The 7 Deadly Sins and the TAO

<b>The 7 Deadly Sins and the TAO</b>
Use the TAO wisdom to overcome the 7 Deadly Sins, and live in reality, instead of in fancy and fantasy.

Thursday, October 21, 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

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Letting Go of 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, October 19, 2021

The Paradoxes of Life

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.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau




Monday, October 18, 2021

Live Your Life with TAO Wisdom

Live Your Life with TAO Wisdom

Being a parent, especially for the first time, can be very stressful. Learn to live your life with TAO wisdom, the ancient wisdom from China more than 2,600 years ago.

Don't look elsewhere! TAO wisdom is internal wisdom; it is already inside each and every one of us!

TAO wisdom is the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage who was the author of the immortal classic Tao Te Ching, which is one of the most widely translated works in world literature, perhaps only second to the Bible.

So, what is TAO wisdom? Tao is also known as the Way—the way or direction to understanding true wisdom, whether it is human or spiritual wisdom.

Look no further! TAO wisdom is inside you. You need not look any further because it is right inside you! Ironically enough, it is not easy to find the Way: we tend to look to others or outside of ourselves in quest of that far-fetched and forever elusive wisdom.

There was the story of a beggar who asked a stranger for money. The stranger said he had no money to give him, and asked the beggar if he would look elsewhere for money, including the box he was sitting on. The beggar said he had been sitting on that box for years but he had never looked inside it. The stranger urged him to look inside the box. Reluctantly, he did. To his amazement, he found the box was filled with gold coins.

Yes, TAO wisdom is inside each and every one of us! But you have to look, just like the beggar did in the story!

Unlike conventional wisdom, which is external, focusing on the acquisition of knowledge, TAO wisdom, on the other hand, is internal. According to conventional wisdom, knowledge is empowering; the more knowledgeable you are, the wiser you become. The ancient wisdom of Tao is quite the opposite: the more you know, paradoxically, the less wisdom you may have. As a matter of fact, there was the story of a professor seeking the wisdom of Zen (originated from Tao) from a Zen master who kept on pouring tea into the already filled-to-the-brim teacup of the professor. Later on, the Zen master told the professor that in order to fully understand the wisdom of Zen or the Way, he must, first of all, empty all his preconceived ideas of Zen, that is, he must have an empty mind to be receptive of the wisdom. Hence, to fully understand Tao, one must preempt one's mind of any knowledge. 

Accordingly, following the teachings of others, looking for role models to imitate, and making extra efforts—all recommended by conventional wisdom—they will not work for the ancient wisdom of Lao Tzu. In TAO wisdom, you just look inside yourself because the internal wisdom is based on intuition of, insight into, and internalizing of your own experiences in life. It is "your" life and "your" own experiences that are uniquely yours. Looking for external sources does not help, and nobody can tell you how you should live your life. Only you have access to your life's blueprint, which is the essence of Tao wisdom in living.


The Book of Life and Living is an explanation of ancient wisdom, contemporary wisdom, and spiritual wisdom illustrated with concrete everyday examples. Create your own recipe for wisdom in living. 

Stephen Lau
Copyright © Stephen Lau

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Letting Go


What Is “Letting Go”?

“Letting go” literally means releasing your close or tight fist in order to abandon or give up something that you are holding in your hand. If you are close- or tight- fisted, you also cannot receive anything. “Letting go” is detachment.

The opposite of “letting go” is “attaching to” something that you are stubbornly holding on to.

To live well, you need to ask yourself many self-probing questions as you continue on your life journey in order to find out: who you really are, and not who you think or wish you were; what you really need, and not what you want from life; why certain undesirable things happened while certain desirable things did not happen to you. Without knowing the answers to those questions asked, you can never be genuinely happy because you will always be looking for the unreal and the unattainable, just like the carrot-and-stick mule forever reaching out for the unreachable carrot in front.

In many ways, the human brain is like a computer program. Your whole being is like the computer hardware with the apparatus of a mind, a body, and its five senses. The lens through which you see yourself, as well as others and the world around you, are the software that has been programmed by your thoughts, your past and present experiences, as well as your own desires and expectations. In other words, it is you—and nobody else—who have programmed your own mindset. All these years, you may have been trapped in a constricted sense of the self that has prevented you from knowing and being who you really are. That is to say, your “conditioned” thinking mind may have erroneously made you "think" and even "believe" that you are who and what you are right now; but nothing could be further from the truth.

By asking relevant questions, you may have the human wisdom to "change" that pre-conditioned mindset, and thus enabling you to separate the truths from the half-truths or even the myths that you may have created for yourself voluntarily or involuntarily all these years.

What Are Attachments?

An attachment is basically your own emotional dependence on things and people that define your identity, around which you wrap your so-called “happiness”, and even your survival. Attachment is holding on to anything that you are unwilling to let go of, whether it is something positive or even negative.

An attachment is no more than a safety blanket to overcome your fear—fear of change and fear of the unknown from that change. To cope with that fear, all your attachments become your distractions.

We are living in a world with many problems that confront us in our everyday life, and many of them are not only unavoidable but also insoluble. To overcome these daily challenges, many of us just turn to attachments as a means of distracting ourselves from facing our problems head on, or adapting and changing ourselves in an ever-changing environment.

All our struggles in life, from anxiety to frustration, from anger to sadness, from grief to worry—they all stem from the same thing: our attachment to how we want things to be, rather than relaxing into accepting and embracing whatever that might happen after we have put forth our best effort.

Given that attachment is closely related to the thinking mind: how it processes life experiences, it is therefore important to know and to understand the different phases of life.lo, such as the development phase, the transitional phase, the consolidation phase, and the letting-go phase.

The Letting-Go Phase

With advancement in age, and as age begins to take its toll on the body and the mind, most of the life habits that control how they should live have become well established. Their thoughts, based on decades of their past experiences, now dominate their thinking, and hence control how they live the rest of their lives. At this point, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to alter the way they process their experiences and perceptions—just as the saying goes: “It is difficult to teach an old dog new tricks.”

In this final phase in their lives, unfortunately, they have to learn letting go, whether they like it or not. Everything begins to slip away from their lives: their youth, their health, and inevitably their minds too.

All in all, how the mind processes experiences and perceptions determines the type of person you are and will become. The happenings in your life are real, but the way you process and perceive them may positively or negatively affect your life because they are stored in your subconscious mind, which may either give you valuable life lessons, or create delusions and self-deceptions that may not only confuse you but also lead you astray. True human wisdom, therefore, plays a pivotal role in how the thinking mind processes all life experiences and their respective expectations.

It is in this final phase that you must learn how to let go of anthing and everything in order to live the rest of your life as if everything is a miracle.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau




Saturday, October 16, 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, October 15, 2021

Oneness with All Life


Oneness with All Life

With both human wisdom and spiritual wisdom, you may see anything is everything not just for yourself but also for others as well. In other words, you may intuit the wisdom of oneness with all life, which is your interconnection with others, not just with those who are close to you,  but also with those  who are  distant and unrelated to you. Life is all about anything and everything.

No man is an island

According to John Donne, the famous English poet, “no man is an island”; that is, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. Therefore, we are all interconnected with, as well as inter-dependent on, one another in many different ways.

Connectedness

Oneness is the law of nature: what we do to others, we also do to ourselves, either consciously or unconsciously. It is the unity of all life—life is what we all have, and what empowers all of us, giving us the enlightening experiences and the holistic ways of living.

The Bible has repeatedly stated the significance of oneness of God’s creation and salvation to all.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1: 1)

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1: 16)

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles,  slave or free—and we  were all
given the one Spirit to drink.
(1 Corinthians 12:13)

According to Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage, one of the reasons why nature has continued to exist for thousands and thousands of years is that all forms of life in nature have their presence, which depends on one another for their co-existence. Just think about that: everything in nature does not exist just for itself, and that is why it can last forever.

Each and every being in the universe.
is an expression of the Creator.
We are all shaped and perfected by Him.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 51)

Blessed is he who has no ego-self.
He will be rewarded with humility to connect with the Creator.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 9)

So, always focus on others, instead of just on yourself all the time. Focusing on others also initiates your connection with the Creator, providing you with spiritual wisdom to guide you along the rest of your life journey.

According to Buddha, “Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.”  What Buddha means is that it is not uncommon for humans to blame their problems on all the things outside themselves—other people and circumstances that are beyond their control. But the connectedness with all life contradicts that common but erroneous belief; the reality is that what we see in others and in our own circumstances is a reflection of our inner life, of what we believe in—which is the main source of all human  miseries  and sufferings.  The truth  is that  all humans suffer because they do not see the miseries and sufferings in others, except in themselves.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist minister, and leader in the civil rights movement, once said: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” So, your connectedness to others plays a pivotal role in helping you become your true self, instead of who you wish you were.

Even John Lennon in his famous hit song “Imagine” says: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope one day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” That the world will live as one may indeed become a reality, and not just a dream.

To get your paperback copy of Anything Is Everything! Everything Is Nothing! Nothing Is Everything!, click here; to get your e-book, click here.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau