origin of all things. His Creation has been one of the most controversial, profound, and unfathomable mysteries since the beginning of time, while all the things subsequently originating from His creations are only further manifestations of the mysteries of His Creation.

God-given image and man-made identity

Letting go to let God begins with believing in the mysteries and manifestations of human creation: we are all created in the image of God.

“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1: 27)
                  
What does that really mean, and what is the wisdom in that?

You may never know why you were created in the first place, but one thing you know for sure is that not only you are different from all His other creations but also all humans are uniquely different from one another in that respectjust like the uniqueness in humans’ fingerprints. The wisdom is that you, just like everybody else, have His image, and this is indeed a blessing. That also means you  have a spirit within you that not only defines who you are, but also connects you somehow and somewhat to and with Him in a uniquely individual way, because your image is a reflection of Him. In other words, we all have a unique identity of our own, which is composed of some of the attributes of the Creator.

Living in the material world, you may also have consciously and subconsciously created another image of your own—a man-made identity, or an ego-self. If you are more aware of your man-made identity, you may then become less conscious of your God-given image. Your attachments that have created your own man-made identity may then slowly and imperceptibly detach and distance yourself from your God-given image.

The bottom line: letting go of some, if not all, of your attachments to your man-made identity may enhance your God-given image within you. Do you always identify yourself with the car you drive, the neighborhood you live in, the social circles you belong to, and the career you have taken up? All these attachments in the material world may have created your own man-made identity, but not your God-given image. Just think about that.

Let go to let God define your own identity.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, February 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.
­

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

Friday, February 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



Thursday, February 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

Wednesday, February 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

Tuesday, February 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.

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

NORA WISE
Copyright © Nora Wise