Your Prayers Not Answered

<b>Your Prayers Not 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, March 3, 2024

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, March 2, 2024

Solving Money Problems


Solving Money Problems

Money plays a major role in life. You need money for almost everything in life. Given the importance of money, you need to know the basics of money—what money is all about.

In the past, people could enjoy the blessings of life without spending any real money. Nowadays, to many people, enjoyment of life requires money—and lots of it!

According to Buddha, craving or desire for material things is the source of all human miseries. Jesus also has this to say about money: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven.” (Luke 18:25)

So, what is the value of money? According to author Jonathan Swift, a wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart. 

More importantly, what does money mean to you?

Your perceptions of the value of money determine two of the most important things in your life: how you are going to live your life; how you are going to spend your money.

The value of money is based on your core values in life. One of the core values in life is integrity. Life, at any phase, is all about living—it comes with some hard work and simple integrity. Integrity is an important personal value, which has little to do with money. Integrity is an important value that the Creator has bestowed on each and every one of us, and its availability is the choice of an individual. Essentially, integrity is the value of what life has to offer, not the value of things that can be purchased with money. Your core values affect your attitudes toward money, including your financial priorities, financial decisions, and money management. So, what is the value of money to you?

Once you know the real value of money to you, you will know what to do with your money, and you will find the money you need.

Spending money is also an extremely important issue in life: throughout history, countries have become bankrupt, empires have collapsed, and families have broken up because of spending much too much money. So, spending money can affect positively or negatively your life, and can be a major stress factor.

Spending money has little to do with whether you have or you do not have much money. Spending money has to do with your attitude toward money. It has everything to do with the practical as well as the spiritual aspects of money and finance.

The practical aspect of spending money is that it may lead to debt—which is the source of financial stress. 

Why do people go into debt?

People go into debt for various reasons: deficit spending,  a result of buying things they don’t need with the money they don’t have; unforeseeable circumstances, due to exorbitant medical bills or loss of employment; personal choice, a consequence of reckless spending or buying on credit, bad investments, wrong financial decisions; ignorance, such as not knowing the meaning of APR or the implications  of “minimum  payments”  on credit cards, lack of knowledge of finance and money management; greed, leading to taking financial risks, or trying to get something for nothing. The list could go and on.

Don’t ever fall into the trap of “buy-now-and-pay-later”! Don’t run up your credit card debt. Consumer debt is the No.1 financial stress factor in life. Don’t let debt devastate your life. Don’t use a credit card if you don’t have control over spending; instead, use a debit card or a pre-paid credit card for the convenience of not carrying cash. Be careful when you use credit-card counseling services to get you out of debt, especially those so-called “non-profit” organizations. Just beware!

The spiritual aspects of spending money include being grateful and generous, as well as being a good steward.

Be grateful. God may have given you much less than others—or so you think! Remember, everything is relative. Maybe less is more: God has given you less so that you will have the incentive to make more.

You may have worked hard, but with little to show for it.  “You plant much but harvest little. You have scarcely enough to eat or drink and not enough to keep you warm. Your income disappears, as though you were putting it into pockets filled with holes.” (Haggai 1:6) Be grateful, instead of whining and complaining; put your time and effort on making money to live a debt-free life. More importantly, be generous with your money.

According to the biblical principle of money, God owns it all! You are but a steward of God’s money. Responsibilities of good stewardship include diligence, productivity, good time management, and self-discipline in matters of money. The money is not yours anyway. That is why you cannot take it with you when you are gone for good.

Stephen Lnd au
Copyright© by Stephen Lau



Friday, March 1, 2024

Don't Die!

 



You Just Don't Die!

All About . . . .

In ancient times, many individuals were in quest of immortality, especially those in power.

For example, Qin Shi Huang (259 BC - 210 BC), the First Emperor of China and the builder of the Great Wall, had made many futile attempts to discover and access legendary sources of immortality during his relatively short lifespan.

Another example, the ancient pharaohs of Egypt might not have been on a quest for immortality because they earnestly believed that they were already immortal; nevertheless, they had spent an enormous amount of resources into retarding the decay of their physical bodies, as well as into building spectacular pyramids and grand tombs in which they could preserve their wealth and riches for their immortality.

Realistic Realities

Nowadays, we all know the reality that all humans are mortal and that death is as inevitable as day becoming night.

“Is there anything we can do about our mortality?” This might be a question that many of us would like to ask ourselves.

First of all, man’s perceptions of mortality always change with age and time. If you ask a young adult if he or she would want to live long, probably the answer is “I don’t know” or “I just don’t want to grow too old and decrepit, like my grand-parents.” The young adult’s perspective of mortality also explains why many of the younger generation are living a reckless lifestyle as if there is no tomorrow.

Naturally, their perception of mortality would change over the years as they grow older with a family of children, or if they have a successful career with all the trimmings of a luxurious lifestyle that they would like to continue. A longer lifespan would then become an extension of their own legacy or continuation of their enjoyment of the fruits of their own accomplishments. The inscription on the tombstone of Bruce Lee, the Hollywood actor, reads: “The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.” That says much about the hope of many to extend beyond the grave.

As aging continues, the fear of death or the unknown might also dawn on humans, driving some of the elderly into craving a longer lifespan in order to delay and defer the inevitable.

Indeed, many people may have different perspectives of their own mortality, depending on their upbringing, the life experiences they have gone though, their religious beliefs, as well as the meanings of death and dying to them. As a result of the differences, some may focus too much on death to the extent of creating death anxiety, while others may deliberately deny the existence of death, just like the ostrich burying its head in the sand.

The objective of this book is neither to convince you to crave longevity, nor to show you how to live to one hundred and beyond. It simply presents you with the consciousness of living the rest of your years as if everything is a miracle -- if you just don't die!

Click here to get your copy.

The Book Outline . . . .

INTRODUCTION

ONE: Consciousness Is Everything
TWO: Consciousness of Breath
THREE: Consciousness of Thinking
FOUR: Consciousness of Wellness
FIVE: Consciousness of Living
SIX: Consciousness of Changes and Challenges
SEVEN: Consciousness of Being

The above is what this book is all about. Click here to get your copy from AMAZON.

An excerpt from the book . . .

What is consciousness?

“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our aware-ness.” Lao Tzu

Consciousness is everything; if you are not conscious, you are not living your life, if not already dead.

What is consciousness? Being conscious is a "special quality of the mind" that permits us to know both that we exist and that the things around us exist too. Surprisingly, some of us may not have this consciousness.

Life is an inner journey that requires consciousness of the body and the mind, together with that of the soul, to continue to make its progress in the right direction in order to reach its final destination. Unfortunately, since the beginning of time, many people have traveled the same journey of life but without reaching their destinations because they simply lack their consciousness of the body, and the mind-not to mention that of the soul-to guide them along that journey.

Consciousness comes from the mind, which is created by the brain. Hippocrates (460 - 370 BC), the father of modern medicine, was one of the first scientists to observe and notice that people with brain damage tended to lose their mental abilities. He realized that the mind is created by the brain, and the mind crumbles piece by piece as the brain dies.

The human brain creates the consciousness of the mind, giving humans pleasures and displeasures, happiness and unhappiness, as well as many other positive and negative emotions and thoughts. They become our experiences which are stored in our minds, and these experiences also become our memories that generate our subsequent thoughts-they are the byproducts with which we weave the realities in our lives. Therefore, consciousness is the capability of the mind to see them as they are. Without consciousness, which is knowing what is happening in the mind, you just obediently follow what your mind tells you. That is to say, you have become a slave to your thinking, instead of being the master of your own thoughts.

Consciousness is probing deep into the conscious mind: asking meaningful and relevant questions, and then seeking self-enlightening answers to all the questions asked. After all, throughout one’s life journey, one has to ask many different questions at different stages, and seeking different answers from the questions asked. In order to reach the destination of one’s life journey. consciousness of the mind is a necessity, and not an option.

You Just Don't Die!

Thursday, February 29, 2024

How to Pray


How to Pray

Praying is never easy: often complicated, and even paradoxical.

You’ve got to know what you want so that you can ask what you want in order to get what you want.

So, before you pray, you must know your true self: who and what you really are, and not who and what you wish you were.

Praying is talking to God through your heart, and not your words; repeating a right set of words isn’t as important as your heart talking to Him.

Prayer is God’s gift to anyone who prays for that free gift.

So, to pray for that free gift, you must show your desire to feel God’s presence, which is in anyone and everyone, as well as in anything and everything.

Several decades ago, a former colleague of mine had the opportunity to meet and dine with Gladys Aylward, a British missionary to China, whose amazing story was made into a Hollywood film in 1958: “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness”, starring Ingrid Bergman.

My former colleague told me that at the dinner with Gladys she found it very “odd” that Gladys had repeated almost non-stop “Praise the Lord!” throughout the dinner—when someone passed her a dish, some bread, even salt and pepper, or when someone made a comment. It might not have looked “odd” to someone who’d like to feel the presence of God in every moment of his or her life.

So, from now on, whenever you say “Thank you” aloud, maybe you should also try to say in silence “Praise the Lord!” so that you may feel His presence in your heart.

To feel His omnipresence,  you must also still your thoughts with mindfulness, and live in the now.

Prayer is how you react and respond to His presence in your daily life.

Always begin your prayer with God, and not yourself.

Asking for your needs is self-delusional: God already knows your needs.

Asking for your wants is self-sabotaging: trying to make God change His mind about what He has already wanted for you.

So, don’t pray for “be happy”, “be healthy”, and “be wealthy.”

If you’re blessed with His presence, you’ll still feel your happiness even in your adversities. Depression is humans’ refusal of letting go to receive His presence.

If you’re blessed with His wisdom, you’ll know how to take care of your body, even when you’re sick.

If  you’re blessed  with His grace,  you’ll learn
to let go of your greed and covetousness for your wealth.

Always pray for your trust and obedience: trust that God will give you the power to “respond positively” to any life challenge you may face; obedience that God will give you the wisdom to embrace anything and every-thing to let go of your control of your own destiny.

Remember, your prayers are always answered, but not your own expectations.

The TAO wisdom (the ancient wisdom from China, based on the wisdom of Lao Tzu, the author of the ancient classic TAO Te Ching) shows you how to live your daily life, and how your prayers may be answered.

“An empty mind with no craving and no expectation helps us letting 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

Li Ching-Yuan was probably the longest-living Chinese in history, who died on May 6, 1933 at the age of over 200 years.

This is one of his thought-provoking sayings regarding Zen, an Eastern philosophy about being and a way of thinking:

“Before I had studied Zen for thirty years,
I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters.
When I arrived with a more intimate knowledge,
I saw that mountains are not mountains,
and waters are not waters.
But now that I have got its very substance,
I am at rest.
For it is just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters.”
Li Ching-Yuan

Li Ching-Yuan was talking about awakening or self-enlightenment, which is always effortless and spontaneous. So, if you strive to know and understand anything and everything, the awakening may never come.
You may like to pray, but your prayers are seldom answered; then you’ll see “mountains as mountains, and waters as waters.”

Your desire in seeking God may somehow change your perspectives; then you may see “mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters.”

But finding God, and living in His presence, you’ll just see that “mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters”—in other words, “prayers are seldom answered or not answered at all” is not only irrelevant but also inexplicable. What really matters is that you’ve found the spiritual wisdom to live your life as if everything is a miracle.

So, don’t use your pre-programmed causal reasoning to make sense out of the senseless in life. Instead, express your trust and obedience to your Creator and fully live in His presence.

Click here to get Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered.



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

Stephen Lau
Copyright © Stephen Lau




Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Healthy Pregnancy

 


All About . . . .

Pregnancy is a nine-month period during which a baby develops and becomes a human being. The mother-to-be and the father-to-be have many dos and don'ts in order to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. This book provides not only a list of all the dos and don'ts, but also all the whys and why nots because as a mother you would like to know why there are certain things you should do and why there are things you should not do to guarantee a safe and healthy pregnancy.

This book is concise with a holistic approach to a safe and healthy pregnancy through the mind, the body, and the spirit.

Click here to get your copy.

An Excerpt from the Book . . . .

THE PRE-PREGNANCY

Pregnancy is more than just nine months; it is a lifelong project that requires adequate preparation to ensure better results.
   
The Dos

Do physical checkup first for both you and your partner. (why: to resolve all health issues and problems, e.g. chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.).

Do blood tests to check your immunity to German measles (why: it can cause malformations in the baby) and chicken pox (why: immunization before conception if you have not had it before); to check your antibodies from toxoplasmosis (why: an infection that may affect conception and pregnancy).

Do discuss medical conditions with your doctor: previous pregnancy problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, premature baby; genetic disorders in family; current prescribed medications.

Do dental checkup (why: gum diseases may lead to premature birth), and dental work (why: avoiding filling or extraction during pregnancy).

Do weight management (why: overweight may lead to diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy; underweight may result in a small baby, problems during labor, and after birth).

Do find out your ideal weight: to determine that, you need to know your height, and weight, as well as your waist size (i.e. your waist circumference between your rib cage and above your belly button). A waistline of 35 inches or more for most women may indicate overweight.

Do find out your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a measure of your body fat based on your weight and height. Your BMI is determined by this formula: BMI = (body weight in pounds) divided by (body height in inches x body height in inches) multiplied by (703). To illustrate, if you are 5’11” tall and you weigh 165 pounds, your BMI will be: (165/71x71) x 703 = 23   The BMI numbers have the following implications:

Any BMI that falls between 19 and 24.9 is considered ideal and healthy.

Any BMI that is below 18.5 is considered underweight.

Any BMI that ranges from 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight; any BMI that is above 30 is considered obese.

You should be within 15 pounds of your ideal weight before pregnancy, and that also applies to your partner (why: an overweight partner may have decreased testosterone leading to depressed libido).

Do birth control until you are ready for pregnancy. Hormonal contraception may take months for fertility to return to normal. Natural family planning is the way to go.

Do boost nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. Important nutrients include the following:

Calcium (why: avoiding back and leg pain, insomnia, and irritability)-eat figs and raw leeks.

Folic acid (why: avoiding structural defects) -- eat chives. Chives are a nutrient-dense food low in calories but high in nutrients. Always use a sharp knife to cut chives (why: avoid bruising the herb), and add chives to any dish near the end of cooking (why: avoid losing its flavor).

Iron (why: healthy growth of baby) -- eat chives.

Magnesium (why: cellular development; over-coming early pregnancy discomfort, such as constipation) -- eat chives.

Manganese (why: baby’s normal skeletal development) -- eat raw leeks.

Vitamin B6 (why: avoiding nausea and morning sickness; metabolizing proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) -- eat raw leeks.

Vitamin C (why: proper absorption of iron) -- eat fresh fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin K (why: healthy bone growth and proper blood-clot formation) -- eat raw leeks.

All the above nutrients and vitamins are especially important not only for pre-pregnancy but also for the first trimester of pregnancy.

Do get sufficient sleep (why: research has shown that the more sleep you get,  the less time of labor may ensue; getting less than 5 hours of sleep may even increase the chance of having a C-section for delivery. Do set a schedule for your sleeping hours to help your body get on a set schedule of sleep. Do go to bed earlier.

Do take herbs to increase fertility (why: drink clover flower tea and nettle tea to increase female fertility).

Do avoid unpasteurized milk and blue-veined cheeses.

Do cook all your food thoroughly.

Do help your partner to enhance his fertility. According to a Danish study, overweight men have fewer sperms. According to State University of New York, placing laptop computers on laps may decrease sperms (why: due to accumulation of heat). Certain drugs on men’s hair loss, high blood pressure, and ulcers may also affect the quality of sperms. Do increase his intake of folic acid, vitamin C, and zinc to enhance the quality of sperms.
   
The Don’ts

Don’t start a teenage pregnancy (why not: pregnancy between age 15 and 19 may result in many emotional traumas, such as difficulty in keeping up with peers, financial problems, and health and life challenges).

Don’t contact mold (why not: harmful to fetus, leading to birth defects, such as paralysis, developmental problems, and even miscarriage).

Don’t eat bacteria-harboring foods (why not: increasing the chance of developing food-borne infections during preconception stage and in a developing embryo).

Don’t stress out, develop anxiety or depression in pre-pregnancy stage.

Don’t eat raw, such as sushi, raw clams, and oysters.

Don’t eat undercooked meat and eggs (why not: avoiding bacteria growth; do refrigerate food below 40°F/4°C).

Don’t take certain herbs (why not: some herbs, such as echinacea, ginkgo biloba, and Saint-John’s wort may prevent conception).


THE DOS AND DON'TS DURING PREGNANCY

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Letting Go Attachments


The Origin of Human Attachments

All attachments originate from the ego-self.

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

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

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

What is the ego-self?

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

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

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

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

How is the ego-self formed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen Lnd au
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, February 26, 2024

Yin and Yang Love Story

 

FOREVER YIN AND YANG
(A Novel)

                       
The Novel Is All About . . . .

This is a love story in ancient China, about a cock wedding with the presence of a cock instead of the bridegroom.

It is also a story of unrequited love, of murder and execution, of blood reincarnation, of death bringing back life leading to enlightenment. The story reflects the TAO wisdom in love with no ego, as well as the Nirvana, which is awakening to the ultimate truth of consciousness without being self-conscious.

Click here to get your novel.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Death and Emptiness

 

Death and Emptiness

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, and this is the way of all flesh.

An illustration

Ernest Hemingway’s famous novel A Farewell to Arms may show you one perspective of death and emptiness:

“Once in camp I put a log on top of the fire and it was full of ants. As it commenced to burn, the ants swarmed out and went first toward the center where the fire was; then turned back and ran toward the end. When there were enough on the end they fell off into the fire. Some got out, their bodies burnt and flattened, and went off not knowing where they were going. But most of them went toward the fire and then back toward the end and swarmed on the cool end and finally fell off into the fire. I remember thinking at the time that it was the end of the world and a splendid chance to be a messiah and lift the log off the fire and throw it out where the ants could get off onto the ground. But I did not do anything but threw a tin cup of water on the log, so that I would have the cup empty to put whiskey in before I added water to it. I think the cup of water on the burning log only steamed the ants.”

The hero in the story was observing how the ants were swarming back and forth on a log on top of a fire in a futile attempt at survival—just like God watching over mankind’s stubborn struggle to refuse letting go of the impermanent in the material world. Instead of acting as a messiah to help the ants, the hero simply emptied a tin cup of water so that he could have his own whiskey.

The hero’s attitude to death is also a reflection of the author’s own perspective of man’s ultimate fate: death happens no matter how hard one strives to avoid it, and anything and everything then simply become nothing.

Sadly and tragically, author Ernest Hemingway—essentially an atheist, although initially a Catholic—shot himself with a gun when he realized that anything and everything in his life were really nothing after all in spite of all his accomplishments. With his perspective of nothingness, he had lost hope of human existence, including his own. 

Another illustration

Francis of Assisi, the Italian Saint who chose a life of poverty in spite of his family’s wealth, said on his deathbed: “Death will open the door of life.”  He died gracefully, while singing.

To Francis, death or emptiness is everything. Maybe for a believer, death is, indeed, a triumph, a meaningful exodus from this mundane world to the eternal world beyond. The emptiness is just a rite of passage to everything.

Revelation

For a non-believer, life may have little meaning at all, when the end is near, because everything will become nothingness when death strikes in the end. Without God, Hemmingway viewed life as everything is nothing, despite all his fame and accomplishments, and he thus killed himself.

For a believer, the nothingness brought by death may then become everything in the life to come, and that explains why Francis of Assisi was singing on his deathbed.

So, there're only two options. If you're a believer, you could sing with joy while lying on your deathbed, just like St. Francis of Assisi. If you are an unbeliever, you would just pass away and become nothingness, just like Ernest Hemingway.

So, now that the end is near it may also be the right time to be spiritual, and to become a true believer. But how to become a believer?

Angry No More: A new book on how to control and eradicate your anger.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Begin Your Healing Journey


The Healing Journey

One of Lao Tzu’s famous sayings is “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” The TAO journey of healing myasthenia gravis, or any autoimmune disease, is a great undertaking: every step is as important as the first; and each step is as firm as the previous one. The Chinese often like to say “feet stepping on solid and steady ground.” Your healing journey is the sum of all the steps you are going to take.

Before you take your first step, ponder on this reality: in life, all humans have two desires or pursuits—happiness and healthiness, which not only often come with many delusions and illusions but also always are unattainable and unsustainable. But the TAO may give you self-intuition and self-enlightenment to help you along your own journey of healing myasthenia gravis.

The Step of No Desire and No Intent

It is your healing journey, and only you can take your first step. So, you must choose to take your first step to go on that healing journey.

To continue on your journey, paradoxically, you must show no desire to heal and no intent to reach your destination.

But why?

The desire for good health may be difficult to sustain for someone who is currently confronted with the many health issues related to myasthenia gravis. It may seem not only difficult but almost impossible for that individual to restore natural health and get well again. Worse, ill health may even make that individual feel depressed and forget to take care of the body, and thus allowing the body's malfunctions to continue and deteriorate further.

A wise traveler on a long journey has no fixed plans, and is not intent upon arriving the destination within a certain time frame. But that traveler is ready to use all the situations and all the people encountered to help him along the long journey.
               
Likewise, healing is a long, on-going process, and not a destination. With innate and inexplicable power, it may appear that everyone and everything along your journey are also playing a part in facilitating in your favor all your endeavors in healing your myasthenia gravis.

The bottom line: take your first step of no desire and no intent for healing so as to change and to overcome any attitude of confusion and even despair related to the trauma of your myasthenia gravis diagnosis. On your healing journey, with no intent upon arriving at the destination any time soon, you will continue to keep yourself moving forward, and you will then go the long distance on your long healing journey.

The TAO

According to the TAO, being free of desires is your path to detachment, and thus giving you clarity of thinking to start your own healing journey.

Paradoxically, if you have no desire to desire for change or healing, there is stillness, in which you may see yourself gradually changing for the better in order to slowly heal yourself:

“To live a life of harmony, we need letting life live by itself. . .

So, follow the Way.
Stop striving to change ourselves: we are naturally changing.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 57)

“Accordingly, we do not rush into things.
We neither strain nor stress.
We let go of success and failure.
We patiently take the next necessary step, a small step and one step at a time.
We relinquish our conditioned thinking. Being our true nature, we help all beings
return to their own nature too.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 64)

According to the TAO, a good traveler neither has fixed plans, nor shows any effort to arrive at the destination:

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)

Begin your healing journey, and take your first step with effortless effort and humble simplicity:

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau


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