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, April 18, 2021

How I Look At Life Problems

Looking at Life Problems

How I deal with my complaints

In my daily life, I try to catch myself complaining about anything, such as the weather—whether I am making a comment or just thinking a thought about the weather. By not complaining, I try to avoid putting my mind in a state of unconsciousness that creates negative energy and denial of the present moment. When I am complaining, I am in fact saying: “I cannot accept what is, and I am a victim of the present situation.” Understandably, in the present moment, we all have only three options in any situation that we are complaining about: get away from the situation; change the situation;  and accept the situation as it is.

If I want to take any action—whether it is getting away or changing the situation—I try my best to remove any negativity first and foremost.

If it is my decision to take no action, I honestly ask myself if it is fear that stands in my way of taking any action: I tell myself that any action is often better than no action. Staying in the present moment does the mental trick of controlling my thoughts:  focusing my mind on the present moment, and looking objectively at the fear that may be holding me back from taking any action, without letting fear get into my subconscious mind to create any negativity.

If, after much deliberation, I still decide to take no action, then I accept it fully and consciously, with no regret and no “should have” or “might have” because the whole episode now belongs to the past and is no longer real for me. It is important for me not to experience any inner conflict, resistance, or negativity in the mental process of deciding to take no action.

How I deal with stress

Stress is inevitable in contemporary living. My wife sometimes complains that I stress her, and my spontaneous reply is: “If I don’t stress you, something or somebody would stress you. Just learn to cope with it!” Yes, everybody has to cope with stress, and not to deal with the stressor.

When I was working on a book, it was easy for me to focus too much on the future and forget about the present. My mind seemed to be preoccupied with getting to the future, that is, finishing a certain chapter or the completion of a book, such that I easily forgot about the present. Then I began to realize that my stress was due to my “being here” but “wanting to be there.” With that realization, I have learned to re-focus more on the present, and less on the future. As a matter of fact, I have stopped creating timelines for my writing. In the writing process, sometimes I don’t like what I have written (what is known as a writer’s bad days) but I try to enjoy the writing process, rather than looking at what I have written and what I don’t like about. By focusing on the present, instead of on the finished product in the future, I have learned to enjoy my writing and the writing process, and I am able to revise what I previously did not like. So, the key is doing something totally focused on the present moment.

Awareness and concentration are important ingredients in mental clarity and relaxation to de-stress the mind.

How I deal with the past

In my life, I have made many mistakes, which have changed my life—maybe for the worse, or maybe not. Who knows? And who cares?

I never let the past take up my attention. I do not let my thinking process create any anger, guilt, pride, regret, resentment, or self-pity. Like everybody else, I do have these negative feelings and emotions, but they do not last long. I believe that if I allow these thoughts of mine to control me, I would look much older than my calendar age, and, worse, create a false sense of self.

To reminisce what was good in the past would intensify a desire to repeat such an experience in the future, and thus creating an insatiable longing that may never be fulfilled. To recall what was unpleasant in the past would generate feelings of remorse and unhappiness. What is the use? I just let bygones be bygones. In my mind, there is no ”what if.”

How I deal with failures

The path of living is strewn with failures, big and small. But they should not become stumbling blocks in life journey.  Like everybody else, I have met my failures:

I look upon my failures with positive attributes: a lesson of humility to show my own limitation and inadequacy; a lesson that I may never get what I want in life; a lesson to strengthen my character as a human being; a lesson to learn about perseverance and survival from failures.

If I had succeeded in those endeavors in the past, I would have embarked on a totally different life journey heading toward a totally different direction. Would I really have been better off or worse off? Who knows, and who cares? I never ponder on the “might have” or the “would have” scenarios.

How I look at death

I am now closer to the end rather than the beginning. That is to say, the thought of death has become more and more real with each day passing. I have come to believe that most elderly people have similar experience.

If I could ask but one question about the future, it would be: “How am I going to die?” and not “When am I going to die?”

I wouldn’t want to know about the when. To me, time is not a big factor. My desire to know the “how” is just out of plain curiosity. Anyway, they are just hypothetical questions without any answer.

In life, we all ask many different questions, some of which are practical, some hypothetical, and some without an answer. To many, living is a search for an answer to many of the unanswerable questions in life.

So, stop looking for an answer to every question asked, but continue to ask, and just live if there were no tomorrow.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Seniors Are the Santa Claus

Seniors Are the Santa Claus

Today’s "new seniors" are so much different from their parents or grandparents in both attitude and behavior. Many of today’s older adults (regardless of their age) are quite removed from the stereotypical senior citizens of yesterday. According to U.S. News & World Report, "What is important about this generation is its difference, not only in size, but also in vitality and outlook."

“There are four stages to life: 1. As a child, you believe in Santa Claus. 2. Then, you don’t believe in Santa Claus. 3. As you age, you look like Santa Claus. 4. Finally, you “think” you are Santa Claus.” Anonymous

Golden Years and Santa Claus.

To many seniors, the meaning of “golden years” may mean doing nothing—basking in the warm sunshine on a beach, going to a teahouse every morning to have dim sum, and growing older and older until the ultimate end. To them, retirement is a predictable way of life—you just join the senior crowd, and grow old just like everyone else. 

Byr growing old is not that simple. Life is not simple, and has never been simple. Life is always unpredictable, with all the ups and downs. Living does not follow any predictable pattern, and that there is absolutely no roadmap to meet all the different life challenges. They are very much individualized. For one to survive, one needs to hold onto some basic life tools in the form of knowledge and information, as well as to make the best and the most of them in order to meet one’s many unique life challenges. Therefore, how others have solved their problems may not help you solve your own because you are walking on a life journey that is uniquely yours.

Life comes in different stages, and each stage is full of its own challenges. Growing up and growing old are two of the greatest challenges in life, because both of which require great courage to overcome uncertainties and fears of the unknown. Maybe growing up is less of a challenge compared to that of growing old, because the former has the luxury of time, while the latter has time constraint. If time is not for you, but against you, the challenge may seem even more daunting and insurmountable. In between these two major challenges, there is, of course, a host of other obstacles and problems. Life is not a bed of roses, and never meant to be one.

Living is all about struggling. The good news is that growing old is a human race in which there are no winners and no losers. No matter what, we all have to finish that race somehow, with no exception. Just do your best, and let God do the rest to help you finish your race with grace and dignity.

Many seniors wither away, like dead branches on a living tree. To many seniors, old age is growing older and getting more senile and decrepit with each day passing; it is a predictable pattern in the cycle of life. Indeed, many have seen their enthusiasm for life waning day by day. Those who live a purposeful and passionate life in their golden years, finishing strong and dying gracefully, are few and far between. How sad, and yet how true! But going through the golden years doesn’t have to be like that. Joy and aging can, surprisingly, go hand in hand, if you have the know-how. This book purports to provide you with information to help you do just that—living a joyous life in your golden years, full of meaning and purpose, just like Santa Claus.

Life is always a discovery process, even more so in the golden years. It is a journey of self-discovery—finding what you need, and finding ways to meet your needs, so that you can fulfill some of your life goals even in your golden years. Continue your aging with joy, finishing the last journey with grace and dignity. No matter how bumpy and hurtful this journey may become, make your golden years a time to laugh, rather than a time to weep and worry.

Michelangelo, the famous Italian painter and sculptor, once commented on his own aging: “Since life was such a pleasure, death coming from the same great source cannot displease us.” Maybe that is how you should view your own golden years ahead of you—a time for joy.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, April 16, 2021

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

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Unlearning and Relearning to Heal

 Unlearning and Relearning Pharmaceutical Drugs

On your healing journey, take the step to unlearn and relearn many things related to your autoimmune disease, such as myasthenia gravis.  

To heal, you must unlearn what you have previously learned, that is, letting go of all your preconceptions related to all the hows and the whys you might have got your myasthenia gravis in the first place. Remember, the knowledge you are currently having may have been generated by the limited and the finite material world you are living in.

Life itself is a sacred journey involving change, growth, and self-discovery. Knowledge is self-empowering, but it has to be distilled by true human wisdom. Therefore, to deepen your love of heath and your quest for health and healing, you must seek not just knowledge but also wisdom in order to expand your vision and stretch your soul so that you may stay both physically healthy and spiritually wise. Your knowledge and wisdom may provide you with meaning and direction to continue with every step of your long healing journey.

Unlearning Pharmaceutical Drugs

As we age, our self-made energy from the food we have consumed over the years begins to decline, and this is evidenced by our inability or difficulty to cope with the stressors of life. These stressors may have come in many different forms, such as overexposure to sunlight, polluted air, contaminated water, and a host of other lifestyle factors of modern life. After decades of abuse to our bodies, our choices—whether we have made them knowingly, or they have been imposed unwittingly on ourselves—begin to take their toll, resulting in the development of chronic conditions and degenerative diseases. To add insult to injury, our metabolic slowdown that comes with the natural process of aging makes it even more difficult to maintain our health and energy.

To deal with our health issues, many of us may desire a quick-fix, and thus turn to pharmaceutical drugs, which are toxic chemicals that only address the symptoms but without removing the causes of the health conditions.

Unfortunately, unsafe and toxic pharmaceutical drugs are prevalent. This is an indisputable fact! Unreliable drug tests abound in the medical and pharmaceutical research communities. Drug tests prior to their FDA approval may not be reliable due to the following reasons:
  • Pharmaceutical companies may often influence medical researchers, through coercion, incentive, and even threat, to produce the desired results in clinical trials. There have been many cases of data fabrication in clinical trials of drugs in order to facilitate their intended applications.
  • Clinical trials usually involve a small number of people, and may not truly reflect the outcome of those who will ultimately be using those drugs after their approval by FDA.
  • Drugs tested on animal models may be biased and even irrelevant. An artificially-induced disease in non-human animals may not yield results relevant to a spontaneous, naturally-occurring human disease.

 Relearning Pharmaceutical Drugs

Regularly taking pharmaceutical drugs does not make you live longer because longevity is always drug-free. This makes sense: taking too many pharmaceutical drugs means your body is already stressed by many physical ailments. Ironically, these drugs may do a further disservice to you by ingesting more toxins into your already toxic body.

Pharmaceutical drugs do not heal a disease; they only temporarily suppress the disease symptoms.   Remember, when you give your body a drug to replace a substance that your body is capable of making itself, you body then becomes weaker and will begin not only to manufacture less of that substance, but also to become more dependent on the outside source, which is usually the drug itself. Over time, you will become no longer drug-free.

Unfortunately, no drug can give you insight into the circumstance that created your problems in the first place. At best, it can only temporarily assuage the physical pain created by your situation. Remember, there are no miracle drugs—only wholesome natural self-healing. Utilize your body’s natural self-healing power, rather than relying on those unsafe pharmaceutical drugs. Keep yourself drug-free as much as and as long as possible!

However, it does not imply that you must desist from taking your medications prescribed by your doctor. Rather, it suggests you should always be more alert to the side effects of the drugs you are currently taking; you should not readily reach out for unsafe pharmaceutical drugs, especially over-the-counter ones, without any second thought as if they were coupons or silver bullets.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

 To download the e-book, click here; to get the paperback copy, click here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Natural Sleep and Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease due to a dysfunctional immune system. According to Western medicine, there is no cure, only control and suppression of its disease symptoms, which are essentially muscle weakness, especially in the eyes and the limbs.

In a most recent CNN news report, sleep deprivation affects the size of your brain. In the article, Dr. Neal Maru, a neurologist and sleep specialist with Integrated Sleep Services in Alexandria, Virginia, says: “Poor sleep can affect our immune system, our cardiovascular health, weight, and, of course, memories.” Indeed, insomnia is an immune system wrecker. Therefore, it is important to have natural sleep to protect your immune system to alleviate your myasthenia gravis disease symptoms. 

Sleep, which relaxes and rejuvenates both the body and the mind, is a natural human instinct. According to Chinese medicine, natural sleep is holistic health and wellness.

A Swiss research study demonstrated that sleep is so natural to all living things that even gold fish requires sleep: having been deprived of sleep for an extended period of time, gold fish would remain still for an extended period of time to make up for its sleep deprivation. In other words, all animals need sleep and instinctively know how to sleep. Man is no exception. Therefore, to cope with muscle weaknesses due to myasthenia gravis, get enough sleep without the aid of medications.

The Chinese have different ways of getting natural sleep. To overcome insomnia or get natural sleep, perform this simple Chinese Taoist exercise:

Lie on your back. Bend both knees.
Use both hands to pull your knees towards your chest, and breathe naturally.
Hold for one to two minutes, and relax.
Straighten your legs, putting your arms and hands at your sides.      Relax for one to two minutes.
Take a deep breath, and stretch both arms upwards above your head.
Then, slowly bring your hands down while you breathe out.
Massage your body from your chest to your abdomen for a few minutes.
Bring both hands at your sides, and relax.
Repeat as necessary until you feel drowsy and fall asleep.

This Taoist exercise is good not just for insomnia, but also for your lower back pain, if it is performed on a hard surface.

Meditation is another natural way to induce natural sleep.

Given that sleep is a natural process, it is against nature to artificially induce sleep with medications. Do not use sleep medicine to overcome insomnia. The reason is that all pharmaceutical drugs are loaded with toxic chemicals that further damage your compromised immune system.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered?

Why Your Prayers Are Seldom Answered?

Albert Einstein once said, “Thinking is difficult; that’s why so few people do it.”

Thinking is a process of self-intuition through asking relevant questions to create self-awareness and self-reflection. It’s the natural habit of the human mind to try to solve all problems by asking questions. Through the process of solving problems, the human mind may then make things happen.

So, asking all relevant questions is self-empowerment of the human mind to increase wisdom because it initiates the intent to learn, to discover, and then to change for the better.

Here are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself concerning why your prayers are seldom answered or not answered at all:

What’s a prayer?

Jesus said: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Is a prayer just your way of asking for something that you want?

Is it a personal request to the Creator to make something happen or not to happen in your life?

Is it a conversation or communication with the Creator to further develop your relationship with Him?

Is it a way of seeking advice from the Creator to help you deal with your own life’s problems and challenges?

Is it a means of asking the Creator for His blessings you think you may be entitled to?

Or is it none of the above?

How often is a prayer said or offered?

Before you getting up, and before you going to bed?

Several times throughout the day, such as before your meals?

While attending a religious service?

Seldom, if ever, unless expressing with your condolences to someone you feel sorry for?

There’s an old proverb that says: “He who cannot ask cannot live.” Life is all about asking questions, and seeking answers from all the questions asked.

By answering all of the above questions, you may be able to self-intuit why your prayers are answered or not answered at all.

Your self-intuition requires not only your spiritual wisdom, but also your human wisdom, in particular, the TAO wisdom of the ancient sage Lao Tzu from China, who was the author of Tao Te Ching, the ancient classic on human wisdom.

Click here to get Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered.

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

Stephen Lau
Copyright© Stephen Lau

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The TAO of Knowledge and Wisdom to Heal

If you or your loved ones have been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, one of the autoimmune diseases, it must have been a devastating experience, especially if the neurologist has said that there is no known cure, except using medications to control and manage the many debilitating disease symptoms associated with myasthenia gravis.

A traumatic experience may have a prolonged effect on the human mind: having overwhelming negative emotions; feeling numb and unable to experience pleasure or even pain over a long period of time. The ultimate impact is that it may affect how you think, feel, act, and react in every aspect of your daily life and living.

To heal yourself of myasthenia gravis or any illness, you must be both knowledgeable and wise.

Knowledge and Wisdom

Knowledge comes from how your mind perceives and processes any information available. Wisdom, on the other hand, is how you apply the knowledge acquired to cope with any disease and disorder you may have, as well as your everyday life and living. The important implication: being knowledgeable may not  necessarily make you wise or wiser.

The bottom line: you need both knowledge and wisdom to heal yourself of myasthenia gravis.

Given that both knowledge and wisdom come from the thinking mind, your brain is, therefore, the most important of all your body organs. With its billions of brain cells, your brain is not only most complicated but also major source of all your health issues and problems related to myasthenia gravis.

So, it is important to keep your brain healthy as much as possible in order to be capable of acquiring the knowledge and attaining the wisdom to heal your myasthenia gravis.

The Healthy Brain

This is how you may keep your brain healthy:

·      Keep yourself hydrated because 80 percent of your brain is water. Drink at least 7-8 cups of water per day.

·      Keep healthy gums, and floss your teeth regularly to prevent any gum disease.

·      Enhance and improve blood flow to your brain with your 30-minute exercise at least several times a week.

·      Eat a healthy diet: high-quality lean protein; low-glycemic and high-fiber carbohydrates; natural and not processed foods.

·      Avoid inflammation and the formation of free radicals in your body.

·      Avoid sugar and sugary drinks, including all sodas and diet sodas.

·      Quit smoking, and limit your alcohol consumption to no more than 5 glasses per week.

·      Manage your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

·      Maintain healthy levels of nutrients, e.g. vitamin D and omega-3s.

·      Maintain healthy hormones of the thyroid and the testosterone.

·      Promote good mental health, and avoid anxiety and depression.

·      De-stress yourself with correct breathing and daily meditation.

·      Get quality sleep of at least 7-8 hours a night without the help of medication.

·      Develop meaning and purpose in your life.

In addition to having a healthy brain, you must learn how to empower your thinking mind to seek and acquire the knowledge to heal your myasthenia gravis.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

To download the e-book, click here; to get the paperback copy, click here.