The TAO in Everyday Life
The TAO is in every aspect of life: growing up; receiving education; pursuing careers; getting married; raising children; connecting with others; staying healthy; growing old; and facing life challenges.
THE ESSENTIALS OF THE TAO
What is the TAO?
The TAO is the wisdom of Lao Tzu, an ancient sage from China more than 2,600 years ago. Lao Tzu did not have any disciples or students, although his profound wisdom was well known in those days. According to legend, Lao Tzu was on the point of leaving a war-raging China for Tibet. He was detained at the citygate and was told that he had to put down his wisdom in writing before he could leave the country. Defiantly, he put down his wisdom in exactly 5,000 words with no punctuation mark. Lao Tzu's words of wisdom, known as Tao Te Ching, were interpreted by many different scholars, and subsequently became one of the most translated works in world literature.
The TAO Essentials
An empty mind
The TAO begins with having an empty mind, which is more than just "thinking out of the box": it is reverse thinking to create your own box of thinking. An empty mindset originated from Lao Tzu:
"An empty mind with no craving and no expectation helps us let go.
Being in the world and not of the world, we attain heavenly grace.
With heavenly grace, we become pure and selfless.
And everything settles into its own perfect place."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 3)
So, you must have an empty mind before you can accept new and unconventional ideas. Likewise, to intuit true human wisdom, you must have an empty mind capable of reverse thinking.
An empty mindset may free you from the many shackles of life that may have enslaved you, keeping you in bondage without your knowing it. So, be the master, and not just a slave of your own life. Live a simple lifestyle, deleting all the trimmings of life and living. Simplicity is clarity.
Mindfulness is mental sharpness to know what is happening in the mind that brings about clarity of thinking, which is essential to human wisdom.
There is a close connection between the body and the mind. This body-mind connection in humans affects both the physical and the mental health of an individual, especially how that individual thinks and reacts.
Mindfulness begins with the body. Becoming mindful of your body in the present moment is putting your mind where your body is. This produces deep relaxation of both the body and mind -- an essential element for clarity of thinking that may be the pathway to attaining true human wisdom.
"watchful, like a man crossing a winter stream;
alert, like a man aware of danger;
courteous, like a visiting guest;
yielding, like ice about to melt;
simple, like a piece of uncarved wood;
hollow, like a cave;
opaque, like muddy water."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 15)
Living in the present
According to Lao Tzu, only the present is real: the past was gone, and the future is uncertain and unpredictable. When the mind stays in the present, it does not see the ego-self because it does not exist in the present, and only in the deceptive mind.
In the present moment, with clarity of mind, you may see the ultimate truths of self, others, as well as of everything around you. More importantly, you may also see your past follies in identifying yourself with your thoughts that have created your ego; you may see your present efforts in striving to protect the ego created by yourself in the past, as well as your future futilities in expecting that your desires to sustain your ego will be fulfilled.
Living in the present is an awakening to the realities of all things.
"Living in the present moment,
we find natural contentment.
We do not seek a faster lifestyle,
or a better place to be.
We need the essentials of life,
not its extra trimmings.
Living in the present moment,
we focus on the experience of the moment.
Thus, we enjoy every aspect of simple living,
and find contentment in everyone and everything.
Living in contentment,
we grow old and die,
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 80)
The natural cycle
The truth of the matter is that everything in life must follow a natural cycle, whether you like it or not, and that you must be patient because nothing is within your control, especially your destiny.
”That which shrinks
Must first expand.
That which fails,
Must first be strong.
That which is cast down
Must first be raised.
Before receiving, there must be giving.
This is called perception of the nature of things.
Soft and weak overcome hard and strong.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 36)
Spontaneity is the essence of the natural cycle. What goes up must eventually come down; life begets death; day is followed by night -- just like the cycle of the four seasons.
"Allowing things to come and go,
following their natural laws,
we gain everything.
Straining and striving,
we lose everything."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 48)
"Strong winds come and go.
So do torrential rains.
Even heaven and earth cannot make them last forever."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 23)
No judgment and no separation
According to the TAO, you should not judge others, nor should you separate yourself from others. Being non-judgmental holds the key to attaining balance and harmony in a world of chaos and disharmony.
No choosing and no picking
Following the natural cycle of all things, you do not need to pick and choose. Picking and choosing is only sickness of the mind: the futility in striving to control what is essentially uncontrollable.
"People naturally avoid loss and seek gain.
But with all things along the Way,
there is no need to pick and choose.
There is no gain without loss.
There is no abundance without lack.
We do not know how and when
one gives way to the other.
So, we just remain in the center of things,
trusting the Creator, instead of ourselves.
This is the essence of the Way."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter42)
Picking and choosing is synonymous with control of self, of others, and of everything around, which is against the laws of nature.
"Controlling external events is futility.
Control is but an illusion.
Whenever we try to control,
we separate ourselves from our true nature.
Man proposes; the Creator disposes.
Life is sacred: it flows exactly as it should.
Trusting in the Creator, we return to our breathing,
natural and spontaneous, without conscious control.
In the same manner:
sometimes we have more,
sometimes we have less;
sometimes we exert ourselves,
sometimes we pull back;
sometimes we succeed,
sometimes we fail.
Trusting in the Creator, we see the comings and goings of things,
but without straining and striving to control them.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 29)
"Fame or the self, which is dearer?
Self or wealth, which is greater?
Gain or loss, which is more painful?
Accumulating or letting go, which causes more suffering?
Looking for status and security, we find only suffering.
Knowing our true nature, we find joy and peace.
With nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to us."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 44)
Embracing everything is beneficial because it holds the key to enlightenment, which is the understanding of what the TAO is all about..
No expectation and no over-doing
The TAO emphasizes “wu-wei”, which means "no over-doing". Contrary to conventional wisdom, which focuses much on effort, Tao wisdom emphasizes "effortless" effort.
"The softest thing in the world
overcomes what seems to be the hardest.
That which has no form
penetrates what seems to be impenetrable.
That is why we exert effortless effort.
We act without over-doing.
We teach without arguing.
This is the Way to true wisdom.
This is not a popular way
because people prefer over-doing.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 43)
Humility with no Ego
If the TAO could be summarized in one word, it is the word "humility."
Humility is the enemy of the ego, while pride is its best friend. With humility, you see who you really are, and not who you think or wish you were. With humility, you become aligned with the Creator, who provides you the wisdom in living in this material world.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
The TAO in Growing Up
Growing up is the most important phase or stage in any person's life because it defines WHO that person is and shapes WHAT that person will later become. Most importantly, it develops the THINKING MIND of that person.
But why is THINKING so important? Because every aspect of life has to do with choices, decisions, indecisions that come from the thinking mind.
Growing up--generally speaking, the first 10 to 15 years of an individual from early childhood to young adulthood--provides uniquely subjective experiences to an individual, and they are perceived through the five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. All the experiences perceived through the five senses then become the raw materials for the thinking mind to grow and develop--making an individual become who and what that individual may ultimately become.
The TAO plays a pivotal role in the perception of life experiences, as well as in the growth and development of the thinking mind based on those life experiences. Click here to find out the role of the TAO in growing up.
The TAO in Receiving Education
Learning is also an important aspect in life and living. Learning provides knowledge, which leads to wisdom; both of which play an important, but totally different, role in the survival in the material world. The TAO demonstrates that knowledge, in spite of its importance, does not necessarily make a person wise or wiser.
Having said that, knowledge is indispensable: without some knowledge or expertise, an individual may have difficulty in making a living. So, without an education, an individual may often drift in and out every day, making life and living meaningless and purposeless. Unfortunately, this is often the source of sins and crimes.
The bottom line: good education is indisposable, but it may be difficult not only for the receiver but also for the provider.
The TAO is important in the various phases of intellectual growth, especially in the roles of students and mentors, with respect to how to express, receive, and consider knowledge. Click here for more information.
The TAO in Getting Married
Many who fall in love want to get married because they think getting married will make them happy.
But getting married is "two becoming one", which involves many problems that have to be recognized and solved before happiness may ensue.
Not knowing the problems related to marriage is a testament to the reality that divorces are becoming common in the United States. One of the major causes of divorce is money. The TAO gives you the money wisdom to thrive and survive in a marriage.
Another reality is that infidelity is getting more prevalent in marriages. Marriage is all about "change" -- change in environment, and change in personality. The TAO gives you the wisdom to change for the better for yourself as well as for your marriage partner. According to the TAO, you are living in an ever-changing world. So, without changing yourself and your marriage partner, your marriage may not be saved.
Click here to find out how the TAO may save your marriage.
The TAO in Persuing Careers
The career of an individual may span over several decades, involving many ups and downs, such as employment and unemployment, as well as success and failure. These changes may either inflate the ego with unrealistic expectations, or decrease the self-worth with depression--these are contrary to the wisdom of the TAO.
To choose a career, to pursue a career, to change a career, or to end a career -- they often come with the bag and baggage of attachment to the past success or failure.
Career advancement requires endeavor and passion, involving many new challenges
Climbing a career ladder successfully is never easy and smooth: involvement with argument and aggression is often inevitable. Ambition often comes with an aggressive and domineering personality, often leading to coercion and imposition.
Click here to find out how the TAO may help your career pursuit.
The TAO in Raising Children
Raising children is a life-long task--it is much more than just changing diapers and feeding them. It requires discipline, but over-discipline -- just like the balance of yin and yang of the TAO.
Raising children requires providing them with different opportunities for character development so that they may become who and what they are meant to be, and not who and what you wish they would become.
Most importantly, children have to be taught about sex, and money management so that they may thrive and survive in this material world.
All of the above requires time and interaction with children as they grow up.
Click here to get the TAO in raising children.
The TAO in Connecting with Others
"No man is an island." The truth of the matter is that we are all inter-connected with one another, either directly or indirectly, with no exception, whether we like it or not.
According to the TAO, seeing the imperfections may make us see the imperfections in ourselves. More importantly, it may also make us self-intuit different ways to improve those imperfections perceived in ourselves.
"Nobody is perfect" is the TAO in living in this world of conflicts and confusion.
Remember, you are not living alone with your family and loved ones; you are daily connected with your co-workers and people around you with their different beliefs and perspectives. The TAO is the Way to connect with them.
Click here to find out how the TAO can connect with others.
The TAO in Staying Healthy
Undoubtedly, the TAO's focus on balance and harmony holds the key to staying healthy.
But can the TAO heal?
Absolutely! Healing begins with the mind, and not the body. Remember, the mind controls the body, and not the other way around. The TAO always focuses on the thinking mind. If the mind wants to heal, it will empower the body to do what is necessary to begin the healing.
So, empower the mind to heal the body, and stay healthy.
Click here to find out how the TAO can heal the mind and the body to stay healthy.
The TAO in Aging
Aging inevitably creates many problems in the body, and in the mind.
The TAO shows the wisdom in aging: how to age gracefully without fear and worry. The truth of the matter is that everything becomes nothing, and this nothingness is self-enlightenment.
Aging shows you the real meaning of life: living in the present; doing what needs to be done without striving and straining. Aging may also help you look back to the past with no anger and no remorse, but with appreciation and thankfulness.
Aging is transformative and life-changing.
Click here to find out the TAO in aging.
THE PARADOXES OF LIFE
A paradox is a statement with two totally opposite meanings that may seem contradictory to each other and yet together they not only are true but also make sense.
Believing in God in itself has many paradoxes: the Creator becomes a creature; the Infinite becomes finite; the Eternal One enters into time; and death is the way to life. These are some of the paradoxes expressed in the Bible.
The presence of God is one of the many paradoxes of life. Indeed, sometimes we see God’s love, mercy, and justice, but there are also times we see only His indifference, condemnation, and even injustice. In fact, there are many times we are prone to asking the pivotal question: “Where is God?”
So, how do we explain this enigma and the paradox of God’s presence in human lives?
The reality is that God does not change. God is always and will forever be who He is: God is constant and present. It is only humans’ perceptions of God that constantly change under many different circumstances.
Believing in God is a tall order because we are living in a world not only of paradoxes but also of changes.
The paradox of two-in-one person
You are a two-in-one person. As a matter of fact, we all are, to a certain extent.
There are two persons living inside you: one is your ego-self; the other is your spirit. They co-exist: your ego-self is living in the physical or material world, while your spirit is living in a totally different environment with a different dimension. There is constant and continual contact and interaction between these two personalities.
Your ego-self is assertive, and even aggressive, always telling you that you are separate from everyone else. Your ego-self wants more of everything, not only to define who you are but also to separate you from others. Your ego-self is judgmental, not only self-evaluating but also assessing others through comparison and contrast with yourself. Your ego-self is constantly shifting and shuffling back and forth between the past and the future, instrumental in improving the ego-self in the past, as well as in enhancing the ego-self expected in the future.
Your spirit is the other person living inside you. Your spirit, on the other hand, is gentle and submissive in nature, always nudging you to do what is right and to avoid doing what is wrong.
The paradox is that both your ego-self and your spirit co-exist, and that each strives to dominate and influence the other.
The classic illustration of the two-in-one person is Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the story, both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have a dark side within them, where evil is always lurking underneath to surface anytime. In the end, it turns out that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are actually one and the same person.
Given that the ego-self and the spirit co-exist and that one can never totally get rid of the other, the reality is that the more control the ego-self has over the spirit, the more difficult it is to understand God’s presence, not to mention to attain His wisdom. To unravel the paradox of two-in-one person, let go of the ego-self, or at least diminish its control over the spirit, so as to feel more the presence of God in order to seek His wisdom.
The paradox of understanding
One of the reasons for the paradox of God’s presence is rationalization. Man is a rational being, and understanding is vital to believing.
According to St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo (354-430 A.D.), in life there are certain things we do not believe unless we understand them, and there are also other things that we do not understand unless we believe them first. According to St. Augustine, faith is not opposed to understanding, nor is it independent of understanding. His famous statement “faith seeking understanding” is an act of believing first, without which unbelief closes the door to further understanding. In other words, believe first, and understanding will follow. St. Anselm of Canterbury, a well-known Christian philosopher and theologian of the eleventh century, also echoed St. Augustine’s statement in his famous motto “I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.”
“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3)
The reality is that man has only limited power of understanding. Therefore, let go of any pre-conceived concept or rationalization in order to appreciate the presence of God, thereby opening the door to further understanding the mystery of His presence.
THE PARADOXES OF THE TAO
The TAO wisdom of “Tao Te Ching” -- an ancient classic by Lao Tzu, an ancient sage in China -- is paradoxical and even contradictory: it requires the reversal of the common or conventional thinking process in order to truly appreciate and comprehend what Lao Tzu was saying.
To illustrate, according to the TAO, we think with our hearts and only feel with our minds, while in conventional wisdom, we use our minds to think, to reason, and to judge by using our common logic.
In the TAO, we let the mind do its natural function of feeling and observing, instead of thinking. More specifically, the main function of the human mind is to observe the thoughts in the thinking mind but without any judgment or interference. The Chinese for “I think” is literally “my heart thinks.” For centuries, the Chinese have been inculcated with the concept that the heart, and not the mind, is responsible for the ultimate thinking process. However, that is not to contradict the Western concept that the mind thinks. In the TAO, however, “thinking with the heart” figuratively means consciously slowing down the thinking mind, and thereby letting the mind observe the rambling thoughts, instead of having the mind being controlled and overwhelmed by those distracting thoughts. Simply put, the mind mainly feels and observes; it does little thinking and judging in deference to the heart.
To further illustrate the above point, the human mind is like a car, just an instrument of the human brain. The driver is the heart that controls the steering. The car only observes and feels, just as the body does through its five senses. The car does not control its speed or its direction, but the driver does. It is, therefore, important that the car does not exceed the speed limit, because if it goes too fast, it cannot properly observe the surrounding environment with its details, and thus endangering the driver.
Similarly, it is also important for the human mind to purposely slow down, so that the individual or the driver can see clearly where he or she is going. The TAO focuses on slowing down the thinking mind, letting it become only the non-judgmental observer so that the heart can make the intelligent choices and decisions in life.
According to Lao Tzu, true wisdom is total mental awareness -- awareness of what is happening around us, awareness of the nature of things; true wisdom is not based on any human concept, let alone the pre-conditioning of the human mind. That is the reason why it cannot be expressed in words; it has to be experienced and self-intuited by each and every individual. There is no blueprint for all.
Indeed, the TAO expressed in Tao Te Ching is filled with many paradoxes and contradictory expressions, for example:
“The more we look, the less we see.
The more we hear, the less we listen.
The more we crave, the crazier we become.”
(Chapter 12, Tao Te Ching)
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
The TAO in Life Challenges
A life journey is long and winding, with many detours and side-tracks. It is easy to get lost, making one wonder if one will ever get to the destination, and, worse, what that destination may be like.
Life is a bed of beautiful roses but with many thorns even for those who consider themselves fortunate and successful. Nothing in life is what one may expect, and life challenges are always unexpected
As life approaches its end, there are only many more life challenges to be confronted. As aging continues, frailty of the body and incapacity of the mind may make it even more difficulty to deal with those life challenges.
But the TAO is the Way to thrive and survive in all life challenges. Click here to find out the TAO in challenges.
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TAO Wisdom Books
About Ancient Wisdom. . .
TAO is the wisdom of Lau Tzu, the ancient sage from China. TAO comes from "Tao Te Ching" -- one of the most translated books in world literature due to its profound and controversial wisdom.
TAO is the Way to understanding Biblical wisdom, which is not only inexplicable but also paradoxical. You have to believe in order to overcome your unbelief. So, human wisdom is the Way to spiritual wisdom.
One of the reasons why TAO has survived and thrived for centuries is that its wisdom is not only timeless but also universal. It demonstrates how to live your life, irrespective who and where you are.
Today many do not live in reality because they continue to commit the Seven Deadly Sins mentioned thousands of years ago. TAO explains how you can avoid and overcome those sins. Not living in reality is self-delusional and self-destructive.
About Healing Wisdom. . .
Myasthenia Gravis is one of the many autoimmune diseases that attack a compromised immune system. According to conventional medicine, there is no known cure. But the author cured his own disorder through his own holistic approach.
According to TAO, healing begins with the mind, and not the body. Lao Tzu famously said: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." But the healing journey has no destination in mind. Just diligently continue the journey, and you will ultimately reach your destination.
A cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Instead, it is a life-learning lesson for self-discovery and health-recovery.
Congratulations! Cancer may be a blessing in disguise.
Depression is common because people want everything their way or no way -- and this is the way to depression! Medication is not the way out of depression; the only way out is letting go of "my way or no way."
About Living-Well Wisdom. . .
Albert Einstein once said: "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle."
Life is a miracle; even your breath is a miracle in itself. To live your life as if everything is a miracle, you need wisdom of the body, the mind, and the soul.
Free yourself from your self-delusions created by your self-consciousness of who and what you think you are. With the integration of both conventional and ancient wisdom, you may begin to live your life very differently.
An "empty mind with reverse thinking" may help you find out who you really are, and not who you wish you were. Accordingly, you may become a better and happier individual: you are in this world but not of this world.
Wisdom in living is understanding the impermanence of all things: that is, nothing lasts, and everything remains only with that very present moment; what goes up must also come down; life is inevitably followed by death.
Parenting is one of the objectives of life and living. Healthy pregnancy is a responsibility that covers a long period: before, during, and after pregnancy.
Parenting is a life-long obligation and responsibility.
Raising children is developing their potentials and personalities in a learning environment..
You cannot live without money, and money makes your world go round. But money is the No. 1 cause of divorce, and the source of all human evils and sins. So, get your money wisdom to survive and thrive.
Pursuing happiness is like "a carrot- and-stick in front of a mule" -- the more you strive to reach out for it, the more evasive it is, and the more painful it may become. So, get the happiness wisdom to live your life as if everything is a miracle.
About Balance-Harmony Wisdom. . .
Stress comes from the ego-self, which demands attachments in life to define and sustain the ego. All stressors in life contribute to imbalance and disharmony. So, with humility, let go of all attachments to live a stress-free life.
Nothing lasts. So, let go of anything and everything, both positive and negative, as well as the present and the past, to live a stress-free lifestyle in balance and harmony.
Live in the now. The past was gone, the future is yet to come, and only the present is real. The present is a gift, and that is why it is called "present."
"Prayers are seldom answered" means "human expectations not fulfilled." All expectations are only memories of the past projected by the thinking mind into the future as "realities." So, live in reality.
About Aging Wisdom. . .
Consciousness of living is everything in aging. If you are not conscious of your breath, you are not living at all. Consciousness is the pathway to longevity living.
How to survive in a toxic world with so much misinformation about aging? To thrive in this environment, you must have the wisdom to separate the sheep from the goat.
Growing old does not suck. Turn your senior years into golden years. Santa Claus may not be a magic-bullet solution to all your life problems and challenges, but he certainly may open unexpected doors for you in your golden years.
According to TAO, the end of anything is always the beginning of something else; the material world is forever filled with these cycles of beginnings and endings. Get the wisdom to intuit these cycles of balance and harmony so that you may continue the rest of your life journey and live as if everything is a miracle.
About Right-Doing Wisdom. . .
A happy marriage has to do with right-doing for a marriage couple in a two-in-one lifestyle to avoid conflicts, adultery, infidelity, and to promote sexual intimacy.
"Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)
Mindfulness is stilling an unquiet mind to see the ultimate truths of self, as well as anything and everything around the self.
Good investment is about right-doing in all financial decisions without greed and irrationality. Right-mindedness is the wisdom of profitable investment.
"Nobody is perfect" shows you the way to right-doing: accepting others as who they are; forgiving them as you forgive yourself. Compassion and loving-kindness are the gifts of life.
THE TAO IN ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING
The Bible says wisdom is everything. "Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding." (Proverbs 3:13)
Without wisdom, there is no understanding.
But why is understanding important?
Without understanding, anything and everything in life may seem paradoxical and inexplicable. It is this mindset that may make many people "not living in reality" -- in their minds they only see "unfairness" and "inequality." This distorted mindset may even lead many to committing crimes and violence: "Why shouldn't I rob them who've the money that I don't have?" or "They too have broken the law, so why shouldn't I do the same?"
Biblical wisdom is about "accountability" to God, which will give you spiritual "understanding." But if you are not a believer, that "understanding" may be irrelevant to you.
Having said that, human wisdom is indispensable in contemporary living. Human wisdom is not the same as acquisition of knowledge; human wisdom is the application of what you feel and understand to your everyday life and living. So, being knowledgeable does not necessarily mean being wise.
The TAO is the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, an ancient sage from China more than 2,600 years ago. The TAO has survived and thrived for thousands of years for a good reason: it is applicable to anything and everything in contemporary daily life. The TAO shows you all the hows and the whys of anything and everything happening in your life, including the following: growing up, receiving education, earning a living, making money, getting married, starting a family, raising children, staying healthy, growing old, and dying.
The TAO helps you confront all your daily challenges, and live in balance and harmony.
Click here to get your book.
Get your FREE BOOK to find out "how" to become a true believer. Give this FREE BOOK to all unbelievers to help them believe.
How the Ego Becomes Anything and Everything
Descartes, the great French philosopher, made his famous statement: “I think, therefore I am.” So, you think and you then become what you think you are-the byproducts of all your thoughts and your own thinking.
Unfortunately, this famous statement by Descartes is only partially true: it is true that you identify yourself with your thoughts projected into your thinking mind; but it is not true that your identities thus created by your thoughts and your own thinking 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 just self-delusion or self-illusion. In other words, you are not what and who you think you really are, and that is how you may have created your own ego-self over the years.
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 other than you. Therefore, 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, worse, you begin to believe it is.
As soon as the baby begins to learn how to perceive and interpret his or her own sensations through the five senses, those experiences will then get stored at the back of the mind as thoughts and memories-the raw materials with which the baby begins to create his or her own identity or ego-self. That is how a person’s ego is formed.
Your mind, like a baby’s mind, originally, was just like a blank sheet of paper. Your thinking begins with your five senses-how they perceive and interpret all your life experiences. All 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, sending out different messages to your conscious mind, and instructing it to act or react accordingly. As an illustration, a baby, who previously experienced a pleasant sensation, will then begin to smile as soon as the subconscious mind sends to the conscious mind the very same message of that pleasant sensation previously experienced.
How It May Become the Human Flaw
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 would expect to sustain that image; if it is a negative one, you would then strive to avoid being that image.
To illustrate, if you perceive yourself with a good body image; you may then try to do anything and everything to protect and sustain the positive image that has now become your ego-self. By the same token, if you look at yourself in the mirror and see an obese and negative image, you will have a deflated ego-self; you may then do anything and everything to bring about an improved body image in the future.
Well, there is nothing wrong with having an inflated or a deflated ego-self-whichever way you perceive, you may want to “exercise more” to protect or to improve that perceived body image of yours. There is nothing wrong with that. But any attachment to the ego-self may also create many other negative attachments, such as envy, regret, bitterness, frustration, and disappointment, which are only automatic and involuntary distorted thoughts that may prevent you from seeing your true self, and they thus ultimately become your human flaws.
To further illustrate the above point: say, you cooked a new dish for a potluck dinner; you liked its taste, and so did all your friends who complimented on your gourmet dish and asked for your recipe. These thoughts of compliments may have become registered in your subconscious mind. Consciously and subconsciously, you may then begin to actually “believe” that you are, indeed, a good cook. Slowly and imperceptibly, similar life experiences have begun 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 all the compliments by your friends on that dish in the past; and now you also look forward to the future-projecting your mind into the future with expectations 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 of expectations 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 all the awards, medals, and prizes we might have won over the past 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 all our past achievements but also with our anticipated accomplishments in the future. We just want to continue feeling good about ourselves.
What is wrong with feeling good about ourselves, or wanting to continue with our past accomplishments and projecting them into the future as expectations? Well, this may lead to over-doing, which is doing more than what is necessary, and even to the extent of doing what might be wrong or even illegal.
Lance Armstrong, the once-celebrated-but-now- disgraced cyclist, had won seven consecutive Tour de France titles and the Olympic bronze medal.
Armstrong’s initial success inflated his ego that led to his craving for more future success, resulting in his “wrong doing”-using performance-enhancing drugs to win all his subsequent races that ultimately brought about his downfall, and he was stripped of all his previous winning titles.
Any obsession with a man-made identity may also lead to the comparison and contrast of self with others that only further distorts the perceptions of the human mind.
No Ego No Stress
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
NEW BOOK: Use TAO wisdom and spiritual wisdom to live in reality with accountability--a life with no depression.
HUMAN WISDOM AND SPIRITUAL WISDOM
A Frog in a Well
In many ways, many of us are just like a frog in a well, looking up at the limited sky above, in that we see only ourselves, and no one else, and therefore anything is everything to us. In other words, we see only our own needs and desires that have to be fulfilled and gratified no matter how, but without seeing those in others.
Wisdom is the capability of the thinking mind to draw sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises. We never have sufficient data for anything and everything because we are all limited in our capability in acquiring our knowledge.
Wisdom is not quite the same as knowledge: knowledge is the acquisition of facts and information, while wisdom is the application of acquired knowledge to everyday life and living. For this reason, being knowledgeable does not necessarily imply being wise. Wisdom is beyond knowledge.
Socrates, the famous Greek philosopher, once said: “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
Wisdom is examining life by frequently asking self-intuitive questions, as well as by finding answers to the questions asked about life and living. In real life, we must frequently ask ourselves many questions about anything and everything at all times.
Asking relevant questions is introspection, which is a continual process of self-reflection, without which there is no self-awareness and hence no personal growth and development. A static life is never a life well lived. So, asking self-intuitive questions is self-empowering wisdom-a life-skill tool necessary for the art of living well.
Why is that?
It is because the kind of questions you ask also determines the kind of life you are going to live. Your questions often trigger a set of mental answers, which may lead to actions or inactions, based on the choices you have made from the answers you have obtained. Remember, your life is always the sum of all the choices you make in the process of going through your life journey.
To make the right daily life choices, you need human wisdom, which is clarity of thinking, to know who you really are, what choices are available to you, and why you decide on those choices.
TAO is the profound human wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China, more than 2,600 years ago, who was the author of the immortal classic Tao Te Ching on human wisdom.
Empower your mind with human wisdom to see things as what they really are, instead of as what they are supposed to be or what you wish they were. Before that could happen, however, you must know your real self first, that is, who you really are, and not your ego-self.
True human wisdom is not easy to attain or come by, especially living in this material world, which is a toxic environment. Living in a toxic environment, the human body may easily become contaminated, and thus ultimately infesting the human mind as well, given that the human body and the human mind are somehow interconnected.
An infested human mind often leads to distorted thinking-and that is where spiritual wisdom may play a pivotal role by giving the mind guidance, instruction, and supervision.
Ask yourself this thinking question: Do I have a soul or spirit?
If you do not totally live in your body, you do have a soul or spirit. If you do not totally focus on self, you may then also have a glimpse of your soul or spirit.
The next thinking question to ask yourself: What is my soul or spirit?
If you believe in God, your soul is your spiritual connection and communication with Him in the form of your daily prayers, moments of self-awakening, and occasional divine guidance and inspiration.
If you do not have a specific religion, but still believe in the control of a Being greater than yourself, your soul or spirit is your understanding of the unexplainable control and the natural cycle of all things-that is, certain things in life are beyond human control, and certain things follow a natural cycle or order, such as the cycle of the four seasons, and that life is inevitably followed by death.
If you are a non-believer, but still a decent human being, your soul or spirit is your conscience, which intuitively tells you what is right and wrong, and not just merely following the law and order of your country.
Therefore, in several different ways, we may all have a soul or spirit of some sort, although some of us may separate ourselves from it, either consciously or unconsciously. The soul or spirit is like a shadow of ourselves: sometimes we see more of it, and other times we see less of it, but it is always part and parcel of us, following us wherever we go, whether we like it or not.
The role of spiritual wisdom
Your soul may provide you with spiritual wisdom. As opposed to materiality, spirituality is something invisible and immeasurable, but is forever present and lasting. It is like the wind-invisible and yet palpable. It provides guidance, direction, and understanding to the mind. Spirituality may also take the form of love, joy, and peace, and it is often expressed in human actions and behaviors.
Materiality, on the other hand, is always visible, measurable, but is forever transient. Humans need both spirituality and materiality: the former to understand self, and the latter to understand the world and the universe around self. Spirituality not only inspires the mind but also energizes the body-it is a body-mind-soul connection necessary for the miracle of life and living.
Remember, your whole being is composed of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. Your body-the physical-is controlled by your mind-the mental-and supervised by your soul-the spiritual. In other words, your spirituality oversees your whole being. Nothing transforms you as much as changing from a mundane to a spiritual attitude toward all your everyday life problems. To be spiritual, you must, first of all, look beyond yourself-that is, looking at others, instead of just focusing on yourself, like a frog in a well.
TAO: The Way to Biblical Wisdom
Copyright© by Stephen Lau