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.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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




Monday, April 19, 2021

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



Sunday, April 18, 2021

Why Prayers Are Seldom 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

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Aging and Anti-Aging


Aging

The passage of time is inevitable and eternal. Aging begins as early as from young adulthood (around age 20 to 40) to middle adulthood (around age 40 to 65), and continues to old age (beginning at the age of retirement, approximately at age 65). Aging occurs throughout most of one’s lifespan. The aging process is an accumulation of changes, which may be subtle or sudden, and even drastic, that progressively lead to disease, degeneration, and ultimately death. Truly, you cannot die merely of old age; your ultimate demise is caused by advancing age itself, as well as by the diseases and degenerative conditions that accompany it.

Aging is difficult to define, but you will know it when you see it, or experience it firsthand yourself. In brief, aging is a steady decline in health and wellness, instrumental in shortening lifespan; and the aging process is the duration during which such changes occur.

The hard facts of aging

Whether you like it or not, your biological clock is ticking, and this will happen to various systems in your body:

Your heart will pump less blood, and your arteries will become stiffer and less flexible, resulting in high blood pressure—a common health problem that often increases with age.

With less oxygen and nutrients from the heart, your lungs will also become less efficient in getting and distributing oxygen to different organs and membranes of your body.

Your brain size will slowly and gradually reduce by approximately 10 percent between the age of 30 and 70. Loss of short-term memory will become increasingly more acute and evident.

Your bone mass will reduce, making it more brittle and fragile. Your body size will shrink as you lose your muscle mass.

Your biological clock is continuously ticking, whether you are conscious of it or not. Your mortality has been pre-programmed into your biological organisms and your body cells. Theoretically, you may have an indefinite lifespan through the division, the rejuvenation, and the regeneration of your body cells and organisms—if they are still healthy and fully functional. Although your genes may have pre-determined the speed of your biological clock, you can still slow down the speed of aging—if you still have good health.

So, what is good health? Is being healthy synonymous with the absence of disease?

According to the United States Public Health Service, good health is “preventing premature death, and preventing disability, preserving a physical environment that supports human life, cultivating family and community support, enhancing each individual’s inherent abilities to respond and to act, and assuring that all Americans achieve and maintain a maximum level of functioning.” This statement probably sums up what you need to do in order to be younger and healthier for longer; it says everything about aging.

Premature aging

The truth of the matter is that you age, just like everyone else does. The point in question is how you can delay that aging process in order to make you not only feel but also look younger and healthier for longer—or, at least, not making you age more quickly than you are supposed to.

Unfortunately, many of us have fallen victims to the accelerated aging syndrome, or premature aging.

Accelerated aging syndrome

According to Steven Masley, M.D., the former medical director of the Pritikin Longevity Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, you may have the potentials for accelerated aging, if you have just any three of the following:

A fast blood sugar level of more than 100 mg/dl

A blood pressure higher than 130/85

A waist larger than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men

Good cholesterol level (HDL) less than 40 mg/dl for men, and 50 mg/dl for women

Triglyceride (a certain type of fat in your blood) levels greater than 150 mg/dl

Factors contributing to premature aging


Your diet: you are what you eat, and you become what you eat.

Your lifestyle: life on the fast lane often leads to faster aging.

Your physical inactivity: immobility brings about stagnation and degeneration.

Your stress level: stress kills your brain cells, predisposing you to premature aging.

Your disease and physical pain: disease and pain have a devastating impact on both the body and the mind.

Damaging free radicals

Your body is composed of many different types of cells, made up of many different types of molecules.
Free radicals are molecules that contain unpaired electrons. Since electrons have a very strong tendency to co-exist in a paired rather than in an unpaired state, free radicals indiscriminately pick up electrons from other healthy molecules close by. This chemical reaction converts those otherwise “healthy” molecules into free radicals, and thus setting up a chain reaction that can cause substantial biological damage to cells. Free radicals are highly reactive, damaging not only cells but also chemicals in your body, such as enzymes (for digestion), making them less effective and efficient.

Aging causes oxidation, which literally means “rusting.” Free radicals cause oxidative damage to cells and tissues. Free radicals do not make you younger and healthier for longer; quite the contrary, they age you prematurely and contribute to many diseases, including cancer and heart disease, among others.

Free radicals occur naturally as byproducts of oxidation, such as during respiration and other chemical processes. For example, during your breathing, life-giving oxygen is produced while harmful carbon dioxide is released; digestion is another oxidation process, in which your body obtains its energy from food through oxidation, during which free radicals are also generated in the form of waste buildup. Ironically, what gives life may also take away life indirectly.

Free radicals are normally present in your body in small numbers, without causing too much harm. However, over the long haul, the accumulation of these free radicals may cause irreparable damage to your body cells and tissues, if such accumulation is unchecked.

In addition, free radicals can also be caused by external factors, such as alcohol, nicotine, chemicals from foods and toxic pharmaceutical drugs, heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead, from the environment, radiation from the sun and other sources.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Friday, April 16, 2021

Breathing Exercises for Living Longer

Diaphragm Breathing

Correct and complete breathing means you use your diaphragm (the diaphragm muscle separating your chest from your abdomen)

Sit comfortably.
Begin your slow exhalation through your nose.
Contract your abdomen to empty your lungs.
Begin your slow inhalation and simultaneously make your belly bulge out.
Continuing your slow inhalation, now, slightly contract your abdomen and simultaneously lift your chest and hold.
Continue your slow inhalation, and slowly raise your shoulders. This allows the air to enter fully into your lungs to attain the complete breath.
Retain your breath and slightly raise your shoulders for a count of 5.
Very slowly exhale the air. Your upper chest deflates first, and then your abdomen relaxes in.
Repeat the process.

Learn to slowly prolong your breath, especially your exhalation. Relax your chest and diaphragm muscles, so that you can extend your exhalation, making your breathing out slightly longer and complete. To prolong your exhalation, count “one-and-two-and-three” as you breathe in and breathe out. Make sure that they become balanced. Once you have mastered that, then try to make your breathing out a little longer than your breathing in.

 


Alternate-Nostril Breathing

Alternate-nostril breathing is a basic Yoga breathing exercise to balance the right side and the left side of your brain. The left side of your brain governs the right side of your body, including your speech and logical thinking, while the right side of your brain governs the left side of your body, including your creativity and intuition. Achieving balance and harmony between the two sides of your brain is critical and crucial to mind healing for deep relaxation. You can balance your mental energy from the right and the left side of the brain just through practicing this alternate-nostril breathing exercise any time during meditation or any mind-relaxation session. This is how you practice alternate-nostril breathing:

Place your thumb and ring finger lightly on your right and your left nostrils, respectively, with your index and middle fingers resting lightly on your forehead between your eyebrows.
Exhale deeply through BOTH nostrils.
Press your thumb against the RIGHT nostril to CLOSE it.
Breathe in through your LEFT nostril. Count 8.
CLOSE your LEFT nostril by pressing down your ring finger. Now, BOTH nostrils are closed. Retain the air, and count 4.
OPEN your RIGHT nostril, and breathe out. Count 8.
With the LEFT nostril still CLOSED, breathe in through the RIGHT nostril. Count 8.
CLOSE the RIGHT nostril. Now, BOTH nostrils are closed. Retain the air, and count 4.
OPEN the LEFT nostril, and breathe out with the RIGHT nostril still closed. Count 8.
With the RIGHT nostril closed, you have breathed out through the LEFT nostril; you have now completed one round of the breathing exercise.
Begin the second round by breathing in through the LEFT nostril, and repeat the above.

Here is a summary of alternate-nostril breathing:

Breathe out through BOTH nostrils. .
Breathe in through the LEFT nostril (count 8).
Close BOTH nostrils, and retain air (count 4).
Breathe out through the RIGHT nostril (count 8).
Breathe in through the RIGHT nostril (count 8).
Close BOTH nostrils, and retain air (count 4).
Breathe out through the LEFT nostril (count 8).
Breathe in through the LEFT and repeat the whole process.

In addition to enhancing your consciousness of breath, alternate-nostril breathing exercise has many other health benefits, including clarity of thinking, deep mental relaxation, awareness and concentration, internal body balance to prevent falls.

 

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau