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Daily TAO Reflections

"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,
feeling contented."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 80)

Living in the present is an awakening to the realities of all things. It affords us an opportunity to look more objectively at any given situation, allowing our minds to think more clearly, to separate the truths from the self-deceptions that may have been created in our subconscious minds all along.

In the present moment, with clarity of mind, we see the ultimate truths of self, others, as well as of everything around us. More importantly, we see our past follies in identifying  ourselves with our thoughts that have created our ego; we see our present efforts in striving to protect the ego created by ourselves in the past; and we see our future futilities in expecting that our desires to sustain ego the ego will be fulfilled. 

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.

Stephen Lau

Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau


“The Way is easy to find and follow:
empty the mind of conditioned thinking
of seeing things and doing things.

The Way comes from the source of all.
Its power cherishes and nourishes all.
Knowing the source, we know ourselves.

Finding the Way,
we know the nature of things;
we see the comings and goings of things.

Following the Way,
we discover the treasures within;
we simplify the trappings without.
So, we continue the Way with inner joy.”

(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 70)

Tao wisdom is profound and beneficial to humans because it originates from the Creator, who controls everything. As a matter of fact, it is already innate in each one of us, but we need to look inside ourselves with an empty mind. If we let go of our futile attempts to control our own destinies, we will receive the blessings in our lives. Living in this world is all about trust and obedience. Unfortunately, many of us want everything our way or no way!

Stephen Lau

Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau


"The Way to the Creator has no blueprint.
With faith and humility, we seek neither pride nor blame.
Our actions then become righteous and impeccable.
Our lives are illumined with the Creator’s light.
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 27)

Understanding Tao wisdom has no blueprint-just as having a relationship with the Creator is personal. The wisdom is to have trust and obedience that demand the absence of pride, that is, humility, which is pleasing to the Creator and the ingredient of human wisdom.

"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 Tao wisdom is all about.

Remember: Enlightenment is no more than choice: choosing between humility or pride, letting go or holding on.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau


Tao wisdom emphasizes “wu-wei”: “Wu” means “no” and “wei” means “doing.” Due to the literal translation of the original text, “wu-wei” is sometimes misinterpreted as “non-doing,” and therefore even regarded as a “passive” way of looking at life by Lao Tzu. “No over-doing” is a more appropriate translation of “wu-wei.”

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)

Remember: Everything in this world happens for a reason, even though we may not know why; we are humans with limited wisdom, and it is impossible to understand the unlimited wisdom of the Creator. Therefore, striving to make sense out of the senseless is human folly. Given that all human actions are controlled by the Creator, the uncontrollable is human futility.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau


Letting go is one of the essentials of Tao wisdom. Understandably, living in this material world, it is difficult to let go of all material possessions because they identify who we are, such as the car we drive or the neighborhood we live in. To acquire these material possessions, we exert control over what we strive to accomplish. In the process, we may make wrong choices and decisions, creating stress and regrets.

“Letting go control,
we no longer strive and struggle.
Without strife and struggle,
there is no resistance.
Without resistance,
there is no suffering.

Living in the present moment,
we see all things that we must do.
Without complaint and resistance, we do them accordingly.
Without seeking control and recognition,
we simplify what we do, however complicated they may be.
Trusting in the Creator, we always under-do and never over-do.”

(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 30)

Remember: Seeking control and recognition is not the Way to human wisdom, which is living in the present rather than living with expectations in the future, which is uncertain and unpredictable.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau
There was the story of a professor visiting a Zen master to find out more about Zen, which is an Eastern philosophy. In the beginning of the visit, the professor kept on talking while the Zen master served him tea. At some point, the Zen master kept pouring tea into the teacup held by the professor even though it was brimming over.

The moral of the story is that one must have an empty mind before one can accept new and unconventional ideas. Likewise, to intuit true human wisdom or Tao wisdom, one must have an empty mind capable of reverse thinking.

An empty mindset frees us from the many shackles of life that may enslave us and keep us in bondage without our knowing it.

Are you the master or just a slave of your own life?

Often times, we think we are masters of our lives, but in fact we are no more than just slaves. You are the master only when you have complete control over your own life, especially how you think.

How do you gain control over your life in terms of your career, human relationships, time management, and daily stress, among others? It is not easy because most of us have a pre-conditioned mindset that we must do this and do that in order to succeed in our endeavors in life. To illustrate, in our subconscious minds, we want to do well, and, to do well, we must set goals; to reach our goals, we must exert efforts; after accomplishing one goal, we need to set another higher goal, and yet another one higher than the previous ones. In the end, our lives may get more complicated and even out of control; as a result, we are no longer masters but only slaves to what we have accomplished or want to accomplish for ourselves.

“Those with an empty mind
will learn to find the Way.

The Way reveals the secrets of the universe:
the mysteries of the realm of creation;
the manifestations of all things created.
The essence of the Way is to show us
how to live in fullness and return to our origin."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 65)

Remember: Tao wisdom focuses on freeing oneself from any pre-conditioned mindset so as to have clarity of thinking.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau