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.”

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Consciousness of the Thinking Mind

Human wisdom is about consciousness of the thinking mind. That is, we must be aware of what is happening in our minds.

Descartes, the famous French philosopher, made this famous statement: "I think, therefore I am." Yes, it begins with the mind, and it is all in the mind, because your mind creates your own "reality" which is no more than the byproducts of your thoughts, resulting in actions and reactions that become the fabrics with which you weave your own reality. Your life experiences are 

Tao () is about the thinking mind. It is the wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China, who was the author of the immortal classic Tao Te Ching.

We are human, and it is human nature to follow and cling to human wisdom as a beacon of light to show us the way as we continue our life journey. Tao or the Way is a means to an end, but not an end itself. That is to say, we follow Tao to some destination, but Tao is neither a destination nor the destination. Attaining human wisdom is a continual process; there is no destination.

Tao may be the Way between human wisdom and divine wisdom. It helps us understand the true nature of man and his role in the world of creation, and thus connects us directly or indirectly to the Creator.

One of the essentials of Tao is awareness, which is consciousness of thinking.

Awareness is the presence of mind that enables us to wait with patience for the revelation of God’s wisdom, which does not happen immediately, especially when our minds are still compulsive and muddled.

“we wait for our muddled thoughts to settle,
our composed minds to become clear just like muddy water,
until enlightenment arises, followed by eternal salvation.”
(Lao Tzu, Chapter 15, Tao Te Ching)

With awakened awareness, we may perceive the ultimate truth in Biblical wisdom that leads to human salvation.

Lao Tzu emphasizes the need for awareness as we continue to process the profound wisdom that is slowly and gradually revealed to us. Without that acute awareness, there may not be any understanding. Therefore, we must be:

“watchful, like a man crossing a winter stream;
alert, like a man aware of danger;
courteous, like a visiting guest;
yielding, like ice about to melt;
simple, like a piece of uncarved wood;
hollow, like a cave
opaque, like muddy water.”
(Lao Tzu, Chapter 15, Tao Te Ching)

With Tao wisdom, we may not only seek more but also understand better Biblical wisdom. Consciousness of the thinking mind holds the key.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, February 4, 2023

The TAO in Everything

 


The TAO is the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China more than 2,600 years ago. as 

The TAO has thrived and survived thousands of years for a good reason: what was applicable in the past is still applicable in the present; what was true in the past is still true today. Another testament to this universal truth is that "Tao Te Ching"-- the only book written by Lao Tzu -- is one of the most translated books in world literature -- probably only after the Bible.

The TAO is easy to understand but most controversial. The explanation is that there is no absolute truth about human wisdom, which is all about self-intuition and self-enlightenment. That is to say, your mind is uniquely yours, and your thinking is your own thinking.


The TAO plays a pivotal role in every aspect of your life. With wisdom, you will see the TAO in everything, including the following:


Friday, February 3, 2023

Consciousness of Living


Consciousness of living

“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.” Pope Paul VI 

To live well, you must always be conscious of your living.

Simplicity in Living

Consciousness of living a simple lifestyle is the key to happiness and longevity. In this day and age, living in this complex world of technology is not easy: The complexity of this world has taken a toll on the human mind, creating undue stress, as well as many emotional, mental, personal, and psychological attachments in the material world. For these reasons, profound human wisdom in living is essential to overcoming stress and letting go of all attachments. Simplicity is the first step towards detachment, which holds the key to unlocking the door to happiness. Live a simple lifestyle, deleting all the trimmings of life and living, as well as all the attachments that may have a negative impact on your mind.

Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, had this advice on how to lead a pleasant life: avoiding luxuries, and living simply. The explanation is that luxurious living may make you into a “needy” person whose happiness always depends on things that are impermanent and easily lost.

The late Robert Kennedy once said: “Sometimes I think that the only people in this country who worry more about money than the poor are the very wealthy. They worry about losing it, they worry about how it is invested, they worry about the effect it’s going to have. And as the zeroes increase, the dilemmas get bigger.” 

Can you live a simple lifestyle to help you let go of all the trimmings of life?

When you were in your younger days, you might have had many attachments to life that define who you were, such as the car you were driving, the designer dress you were wearing, or anything that defined your social status. Can you, at this point in your life, let go of all these attachments and just lead a simple life? 

Living in simplicity is living a humble life, which is emptying your toxic cravings and attachments.

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:3)

Attachments create your ego-self that not only separates you from others but also gives you your pride, instead of humility.

“Focusing on status gives us pride, and not humility.
Hoarding worldly riches deprives us of heavenly assets.

An empty mind with no craving and no expectation helps us let go of everything.
Being in the world and not of the world, we attain heavenly grace.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 2)

But with humility, we may see who we really are, not what we wish we were, and what we really need, not what we want. Humility is self-enlightening.

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

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

Live a simple life, especially as you continue to age, and you just don’t die!

Simplicity gives your clarity of thinking to see the wisdom of living in the present: the past was gone; the future is yet to come, and only the present is real—a gift from the Creator, and that is why it is called “present.”

"Simplicity is clarity.
It is a blessing to learn from those
with humble simplicity.

Those with an empty mind
will learn to find the Way.

The Way reveals the secrets of the universe:
the mysteries of the realm of creation;
the manifestations of all things created.
The essence of the Way is to show us
how to live in fullness and return to our origin."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 65)

Clarity of thinking may let you have the true human wisdom to know your true nature, thereby ending your craving and hence your self-imposed suffering.

In the present moment, with clarity of mind, you may begin to see the ultimate truths of the self, others, as well as everything around you. More importantly, you may see your past follies in identifying yourself with your thoughts that have created your ego-self, your present futile efforts in striving to protect your ego-self, and your future futilities in expecting that your ego-self will all its attachments will continue to exist in the days to come.  

Living in the present is an awakening to the realities of all things. It may afford you an opportunity to look more objectively at any given situation, allowing your mind to think more clearly, to separate the truths from the self-deceptions that might have been created in your subconscious minds all along.

Focusing on the present moment liberates you from projecting your desires into the future as expectations that necessitate your over-doing to guarantee their fulfillment.

“Therefore, we focus on the present moment,
doing what needs to be done,
without straining and stressing.

To end our suffering,
we focus on the present moment,
instead of our expected result.
So, we follow the natural laws of things.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 63)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Brain Fitness to Live Longer


Brain Fitness

Exercise

Exercise boosts blood flow to your brain by promoting the development of more blood vessels and connections between brain cells. Exercise also increases the production of new brain cells for learning and remembering. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that exercise can double or even triple the number of new cells, compared with the number in animals that do not exercise. If you wish to maintain your learning and remembering skills, exercise your body.

Regular endurance exercise, such as running, swimming, or biking, can also foster new brain cell growth and preserve existing brain cells. Build your physical endurance.

Strength training, such as lifting weights or using a resistance band, not only builds muscle and strengthens bone; but also boosts brain power, improves mood, enhances concentration, and increases decision-making skills. Build your physical strength.

Your flexibility gradually declines with age. Better flexibility means more energy, improved posture, and reduced risk of injury from falls. Build your flexibility with Tai chi, yoga, and stretching exercise.

Body balance diminishes progressively as you get older. Balance training is not just about avoiding falls. Better balance will improve your overall movement and your ability to do things better throughout your life. Build your body balance by standing on one foot or walking backward.

Diet

Eating foods high in saturated fats, like red meat, butter and dairy products, are associated with the development of degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Fish is a great source of omega-3, the type of fatty acid your body cannot produce, and it is good for your brain. To get your omega-3, eat salmon, cod, haddock, tuna, halibut, and sardines. If you don’t like fish, then eat plenty of walnuts, flaxseeds, and soybeans instead.

Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, are loaded with nutrients good for the brain. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are packed with antioxidants that slow down aging in the brain.

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are also strong antioxidants that potentially improve blood flow to the brain and reduce inflammation. Unsweetened cocoa powder is another excellent option. 

Many herbs and spices, such as turmeric, cinnamon and ginger, are packed with antioxidants that may decrease harmful inflammation in the brain. Use these  strong flavors in your cooking.

Whole grains, such as oats, barley, and quinoa, are rich in many of the B vitamins that work to reduce inflammation of the brain to prevent memory loss.

The protein and vitamins B, D and E in eggs and egg yolks may help improve memory. You can reap the benefits of these vitamins while keeping your cholesterol to a minimum by mixing whole eggs with egg whites to round out your omelet or scrambled eggs.

Music

According to some scientific research, music has the capacity and capability to change your neuron activity. Music therapists believe that the different sounds from different musical instruments have different impact on different body organs in the physical body. Scientists have used MP3 music and subliminal messages for practicing hypnosis to awaken the subconscious mind to improve memory, to enhance learning, to heal sleep problems, and to increase self-confidence, just to name a few possibilities. Music has to do with sound, which is one of the important sensory skills for maintaining good memory. In general, music listening and playing improves your concentration and brain power.

Brain reserve

Humans have “brain reserve,” which helps the human brain adapt and respond to changes and resist damage. Your brain reserve begins to develop in childhood and gets stronger as you move through adulthood. People who continue to learn, embrace new activities, and develop new skills and interests are building and improving their brain reserve. Therefore, it is important to keep on learning new things to preserve the brain reserve.

Learning

Get yourself educated. It can substantially increase your ability to fight off dementia. The same is true of working at a challenging job. So, go back to school, take classes, get a degree or an advanced degree. You are never too old to learn, and your brain will thank you in the long run.

Playing

Do crossword puzzles, play chess, mahjong, card games, or online games. These activities can stimulate the brain. Playing electronic “brain games” may help you improve your reaction time and problem-solving ability. It is important to find one that you will want to continue to play.

Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, professor of clinical psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, has recommended seven daily essential mental activities to optimize brain health and creativity.

Focusing on daily challenges helps your brain make some deep connections.
Playing creatively and joyfully helps your brain make new connections.
Connecting with nature and others daily helps your brain reinforce its relational circuitry.
Moving aerobically helps your brain strengthen its brain cells.
Reflecting internally, and focusing on sensations, feelings, thoughts, and images, help your brain integrate better.
Relaxing without any mental focus helps your brain recharge.
Sleeping restfully helps your brain consolidate and recover from the experiences of the day.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Saving Your Face


Saving Your Face


Unfortunately, the skin aging process cannot be reversed.
You can only fix your face through non-surgical procedures, such as BotoxÒ and RestylaneÒ, and other invasive surgical procedures, such as a face-lift.

BotoxÒ

BotoxÒ has been hailed as “the new fountain of youth” or the magic potion to aging.

Can BotoxÒ really save your face?

The pros of BotoxÒ are as follows:

BotoxÒ is a purified protein injected into your skin to make your muscles contract, and hence smoothing out your crows’-feet lines around your eyes.

BotoxÒ is minimally invasive, much better than invasive plastic surgery.

BotoxÒ is an instant fix: you can see the results almost immediately.

BotoxÒ gives a more natural look, except for the lines around the mouth. This is the reason why BotoxÒ is generally not applied on the smile folds because it weakens the muscle around the mouth, making your smile look “unnatural.”

BotoxÒ is a fairly safe and an ideal procedure because the botulimum (a toxic chemical) in BotoxÒ is extremely low, and there is little or no buildup of the toxin in your body (often eliminated within 24 to 48 hours—or at least according to BotoxÒ) to pose any major health risk.

BotoxÒ is relatively inexpensive, compared to other invasive procedures, such as a face-lift.

The cons of BotoxÒ are as follows:

BotoxÒ paralyzes your facial muscles, and therefore cannot fix your smile folds, making your smile seem “unnatural.”

BotoxÒ is still costly long term: the procedure has to be repeated every three to four months.

BotoxÒ is a drug with botulimum (a toxic chemical), and you may still have some concern about injecting it into your body.

Collagen injections

Besides BotoxÒ, there are other non-surgical procedures for consideration to save your face.

Collagen is a protein substance in the dermis layer of your skin, which is responsible for your skin’s elasticity. Collagen injections use bovine collagen, which is pure collagen obtainable from isolated cows, and which is clinically tested prior to injection.

Collagen injections have the following advantages:

Collagen injections make the lines on the face become less obvious and much smoother, but they do not make the lines disappear completely as BotoxÒ does.

Collagen injections are used mainly between the eyebrows and on smile folds, where BotoxÒ does not work effectively.

The disadvantages of collagen injections are as follows:

Collagen injections are not for everyone, especially if you are allergic to cows.

Collagen injections only soften your lines: they do not remove them completely. 

Fat injections

Fat injections are living grafts in which part of the fat from your own body, usually from the buttocks, stays and lives in a new environment.

Fat injections have the following advantages, compared to other non-surgical procedures:

They are more cost effective, compared to other non-surgical procedures.

The intervals between injections can be up to several months.

Fat injections may be the best option for deep smile folds, much more effective than collagen injections.

RestylaneÒ

RestylaneÒ is a clear gel injected into your skin to soften your facial contours, and to remove lines and wrinkles on your face. It is derived from a product as bio-compatible and bio-degradable as the natural hyaluronic acid, which is naturally found in your body. Hyaluronic acid, present mainly in your skin, is a substance that gives your body its structure and volume by attracting and holding on to the water in your skin. As such, it is most ideal for line and wrinkle filler.

RestylaneÒ has the following advantages over other similar products to remove wrinkles:

RestylaneÒ does not paralyze your facial muscles. It can be injected almost anywhere on your face.

RestylaneÒ eliminates any rejection risk by your body because it is naturally found in your own body.

RestylaneÒ lasts longer (up to a year) than collagen injections. It is, therefore, more cost effective in the long haul, although it costs 40 to 50 percent more than a collagen injection does.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, every year thousands of individuals opt for cosmetic procedures to save their faces, and of these individual in quest for a youthful look about 88 percent are women and 12 percent are men. However, cosmetic procedures only temporarily fix the problems of skin aging. Having a youthful look is more than just skin deep, and it never comes easy.

Just remember the following:

Your face is not you.

Your youthful look is only a part of you, and it is bound to change, no matter what. Learn how to delay, but also to accept, that inevitable change on your look.

Nobody’s face is perfect—let alone yours.

Do what you can, but do it!

Your over-concern for face image will level off at around fifties and sixties, when you would be more concerned with your health than with your youthfulness. This is the reality of life!

Make yourself look younger and healthier for longer.


Nora Wise
Copyright© by Nora Wise

Monday, January 30, 2023

Good Fortunes and Misfortunes


Good Fortune and Misfortune

Life may be a bed of roses, but always with thorns. Good fortunes and misfortunes exist side by side, and they complement each other. A misfortune is an ingredient that one needs to blend with the rest of the ingredients of life and living. Life will not be wholesome without misfortunes and tragedies, which exist to enable one to appreciate more what life has to offer.



A case in point

There was a Chinese story . . . 塞翁失馬  A man lost his only horse, which ran away one day. His friends comforted him. But he was not upset at all; instead, he said: “That’s not a misfortune.” A few days later, his horse came back with a stallion. This time, his friends congratulated him on his good fortune. But he said: “What’s so good about that?” Later on, his only son rode on the stallion and accidentally broke his leg when he fell from the horse. Once again, his friends comforted him for the misfortune. But he said: “Breaking his leg may not be a misfortune.” Indeed, soon after that, a war broke out, and all the young men were drafted into the army, except the man’s son with his broken leg. All of them were later annihilated in a fierce battle. The moral of the story: a misfortune may turn itself into a good fortune.

There is a Chinese saying: “A man’s destiny cannot be summarized and sealed until nails are put on his coffin’s top.” So, nothing is set in stone.

TAO wisdom

According to TAO, willingness to accept your own fate or destiny provides you with inspiration for right conduct. Not accepting is a controlling and manipulative mindset through unbecoming conduct to control your destiny to get what you want in life. 

In TAO, there is no such thing as “good luck” or ”bad luck.” Let go of the negative concept of bad luck, such as “13” and “touch wood,” or even the positive thinking of having good luck. Instead, let the natural flow of life move through you, giving you internal power to make the impossible become possible, the difficult become easy. Simplify your life, and get rid of clutters that make you become superstitious. Remember, luck is something that you create for yourself, and that it is an external reality beyond your control, whereas you can always create your own internal reality of peace to overcome any groundless fear responsible for your internal negative energy.

Everything in this material world has meaning only in comparison with one another, and that goes for good luck or bad luck too. Does “Friday the 13th” worry you? Are you getting yourself depressed by thinking of your bad luck in relation to the good luck of others? Go deeper into the core of your being and take control of your own beliefs, and not follow those of others. Fear is only your mental construct.

According to conventional wisdom, winning is always related to conflict: you must fight in order to win, just like in any contest or competition. The bag and baggage that all winners and losers carry with them is that their net worth and value are solely based on their winning or losing.

TAO, on the other hand, focuses on doing your best in any endeavor. More importantly, it is you, and no one else, who will judge your own wins and losses.

“Everything that happens to us is beneficial.
Everything that we experience is instructional.
Everyone that we meet, good or bad, becomes our teacher or student.

We learn from both the good and the bad.
So, stop picking and choosing.
Everything is a manifestation of the mysteries of creation.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 27)

“We accept all that is simple and humble.
We embrace the good fortune and the misfortune.
Thus, we become masters of every situation.
We overcome the painful and the difficult in our lives.
That is why the Way seems paradoxical.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 78)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Sunday, January 29, 2023

How to Avoid Human Conflicts


Balance and Harmony

The Way Through Human Conflicts

Human conflicts are many. The Way is the only way to go through them, rather than avoiding them.

Balance and harmony

Always maintain your internal balance and harmony. Remember, the world around you is always a reflection of what is deep inside you.

“The Way is easy,
yet people prefer distracting detours.
Beware when things are out of balance.
Remain centered within the Creator.

Distractions are many,
in the form of riches and luxuries.
They allure us from the Way.
Accumulations are like extortions of the poor.
They bring only disaster and suffering.
Do not deviate from the Way.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 53)

“When there is no desire to be someone that we are not,
separate from our true nature designed by the Creator,
all things are in perfect balance and harmony.” (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37)

Five elements and natural cycle

The five elements of the ancient Chinese are: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth.

The five elements balance and complement one another to create both internal harmony and a natural cycle. To illustrate, water nourishes trees or wood; without wood, there will be no fire (which burns wood); without fire burning wood, there will be no earth (the ashes from the burnt wood); without earth, there will be no metal (from the earth itself); through condensation, fire heats metal to produce water; without metal, there will be no water; without water, there will be no tree or wood.

These five elements are interdependent on one another for their own existence in the form of a natural cycle. In many respects, human relationships and our dealings with one another attest to the cyclical nature of the world we are living in.
                                                      
TAO wisdom

Think about your own nature with reference to the five elements. Are you strong and independent like metal, bold and pioneering like wood, soft and flexible like water, fiery and passionate like fire, or nurturing and receptive like earth?

Also, think about the different natures of the people around you, or you have to deal with. Understanding their different natures may result in better and more harmonious relationships with them. Indeed, the five elements can give you profound wisdom and insight into many different life situations to help you avoid unnecessary everyday conflicts and disparities.

The bottom line: learn to live a life without any conflict and confrontation with others. To do just that, you need to know not only yourself but also others.

“Knowing others is intelligence.
Knowing ourselves is true wisdom.
Overcoming others is strength.
Overcoming ourselves is true power.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 33)

Everything will be in its natural place because everything follows a natural cycle. So why do you strain, stress, and strut yourself?

“We stay in the very center of the Creator,
and refrain from controlling our destiny.
Everything will evolve and fall into its natural place,
according to the laws of the Creator.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37)

Soft and flexible

To help you overcome conflicts and resolve issues, you need the flexibility of TAO. Always be flexible, instead of being strong-willed and uncompromising.

“The Way is paradoxical.
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 mind
tells us to go the other way.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 78)

It does not mean that you let people walk all over you and do nothing. Just step back, giving yourself some open space to create a detached mindset. If you are combative and strike back with a personal attack, you are in fact driving a nail into wood with a hammer; when you pull out the nail, the puncture on the wood is still there. So do not do anything that you may regret for the rest of your life. Always defer your anger for later processing.

All in all

Having good human relationship with others may not only afford you joy and happiness, but also heal you mentally, physically, and spiritually through your own connections with others. On the other hand, having bad human relationships may make you feel sad, lonely, hopeless, and depressed.

“If we are in harmony with the Creator,
we are like newborn babies,
in natural harmony with all.
Our bones are soft, and our muscles are weak,
but our grip is strong and powerful.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 55)

We are all living in a world of speed in which nothing seems to last too long, including human relationships. In contemporary living, there is too much focus on speed. Given that life is short, there is a great deal to be done and accomplished. As a result, you may feel the compression of time, and you may have developed a compulsive mind with a multi-tasking mindset, such as talking and texting on the phone while driving at the same time.

Remember, it is your compulsive mind that makes you feel distressed and unhappy. Ironically, it is because you know and believe that nothing lasts, that you want to do more, much more than necessary, hoping against hope that some of the things that you are doing may last a little longer. Because nothing lasts, so you begin to look for new ones to replace the ones that have expired. An example is a love relationship: if it does not turn out to be what you have expected, you just let it end itself, and then start looking for another one because it is your belief that nothing lasts.

According to TAO, truly nothing lasts, but that is the wrong way to look at the impermanence of things. The right way is to look at everything with non-attachment, which is letting go of whatever that happens in your life, be it joy or sorrow, success or failure, happiness or un-happiness. Letting go essentially means understanding that nothing lasts, and that what goes up must also come down, because everything in life follows a certain natural order—just like youth becoming old age, and life transforming into death. Understanding the impermanence of all things may change how you are going to live your life and interact with others. If nothing lasts, then let go of everything, and live your life to the fullest, which is in the present. The past was gone, so let it go; the future is yet to come, so let go of your expectations. Only the present is real, so live it to the fullest.

“Therefore, we focus on the present moment,
doing what needs to be done,
without straining and stressing.

To end our suffering,
we focus on the present moment,
instead of our expected result.
So, we follow the natural laws of things.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 63)
 
Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau