Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered

<b>Why Prayers Are Seldom 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.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

How to Avoid Human Conflicts


Balance and Harmony

The Way Through Human Conflicts

Human conflicts are many. The Way is the only way to go through them, rather than avoiding them.

Balance and harmony

Always maintain your internal balance and harmony. Remember, the world around you is always a reflection of what is deep inside you.

“The Way is easy,
yet people prefer distracting detours.
Beware when things are out of balance.
Remain centered within the Creator.

Distractions are many,
in the form of riches and luxuries.
They allure us from the Way.
Accumulations are like extortions of the poor.
They bring only disaster and suffering.
Do not deviate from the Way.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 53)

“When there is no desire to be someone that we are not,
separate from our true nature designed by the Creator,
all things are in perfect balance and harmony.” (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37)

Five elements and natural cycle

The five elements of the ancient Chinese are: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth.

The five elements balance and complement one another to create both internal harmony and a natural cycle. To illustrate, water nourishes trees or wood; without wood, there will be no fire (which burns wood); without fire burning wood, there will be no earth (the ashes from the burnt wood); without earth, there will be no metal (from the earth itself); through condensation, fire heats metal to produce water; without metal, there will be no water; without water, there will be no tree or wood.

These five elements are interdependent on one another for their own existence in the form of a natural cycle. In many respects, human relationships and our dealings with one another attest to the cyclical nature of the world we are living in.
                                                      
TAO wisdom

Think about your own nature with reference to the five elements. Are you strong and independent like metal, bold and pioneering like wood, soft and flexible like water, fiery and passionate like fire, or nurturing and receptive like earth?

Also, think about the different natures of the people around you, or you have to deal with. Understanding their different natures may result in better and more harmonious relationships with them. Indeed, the five elements can give you profound wisdom and insight into many different life situations to help you avoid unnecessary everyday conflicts and disparities.

The bottom line: learn to live a life without any conflict and confrontation with others. To do just that, you need to know not only yourself but also others.

“Knowing others is intelligence.
Knowing ourselves is true wisdom.
Overcoming others is strength.
Overcoming ourselves is true power.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 33)

Everything will be in its natural place because everything follows a natural cycle. So why do you strain, stress, and strut yourself?

“We stay in the very center of the Creator,
and refrain from controlling our destiny.
Everything will evolve and fall into its natural place,
according to the laws of the Creator.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37)

Soft and flexible

To help you overcome conflicts and resolve issues, you need the flexibility of TAO. Always be flexible, instead of being strong-willed and uncompromising.

“The Way is paradoxical.
Like water, soft and yielding,
yet it overcomes the hard and the rigid.
Stiffness and stubbornness cause much suffering.

We all intuitively know
that flexibility and tenderness
are the Way to go.
Yet our conditioned mind
tells us to go the other way.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 78)

It does not mean that you let people walk all over you and do nothing. Just step back, giving yourself some open space to create a detached mindset. If you are combative and strike back with a personal attack, you are in fact driving a nail into wood with a hammer; when you pull out the nail, the puncture on the wood is still there. So do not do anything that you may regret for the rest of your life. Always defer your anger for later processing.

All in all

Having good human relationship with others may not only afford you joy and happiness, but also heal you mentally, physically, and spiritually through your own connections with others. On the other hand, having bad human relationships may make you feel sad, lonely, hopeless, and depressed.

“If we are in harmony with the Creator,
we are like newborn babies,
in natural harmony with all.
Our bones are soft, and our muscles are weak,
but our grip is strong and powerful.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 55)

We are all living in a world of speed in which nothing seems to last too long, including human relationships. In contemporary living, there is too much focus on speed. Given that life is short, there is a great deal to be done and accomplished. As a result, you may feel the compression of time, and you may have developed a compulsive mind with a multi-tasking mindset, such as talking and texting on the phone while driving at the same time.

Remember, it is your compulsive mind that makes you feel distressed and unhappy. Ironically, it is because you know and believe that nothing lasts, that you want to do more, much more than necessary, hoping against hope that some of the things that you are doing may last a little longer. Because nothing lasts, so you begin to look for new ones to replace the ones that have expired. An example is a love relationship: if it does not turn out to be what you have expected, you just let it end itself, and then start looking for another one because it is your belief that nothing lasts.

According to TAO, truly nothing lasts, but that is the wrong way to look at the impermanence of things. The right way is to look at everything with non-attachment, which is letting go of whatever that happens in your life, be it joy or sorrow, success or failure, happiness or un-happiness. Letting go essentially means understanding that nothing lasts, and that what goes up must also come down, because everything in life follows a certain natural order—just like youth becoming old age, and life transforming into death. Understanding the impermanence of all things may change how you are going to live your life and interact with others. If nothing lasts, then let go of everything, and live your life to the fullest, which is in the present. The past was gone, so let it go; the future is yet to come, so let go of your expectations. Only the present is real, so live it to the fullest.

“Therefore, we focus on the present moment,
doing what needs to be done,
without straining and stressing.

To end our suffering,
we focus on the present moment,
instead of our expected result.
So, we follow the natural laws of things.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 63)
 
Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Careers and Depression


Careers and Depression

The bag and baggage

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 the signs and symptoms of depression, such as fear, regret, disappointment, and among others.

Career choice

A case in point

A Chinese couple in North America have a son who wants to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Their son in his early thirties decided to go to Beijing to learn the Chinese language as a prerequisite of his career pursuit. His parents have opposed to the idea of living in Beijing, or rather pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.

The different perspectives

From the parents’ perspectives: a really successful career in the entertainment industry is few and far between, especially if it is not pursued at a much younger age.
From the son’s perspectives: money, glamour, and quick recognition often come with success in a career in the entertainment industry.

The ultimate truths

A be-all-and-end-all career based on only one variable, which is money, may not turn out that way.

Any glamorous career is always competitive, but it does not mean it is unachievable at any age. Have an empty mind that everything is doable and achievable irrespective of the age.

Recognition should not be the only primary reason for pursuing any career; rather, passion should be the driving force behind.

Easy success in any human endeavor hurts ultimately,  especially a career in the long term, because it does not expand an individual’s capacity and capability to deal with problems when they get tough, or to have the persistence to go through them when things do not turn out as expected. Hard-earned success, on the other hand, may prepare an individual for more success in the future through persistence and perseverance. 

The reality

There is no right or wrong in the choice or pursuit of your career; after all, it is your career, and others may be looking at your career from their own perspectives.

Follow your passion, not people or what they say. Success comes from hard work, and not from wishful thinking. Spend your internal energy pursuing what you want, not defending or explaining why you want it; the latter has to do with your ego. Always ask yourself many self-intuitive questions about why and how you want to pursue your career goals.

TAO wisdom

According to TAO, choosing a career is like digging a well. Did you choose the right spot? Have you dug deep enough? If nothing happens according to your expectation, then self-doubt, reinforced by fear and uncertainty, may make you go for another spot. Going for another spot and yet another one may only bring you further frustration and more disappointment.

The bottom line: carefully choose your career, apply persistent effort, and you will find your initial investment of time and effort rewarding. Even if you choose to move on after a while, you will still find it very worthwhile because you have learned something from it Just remember that giving up is not an admission of defeat or disappointment; rather, giving up is letting go of any resistance when dealing with the chaos of life, and redirecting your energy to a higher purpose.

“The Way to the Creator is deep-rooted.
Unmoved, it becomes the source of all movement.
Stable, it enables us to act without rashness.

“So, whatever we do, we do not abandon our true nature.
The world around us is riddled with worries and distractions.
We remain stable, steady, and steadfast.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 26)

Do not abandon your true nature: be stable, steady, and steadfast.

Career advancement

Career advancement involves many new challenges and increasing responsibilities. If this is what you want, it may provide you with satisfaction and motivation to move on with your current career.

On the other hand, if career advancement is not right for you, then you may consider lateral move within your organization, that is, changing your daily duties but without increasing your responsibilities.

TAO wisdom

Wanting or not wanting your career advancement is your choice. According to TAO, your choice should not be based on control or power.

“Likewise, our greatness comes
not from our power or control,
but from our own true nature,
which is living as one with the Creator.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 34)

During career advancement, your procrastination may sometimes become an obstacle, causing frustration. Lao Tzu said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

“Great accomplishments are only
a combination of small steps.
Difficult tasks are no more than
a series of easy steps.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 63)

So, begin your first step, and one step at a time, but do not overstep yourself.

“Striving to climb the ladder of success,
we may seem smart.
But trusting our Creator,
we find divine guidance,
which is effortless along the Way.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 28)

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.

According to TAO, do what you have to do, but without “over-doing” it, which essentially means acting without attachments or expectations, but with effortless efficiency. While climbing your career ladder, neither push someone over nor use any inappropriate means to remove any obstacle that may stand in your way. Career success stems from your contentment, and not your resentment

“Resentment breeds more resentment.
Only contentment leads to contentment.
True contentment comes from our true nature:
not from what we do, or how we do;
neither from our status nor our control.

The Creator is impartial.
No one is special.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 79)

In your career advancement, you may find the urge to argue to prove that you are right

“The wise learn to succumb, instead of arguing.”
(Tao Te Ching, Chapter 81)

Arguing with your co-workers or just anyone else can never bring any worthwhile benefits. When you feel the urge to argue a point with someone, take a deep breath, bite your tongue, and remind yourself that any combat is due to your own ego.
Countering any aggression with aggression is just like fighting fire with fire. According to TAO, when confronted with aggression, neither fight back nor back down; instead be gentle but firm. The objective is not to humiliate the aggressor but to transform the harm into harmony, and the aggression into peace.

“So, we advance
not at the expense of overstepping anyone.
So, we gain
not at the expense of making anyone lose.
So, we accomplish
not at the expense of straining ourselves.

We have no enemy.
We love everyone as ourselves.
We remain in our true nature;
otherwise, we lose
the three essentials of the Way,
and become our own enemy.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 69)

On the other hand, if you find that you have assumed an aggressive and domineering personality during your career advancement, do remind yourself the wisdom of not expanding your ego at the expense of others, because career success, like anything else, can never sustain itself over the long haul. The reality is that nothing lasts, not even a very successful career.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Monday, May 25, 2020

A Good and Happy Marriage


Foundation of a good and happy marriage

 A good and happy marriage makes you younger and healthier for longer.

A happy and good marriage is based on the following:

Caring

Caring is different from smothering your spouse with love. Caring is loving and understanding, and putting yourself in the other’s shoes to see the other’s point of view.

Caring is developing sensitivity to the fact that your marriage partner has very different needs from your own.

Commitment

Always commit yourself to changing yourself first, rather than your spouse. If you cannot change yourself, do not expect your spouse to change. Also, if he does not choose to change, any manipulative behavior, commanding, or nagging will not bring about changes in your spouse.

Commit yourself with your spouse, in the beginning of a marriage, to establishing a common value system or priorities, upon which both of you will base your future decision-making, especially with regard to money matters.

Communication

Communication is sharing both feelings and thoughts with your marriage partner.
Communicate with confidence, not with sarcasm or venom. Remember, the tongue is “a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James: 3:8-10)

Communicate in a timely manner. Timing is important: you can say the right thing at the wrong time, and miss the mark.

Communicate your heartfelt feelings: express you needs and wants in a specific yet non-demanding way to your spouse.

Make a list of your love needs—which must be specific, achievable, and not requiring much time or money e.g. watching a favorite TV program together.

Communicate with appreciation and wisdom.

For example, regarding forgetting your birthday and wedding anniversary, do the following:

Let him know your feelings about these dates.

Start a family calendar as a casual reminder of important dates in your life.

If he remembers them, show your appreciation; if he doesn’t, don’t punish him.

Communicate with honest sharing of feelings. Affirm your spouse whenever he shares his feelings with you. This promotes openness and sharing of feelings.

Communicate with understanding to a passive listener or a reluctant communicator.

Most men are passive listeners: to acquire his unique personality, a boy learns not to listen to his parents as he grows up into adulthood.

To communicate effectively, do the following:

State precisely how you feel and what you want.

Be selective, and prioritize you needs.

Refrain from nagging or lecturing.

To many women, talking things out will make a relationship work; to many men, continuing to talk things over means the relationship is not working. Therefore, understanding this glaring gender difference may put you in a difference perspective when communicating with your spouse.

Dealing with marital conflicts


Marital conflicts are bound to occur in any marriage due to the complexity of human personality and the difficulty in satisfying some of the basic human needs.

Decline in sexual desire or frequency

Drop-off in post-marital sexual desire is common in marriages due to the concern of sexual performance on your partner. Unlike you, he cannot fake sex. So he may resort to decreasing the frequency to avoid the frequency of poor performance. Understanding this male psychology may give you better perspective when it comes to sexual matters in a marriage, especially in a young marriage.

To help your partner overcome his lack of confidence or interest, give him plenty of compliments, not criticism, during and after the sexual act. Be patient, and more importantly, be honest with your own needs. Compromising your own sexual needs may lead to frustration, which may subsequently be reflected in undesirable marital behaviors.

If you want him to act like a young man, you have to begin acting like a young woman to him yourself.

On the other hand, if sex is a lower priority in your marriage, it is your choice, too.

Always choose a more effective total behavior that gets your needs satisfied.

Nora Wise
Copyright© by Nora Wise


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Money and Marriage


Money matters

We all need money to survive. As a result, in many marriages, many people fight over money matters. The problem is that people have different perspectives of money-worth. For example, you may think spending $100 on a pair of jeans is worth it, but your spouse may think otherwise. To determine the real worth of anything is subjective and difficult, and therefore should be based on the man-hours spent: that is, if you think you are willing and be prepared to work those hours for that pair of jeans, then it is worth it, at least to you.

All your behaviors are your choice, and hence you are responsible for the consequences—not somebody else, not even your spouse. Understanding the principle of choice may avoid unnecessary fights over money matters 

Nearly half of all divorces in the United States are a result of money problems in marriages.

Remember the saying of John Woodbridge Patten about money: “buys everything but happiness, and takes a man everywhere but heaven.”

Money is symbolic of so many things in life—effort, self-worth, and status, among other things. Money also symbolizes the unity and oneness of a married couple. If there is no harmony in money matters, it would be difficult to have balance and harmony in other things that constitute a good and healthy marriage.

The relationship with money

Identifying the real relationship with money, with neither self-criticism nor self-justification.

If you want to get rich (it is your choice), remember these:

The essentials of food, clothing, and shelter are all you need to be content and thankful.

The love of money often destroys a man’s life and his soul.

If you want to stay rich, remember these:

The ultimate ownership belongs to God, who owns all things.

Do good and be rich in your deeds and generosity. Help those who are less fortunate than yourself.

Understanding money problems

Understanding money problems is more than half way through solving the problems of money.

The principle of spending is simple: Never buy what you don’t need with the money you don’t have.

Buy what you need, not what you want.

Create a budget to avoid conflicts:

Determine the total net income after taxes.

Decide your basic expenses (rent/mortgage, foods, bills etc.)

Total income less expenses is the monthly spending money. Divide it into two.

Spend however you want to spend it.

Do not let money become a stress factor in life: money can age you more than anything else.

Do not let money become a bone of contention in your marriage: many money fights are in fact continuing fights between partners over control and power, but thinly disguised in money matters; they are only “fake” money fights.

Destructive marriage behaviors

Problems in a marriage often occur as a result of these behaviors related to money:

Playing the blame game
Complaining and criticizing too much
Nagging and threatening to get what one wants

Divorce


A marriage is made to last. So do everything within your power to make it last.

If your marriage is on the rocks, save your marriage and stop your divorce!

Julia Smarty 
Copyright© by Julia Smarty


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Drinks to Heal Immune System


Drinks to Heal the Immune System

Burdock and daikon drink

Burdock root has been used as both food and medicine in Asia and Europe for thousands of years. Recently, it has been used as a nourishing tonic for cancer, liver disease, and rheumatism. Burdock root is a staple diet of the Japanese, who are among the people with the longest lifespan in the world.

Fresh burdock root is available at many greengrocers, Asian supermarkets, and natural food stores in the United States.

Daikon is Japanese radish. Its phytochemicals have well-recognized healing and anti-carcinogenic properties:

It cleanses the blood (the kidneys).

It promotes energy circulation.

It increases the metabolic rate (a weight-loss remedy in Asia).

It treats hangovers.

It decongests the lungs, clears sore throat, colds, and edema.

The burdock and daikon drink can be taken any time, and as much as you like.

Ingredients

One burdock root (about 24 inches long)

One daikon with green tops

One small carrot with green tops.

Preparation

Cut all ingredients into small pieces.

Place them in a pot with water double the volume of the ingredients.

Bring to a boil.

Pour out the content, and drink it.

You can repeat the process one more time. This time, after bringing it to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer it for another 20 minutes. Let the ingredients steep in the hot water for another 20 minutes before drinking it.

Four greens drink

Bitter melon, a popular Asian vegetable, is well known for blood glucose control. It contains a substance similar to bovine insulin, which has been shown in experimental studies to achieve a positive sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural response to sweet taste stimuli.

Celery is a good source of insoluble fiber as well as essential nutrients, including vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. In addition, it may reduce blood pressure, and block cancer cells.

Cucumber has been associated with healing properties in relation to diseases of the kidney, urinary bladder, liver, and pancreas. In addition, cucumber juice is an excellent skin tonic.

Green pepper is loaded with vitamin C (a potent antioxidant) and beta-carotene (to prevent cataracts).

Make the nutritious four greens drink by juicing them in approximately equal portions. Drink immediately.

Pine needles drink

Pine needle drink is a perfect drink made from evergreen pine needles. Select your pine needles by picking the newest green ones from a pine tree. Wash the pine needles thoroughly. Put them in a cloth bag, and steep it in a pot of boiling water—if you don’t use a cloth bag, then strain the needles before drinking. Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Pine needle drink is loaded with vitamin C and other nutrients to offer the following benefits: eyesight; fatigue; heart disease; kidney ailments; sclerosis (inflammatory nerve disorder); and varicose veins.

 Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau