The TAO in Everyday Life
The TAO is in every aspect of life: growing up; receiving education; seeking careers; getting married; raising children; connecting with others; staying healthy; growing old; and facing life challenges.
                                                                  NO EGO

All About . . . .

"NO EGO NO STRESS" is a 135-page book on ancient human wisdom for stress relief. Specifically, it is about the TAO, which originates from the ancient Chinese sage Lao Tzu, the author of “Tao Te Ching”—one of the most translated works in world literature. “Tao Te Ching” is popular due to its profound and unconventional wisdom, which is both intriguing and controversial.

“NO EGO NO STRESS” is divided into four parts:

PART ONE The Introduction to Stress: How and where stress comes from; the damage and devastation of stress to human health.

PART TWO The Conventional Wisdom: The major life stressors come from career, money, relationship, adversity, and time. The conventional wisdom offers many strategies for stress relief, such as exercise, herbs, medications, meditation, and psychotherapies, among many others. The conventional wisdom may reduce stress levels, but it does not eradicate stress completely. The conventional wisdom only complements the ancient TAO wisdom for ultimate stress relief.

PART THREE The TAO Wisdom: This part not only explains what the TAO is all about, but also contains the complete translation in simple English of all the 81 short chapters of “Tao Te Ching.” Going through the whole script, interpreted and translated by the author, will enable you to understand the essentials of the TAO for stress-free contemporary living.

PART FOUR No Ego No Stress: Stress originates from the human mind: how it perceives and processes life experiences. What is stress to one individual may not be stress to another.

This part explains in detail how having no ego can eradicate stress related to career, relationship, money, adversity, and time.

NO EGO NO STRESS” points out how the human ego is formed by the subconscious mind through its perceptions and interpretations of life experiences. The author relates to the famous saying by Descartes, the great French philosopher: “I think, therefore I am.” It is a myth or misconception that you are “who” and “what” you think; you are not the products of your thoughts. “Who” and “what” you think you have become is just your ego-self, erroneously created by your thinking mind.

The TAO focuses on the need of “emptying” and “reversing” the human mind in order to see “who” and “what” you truly are, without any attachment to your ego. According to Lao Tzu, the ego is unreal, because it is based on past memories and projections of those memories into the future as desires and expectations. The past is gone, and the future is yet to come; only the present is real. Therefore, the ego-self existing in the past or in the future is non-existing in the present, except in the mind. Without the ego, there is no need of protecting or sustaining it. Without fear and expectation, there is no need of judging, picking and choosing—they often result in making wrong choices and decisions, and thus creating stress. With no ego, there is no need of over-doing to fulfill the expectation. The problem with the conventional wisdom is that the mind focuses on the past or the future, but seldom stays in the present. Only when the mind stays in the present can it see things as they really are and not as what they should be. The TAO is essentially an understanding of the true nature of things: that everything in life follows a natural order and pattern, such as life begets death, success is followed by failure, what goes up must come down. The TAO is self-intuition to know the true self and others, as well as the world around.

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An Excerpt from the Book . . . .

What Is the Ego-Self?

Simply look at yourself in front of a mirror. What do you see? A self reflection. Is it for real? Can you touch it? Not really; it is only a reflection of someone real-the you in front of the mirror!

Now, do something slightly different. Place a baby--if there is one immediately available-in front of the mirror. See what happens. The baby may crawl towards the baby in the mirror. Why? It is because the baby in front of the mirror thinks that the baby in the mirror is another baby, and not his or her own reflection.

A baby does not have an ego-self (at least, not yet), and thus sees the reflected image in the mirror as another baby; on the other hand, with your ego-self, you see the reflected image in the mirror as the same you, and not a different person. Therefore, your ego-self is simply a reflection of you; what you see in the mirror is not real, just a reflection. But you think it is the real you.

As soon as the baby learns how to perceive and interpret his or her sensations through the five senses, those experiences begin to get stored at the back of the mind as thoughts and memories-the raw materials with which the baby creates his or her own ego-self. That is how a person’s ego is formed.

You have both a conscious and a subconscious mind. Your conscious mind does all the active thinking: selectively recording whatever data and information you want to remember, and discarding whatever you think is irrelevant or inapplicable to you. Your subconscious mind, on the other hand, absorbs everything indiscriminately that you are exposed to, and stores it at the back of your mind in the form of feelings and memories.

Like the baby, originally, your mind is like a blank sheet of paper. Your thinking begins with your five senses-how they perceive and interpret your life experiences. These physical and mental sensations then become your thoughts or memories stored at the back of your subconscious mind. Whenever you experience a similar sensation, your mind will automatically go back to your subconscious mind to look for more clues or relevant information, and then send out different messages to your conscious mind, instructing it to act or react accordingly. As an illustration, a baby, who previously experienced a pleasantly tickling sensation, will begin to giggle, feeling ticklish, when being tickled as soon as the subconscious mind sends to the conscious mind the message of that previously experienced pleasant sensation.

Essentially, while your conscious mind is just about to make all your everyday life choices and decisions, your subconscious mind is, in fact, controlling and directing your conscious mind from behind the scene without letting you know; that is why it is called a “subconscious“ mind.

Gradually and accumulatively, 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 data 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 become your “realities.”

But they are not your realities. That is to say, they are no more than your own “thoughts” or “memories” controlled and dominated by your subconscious mind. To illustrate, say, your conscious mind tells you to eat a healthy meal, but your subconscious mind-loaded with images and messages of many TV commercials of mouth-watering junk food as well as your own past delectable experiences of some of them-may tell you something totally different, and you may end up eating a burger and French fries instead.

The ego-self is unreal: it is only a reflection of your own thoughts; that is, your ego self is what you think or hope you are. The ego-self is formed over the years, transforming you into someone else that you are not. Therefore, your only one true life obligation is to be the person standing in front of the mirror, and not the reflection of that person in the mirror.

What is wrong with being the reflected person in the mirror? For one thing, it is unreal. For another, if it is a positive image, you expect to sustain it; if it is a negative one, you hope to avoid being that image. To illustrate, if you have accomplished something wonderful, your mind creates your ego, making you believe that you are really wonderful; you will then repeat doing what you have done in order to protect or sustain your ego.  By the same token, if you have failed to accomplish something, you have a deflated ego; you will then avoid doing the same thing in the past in order to expect a different outcome in the future.

To further illustrate with an example, you have cooked a new dish for a potluck dinner. You like its taste, and so do all your friends who compliment on your gourmet dish. These thoughts of compliments become registered in your mind. Consciously and subconsciously, you begin to actually “believe” that you are, indeed, a good cook. Slowly and imperceptibly, similar life experiences begin to build up and reinforce your ego-self of being a gourmet cook. As a result, you may begin to value only the past (reminiscing the taste of that gourmet dish and recalling the compliments by your friends on that dish in the past), and look forward to the future (projecting into the future your expectation that your friends will continue to like and compliment that same gourmet dish). You may not even want to try creating another new dish for fear that it may not turn out to be as good as that gourmet dish in the past, or that it may not live up to the high standard projected by your mind into the future.

Isn’t it true that nearly all of us are concerned with our past achievements, keeping the past alive (just look at the awards, medals and prizes we might have won over the years), and projecting them into the future as desires and expectations of their continual recognition or fulfillment? The truth of the matter is that we all have identified ourselves not only with our past achievements but also with our anticipated accomplishments in the future. We all want to feel good about our ego-selves.

According to Lao Tzu, the ego is the “false” identity or self-image that you have created for, as well as attributed to, the self based on your thoughts stored in your conscious and the subconscious minds. Past thoughts existed only in the past as memories, and future thoughts exist as projected desires and expectations in the future-both are unreal because they do not really exist in the present moment. The past was gone, and the future is yet to come. The ego-self thus created by such thoughts does not exist in the present moment, and is therefore unreal and self-delusional.

In the TAO wisdom, only the present moment is real: the past was gone, and the future is uncertain and unpredictable. When the mind stays in the present (unfortunately, it seldom does), it no longer sees the ego-self because it does not exist in the present moment. By neither clinging to the past glories nor expecting a repeat of those past glories in the future, you relinquish your ego, and thus attain true humility, which is essentially the absence of the ego-self.

If you can be the person standing in front of the mirror, instead of the person reflected in the mirror, you will feel no stress. No ego, no stress!

Can you be who you really are, without striving to be someone else that you are not? Humility is the essence of TAO wisdom. Humility is the capability to know your true self.

Remember, you are not your mind, and your mind is not you. The more you identify yourself with your thinking, your likes and dislikes, your judgments and interpretations, the more you become attached to them and the more you will be controlled by them. Understanding the humility in Tao wisdom liberates you from the false ego-self that you have unconsciously created for yourself by your own thoughts from the past and the mental projections of those thoughts into the future as desires and expectations. Only the present moment is real, and only by staying in the present moment you can separate the truths from the illusions or self-deceptions-this is the ultimate truth, the essence of Tao wisdom.

With humility, you begin to look honestly inside yourself, and you may discover other essentials of Tao wisdom, just as the story told by Eckhart Tolle, the author of the bestseller The Power of Now, in the beginning of the book:

“A beggar has been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. ‘Spare some change?’ mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. ‘I have nothing to give you,’ said the stranger. Then he asked: ‘What’s that you are sitting on?’ ‘Nothing,’ replied the beggar. ‘Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.’ ‘Ever looked inside?’ asked the stranger. ‘No,’ said the beggar. ‘What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.’ ‘Have a look inside,’ insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to prey open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.”

With humility, you may reverse the conventional mindset of looking to others for credit and recognition to form the ego; instead, you look inside yourself, just as the beggar looking inside the box that he had been sitting on as long as he could remember. Looking inside yourself may enable you to discover the othtenmenther essentials of TAO wisdom. With humility, you may become the stonecutter in the fable mentioned previously: be your true self without any stress, without wishing you were something or someone else.