Healing begins with the mind first, and not the body. Follow the TAO to heal, the mind, the body, and the spirit to live in reality.

The Cancer Journey

If, unfortunately, you or you loved ones are in the throes of combating cancer, simply “surviving” the disease is not adequate to prevent a relapse; you must learn how to thrive on the cancer journey. Take cancer as a blessing in disguise, as an opportunity for achieving a deep awareness of the mind to take you from surviving to thriving with cancer on that journey.

Life is tough, and living is never easy, especially living with cancer. To be diagnosed with cancer is a potentially tragic trauma in life. But on that cancer journey you can transform your trauma into a triumph of self-discovery and personal recovery from cancer; you can even reach for higher levels of wellbeing in all areas of your life through the mind by asking thought-provoking questions. In the Bible, Jesus said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find . . .” (Matthew 7:7)

In real life, you must ask yourself many questions at all times, especially when you have got cancer. Asking questions is introspection, which is a process of self-reflection, without which there is no self-awareness and hence no personal growth and no recovery from the disease. The kind of questions you ask determines the kind of life you are going to lead, and the direction of the cancer journey you are going to embark on. Your questions trigger a set of mental answers, which lead to actions or inactions, based on the choices you are going to make from the answers you have obtained. On your cancer journey, always ask thought-provoking questions, although you may not always get all the answers.

Asking questions is all about the mind. A thinking mind helps to debunk the favorite statement of the medical community: “Your cancer is terminal.” There is no such thing as hopeless. Only God knows how long a person is going to live. Make the most important decision in your life: the profound decision to live. This is not indulging in false hope. There is no such thing as false hope -- hope itself is medicine of the mind.

The cancer journey is made up of decisions: decisions to take certain treatment options, and decisions to make certain lifestyle changes. A decision ignites an action; without a decision, nothing happens in life. If you do not like what and where you are right now, then now is the time to change. Make that first and most important decision to live -- today! Your decision will lead to not only greater quality but also greater quantity of the days ahead of you.

The Devastating Mental Shock

If, unfortunately, you or you loved ones are diagnosed with cancer, the traumatic experience often comes with a devastating mental shock. The initial feelings are usually disbelief (Are you kidding me?), followed by anger or injustice (Why me?), and then self-pity or self-blame (It's all my fault!). The traumatic mental experience is unspeakable and indescribable.

If being diagnosed with cancer is a big deal, then why is it such a big deal? For decades, the medical community and the pharmaceutical industry have knowingly or unknowingly instilled fear in the minds of the general public. Cancer spells “death,” and cancer is “incurable.” To be diagnosed with cancer is a big deal because it is all in the mind -- your mind.

Cancer and Heart Disease

Cancer is only the second greatest killer of human diseases in the world, after heart disease. If a person is diagnosed with a heart disease, the news may not come as shocking and traumatic as that of being diagnosed with cancer. One reason is that the individual may well be aware of the presence of the heart problem, as indicated by the body weight or some other tale-telling symptoms of heart disease. Perhaps the more obvious reason why being diagnosed with heart disease is less frightening is in the mental self-delusion that “it may not happen to me right away.” In reality, heart disease is more fatal than cancer, and can strike suddenly without any warning in the form of strokes and heart attacks. However, in the mind's eye, having diagnosed with cancer is tantamount to having a death sentence pronounced on one, and the date of execution is only a matter of time.

The Reality Check

Like all other life experiences, having cancer is just a fact of life --which, at best, is a bed of roses with many prickly thorns. Everybody has some health problems sooner or later: some have more serious ones than others; some get them sooner than others. Mortality is built into our genes to ensure human frailty and eventual demise.

After the initial denial, the reality of cancer begins to sink in. On the one hand, a patient may fall into an abyss of despair; on the other hand, the patient may brace himself or herself to confront and combat the enemy. It all depends on the mind of the individual. Yes, getting the disease of cancer is a big deal! But you have to deal with it one way or another.

Accepting the reality of your health condition will, surprisingly, free you from negative thoughts. In the Bible, when Jesus said: “The truth will make you free.” (John 8:32), He meant not only freeing from sins, but also freedom from negative thoughts of despair and hopelessness that may only further damage health. The only reality check is to muster your courage and willpower to change some life habits, including your diet, exercise routine, and relaxation techniques -- more specifically, changing your beliefs, attitudes, and thought patterns. In other words, help your mind help your cancer.

The Right Mindset

No matter what, you need the right mindset to take the right action to begin the right process toward healing and recovery from cancer. Whether you like it or not, you need to see your doctor to discuss your conditions and treatment plans. Again, your mind plays a pivotal role in gathering information in order to ask the appropriate questions to determine if the physician is right for you, or to help you choose the right treatment plan for your cancer.

Help Your Doctor Help You

Many patients are reluctant to disclose everything about their health problems, in particular, their mental conditions, because of the stigma attached to them. But the information you provide your doctor is vital to his or her making the proper diagnosis and recommending the right treatment plan. Honest disclosure may help the doctor’s interpretation of your symptoms and the decision to make certain tests or procedures. The doctor must have the facts before deciding whether or not surgery is necessary. Do not be concerned with encumbering your doctor with “unnecessary” details or “almost forgotten” past medical history. If your doctor does not seem concerned about a detail, most probably, the doctor is satisfied that it is not relevant to your conditions. Does your doctor take the time to talk with you and listen to your concerns, especially your emotional problems? Anyway, do not hesitate to tell your doctor everything, and do not be programmed into “not taking up too much of the doctor’s time.” If the doctor doesn’t have much time for you, most probably he or she is not the right doctor for you.

Remember the following: a good physician will not betray your confidence; a reputable physician will not express judgment or lack of respect for you because of what you have revealed about yourself; a competent physician must have all the facts available. The more information is provided, the more accurate is the diagnosis.

Questions to ask the doctor may include: the qualifications and experience of the doctor, including board certification, the number of surgeries performed; the expertise and specialty of the doctor; the philosophy on educating patients about their treatment options.

Questions to ask and information to gather about the cancer before the visit to the doctor may include: the type of cancer; the tests used to determine the diagnosis; the information on your medical reports, including the biopsy, the imaging, the CAT scan; the clinical staging of the cancer; the grade of the cancer, i.e. the cell growth and aggressiveness of the cancer; the genetics of the cancer; the treatment options available; the recommendation for second opinion or a second pathology report.

Empower your mind with knowledge to ask the doctor the appropriate questions. Find out if your doctor is likely to prescribe a drug for every complaint of yours. Find out information about your oncology team, which may include the following: medical oncologist
-- a cancer doctor who specializes in the medical treatment of cancers; radiation oncologist -- a doctor who specializes in the treatment and the recommendations for radiation therapies; radiologist -- a doctor who reads the scans, X-rays, and other images to stage and follow your cancer; pathologist -- a doctor who examines your tissues, the characteristics of your tumor to provide accurate prognostic information to determine your treatment plan.

Are you working with your doctor, or simply taking orders? If you decide to go for integrative cancer treatment, that is, using both conventional and unconventional cancer therapies, you may have a different set of questions to ask your physicians and practitioners.

Questions to ask physicians practicing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) or any unconventional medicine may include: the qualifications and credentials of these physicians and practitioners; the different types of complementary and alternative treatments, such as, the mind-body interventions, biological-based therapies (oral and injected substances), and their specific roles in conventional cancer treatment; the effectiveness and safety of these therapies, as well as their side effects and negative interactions with conventional therapies; the cost and length of these treatments; the ways of monitoring the progress of these treatments and their impact on the prognosis of your cancer.

Mind Over Matter

Emotion is a double-edge sword: it can do wonders to a cancer patient, but it can also harm or even kill a patient. “Dying of a broken heart” is a reality, not just an old cliché. The bad news is that negative emotions, such as anger, fear, and shock, are health destructive, often leading to severe abdominal pain, bloating, heartburn, indigestion, and insomnia, among other psychosomatic ailments frequently associated with cancer. When diagnosed with cancer, it is critical that you do not do the following:

Do not lose your temper, which can ultimately damage your health further down the road. Instead, employ other ways of channeling your negative energy to distract you when you are overwhelmed by attacks of rage.

Do not lock yourself into a situation in which you simply cannot see any solution to your own problems, however hard you may try. This is particularly true if you find yourself diagnosed with cancer: you think your dire situation cannot be changed, and, therefore, you subconsciously refuse to look in that direction for a solution.

Do not blame yourself, others or, even God for your cancer. Guilt distorts your thinking and prevents you from making the right decision regarding your cancer treatment options.

The good news is that positive emotion, in the form of faith and hope can heal. The mind, when empowered with trust and confidence, can do wonders to make you well again. Life is always mind over matter. Use your mind to help your doctor to help you along your cancer journey.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Congratulations! You've Got Cancer!
                  NOTHING IS PERMANENT

Fact of Impermanence

Impermanence is an inescapable fact of all human existence, clearly evidenced in the process of falling sick, growing old, and dying in all humans, as well as in the process of decaying of all things perishable and the passing away of anything liable to pass. There are no exceptions, and that is the indisputable fact that nothing lasts.

Perspectives of Impermanence

According to Buddha, life is like a river. The water flowing in a river is like a progressive and a successive series of different but unified movements of water, all joining together to create the impression of only one continuous flow of water. Likewise, human existence is moment to moment, with each moment leading to the next. It is also an illusion that the person in this moment is the same person in the next moment; just as the river of yesterday is not quite the same as the river of today. To think otherwise is human illusion.

Even from a scientific point of view, Buddha’s perspective is true. We know that cell divisions take place in each living being continuously: old cells in our bodies die and are continuously replaced by new ones. Technically speaking, all individuals are constantly subject to change, and the change is a continuous movement, just like the flowing water in a river.

Essence of change

The Creator has created for us a world of constant changes: everything is changing with every moment, remaining only with that very moment, and nothing remains permanent. It is through changes that we may transform ourselves into a better individual. Even in a difficult and challenging environment, we may learn from our mistakes and wrong choices in life, and so change ourselves. Change is transformation, which is educational and self-enlightening. Transformation is synonymous with impermanence, which is the essence of change.

Understanding that nothing lasts is already self-awakening. Nothing is permanent: the good as well as the bad things that happen to us are impermanent; nothing lasts, including your good health, and your recovery from your illness. We all are aware of this universal truth of impermanence. We all know that we cannot live to well beyond one hundred years, and yet we resist our aging process, continuously fixing our faces and bodies to make them look younger. We may have the face of a forty-year-old but the body and the mind of a seventy-year-old. We simply refuse to let go of the impermanence of all things; we desperately and self-delusively cling on to the “permanence” of all our attachments.

The illusion or self-delusion is that many of us wish the impermanent were the permanent. It is this wishful thinking that makes us unhappy. We were once healthy and now our health has declined, and we are unhappy. We were wronged by our enemies, and we still hold on to our old grudges, instead of forgiving and letting them go, and we are unhappy. Our past glories gave us the ego-self, which we refuse to let go of, and we become depressed and unhappy.

Life is about changes, and living is about letting go of what is impermanent that we naively believe and wish to be permanent.

Remember, nothing lasts, and each and every moment remains only with that very moment. Therefore, live in the present moment, and live all your moments to their best and to the fullest as if everything is a miracle. Yes, heal yourself of any disease, but the recovery is never permanent. That is why your healing journey does not have a destination.
Permanent truths

Impermanence and change are the undeniable and permanent truths of all human existence. What is real is the existing moment, the present moment that is a product of the past, or a result of the previous causes and actions.  Due to ignorance, an ordinary mind may conceive them all to be part of one continuous reality. But the fact that they are not is the permanent truth.

The various stages in the life of a man, the childhood, the adulthood, the old age are not the same at any given time. The child is not the same when he grows up and becomes a young man, nor when the young man turns into an old man. The seed is not the tree, though it produces the tree, and the fruit is also not the tree, though it is a product of the tree. This is the permanent truth of all life.

Emptiness and nothingness

Death empties anything and everything -- that is, the ego and all its attachments to the material world that define the ego-self. Emptiness is nothingness in which everything becomes nothing.

For all human efforts, death will come in the end for all and sundry. This is an indisputable fact. No matter how long a life you may want to live, you will, like everyone else, face dying one day. This is the way of all flesh because you have a built-in mechanism in your genes to ensure your own mortality.

Perspective of death

According to CNN news, Cathrin Ertmann, a celebrated photographer from Denmark, chronicles the enigmatical journey of the deceased from death until burial. While keeping all her subjects’ identities anonymous, she diligently records all the different stages of death, including autopsies and cremations, in quiet detail.

Before she started photographing death, Cathrin Ertmann had never seen a dead body. Viewed through her lens while standing in a quiet morgue, it was, surprisingly, much less frightening and more of a quiet mystery for her to explore death and its implications.

“I was amazed about how peaceful and undramatic everything looked,” she said. “I got the chance to look at death without it being my own relatives, without feelings involved, and it gave me a peace. The imagination of what death looks like is way worse than what I experienced. . . . . . I also saw a peace and beauty. Sometimes the scare is in the brief look at something. Like when you watch a horror movie, you only see a glimpse of the ghost, murderer or monster, and your imagination works all the fright up for you. I think I felt I need to see everything to make it ‘normal’ and undramatic. And I think it works the same way with our relation to death in general.”

A new study of death gave Cathrin Ertmann a new perspective on life. “After working in the morgue, I was walking in the street and I got really over-whelmed by seeing all the people just walking, chatting and laughing,” she said. “I wanted to yell: YOU ARE ALIVE, USE IT!"

Indeed, death is a leveler of all. We all have a life; so go out and live it as God has intended and planned for you.

You will have to work hard and sweat a lot to produce the food you eat.
You were made out of the ground. You will return to it when you die.
You are dust, and you will return to dust.
(Genesis 3:19)

The news on death by Catherin Ertmann is very illuminating:  it sheds light on how we should all view death -- or rather life and death, which are always  interrelated, just as health and illness. Remember, life always begets death, and what goes up must also come down. This is the natural cycle of anything and everything in this world. Many people live without ever thinking of death or deliberately ignoring its existence, while others live but always with death on their minds -- especially those elderly. That death is inevitable is an indisputable fact, but one need not anticipate it as if it is imminent, even if one is advanced in years. Nobody knows when death may descend. Just live your life as if there is no tomorrow, live in the now, and live as if everything is a miracle.

Remember, whether or not you would like to let go of your attachments in the material world, you came from dust, and dust you shall return to.

Remember your Creator
before you return to the dust you came from.
Remember him before your spirit goes back to God who gave it.
(Ecclesiastics 12: 7)

The bottom line: remember your Creator, or where you came from; everything is nothing in the end. So, why hold on to, and why not let go of, anything and everything that eventually will become nothing? Just let go to let God, who is in absolute control; anything and everything must return to Him as nothingness. Indeed, the wisdom of everything is nothing is the wisdom of letting go to let God help you along your healing journey.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Anything Is Everything! Everything Is Nothing!

Given that your healing journey does not have a destination anytime soon, there will be many unexpected challenges and distracted detours ahead of you. Therefore, you need balance and harmony to enable you to continue on your healing journey.

Balance and Harmony in the Body with Balanced Foods

The Yin and the Yang diet

For centuries, the Chinese have observed the importance of balance and harmony, manifested in the concept of the Yin and the Yang (represented as the female and the male, respectively, or any two opposing forces in Nature that balance and complement each other, resulting in perfect balance and harmony).

The terms “the Yin” and “the Yang” describe the opposite yet complementary energy states in the universe. A balance between the two polarities can help you stay in beneficial energy alignment, which is fundamental to health and wellness. The Yin embodies negative electrical charge and contractive energy, while the Yang demonstrates positive electrical charge and expansive energy.

The balance of the Yin and the Yang is reflected in the Five Elements, which form the basis of the Yin and the Yang diet for a healthy immune system.

The Five Elements

This concept of balance and harmony originates from the Five Elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water), which not only are fundamental to the cycles of Nature, but also correspond to the different organs of the human body. In addition, each of these Five Elements also corresponds to a different color.

These Five Elements not only balance but also complement each other to create balance and harmony. To illustrate, water nourishes trees or wood, without which there will be no fire, and without fire, there will be no earth, and without earth, there will be no metal; fire heats metal to produce water through condensation, and without metal, there will be no water. These Five Elements are inter-dependent on one another for existence in the form of a cycle of Nature.

Wood corresponding to green

Eat green vegetables, from asparagus to dark leafy greens, such as spinach.

Eat green fruits, such as lime, and melon.

Eat pumpkin seeds.

Eat green-colored beans, such as lentils, and mung beans; and grains, such as rye.

Fire corresponding to red

Eat red vegetables, such as hot red peppers and bell peppers, or beets.

Eat red fruits, such as red apples, or cherries.

Eat red nuts, such as pecans.

Eat red-colored beans, such as red lentils, and red beans; and grains, such as buckwheat.

Earth corresponding to orange and yellow

Eat orange and yellow vegetables, such as pumpkins, squash, and yams.

Eat orange and yellow fruits, such as mangoes, oranges, and papaya.

Eat orange and yellow nuts, such as almonds, and cashews.

Eat orange and yellow beans, such as chickpeas, and grains, such as corn and millet.

Metal corresponding to white

Eat white vegetables, such as cauliflower, and daikon radish.

Eat white fruits, such as bananas, and pears.

Eat white nuts, such as macadamias, and pine nuts.

Eat white-colored beans, such as white beans; and grains, such as barley and rice.

Water corresponding to black, blue, and purple

Eat dark-colored vegetables, such as black mushroom, eggplant, and seaweed.

Eat dark-colored fruits, such as blackberries, blueberries, and raisins.

Eat dark-colored nuts, such as black sesame, and walnuts.

Eat dark-colored beans, such as black beans and navy beans; and grains, such as black wild rice.

According to the famous Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, health and self-healing are contingent on a balance and harmony of all five elemental energies. Therefore, you are recommended to eat a diet that includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and grains of all the five colors in order to continue the self-healing process of the immune system to heal your myasthenia gravis or any autoimmune disease you may have.

The body needs balance and harmony to be connected with the mind that controls the body in the physical world.

Balance and Harmony in the Mind with Stress-Free Living

Always live in balance and harmony. But how? Live a stress-free life.

Stress is your body’s response to increased tension. Stress is normal. You need stress to do the following: accepting challenges; concentrating on doing a difficult task; having sex; and making important decisions.

Indeed, stress can be conducive to health. For example, sex creates stress: it increases your pulse rate and heartbeat, and stimulates your brain cells. Stress can be enjoyable, such as physical challenge in competitive sports.

But too much stress can increase your production of hormone epinephrine (and thus wearing out your hormonal glands) with the following effects: blood sugar elevation to produce more energy; breathing rate acceleration to get more oxygen; muscle tension; pulse rate and blood pressure increase; and sweating to cool down the body.

After the initial stressful stimuli, your body should be able to relax, slow down, and return to a state of equilibrium. However, if this does not happen, you become distressed.

Stress is the No. 1 factor not only in the cause of many human diseases, but also in the trigger of many autoimmune disease symptoms, including those of myasthenia gravis.

Stress and anger often go hand in hand. They cause hormone imbalance, which may trigger the development of an autoimmune disease.

Chronic stress, which causes your body to maintain physiological reactions for long periods of time, especially with respect to the release of hormones, can lead to depletion of vital nutrients in your body, particularly DHEA (a hormone critical to aging and the immune system), vitamin C, and the B-complex vitamins.

During stress, your body uses its DHEA supply and impairs the functioning of your body’s hormonal glands. According to scientific research, your DHEA levels decrease with age. Therefore, stress is only adding insult to injury.

To avoid or to decrease the symptoms of an autoimmune disease, learn to cope with your daily stress and to deal with your anger in any given situation.

The causes of stress in life

Stress may be caused by many factors, including the following:

Money and finance

Finance is one of the main stress factors in contemporary life due to unemployment, not having enough money to make both ends meet, debt from credit cards or gambling, home foreclosure, and unexpected exorbitant medical bills, among others.

To avoid financial stress, learn how to manage your money and your daily spending.

Health issues

The American Academy of Family Physicians once estimated that two-thirds of all family doctor visits are stress-related.

Health problems can be triggered by alcohol, sugar, and tobacco addiction. Chronic health problems are particularly stressful.


Relationships are often a source of emotional and psychological problems, such as breakup in a love relationship, separation and divorce, dealing with teenager problems, and coping with aging parents.

Work environment

According to the American Institute of Stress, up to one million employees absence per day are stress-related.

Work environment creates stress due to feeling of being unproductive, inability to perform or concentrate on work, unrealistic and unreasonable demands from employers or co-workers, racial discrimination, and sexual harassment, among others.

Special life events

Special life events -- whether they are positive or negative -- can be stressful, such as marriage or a wedding, graduation, a new job, buying a home, and even going on a vacation.

Your experience of stress can be past, current, and future.

Past stress (also known as “residual stress”) is stress from the past that you cannot overcome completely despite the passage of time.

Current stress is a current state of arousal caused by an existing situation that requires your immediate attention but that you do not enjoy addressing.

Future stress is “anticipatory stress” or worry about what “might” happen in the future. Residual stress can lead to future stress, passed on from unpleasant past experience.

The ways to handle stress

Basically, there are only three different ways to handle stress:

Relax to de-stress

Use relaxation techniques to help the body and the mind to cope with stress.

Avoid stress

Avoiding stress is only a temporary solution: it does not solve the very underlying stress problems. Avoiding stress is what is commonly known as the “fight-or-flight” response.

To deal with this type of stress, you may use your innate defensive mechanism to cope with stress by subconsciously distorting the realty. This is only tantamount to self-denial of a stressful situation.

Unfortunately, avoidance of stress only reinforces the feeling of inadequacy and therefore perpetuates the vicious cycle of stress. Avoiding or delaying the problem may only intensify the stress further down the road.

Procrastination is another form of this defensive mechanism. Unfortunately, this, too, is only a temporary measure: it does not eradicate the problem itself.

Manage stress

Manage stress by changing the perceptions of stress. Stress is always in the mind’s eye, that is, the perceptions of an individual.

Stress management is essentially about the perceptions of stress. In other words, it is all in the mind’s eye: what is stress to one individual may not be stress to another.

The key to managing stress is to achieve the right balance between tension and relaxation.

Balance and Harmony in the Soul with Alignment and Connection for Self-Healing and Self-Help

Alignment and realignment

The body, the mind, and the soul work together as a system of life energy for healing. The free flow or stagnation of this life-giving energy is dependent on the balance and harmony of the body, the mind, and the soul at each and every moment. It is this moment-to-moment alignment in the body, the mind, and the soul, as well as their alignment with one another, that creates your unique state of self-healing and self-help, which is a miracle in itself.

What is your current state of self-healing and self-help?

If you are living your life as if nothing is a miracle, most probably your body, mind, and soul are in misalignment with one another. You might feel your body is not healing, your mind is strangled with sadness and doomed to despair, and you life has little or no meaning, without a goal or purpose. On the other hand, if your current state of being is one of joy, hope, and purpose, you are living as if everything is a miracle because your body, mind, and soul are not only inter-connected, but also in perfect balance and harmony with one another.

Alignment or realignment is inter-connection of the body, the mind, and the soul to achieve balance and harmony for self-healing and self-help.

The miracle of self-healing and self-help is manifested in the spiritual wisdom of the soul that guides and inspires the mind, which controls the body living in the physical world.

Connection and reconnection

According to entropy, one of the laws of physics, anything left to itself will ultimately disintegrate, and fall apart.

According to John Donne, the famous English poet, “no man is an island, and every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

Essentially, everything in the universe is somehow and somewhat connected, just as man is connected with one another in a subtle way. The miracle of this connection is to provide balance and harmony to guarantee their existence and co-existence, that is, their alignment with one another.

Focusing on others rather than just on yourself illuminates your soul to see its necessity to express your empathy, generosity, gratitude, and loving-kindness to others. But the challenge not to do that is as great as your innate desire to seek spirituality. Therefore, simplicity in living may enhance your spirituality and increase your strength to overcome the challenge not to seek connection with others.

With spiritual wisdom, you may believe in the miracle of self-healing and self-help. You will then see that all happenings in your life are somehow “connected” for an unfathomable and unimaginable purpose, and that you can turn any bad situation into an opportunity for self-healing and self-help. Believe in the miracle that you are connected with everyone you meet in your life, and that everyone can be either your teacher or your student. In other words, there is much for you to learn from any circumstance, as well as from one another. This is the miracle of alignment and connection.

With the wisdom of the TAO, you will find balance and harmony in your everyday life and living while you continue on your healing journey.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

No Ego No Stress

The TAO is the wisdom of Lao Tzu, an ancient sage from China. The essentials of TAO wisdom are as follows:

An Empty Mind with Reverse Thinking

Get rid of any pre-conceived ideas that may affect how you think.

Reverse thinking is your mind going backward to find out how and why your mind has its present way of thinking.

Living in the Present

Live in the now--neither the past nor the future. The past was gone, and therefore unreal; the future is yet to come, and so uncertain. Only the present is real, and is a gift--that is why it is called "present."

No Expectation and No Choosing

Expectation is projecting the past into the future as reality. Expectation only creates stress, resulting from choosing this or that to guarantee the expectation will be fulfilled in the future.

Doing and No Over-Doing

Life is about doing--doing what needs to be done, but not over-doing, which is not living in reality.

Accepting Spontaneity

Everything in life follows a natural cycle: what goes up must also come down, day is followed by night, life begets death--just like the four seasons.

Embracing the Good and the Bad

So, live your life without stress and strain: success is inevitably followed by failure; you cannot have one without the other.

To live a life of balance and harmony, you must embrace everything that happens to you--including the good and the bad, as well as the pleasant and the unpleasant.

Remember, everything that happens to you has a reason--learn a lesson from it.


If the TAO could be summarized in one word, that word is "humility."

It is your ego that makes you separate yourself from others. Your ego is defined by all your attachments that define who you are. Let go of all your attachments, and be who you really are, and not who you wish you were.

Remember, it is your ego that does not give you an empty mind; it is your ego that creates your expectations with over-doing that does not make you live in the present; it is your ego that is responsible for your picking and choosing; it is your ego that prevents you from accepting the realities of life.

The bottom line: Let go of your ego, and live in reality, instead of in fancy and fantasy.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


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 the TAO 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.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau