Inter-Being – Day 271 of 365 Days to a Better You

Thich Nhat Hanh was nominated for the 1968 Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He did not win the Nobel, but it was a great honor nonetheless. He was banished from his home country Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He led a group of Buddhist monks who were actively seeking peace in their country which invited the disdain of both sides.

“Thay” (teacher), as he is known by his followers, founded a retreat called Plum Village in France. Vietnam’s loss has been the West’s gain. For the past 45 years, Thich Nhat Hanh has taught, written, and spoken on his brand of “Engaged Buddhism” in Europe, the U.S., and around the world.

I first became aware of his work about 30 years ago when I picked up a book titled “Peace is Every Step”. Since I have read many of his other books. One of my favorite passages from any of his books – in fact one my favorite things I’ve ever read – is his brief essay on Inter-being.

Today I’d like to share this beautiful and powerful insight with all of you. I hope it transforms the way you think about the interconnectedness of the people and things around you.

Stay inspired!

Ray

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Inter-being

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we ha vea new verb, inter-be. Without a cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are.

If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And wesee the wheat. We now the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.

Looking even more deeply, we can see we are in it too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, the sheet of paper is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. You cannot point out one thing that is not here-time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.

Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun. Do you think that this sheet of paper will be possible? No, without sunshine nothing can be. And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up only of “non-paper elements.” And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. Without “non-paper elements,” like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.

Cultivating Equanimity – Day 264 of 365 Days to a Better You

The standard dictionary definition for equanimity is mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.

In Buddhism, equanimity is one of the four sublime states of being. The Buddhist teacher, Gil Fronsdal, describes it this way.

Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality’s transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as “abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will.

Sounds like a quality I’d like to develop more fully, but how?

Broadly speaking, meditation, prayer, or communing with nature can gain you temporary equanimity. The goal, though, is to bottle it so you can take with you into life’s adversity and, “Keep your head when all about you are losing theirs,” as Rudyard Kipling put it.

Buddha described seven qualities that create equanimity. These are qualities you and I can develop with or without Buddhist practice.

  1. Virtue or integrity
  2. Faith
  3. Well-developed mind
  4. Well-being
  5. Wisdom
  6. Insight
  7. Freedom

If this topic interests you and you’re wanting a little deeper dive, I’ve outlined the seven qualities and how to achieve them here.

Have a fantastic evening, my friends! Thank you all for your support of this blog and my work.

Ray

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15 Buddha Quotes to Live By – Day 251 of 365 Days to a Better You

Siddhartha Gautama, better known to the world as the Buddha, was born a prince in northern India about 2600 years ago. His father was told his son would either be a world king or a great spiritual teacher. Wishing his son to expand the power of his kingdom, King Suddhodana ordered that he be immersed in the richest worldly pleasures to prevent him from pursuing the spiritual path.

However, at 29, Siddhartha was exposed to illness, aging, and death. These were all forbidden knowledge to him. His charioteer, against orders, explained that all human beings, including one day the young prince, experience these things. Then he saw a monk and was awakened to his true life’s purpose. The rest, as they say, is history.

Beginning with his famous Fire Sermon, the Tathagata taught for 47 years. He left us a wealth of wisdom. Here are 15 quotes we can all apply to our lives.

All these centuries later, these words are easy to read, but the challenge of a lifetime to live.

  1. All that we are is the result of what we have thought: we are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfish thoughts cause misery when they speak or act. Sorrows roll over them as the wheels of a cart roll over the tracks of the bullock that draws it. All that we are is the result of what we have thought: we are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy whenever they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.
  2. Let none find fault with others. Let none see the commissions and omissions of others. But, let one see one’s open acts done and undone.
  3. A mind unruffled by the vagaries of fortune, from sorrow freed, from defilements cleansed, from fear liberated — this is the greatest blessing.
  4. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will develop and cultivate the liberation of mind by lovingkindness, make it our vehicle, make it our basis, stabilize it, exercise ourselves in it, and fully perfect it.’ Thus should you train yourselves.
  5. Radiate boundless love toward the entire world.
  6. Some do not understand that we must die. But those who do realize this settle their quarrels immediately.
  7. All conditioned things are impermanent’ — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.
  8. Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.
  9. Irrigators channel waters. Fletchers straighten arrows. Carpenters shape wood. The wise master themselves.
  10. Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.
  11. The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.
  12. Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
  13. If you understood the power of giving as I do, you would never let a meal pass without sharing.
  14. The root of suffering is attachment.
  15. The greats of the past only show the way. You must walk the path yourself.

Namaste, my friends, namaste!

Ray

Ray Davis is the founder of The Affirmation Spot. He’s been studying and practicing personal development for 30 years. He’s also studied many of the world’s spiritual traditions and mythologies.

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Accentuate The Positive – Day 237 of 365 Days to a Better You

Some 2500 years ago the Buddha, as recorded in the Dhammapada, is said to have articulated the following.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: we are formed and molded by our thoughts. (Verse 1)

Whatever harm an enemy may do to an enemy, or a hater to a hater, an ill-directed mind inflicts on oneself a greater harm. Neither mother, father, nor any other relative can do one greater good than one’s own well-directed mind. (Verses 42-43)

The Buddha’s meaning is quite clear. He was among the earliest to say something along the lines of, “You become what you think.” Then he goes further. He tells us that no outside force can do us as much harm or good as our own thoughts.

This begs the question, “Who controls your thoughts?”

That ought to be 100 percent of time Y-O-U.

The equation is simple from here. Badly as we might want to shift the blame to other people, God, or society; you control your thinking and your thinking dominates your life. I say dominates rather than controls because there are circumstantial exceptions, but not many.

So, what you’re feeling, what you’re attracting, where you’re stuck all follows a straight line back to your thinking. There’s just no way around it.

This isn’t a blame game. I’m not telling you this so you can feel worse about yourself or become defensive. I’m telling you this because your thinking has led you to where you are as surely as the earth follows the sun. If you want to change your circumstances, you will have to change your thinking.

It’s not a replacement for faith or a support system, but those can only help you when you’re thinking is leading the way forward.

Power hack: Accentuate the positive…eliminate the negative.

You may have heard the old 1940s sing titled Accentuate The Positive. The lyric goes, “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative…” It’s simple, but profound advice.

When you feel down, depressed, beaten, you can get stuck in an eddy of negativity and there seems like no way out. One negative thought follows another and you start buying into all of it.

When you’re feeling that way, you’ve megadose the positive. Force feed it. Flush out the negative with the positive. Let the sunshine dissipate the clouds. Don’t complain about the clouds. Summon the sunshine.

Easy? No, it’s hard. It sometimes takes every ounce of strength and you may feel oddly attached to your wallowing, but I assure you you can pull yourself out of that ditch when you understand your thoughts don’t just happen.

My wife shared something funny and inspiring today. She follows Rachel Hollis and she now has a tattoo that reads, “Embrace the suck.”

Sometimes we have to do hard things and it sucks. Climbing back to your best self when it’s easier to stay down is hard. But, you are a one-in-a-trillion miracle and totally with that effort.

You’re all the best! Thanks for stopping by and spending your valuable time with me!

Ray

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The Best Filter for Information Ever – Day 30 of 365 Days to a Better You

The best thought, decision, and information filter I’ve ever heard articulated

croissant-101636_640Today is already the 30th day of the year. Can you believe it? Back in late December, I suggested that you create a To-Be List for 2019. If you completed that activity back then, please take a few minutes today and review it. Are you on track with your To-Be goals? If you weren’t following back then, it’s not too late. You can still go back and do this. Click here if you want to review or learn more.

Let’s get on to the business of today. First, Happy National Croissant Day. If croissants are your thing, celebrate BIG!

Our world is awash in information. We’re all constantly drinking from a fire hose. Would you agree? This makes deep thought about the information and separating the important from the crap a challenge for all of us.

2500 years ago Siddhartha Gautama – known to history as the Buddha – was asked a question we might ask in our world today. His answer is a simple and profound strainer to help us separate the wheat from the chaff in our lives today. Here’s the story.

Thus have I heard. During a visit to the town of the Kalamas, the Buddha was asked a crucial question by the people of that place.

“Reverend Gautama, many teachers enter our midst teaching that their way and their way alone is the path to salvation. They extol the virtues of their own doctrines while tearing down the doctrines of other teachers. This creates doubt in our minds about all their teachings. For how are we to know which speaks the truth and which speaks falsehood?”

Buddha replied, “Kalamas, you have doubt in circumstances where doubt is understandable. Where doubt thrives uncertainty is born.” The Buddha proposed a test against which to measure any teaching including his own.

  • Do not believe something because it has been passed down and believed for many generations.
  • Do not believe something merely because it is a traditional practice.
  • Do not believe something because everyone believes it.
  • Do not believe something because it is written in a book and has been recited over and over.
  • Do not believe something solely on the grounds of logical reasoning.
  • Do not believe something because it fits your preconceived notions.
  • Do not believe something because you trust who is saying it.
  • Do not believe something only because your teacher says it is so.

“Kalamas, when you yourselves know directly something is unskillful, unwholesome, blameworthy, rejected by the wise, harmful to yourselves or others, leads to poverty or unhappiness of both yourself and others, you should give it up.”

“One the other hand, Kalamas, when you yourselves know directly that something is skilled, wholesome, blameless, praised by the wise, and leads to well-being, prosperity, and happiness of both yourself and others, you should accept it and practice it.”

The filter is you and your innate knowledge of what is beneficial to yourself and the world. We don’t see our leaders using a filter like that often. If it’s to be, it’s up to us. If you strain the news and information that comes your way each day with this filter, you’ll find yourself more aligned with your truth and THE truth.

Have and empowered day!

Ray

Are you into essential oils? Me too! I wrote an article about my favorite essential oils and how I use them. There’s also information about how you can join with me in promoting these amazing aids to our well-being.

 

Staying Happy in a Changing World

It’s our last morning in Palm Beach. The expectations of the trip were met and exceeded. April and I had every bit the experience we wanted. I’m sure, though, you’ve had that sinking feeling on “headed home day.”

How do we go from the amazing high of expectation to crashing deflation of vacation’s end? In Buddhism, impermanence is a large part of the discussion. One of Buddha’s great insights is that we are craving beings. We want things and experiences hoping they will fulfill us. They do temporarily, but there’s always that moment when we realize the feelings are passing.

Another of his insights is that we’re clinging beings. We try to grasp harder to keep the things, experiences, and people in our lives just as they are. Yet, in an ever-flowing universe, this is not possible.

So, we become suffering beings because the things we wanted didn’t bring us permanent joy and the grasping to them only made it worse.

What’s the solution? How do we having fulfilling experiences in our lives without feeling the suffering? We can learn to appreciate the ebbing and flowing moments of our lives without grasping on to them. We can find our joy in the only thing that is permanent – Change.

There are more things to have, experiences to experience, and moments to enjoy. In fact, as long as we’re here, they never stop.

Jon Kabat-Zinn has a great quote that captures this principle. “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

You don’t have to suffer. You just need to let go and catch the next wave.

Have an amazing Saturday!

Ray

 

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Poem: Ultimate Reality

There are many ways to view the deeper nature of the reality around us.

I wrote this poem in 1993, as one way of seeing that reality.

It expresses the sense of wholeness, devoid of our individual personalities, that underlies the nature of our existence.

It’s a bit existential with some Buddhist overtones. I hope you enjoy and that it makes you think.

“Ultimate Reality”

Cling not to what is fleeting
All is fleeting, therefore, cling not.
Matter and energy, time and space
Are but reflections in the void.

Desire nothing and everything shall you attain
Have everything and, in truth, nothing is yours.
For no holder is there and nothing held;
And nothing to hold, only unity.

I am but a process in gentle progress; simply
Inter-connected energy flowing in a manner
Created by what has come to pass,
Its interaction bringing forth the future.

No self may be found behind the process,
Only a conscious part of a greater whole
Moving back and forth as far as may be seen
Yet, verily, never having moved at all.

Copyright 1993 Ray Davis

Follow your bliss. Experience your bliss. Become your bliss.

Ray

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