The TAO in Everyday Life
The TAO is in every aspect of life: growing up; receiving education; pursuing careers; getting married; raising children; connecting with others; staying healthy; growing old; and facing life challenges.
THE ESSENTIALS OF THE TAO
What is the TAO? r
The TAO is the wisdom of Lao Tzu, an ancient sage from China more than 2,600 years ago. Lao Tzu did not have any disciples or students, although his profound wisdom was well known in those days. According to legend, Lao Tzu was on the point of leaving a war-raging China for Tibet. He was detained at the citygate and was told that he had to put down his wisdom in writing before he could leave the country. Defiantly, he put down his wisdom in exactly 5,000 words with no punctuation mark. Lao Tzu's words of wisdom, known as Tao Te Ching, were interpreted by many different scholars, and subsequently became one of the most translated works in world literature.
The TAO Essentials
An empty mind
The TAO begins with having an empty mind, which is more than just "thinking out of the box": it is reverse thinking to create your own box of thinking. An empty mindset originated from Lao Tzu:
"An empty mind with no craving and no expectation helps us let go.
Being in the world and not of the world, we attain heavenly grace.
With heavenly grace, we become pure and selfless.
And everything settles into its own perfect place."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 3)
So, you must have an empty mind before you can accept new and unconventional ideas. Likewise, to intuit true human wisdom, you must have an empty mind capable of reverse thinking.
An empty mindset may free you from the many shackles of life that may have enslaved you, keeping you in bondage without your knowing it. So, be the master, and not just a slave of your own life. Live a simple lifestyle, deleting all the trimmings of life and living. Simplicity is clarity.
Mindfulness is mental sharpness to know what is happening in the mind that brings about clarity of thinking, which is essential to human wisdom.
There is a close connection between the body and the mind. This body-mind connection in humans affects both the physical and the mental health of an individual, especially how that individual thinks and reacts.
Mindfulness begins with the body. Becoming mindful of your body in the present moment is putting your mind where your body is. This produces deep relaxation of both the body and mind -- an essential element for clarity of thinking that may be the pathway to attaining true human wisdom.
"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, Tao Te Ching, chapter 15)
Living in the present
According to Lao Tzu, only the present is real: the past was gone, and the future is uncertain and unpredictable. When the mind stays in the present, it does not see the ego-self because it does not exist in the present, and only in the deceptive mind.
In the present moment, with clarity of mind, you may see the ultimate truths of self, others, as well as of everything around you. More importantly, you may also see your past follies in identifying yourself with your thoughts that have created your ego; you may see your present efforts in striving to protect the ego created by yourself in the past, as well as your future futilities in expecting that your desires to sustain your ego will be fulfilled.
Living in the present is an awakening to the realities of all things.
"Living in the present moment,
we find natural contentment.
We do not seek a faster lifestyle,
or a better place to be.
We need the essentials of life,
not its extra trimmings.
Living in the present moment,
we focus on the experience of the moment.
Thus, we enjoy every aspect of simple living,
and find contentment in everyone and everything.
Living in contentment,
we grow old and die,
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 80)
The natural cycle
The truth of the matter is that everything in life must follow a natural cycle, whether you like it or not, and that you must be patient because nothing is within your control, especially your destiny.
”That which shrinks
Must first expand.
That which fails,
Must first be strong.
That which is cast down
Must first be raised.
Before receiving, there must be giving.
This is called perception of the nature of things.
Soft and weak overcome hard and strong.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 36)
Spontaneity is the essence of the natural cycle. What goes up must eventually come down; life begets death; day is followed by night -- just like the cycle of the four seasons.
"Allowing things to come and go,
following their natural laws,
we gain everything.
Straining and striving,
we lose everything."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 48)
"Strong winds come and go.
So do torrential rains.
Even heaven and earth cannot make them last forever."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 23)
No judgment and no separation
According to the TAO, you should not judge others, nor should you separate yourself from others. Being non-judgmental holds the key to attaining balance and harmony in a world of chaos and disharmony.
No choosing and no picking
Following the natural cycle of all things, you do not need to pick and choose. Picking and choosing is only sickness of the mind: the futility in striving to control what is essentially uncontrollable.
"People naturally avoid loss and seek gain.
But with all things along the Way,
there is no need to pick and choose.
There is no gain without loss.
There is no abundance without lack.
We do not know how and when
one gives way to the other.
So, we just remain in the center of things,
trusting the Creator, instead of ourselves.
This is the essence of the Way."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter42)
Picking and choosing is synonymous with control of self, of others, and of everything around, which is against the laws of nature.
Controlling external events is futility.
Control is but an illusion.
Whenever we try to control,
we separate ourselves from our true nature.
Man proposes; the Creator disposes.
Life is sacred: it flows exactly as it should.
Trusting in the Creator, we return to our breathing,
natural and spontaneous, without conscious control.
In the same manner:
sometimes we have more,
sometimes we have less;
sometimes we exert ourselves,
sometimes we pull back;
sometimes we succeed,
sometimes we fail.
Trusting in the Creator, we see the comings and goings of things,
but without straining and striving to control them.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 29)
"Fame or the self, which is dearer?
Self or wealth, which is greater?
Gain or loss, which is more painful?
Accumulating or letting go, which causes more suffering?
Looking for status and security, we find only suffering.
Knowing our true nature, we find joy and peace.
With nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to us."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 44)
Embracing everything is beneficial because it holds the key to enlightenment, which is the understanding of what the TAO is all about..
No expectation and no over-doing
The TAO emphasizes “wu-wei”, which means "no over-doing". Contrary to conventional wisdom, which focuses much on effort, Tao wisdom emphasizes "effortless" effort.
"The softest thing in the world
overcomes what seems to be the hardest.
That which has no form
penetrates what seems to be impenetrable.
That is why we exert effortless effort.
We act without over-doing.
We teach without arguing.
This is the Way to true wisdom.
This is not a popular way
because people prefer over-doing.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 43)
Humility with no Ego
If the TAO could be summarized in one word, it is the word "humility."
Humility is the enemy of the ego, while pride is its best friend. With humility, you see who you really are, and not who you think or wish you were. With humility, you become aligned with the Creator, who provides you the wisdom in living in this material world.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
The TAO in Growing Up
Growing up is the most important phase or stage in any person's life because it defines WHO that person is and shapes WHAT that person will later become. Most importantly, it develops the THINKING MIND of that person.
But why is THINKING so important? Because every aspect of life has to do with choices, decisions, indecisions that come from the thinking mind.
Growing up--generally speaking, the first 10 to 15 years of an individual from early childhood to young adulthood--provides uniquely subjective experiences to an individual, and they are perceived through the five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. All the experiences perceived through the five senses then become the raw materials for the thinking mind to grow and develop--making an individual become who and what that individual may ultimately become.
The TAO plays a pivotal role in the perception of life experiences, as well as in the growth and development of the thinking mind based on those life experiences. Click here to find out the role of the TAO in growing up.
The TAO in Receiving Education
Learning is also an important aspect in life and living. Learning provides knowledge, which leads to wisdom; both of which play an important, but totally different, role in the survival in the material world. The TAO demonstrates that knowledge, in spite of its importance, does not necessarily make a person wise or wiser.
Having said that, knowledge is indispensable: without some knowledge or expertise, an individual may have difficulty in making a living. So, without an education, an individual may often drift in and out every day, making life and living meaningless and purposeless. Unfortunately, this is often the source of sins and crimes.
The bottom line: good education is indisposable, but it may be difficult not only for the receiver but also for the provider.
The TAO is important in the various phases of intellectual growth, especially in the roles of students and mentors, with respect to how to express, receive, and consider knowledge. Click here for more information.
The TAO in Getting Married
Many who fall in love want to get married because they think getting married will make them happy.
But getting married is "two becoming one", which involves many problems that have to be recognized and solved before happiness may ensue.
Not knowing the problems related to marriage is a testament to the reality that divorces are becoming common in the United States. One of the major causes of divorce is money. The TAO gives you the money wisdom to thrive and survive in a marriage.
Another reality is that infidelity is getting more prevalent in marriages. Marriage is all about "change" -- change in environment, and change in personality. The TAO gives you the wisdom to change for the better for yourself as well as for your marriage partner. According to the TAO, you are living in an ever-changing world. So, without changing yourself and your marriage partner, your marriage may not be saved.
Click here to find out how the TAO may save your marriage.
The TAO in Persuing Careers
The career of an individual may span over several decades, involving many ups and downs, such as employment and unemployment, as well as success and failure. These changes may either inflate the ego with unrealistic expectations, or decrease the self-worth with depression--these are contrary to the wisdom of the TAO.
To choose a career, to pursue a career, to change a career, or to end a career -- they often come with the bag and baggage of attachment to the past success or failure.
Career advancement requires endeavor and passion, involving many new challenges
Climbing a career ladder successfully is never easy and smooth: involvement with argument and aggression is often inevitable. Ambition often comes with an aggressive and domineering personality, often leading to coercion and imposition.
Click here to find out how the TAO may help your career pursuit.
The TAO in Raising Children
Raising children is a life-long task--it is much more than just changing diapers and feeding them. It requires discipline, but over-discipline -- just like the balance of yin and yang of the TAO.
Raising children requires providing them with different opportunities for character development so that they may become who and what they are meant to be, and not who and what you wish they would become.
Most importantly, children have to be taught about sex, and money management so that they may thrive and survive in this material world.
All of the above requires time and interaction with children as they grow up.
Click here to get the TAO in raising children.
The TAO in Connecting with Others
"No man is an island." The truth of the matter is that we are all inter-connected with one another, either directly or indirectly, with no exception, whether we like it or not.
According to the TAO, seeing the imperfections may make us see the imperfections in ourselves. More importantly, it may also make us self-intuit different ways to improve those imperfections perceived in ourselves.
"Nobody is perfect" is the TAO in living in this world of conflicts and confusion.
Remember, you are not living alone with your family and loved ones; you are daily connected with your co-workers and people around you with their different beliefs and perspectives. The TAO is the Way to connect with them.
Click here to find out how the TAO can connect with others.
The TAO in Staying Healthy
Undoubtedly, the TAO's focus on balance and harmony holds the key to staying healthy.
But can the TAO heal?
Absolutely! Healing begins with the mind, and not the body. Remember, the mind controls the body, and not the other way around. The TAO always focuses on the thinking mind. If the mind wants to heal, it will empower the body to do what is necessary to begin the healing.
So, empower the mind to heal the body, and stay healthy.
Click here to find out how the TAO can heal the mind and the body to stay healthy.
The TAO in Aging
Aging inevitably creates many problems in the body, and in the mind.
The TAO shows the wisdom in aging: how to age gracefully without fear and worry. The truth of the matter is that everything becomes nothing, and this nothingness is self-enlightenment.
Aging shows you the real meaning of life: living in the present; doing what needs to be done without striving and straining. Aging may also help you look back to the past with no anger and no remorse, but with appreciation and thankfulness.
Aging is transformative and life-changing.
Click here to find out the TAO in aging.
THE PARADOXES OF LIFE
A paradox is a statement with two totally opposite meanings that may seem contradictory to each other and yet together they not only are true but also make sense.
Believing in God in itself has many paradoxes: the Creator becomes a creature; the Infinite becomes finite; the Eternal One enters into time; and death is the way to life. These are some of the paradoxes expressed in the Bible.
The presence of God is one of the many paradoxes of life. Indeed, sometimes we see God’s love, mercy, and justice, but there are also times we see only His indifference, condemnation, and even injustice. In fact, there are many times we are prone to asking the pivotal question: “Where is God?”
So, how do we explain this enigma and the paradox of God’s presence in human lives?
The reality is that God does not change. God is always and will forever be who He is: God is constant and present. It is only humans’ perceptions of God that constantly change under many different circumstances.
Believing in God is a tall order because we are living in a world not only of paradoxes but also of changes.
The paradox of two-in-one person
You are a two-in-one person. As a matter of fact, we all are, to a certain extent.
There are two persons living inside you: one is your ego-self; the other is your spirit. They co-exist: your ego-self is living in the physical or material world, while your spirit is living in a totally different environment with a different dimension. There is constant and continual contact and interaction between these two personalities.
Your ego-self is assertive, and even aggressive, always telling you that you are separate from everyone else. Your ego-self wants more of everything, not only to define who you are but also to separate you from others. Your ego-self is judgmental, not only self-evaluating but also assessing others through comparison and contrast with yourself. Your ego-self is constantly shifting and shuffling back and forth between the past and the future, instrumental in improving the ego-self in the past, as well as in enhancing the ego-self expected in the future.
Your spirit is the other person living inside you. Your spirit, on the other hand, is gentle and submissive in nature, always nudging you to do what is right and to avoid doing what is wrong.
The paradox is that both your ego-self and your spirit co-exist, and that each strives to dominate and influence the other.
The classic illustration of the two-in-one person is Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the story, both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have a dark side within them, where evil is always lurking underneath to surface anytime. In the end, it turns out that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are actually one and the same person.
Given that the ego-self and the spirit co-exist and that one can never totally get rid of the other, the reality is that the more control the ego-self has over the spirit, the more difficult it is to understand God’s presence, not to mention to attain His wisdom. To unravel the paradox of two-in-one person, let go of the ego-self, or at least diminish its control over the spirit, so as to feel more the presence of God in order to seek His wisdom.
The paradox of understanding
One of the reasons for the paradox of God’s presence is rationalization. Man is a rational being, and understanding is vital to believing.
According to St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo (354-430 A.D.), in life there are certain things we do not believe unless we understand them, and there are also other things that we do not understand unless we believe them first. According to St. Augustine, faith is not opposed to understanding, nor is it independent of understanding. His famous statement “faith seeking understanding” is an act of believing first, without which unbelief closes the door to further understanding. In other words, believe first, and understanding will follow. St. Anselm of Canterbury, a well-known Christian philosopher and theologian of the eleventh century, also echoed St. Augustine’s statement in his famous motto “I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.”
“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3)
The reality is that man has only limited power of understanding. Therefore, let go of any pre-conceived concept or rationalization in order to appreciate the presence of God, thereby opening the door to further understanding the mystery of His presence.
THE PARADOXES OF THE TAO
The TAO wisdom of “Tao Te Ching” -- an ancient classic by Lao Tzu, an ancient sage in China -- is paradoxical and even contradictory: it requires the reversal of the common or conventional thinking process in order to truly appreciate and comprehend what Lao Tzu was saying.
To illustrate, according to the TAO, we think with our hearts and only feel with our minds, while in conventional wisdom, we use our minds to think, to reason, and to judge by using our common logic.
In the TAO, we let the mind do its natural function of feeling and observing, instead of thinking. More specifically, the main function of the human mind is to observe the thoughts in the thinking mind but without any judgment or interference. The Chinese for “I think” is literally “my heart thinks.” For centuries, the Chinese have been inculcated with the concept that the heart, and not the mind, is responsible for the ultimate thinking process. However, that is not to contradict the Western concept that the mind thinks. In the TAO, however, “thinking with the heart” figuratively means consciously slowing down the thinking mind, and thereby letting the mind observe the rambling thoughts, instead of having the mind being controlled and overwhelmed by those distracting thoughts. Simply put, the mind mainly feels and observes; it does little thinking and judging in deference to the heart.
To further illustrate the above point, the human mind is like a car, just an instrument of the human brain. The driver is the heart that controls the steering. The car only observes and feels, just as the body does through its five senses. The car does not control its speed or its direction, but the driver does. It is, therefore, important that the car does not exceed the speed limit, because if it goes too fast, it cannot properly observe the surrounding environment with its details, and thus endangering the driver.
Similarly, it is also important for the human mind to purposely slow down, so that the individual or the driver can see clearly where he or she is going. The TAO focuses on slowing down the thinking mind, letting it become only the non-judgmental observer so that the heart can make the intelligent choices and decisions in life.
According to Lao Tzu, true wisdom is total mental awareness -- awareness of what is happening around us, awareness of the nature of things; true wisdom is not based on any human concept, let alone the pre-conditioning of the human mind. That is the reason why it cannot be expressed in words; it has to be experienced and self-intuited by each and every individual. There is no blueprint for all.
Indeed, the TAO expressed in Tao Te Ching is filled with many paradoxes and contradictory expressions, for example:
“The more we look, the less we see.
The more we hear, the less we listen.
The more we crave, the crazier we become.”
(Chapter 12, Tao Te Ching)
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
The TAO in Life Challenges
A life journey is long and winding, with many detours and side-tracks. It is easy to get lost, making one wonder if one will ever get to the destination, and, worse, what that destination may be like.
Life is a bed of beautiful roses but with many thorns even for those who consider themselves fortunate and successful. Nothing in life is what one may expect, and life challenges are always unexpected
As life approaches its end, there are only many more life challenges to be confronted. As aging continues, frailty of the body and incapacity of the mind may make it even more difficulty to deal with those life challenges.
But the TAO is the Way to thrive and survive in all life challenges. Click here to find out the TAO in challenges.
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TAO Wisdom Books
About Ancient Wisdom. . .
TAO is the wisdom of Lau Tzu, the ancient sage from China. TAO comes from "Tao Te Ching" -- one of the most translated books in world literature due to its profound and controversial wisdom.
TAO is the Way to understanding Biblical wisdom, which is not only inexplicable but also paradoxical. You have to believe in order to overcome your unbelief. So, human wisdom is the Way to spiritual wisdom.
One of the reasons why TAO has survived and thrived for centuries is that its wisdom is not only timeless but also universal. It demonstrates how to live your life, irrespective who and where you are.
Today many do not live in reality because they continue to commit the Seven Deadly Sins mentioned thousands of years ago. TAO explains how you can avoid and overcome those sins. Not living in reality is self-delusional and self-destructive.
About Healing Wisdom. . .
Myasthenia Gravis is one of the many autoimmune diseases that attack a compromised immune system. According to conventional medicine, there is no known cure. But the author cured his own disorder through his own holistic approach.
According to TAO, healing begins with the mind, and not the body. Lao Tzu famously said: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." But the healing journey has no destination in mind. Just diligently continue the journey, and you will ultimately reach your destination.
A cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Instead, it is a life-learning lesson for self-discovery and health-recovery.
Congratulations! Cancer may be a blessing in disguise.
Depression is common because people want everything their way or no way -- and this is the way to depression! Medication is not the way out of depression; the only way out is letting go of "my way or no way."
About Living-Well Wisdom. . .
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."
Life is a miracle; even your breath is a miracle in itself. To live your life as if everything is a miracle, you need wisdom of the body, the mind, and the soul.
Free yourself from your self-delusions created by your self-consciousness of who and what you think you are. With the integration of both conventional and ancient wisdom, you may begin to live your life very differently.
An "empty mind with reverse thinking" may help you find out who you really are, and not who you wish you were. Accordingly, you may become a better and happier individual: you are in this world but not of this world.
Wisdom in living is understanding the impermanence of all things: that is, nothing lasts, and everything remains only with that very present moment; what goes up must also come down; life is inevitably followed by death.
Parenting is one of the objectives of life and living. Healthy pregnancy is a responsibility that covers a long period: before, during, and after pregnancy.
Parenting is a life-long obligation and responsibility.
Raising children is developing their potentials and personalities in a learning environment..
You cannot live without money, and money makes your world go round. But money is the No. 1 cause of divorce, and the source of all human evils and sins. So, get your money wisdom to survive and thrive.
Pursuing happiness is like "a carrot- and-stick in front of a mule" -- the more you strive to reach out for it, the more evasive it is, and the more painful it may become. So, get the happiness wisdom to live your life as if everything is a miracle.
About Balance-Harmony Wisdom. . .
Stress comes from the ego-self, which demands attachments in life to define and sustain the ego. All stressors in life contribute to imbalance and disharmony. So, with humility, let go of all attachments to live a stress-free life.
Nothing lasts. So, let go of anything and everything, both positive and negative, as well as the present and the past, to live a stress-free lifestyle in balance and harmony.
Live in the now. The past was gone, the future is yet to come, and only the present is real. The present is a gift, and that is why it is called "present."
"Prayers are seldom answered" means "human expectations not fulfilled." All expectations are only memories of the past projected by the thinking mind into the future as "realities." So, live in reality.
About Aging Wisdom. . .
Consciousness of living is everything in aging. If you are not conscious of your breath, you are not living at all. Consciousness is the pathway to longevity living.
How to survive in a toxic world with so much misinformation about aging? To thrive in this environment, you must have the wisdom to separate the sheep from the goat.
Growing old does not suck. Turn your senior years into golden years. Santa Claus may not be a magic-bullet solution to all your life problems and challenges, but he certainly may open unexpected doors for you in your golden years.
According to TAO, the end of anything is always the beginning of something else; the material world is forever filled with these cycles of beginnings and endings. Get the wisdom to intuit these cycles of balance and harmony so that you may continue the rest of your life journey and live as if everything is a miracle.
About Right-Doing Wisdom. . .
A happy marriage has to do with right-doing for a marriage couple in a two-in-one lifestyle to avoid conflicts, adultery, infidelity, and to promote sexual intimacy.
"Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)
Mindfulness is stilling an unquiet mind to see the ultimate truths of self, as well as anything and everything around the self.
Good investment is about right-doing in all financial decisions without greed and irrationality. Right-mindedness is the wisdom of profitable investment.
"Nobody is perfect" shows you the way to right-doing: accepting others as who they are; forgiving them as you forgive yourself. Compassion and loving-kindness are the gifts of life.
A FLAWED EGO-SELF
A flawed ego-self is the cause of distorted thinking, which may ultimately lead to diseases of not just the mind but also the body.
An illustration of a flawed ego-self
On March 12, 2019, United States federal prosecutors disclosed a conspiracy to influence student college admissions decisions at several prominent American universities. In that college admission cheating scandal, some wealthy parents paid as much as $75,000 per test to help their children get a better score. It was reported that at least 50 people, including famous Hollywood stars, allegedly had been part of that scandal.
From the perspective of the some of the participants of that scandal, it might just be a “crime with no victim” in that the wealthy parents with good intention to help their children’s education by lavishing their money on those who were more than willing to receive and to help; it was quite different from a crime of robbing a bank or of a stranger in the street.
But it was a serious crime of greed and control-the flaws of an ego-self. The wealthy parents were so self-centered without thinking of the impact of their selfish act on their own children as well as on those who were potentially denied of their admissions to those colleges and universities. Worse, they also subconsciously reinforced their own implicit assumption -- another flawed thinking of the ego-self -- that a “better education” will somehow guarantee a successful career, leading to a happy marriage, and the vanity of living happily ever after. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Another similar but different illustration
In 2012, a Chinese couple from Hong Kong filed a lawsuit against an education consultant in the United States for $2 million dollars, who promised that he could -- but ultimately did not -- get their two sons into Harvard University.
The couple had used “improper” but maybe still perfectly “legal” means to get their two sons into Harvard University. Instead of regretting and recognizing their own guilt, the couple focused only on their anger, frustration, and vengeance that they would go public with their shameless act.
An enlightening illustration
Several years ago, a pastor from Hong Kong was invited to give a sermon in China. A woman from the congregation asked the pastor if it was “right” to give money to get her son into an elite school in China. The pastor replied by saying: “Your son getting into that elite school would also imply depriving another child of that same opportunity you are seeking for your child.”
A year later, the pastor met the same woman, who told him that her son had got into that elite school but without using her kwganxi or connection. The pastor then said to her: “See, God is in control; if you would just let Him.”
To a certain extent, we all have an ego-self, with no exception. It is because all humans desire some sort of an identity defined by what they have done and accomplished to date.
According to the TAO, humility may diminish the ego-self, and not letting it dominate the true self of an individual. A dominant ego-self often distorts the thinking mind of that individual, and thus leading to inappropriate actions and reactions of that individual on his or her life journey.
Humility is simplicity in living. In this day and age, living in this complex material 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, the TAO of humility is essential to overcoming stress and letting go of all attachments. Simplicity is the first step toward detachment, which holds the key to unlocking the door to health and 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 life purpose 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 while traveling on your journey of living longer?
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 while on your healing journey, let go of all these attachments and just lead a simple life?
A classic example is Ann Russell Miller, a celebrated socialite from San Francisco, also known as Sister Mary Joseph, She, who had ten children and nineteen grand-children, had grown up in luxury and privilege, and had been living a life of incredible wealth. Instead of shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, and decorating herself with jewelry from Tiffany, she suddenly decided to give up everything, and became a nun devoted to living in poverty for the rest of her life. That unbelievable event happened more than two decades ago, and was then widely reported in the media across the country. Why did she make such a drastic and incredible change in her life? She said she had a calling, a true vocation that was hard to understand for the general public, even for the close members of her family.
Less focus on your attachments to the material world will give you the humility to become the being you are meant to be. With humility, you will intuit that your sense of self-worth is directly related to your doing -- how things are going, how well you are doing, and how much you are getting in your life from your doing.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
Control and Out of Control
Letting go is difficult because there is one thing that most of us have overlooked: the wisdom of letting go to let God.
Life is all about living-it comes with some hard work, simple integrity, and, above all, the wisdom in living. If life is all about living-not just about making and spending money-then it is not about regrets and dreams.
Regrets look back at the past; dreams look forward to the future. Unfortunately, both are not within our control. If the value of money is solely based on accumulation of wealth, or the acquisition of material things, then living indeed becomes a labyrinth of regrets and dreams-regrets over the wrong investment decisions in the past, and dreams of the great fortune yet to come in the future.
A life journey is forever paved with many challenges and losses, many of which are beyond human control because they are often sudden and unpredictable.
Physical loss, including loss of vision and mobility, both of which may affect the quality of life with respect to independent living, may make living beyond control.
Material loss may include loss of property from natural disaster, such as flooding, tornado, and wildfire, loss of place and space, such as moving from a house to an apartment or to a nursing home. Downsizing also means the loss or forced disposal of treasured possessions that many are reluctant to let go of.
Memory loss may result in a severe loss of organizational ability and the ability to plan and function, resulting in loss of independence, which is a major setback for the elderly.
Loss of loved ones due to accidents or natural causes are devastating. Spousal loss is often the most devastating in that the oneness in marriage is forever broken, resulting in isolation and loneliness.
Losses that come in many different forms often become sources of unhappiness, but losses are no more than life challenges that are beyond human control.
But living, to many, is about controlling self and others; more specifically, purposely controlling the destiny of self, as well as directly or indirectly controlling the destinies of others around. The truth of the matter is that we are only humans, and we cannot control what is controlled by God. Being finite, with only limited intelligence, we are limited in our capability to control what is beyond human control. God, who is infinite, is in absolute control of everything. Our constant desire to control is displeasing to God-an expression of our lack of trust, and our disobedience.
Humans are always given a choice: continuing to control one’s destiny, or letting go to let God control.
God has given each one of us a unique life and destiny that only we can complete it.
“Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
(Psalm 139: 16)
However, the completion of that life and destiny in our life journey is according to His way and time, and not according to ours. In other words, it is all about what He wants for us, and not what we want for ourselves.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
The TAO and Misfortunes
Life is never smooth sailing, and life journey is always a bumpy ride. Tao wisdom may help you in the art of living well. Tao wisdom comes from the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage who authored the immortal Chinese classic Tao Te Ching, which has been extensively translated into many languages worldwide. Tao wisdom can show you how to heal your pain and sorrow.
For example, after the death of a dear friend or someone close to you, you may experience a period of denial-refusing to accept the harsh reality of death. This is the human mind's way of protecting us from painful emotions associated with grief and sorrow. Tao wisdom emphasizes the dualism of life: that is, good and bad co-exist just as happiness and sorrow; and they complement each other. Without sorrow, there will be no happiness, and one gives way to the other somehow and some time.
Sorrow may bring anger: anger with yourself or whoever responsible for the death of your loved one. The human mind always looks for an answer or an explanation of why something undesirable happened. If you blame yourself, then guilt and regret may ensue; if you blame others, anger is generated. According to Tao wisdom, anger is the source of human sufferings. Anger originates from desires and expectations that are not met or fulfilled.
The next phase is bargaining with God about reversing what has happened to you. You use "what if?" and "if only" sort of pleas to bargain for second chances. Tao wisdom says you should live in the present, and not the past which was gone, nor the future which is uncertain. According to Tao wisdom, you simply embrace whatever that comes along in your life without judgment.
After the initial denial, reality begins to sink in. You start to feel the bereavement that cause you to sink into deep depression with negative emotions of grief, regret, and sorrow. This is the darkest or even the longest stage of grief and sorrow. Spontaneity is of one the essentials of Tao wisdom; it means everything in life follows a certain natural order, such as the four seasons, or life becoming death. Understanding the natural order of things may deliver you from your depression and lift you out of the darkness of sorrow.
The way to overcome pain and sorrow is acceptance. Sooner or later, you will come to terms with the death of your loved one when you become aware that everything is going to be OK, that you will survive the loss of your loved one, and go on living as if everything is a miracle even though your life may be different without your loved one.
Tao wisdom is profound human wisdom that requires you to have an empty mind free from pre-conditioned thinking. Living in the present enables you to become mindful of your thoughts so as to have clarity of mind, which is human wisdom. With wisdom, you begin to see things as they really are and not as what you “think” they may be. More importantly, it allows you to let go of all your attachments, including your attachment to your ego, to material things, and to your loved ones. Letting go lets you see the nature of everything, including pain and sorrow, and even death.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau