Wisdom from Books

<b>Wisdom from Books</b>
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

An Empty Mind for the Presidential Election

The recent presidential election was incredibly unpredictable. The outcome was, ironically enough, "predictable" because many voters had a "predictable" mindset before the election. In other words, it is the "predictable" mindset of the voters that had led to the "unpredictable" result of the election.

The election would have been very different if people had an empty mindset, instead of the preconditioned mindset that Hilary Clinton, and not Donald Trump, would win in the election. That was a strong testament to the wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China, who was the author of Tao Te Ching, the ancient classic on human wisdom.

Tao wisdom (the wisdom of Lao Tzu) begins with having an empty mind. What is an empty mind? An empty mind is more than just "thinking out of the box": it is reverse thinking to create your own box of thinking. An empty mindset originated from Lao Tzu:

"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) 

“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.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 9)

There was the story of a professor visiting a Zen master to find out more about Zen, which is an Eastern philosophy originating from Tao wisdom. In the beginning of the visit, the professor kept on talking while the Zen master was serving him tea. The Zen master kept pouring tea into the teacup held by the professor even though it was already brimming over the teacup.

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

An empty mindset not only provides clarity of thinking, but also frees us from the many shackles of life that enslave us, keeping 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 and we are in total control, but in fact we are no more than slaves. You are the master only when you have complete control over your life, or rather your way of thinking. Remember, your mind controls you, especially your subconscious mind—what you do, or how you act and react in different circumstances and situations in life.

How do you gain or re-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 life. To illustrate, in our subconscious minds, we want to do well, and, to do well, we must set life goals; to reach our life goals, we must exert efforts; after accomplishing one life goal, we need to set another higher one, and yet another one higher than the previous ones. In the end, our lives get more complicated and even out of control; as a result, we are no longer masters but only slaves to what we have accomplished for ourselves. As a further illustration, Lance Armstrong, the once-famous-and-now-disgraced cyclist, used performance-enhancing drugs to win his races in order to sustain his ego to win, which is compounded of his winnings, that ultimately brought about his own downfall. 

The bottom line: do not let your life careen out of control, and do not live your life with a life of its own; get your own life back in order! An empty mind is the opposite of a pre-conditioned mind that tells you to do this and that, making you a slave of your own life, instead of its master.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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