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A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.Lao Tzu

How often we think about doing something, and end up not doing it at all. The explanation is quite simple: we don’t take the first step. Lao Tzu is right about the importance of taking the first step.

But why don’t we take the first step? Again, the explanation is simple: we already have an expectation of the result. Any expectation may be two-sided: a positive one often requires “over-doing” in order to get what we expect; a negative one generates doubt and fear that discourage us from taking the first step.

Lao Tzu recommends “no expectation” and “no over-doing”, which essentially means “doing what is required but without any expectation of the outcome.” Any expectation, whether it is positive or negative, creates undue stress that may adversely affect any choice and decision in the action or inaction.

Remember: Live a life without fear or worry; just do what needs to be done, with no expectation of the outcome.


Think with an empty mind with reverse thinking.”  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)

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, 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.

Remember: You are the master only when you have complete control over your own life, especially how you think.


Simplicity is the first step of letting go of all attachments.Lao Tzu

"Simplicity is clarity.
It is a blessing to learn from those
with humble simplicity.

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)

Pride is the first of the Seven Deadly Sins. Humility, the opposite of pride, is the only pathway to the Creator. Humility, often accompanied by simplicity in lifestyle, may let you have access to enlightenment -- which is deep understanding of not just the manifestations of all things created by humans, but also the mysteries of the Creator.

Remember: Humility with simplicity is clarity of thinking, which is the first step in letting go of all human attachments to the material world.


Stilling our thoughts, our needs become few.” Lao Tzu

"To end our suffering,
find our true nature.

Stilling our thoughts,
our needs become few.
Following our thoughts,
our distractions become more,
and thus living in chaos.

Enlightenment is our true nature.
Meditation helps us find the origin,
and thus ending our suffering."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 52)

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.

Mindfulness is living in the present, stilling your thoughts of the past or the future; instead, focusing on what is happening in the now:

"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)

Remember: Mindfulness is mental sharpness to know what is happening in the mind that brings about clarity of thinking, which is essential to human wisdom.


Knowing our true nature, we find joy and peace.Lao Tzu

Letting go of all attachments essentially means letting go of the ego-self, because all human attachments serve one purpose: to define who we think we are, such as the car we are driving, the house we are living in, etc. Letting go of the ego-self means knowing who we really are, and not who we wish we were. Knowing our true nature is the pathway to enlightenment, which is profound human wisdom.

"Fame or 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.

"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.

Everything that happens to us is beneficial.
Everything that we experience is instructional.
Everyone that we meet, good or bad, becomes our teacher or student.

We learn from both the good and the bad.
So, stop picking and choosing.
Everything is a manifestation of the mysteries of he Creation."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 27)

Remember: In life, there is no winning or losing, except in the mind. What goes up, must always come down; life is inevitably followed by death, just like the four seasons.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau


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Daily TAO Reflections