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The TAO
DEATH AND DYING

“Life begets death; one is inseparable from the other.
One is form; the other is formless.
Each gives way to the other.
One third of people focus on life, ignoring death.
One third of people focus on death, ignoring life.
One third of people think of neither, just drifting along.
They all suffer in the end.
      
Trusting the Creator, we have no illusion about life and death.
Holding nothing back from life, we are ready for death,
just as a man ready for sleep after a good day’s work.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 50)

“Abiding in the Creator, we do not fear death.
Following the conditioned mind, we fear everything.
Fear is a futile attempt to control things and people.

Death is a natural destination of the Way.
Unnatural fear of death does more harm than good.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 74)

Dying and Beyond

On the final journey, with acceptance of the inevitable fate, there is usually no anger or even sadness-just numbness that initiates the winding down of the body.

Dying is just something we all have to do. Do you want to die with grace?

Dying with grace is to end well; all is well that ends well!.

A Case in Point

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

Maybe for a believer, death is, indeed, a triumph, a meaningful exodus from this mundane world to the eternal world beyond.

A Case in Point

Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his last speech, just several days before his assassination: “It (death) doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountain top. . . . and I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land.”

It was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s strong faith that led him to believe in the existence of the Promised Land beyond death. Indeed, to many believers, they are only humans having a brief existence in this transient material world, and their final destination is the eternal world beyond death.

A Case in Point

There have been many near-death experiences (NDEs) during which people claim that they have seen strange lights and tunnels, letting them have a glimpse of the eternal world beyond. Some of these instances have been written in books and become Amazon’s bestsellers, such as Heaven Is for Real (2010), about a child who saw heaven during surgery.

Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon and author of Proof of Heaven, said in Newsweek in 2012 that his incredible near-death experience had totally convinced him that his consciousness (the soul or self) exists somehow separate from or outside the mind, and therefore it can travel to other dimensions on its own. Eben wrote: “This world of consciousness beyond the body is the true new frontier, not just of science but of humankind itself, and it is my profound hope that what happened to me will bring the world one step closer to accepting it.”

Are you ready to believe in dying and beyond?

YOU JUST DON'T DIE!

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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TAO WISDOM AND MONEY

Money does not bring happiness. 

As an illustration, Barbara Woolworth Hutton was one of the wealthiest women in the world. She endured a childhood marked by the early loss of her mother at age five and the neglect of her father, setting the stage for a life of difficulty forming relationships. Married and divorced seven times, she acquired grand foreign titles but was maliciously treated and often exploited by several of her husbands. While publicly she was much envied for her possessions, her beauty and her apparent life of leisure, privately she remained deeply insecure, often taking refuge in drink, drugs, and playboys.

Her son died in a plane crash in 1972, at the age of 36, leaving her devastated. Dying of a heart attack at age 66, at her death, the formerly wealthy Hutton was on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of exploitation, as well as her compulsive generosity and spendthrift ways.

What does TAO wisdom say about money?

According to TAO, money is neither positive nor negative; it is all in the human mind.

But how you make your money and how you spend your money may turn money into something either positive or negative.

To increase your wealth in a positive way, focus on doing what needs to be done, and no more. On the other hand, the more you do to make money, the less focused you become, and the greater are your expectations of the outcome. That may ultimately create not only undue stress but also internal disharmony in your life, turning money into something negative.

Increasing your wealth, however, does not necessarily mean spending your money proportionately. That is to say, an individual making more money does not have to buy a much bigger house than what that individual actually needs. To illustrate, Warren Buffet, the billionaire, has set an excellent example: he is still living in his $31,500 home he bought some decades ago.

Another classic example is Ann Russell Miller, a celebrated socialite from San Francisco, also known as Sister Mary Joseph, She, who had ten children and nineteen grandchildren, had grown up in luxury and privilege, and had been living a life of incredible wealth. Instead of shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue she used to do for decades-she suddenly decided to give up everything, and became a nun devoted to living in poverty for the rest of her life. That unbelievable event happened more than two decades ago: one day she held a celebrity party in which she announced her incredible decision, and her announcement was widely reported in the media across the United States. Why did she make such an incredible decision to drastically change her lifestyle? She said she her had a calling, a true vocation that was hard to understand for the general public, and even for the close members of her family.

Excessively increasing one’s wants often leads to unduly inflating one’s ego as well, and thus creating many negative attachments that are often packed in one’s own bag and baggage.

NO EGO NO STRESS

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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THE TAO IS PARADOXICAL

The TAO wisdom of Tao Te Ching 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 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 Tao wisdom, 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. Tao wisdom 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 wisdom 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)

NOTHING IS EVERYTHING

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

LETTING GO IS THE WAY TO GO


“Letting go is emptying the mundane,
to be filled with heavenly grace.

Blessed is he who has an empty mind.
He will be filled with knowledge and wisdom from the Creator.
Blessed is he who has no attachment to worldly things.
He will be compensated with heavenly riches.
Blessed is he who has no ego-self.
He will be rewarded with humility to connect with the Creator.
Blessed is he who has no judgment of self and others.
He will find contentment and empathy in everyone.

Letting go of everything is the Way to the Creator.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 9)

“Not of the world” means letting go of all mundane matters in the physical world.

Attachment only reinforces your identification with the world, while detachment empties your mind of its invisible control and manipulation. Letting go is the beginning of humility.

With humility, comes enlightenment, and letting go becomes simple and spontaneous.

LETTING GO

Stephen Lau       
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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