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.”

Sunday, May 31, 2020

How to Pray


How to Pray

Praying is never easy: often complicated, and even paradoxical.

You’ve got to know what you want so that you can ask what you want in order to get what you want.

So, before you pray, you must know your true self: who and what you really are, and not who and what you wish you were.

Praying is talking to God through your heart, and not your words; repeating a right set of words isn’t as important as your heart talking to Him.

Prayer is God’s gift to anyone who prays for that free gift.

So, to pray for that free gift, you must show your desire to feel God’s presence, which is in anyone and everyone, as well as in anything and everything.

Several decades ago, a former colleague of mine had the opportunity to meet and dine with Gladys Aylward, a British missionary to China, whose amazing story was made into a Hollywood film in 1958: “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness”, starring Ingrid Bergman.

My former colleague told me that at the dinner with Gladys she found it very “odd” that Gladys had repeated almost non-stop “Praise the Lord!” throughout the dinner—when someone passed her a dish, some bread, even salt and pepper, or when someone made a comment. It might not have looked “odd” to someone who’d like to feel the presence of God in every moment of his or her life.

So, from now on, whenever you say “Thank you” aloud, maybe you should also try to say in silence “Praise the Lord!” so that you may feel His presence in your heart.

To feel His omnipresence,  you must also still your thoughts with mindfulness, and live in the now.

Prayer is how you react and respond to His presence in your daily life.

Always begin your prayer with God, and not yourself.

Asking for your needs is self-delusional: God already knows your needs.

Asking for your wants is self-sabotaging: trying to make God change His mind about what He has already wanted for you.

So, don’t pray for “be happy”, “be healthy”, and “be wealthy.”

If you’re blessed with His presence, you’ll still feel your happiness even in your adversities. Depression is humans’ refusal of letting go to receive His presence.

If you’re blessed with His wisdom, you’ll know how to take care of your body, even when you’re sick.

If  you’re blessed  with His grace,  you’ll learn
to let go of your greed and covetousness for your wealth.

Always pray for your trust and obedience: trust that God will give you the power to “respond positively” to any life challenge you may face; obedience that God will give you the wisdom to embrace anything and every-thing to let go of your control of your own destiny.

Remember, your prayers are always answered, but not your own expectations.

The TAO wisdom (the ancient wisdom from China, based on the wisdom of Lao Tzu, the author of the ancient classic TAO Te Ching) shows you how to live your daily life, and how your prayers may be answered.

“An empty mind with no craving and no expectation helps us letting 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

Li Ching-Yuan was probably the longest-living Chinese in history, who died on May 6, 1933 at the age of over 200 years.

This is one of his thought-provoking sayings regarding Zen, an Eastern philosophy about being and a way of thinking:

“Before I had studied Zen for thirty years,
I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters.
When I arrived with a more intimate knowledge,
I saw that mountains are not mountains,
and waters are not waters.
But now that I have got its very substance,
I am at rest.
For it is just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters.”
Li Ching-Yuan

Li Ching-Yuan was talking about awakening or self-enlightenment, which is always effortless and spontaneous. So, if you strive to know and understand anything and everything, the awakening may never come.
You may like to pray, but your prayers are seldom answered; then you’ll see “mountains as mountains, and waters as waters.”

Your desire in seeking God may somehow change your perspectives; then you may see “mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters.”

But finding God, and living in His presence, you’ll just see that “mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters”—in other words, “prayers are seldom answered or not answered at all” is not only irrelevant but also inexplicable. What really matters is that you’ve found the spiritual wisdom to live your life as if everything is a miracle.

So, don’t use your pre-programmed causal reasoning to make sense out of the senseless in life. Instead, express your trust and obedience to your Creator and fully live in His presence.

Click here to get Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered.



Click here to get The Complete Tao Te Ching in Plain English.

Stephen Lau
Copyright © Stephen Lau




Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Meaning of "Prayers Not Answered"


The Meaning of “Prayers Not Answered”

Prayers not answered” simply means “expectations not fulfilled.”

But what’re your “expectations”? And where do they come from?

You experience your own life experiences through your five senses (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling) as a result of the choices of your actions, inactions, and reactions in your everyday life.

Your sensations often become your own perceptions, which then form your own assumptions and predictions; for example, a good education will lead to a successful career, and bring about a happy relationship.

All your “expectations” are only the personal and the subjective perceptions of your mind. But your “expectations” are often unreal and even self-delusive.

Even what you think you see with your own eyes may not necessarily be the reality.

To illustrate, in 1997, Richard Alexander from Indiana was convicted as a serial rapist, because one of the victims and her fiancé insisted that he was the perpetrator based on what the victim and her fiancé claimed that “they saw with their own eyes.”

But the convicted man was later exonerated and subsequently released in 2001, based on the new DNA science and other forensic evidence. Experts explained that a traumatic emotional experience, such as a rape, could “distort” the perception of an individual. That explains why the woman and her fiancé “swore” that Richard Alexander was the rapist, but evidently he wasn’t.

To illustrate “unreal expectations”: Helen Keller, celebrated author, political activist, and philanthropist, was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree; she became deaf and blind at an early age of less than two.

Imagine you were Helen’s parents: would you have “darkened expectations” of the future of Helen when she suddenly became deaf and blind?

Another illustration of “unreal expectations”: Shon Robert Hopwood, a young American convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to prison, became well-known as a jailhouse lawyer. While serving time in prison, Shon started spending time in the law library, became a jailhouse lawyer for the inmates, and ultimately a very accomplished United States Supreme Court practitioner by the time he left prison in 2009. Currently, he is professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.

If you were the parents of Shon, would your own expectations of your son have fallen short after his conviction of 12 years of imprisonment?

The truth of the matter

Your perceptionswhether true or untruebecome your realities, and are then stored in your subconscious mind as your memories.

Whenever you want to make a choice or decision, it’s your subconscious mind that provides your conscious mind with your many attitudes, beliefs, and predictions—all based on your memories of your past experiences. Your thinking mind then begins to process and project them into the future as your “expectations to be fulfilled.”

Points to Remember

Perceptions may easily become distorted and unreal. So, don’t let your own perceptions become your assumptive predictions.

Expectations are in the future, and their timeline is indefinite. So, don’t jump to any conclusion yet.

The past was gone; the future is yet to come; only the present is real. So, don’t use the past to predict the future as “expectations to be fulfilled.”

Click here to get Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered.

Stephen Lau
Copyright © Stephen Lau



Friday, May 29, 2020

Why Prayers Are Not Answered?


Why Your Prayers Are Seldom Answered?

Albert Einstein once said, “Thinking is difficult; that’s why so few people do it.”

Thinking is a process of self-intuition through asking relevant questions to create self-awareness and self-reflection. It’s the natural habit of the human mind to try to solve all problems by asking questions. Through the process of solving problems, the human mind may then make things happen.

So, asking all relevant questions is self-empowerment of the human mind to increase wisdom because it initiates the intent to learn, to discover, and then to change for the better.

Here are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself concerning why your prayers are seldom answered or not answered at all:

What’s a prayer?

Jesus said: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Is a prayer just your way of asking for something that you want?

Is it a personal request to the Creator to make something happen or not to happen in your life?

Is it a conversation or communication with the Creator to further develop your relationship with Him?

Is it a way of seeking advice from the Creator to help you deal with your own life’s problems and challenges?

Is it a means of asking the Creator for His blessings you think you may be entitled to?

Or is it none of the above?

How often is a prayer said or offered?

Before you getting up, and before you going to bed?

Several times throughout the day, such as before your meals?

While attending a religious service?

Seldom, if ever, unless expressing with your condolences to someone you feel sorry for?

There’s an old proverb that says: “He who cannot ask cannot live.” Life is all about asking questions, and seeking answers from all the questions asked.

By answering all of the above questions, you may be able to self-intuit why your prayers are answered or not answered at all.

Your self-intuition requires not only your spiritual wisdom, but also your human wisdom, in particular, the TAO wisdom of the ancient sage Lao Tzu from China, who was the author of Tao Te Ching, the ancient classic on human wisdom.

Click here to get Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered.

Click here to get The Complete Tao Te Ching in Plain English.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© Stephen Lau

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Good Fortunes and Misfortunes


Good Fortune and Misfortune

Life may be a bed of roses, but always with thorns. Good fortunes and misfortunes exist side by side, and they complement each other. A misfortune is an ingredient that one needs to blend with the rest of the ingredients of life and living. Life will not be wholesome without misfortunes and tragedies, which exist to enable one to appreciate more what life has to offer.



A case in point

There was a Chinese story . . . 塞翁失馬  A man lost his only horse, which ran away one day. His friends comforted him. But he was not upset at all; instead, he said: “That’s not a misfortune.” A few days later, his horse came back with a stallion. This time, his friends congratulated him on his good fortune. But he said: “What’s so good about that?” Later on, his only son rode on the stallion and accidentally broke his leg when he fell from the horse. Once again, his friends comforted him for the misfortune. But he said: “Breaking his leg may not be a misfortune.” Indeed, soon after that, a war broke out, and all the young men were drafted into the army, except the man’s son with his broken leg. All of them were later annihilated in a fierce battle. The moral of the story: a misfortune may turn itself into a good fortune.

There is a Chinese saying: “A man’s destiny cannot be summarized and sealed until nails are put on his coffin’s top.” So, nothing is set in stone.

TAO wisdom

According to TAO, willingness to accept your own fate or destiny provides you with inspiration for right conduct. Not accepting is a controlling and manipulative mindset through unbecoming conduct to control your destiny to get what you want in life. 

In TAO, there is no such thing as “good luck” or ”bad luck.” Let go of the negative concept of bad luck, such as “13” and “touch wood,” or even the positive thinking of having good luck. Instead, let the natural flow of life move through you, giving you internal power to make the impossible become possible, the difficult become easy. Simplify your life, and get rid of clutters that make you become superstitious. Remember, luck is something that you create for yourself, and that it is an external reality beyond your control, whereas you can always create your own internal reality of peace to overcome any groundless fear responsible for your internal negative energy.

Everything in this material world has meaning only in comparison with one another, and that goes for good luck or bad luck too. Does “Friday the 13th” worry you? Are you getting yourself depressed by thinking of your bad luck in relation to the good luck of others? Go deeper into the core of your being and take control of your own beliefs, and not follow those of others. Fear is only your mental construct.

According to conventional wisdom, winning is always related to conflict: you must fight in order to win, just like in any contest or competition. The bag and baggage that all winners and losers carry with them is that their net worth and value are solely based on their winning or losing.

TAO, on the other hand, focuses on doing your best in any endeavor. More importantly, it is you, and no one else, who will judge your own wins and losses.

“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 creation.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 27)

“We accept all that is simple and humble.
We embrace the good fortune and the misfortune.
Thus, we become masters of every situation.
We overcome the painful and the difficult in our lives.
That is why the Way seems paradoxical.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 78)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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