365 Days to a Better You – Day 30

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

 

Click on over to The Affirmation Spot for more great motivational content.

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

For more great motivational content, please check out the TAS website and YouTube channel.

26 Buddhist Affirmations

Today’s Thought

“All that we are, is the result of what we have thought.”
~ Buddha

zen-509371_1280Siddartha Gautama, the man known to history as The Buddha, was born in Northern India (modern-day Nepal) in 563 B.C.E. He was a prince and the son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya. The Buddha-to-be grew up in a world of privilege and seclusion from the suffering of the world.

This was ordered and ensured by his father after the prophets in his court told him that his son would either be a great king who would rule the world or a great world-savior. The prophet informed the king that his son would be the latter, if he was exposed to human suffering. The king did all in his power to prevent his son from exposure to anything that would interfere with his son becoming a great ruler.

While in his late 20s, Siddartha witnesses an old person, illness, and death for the first time in his life. He is greatly dismayed, realizing that he too was subject to these forces. Then he encounters a holy man and he immediately understands that if these terrible things exist in the world, there must be a way to overcome them. He decides to leave his princely life in search of a way to overcome these human difficulties.

After studying under a variety of teachers, Siddhartha attained enlightenment at the age of 35. He planted himself beneath a Bodhi Tree and vowed not to rise from the spot until he had discovered the ultimate truth.

The rest is history, as they say. 2500 years later 376 million human beings adhere to the Buddha’s Middle Way and The Noble Eightfold Path; making Buddhism the 4th largest “religion” in the world. However, if you include “cultural Buddhists” there are probably more Buddhists than any other religion on the planet. The Buddha himself is revered as a shining example of human potential, determination, and possibility. His practices and teachings are the basis for many relaxation, visualization, and self-improvement techniques.

Here are some affirmations for Buddhists and those interested in adopting a Buddhist approach in their life and thinking.

  1. Today I am happy. Today I am peaceful. Today I am free from suffering!
  2. Today and every  day, I am committed to my meditation practice.
  3. I practice Metta everywhere I go and in everything I do!
  4. Today my inner lotus blossoms, as I release attachments and turn my face to the sun.
  5. Today I find the pearls of my enlightenment scattered along my path.
  6. Today I seek enlightenment. Today I experience enlightenment. Today I am enlightened.
  7. Today I release my attachment to the transitory circumstances and appearances.
  8. The great teachers of the past showed me the way and today I am making the effort to follow their path.
  9. May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from suffering.
  10. Today I clearly see the beauty in a flower and my whole world changes.
  11. I am the very embodiment of love and compassion in all my interactions with others.
  12. I work diligently to make peace, love, and compassion my way of life.
  13. I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the Dharma. I take refuge in the Sangha.
  14. Nirvana is mine when I have the strength to choose it.
  15. Today I am practicing right view in all my thoughts, words, and actions.
  16. Today I am practicing right intention with all my thoughts, words, and actions.
  17. Today I am practicing right speech with every word I say.
  18. Today I am practicing right action with everything I do.
  19. Today I am practicing right livelihood in your job and in all your career choices.
  20. Today I am practicing right effort with all my thoughts, words, and actions.
  21. Today I am practicing right mindfulness with all my thoughts, words, and actions.
  22. Today I am achieving right concentration during my meditations.
  23. As love grows within me, my hatred goes away.
  24. Breathing in, I feel peace. Breathing out, I am peace.
  25. My world is what I make of it and I CHOOSE to make it a compassionate place to be!
  26. My path is peace. My mind is peace. My life is peace.

This list will continue to grow.  Please leave a comment offering suggestions for other areas of Buddhism where I could add affirmations.

Wishing you a day filled with loving-kindness and joy.

Ray

Please visit my YouTube channel to watch a guided meditation with affirmations that support your practice The Noble Eightfold Path. You can also download an audio version to listen to while you workout here.

Flower Insights from Thich Nhat Hanh – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday October 5, 2011

Today’s Thought:

“To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.”
~ William Blake

Today’s entry is an extended passage from one of my all-time favorite books. This book meant so much to me at a time in my life when I was struggling. The book is Peace Is Every Step by the esteemed Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. There is much wisdom here. Just for today practice being fully here.

There is a story about a flower which is well known in the Zen circles. One day the Buddha held up a flower in front of an audience of 1250 monks and nuns. He did not say anything for quite a long time. The audience was perfectly silent.

Everyone seemed to be thinking hard, trying to see the meaning behind the Buddha’s gesture. Then, suddenly, the Buddha smiled. He smiled because someone in the audience smiled at him and at the flower. The name of the at monk was Mahakashyapa.

He was the only person who smiled, and the Buddha smiled back and said, ” I have a treasure of insight, and I have transmitted it to Mahakashyapa.”

The story has been discussed by many generations of Zen students, and people continue to look for its meaning. To me the meaning is quite simple. When someone holds up a flower and shows it to you. He want you to see it. If you keep thinking, you miss the follower. The person who was not thinking, who was just himself, was able to encounter the flower in depth, and he smiled.

That is the problem of life. If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything. When a child presents himself to you with his smile, if you are not really there thinking about the future or the past, or preoccupied with other problems then the child is not really there for you. The technique of being alive is to go back to yourself in order for the child to appear like a marvelous reality. Then you can see him smile and you can embrace him in your arms.

I would like to share a poem with you, written by a friend of mine who died at the age of twenty-eight in Saigon, about thirty years ago. After he died, people found many beautiful poems he had written, and I was startled when I read this poem. It has just a few short lines, but it is very beautiful:

Standing quietly by the fence,
You smile your wondrous smile.
I am speechless, and my senses are filled
By the sounds of your beautiful song,
Beginingless and endless.
I bow deeply to you.

“You” refers to a flower, a dahlia. That morning as he passed by a fence, he saw that little flower very deeply and, struck by the sight of it, he stopped and wrote that poem.

I enjoy this poem very much. You might think that the poet was a mystic, because his way of looking and seeing things is very deep. But he was just an ordinary person like any one of us. I don’t know how or why he was able to look and see like that, but it is exactly the way we practice mindfulness. We try to be in touch with life and look deeply as we drink our tea, walk, sit down, or arrange flowers. The secret of the success is that you are really yourself, and when you are really yourself, you can encounter life in the present moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life (pages 42-44)

Follow your bliss! Experience your bliss! Become your bliss!

Ray

Ray Davis is the Founder of The Affirmation Spot and focuses on empowering minds to think positively, achieve goals, and live dreams. He is author of the ebook The Power to Be You and the forthcoming The Power to Be You 2: 1001 Power Thoughts for Daily Life.

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Inter-Being – The Affirmation Spot for Saturday May 15, 2010

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 35 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 20 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.

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.

Ray

Ray Davis is the founder of The Affirmation Spot and an advocate for the potential of the human race.  He’s the author of the breakthrough novel Anunnaki Awakening: Revelation – order your signed copy today at AATrilogy.com

anunnaki_cover_full_colorAnunnaki Awakening: Revelation is turning heads and opening minds. Humanity’s past is checkered, secret, and dangerous.

White House Correspondent Maria Love is on to the story of her life and with the help of an Anunnaki leaders seeks to unravel and reveal history’s biggest conspiracy. The Awakening has begun!

Metta: Turning Your Positivity Outward – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday September 3, 2008

Step one in creating a positive world is to become more positive within. Our own ability to create a more peaceful, centered self helps us contribute that kind energy in the world. Step two is to radiate that positive energy out into the world. One ancient practice allows us to do both simultaneously.

Some of my readers may be familiar with the meditation practice known as Metta. Metta is a Pali word generally translated into English as “lovingkindness”. The word itself is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word Maitri.

Metta was first practiced by Buddhists, but the meditation has become popular with many other people for its ability to create a strong sense of well-being. While a standard seated position with legs crossed and back straight is recommended for meditation, you can easily do Metta sitting comfortably or even lying. Any position is fine as long as you can maintain focused attention.

Metta meditation is an active meditation. Its purpose is to develop positive mental states within and then expand those positive mental states out into the world in concentric circles. Metta meditation is believed to create a peaceful environment and well, for lack of a better phrase, “positive vibes” in an area.

The practice wisely recognizes that you cannot spread peace, love, or kindness into the world until you have created it within yourself. Metta meditation begins with the self. The meditator usually quietly repeats or thinks a phrase (an affirmation) similar to:

“May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from suffering.”

This continues until the meditator feels this assurance rising within. You want to continue until you reach the point where the phrase feels like:

“I AM happy. I AM peaceful. I AM free from suffering.”

If you are starting from a place of great distress in your life, you might spend several meditation sessions focused strictly bringing these feelings into reality for you. That’s OK. Keep at it and soon you will experience these feelings more rapidly.

Having developed a sense of peace and loving-kindness within; you are now ready to share it with the world. Next, you focus on the person closest to you in your life – a spouse, a child, a parent. This is because this person is the next easiest person for you to feel these feelings towards.

Transition to a phrase such as:

“May April be happy. May April be peaceful. May April be free from suffering.”

As you say these words about your loved one, feel yourself sending these feelings of affection to him or her as you visualize them. Move on when you feel you have completely embraced your loved one with these thoughts.

Repeat this process through the following stages:

  1. You
  2. Closest loved one (someone you love deeply)
  3. Friend (someone you feel positive towards)
  4. Acquaintance (neutral feelings towards)
  5. Difficult person (someone you have negative feelings towards)
  6. Enemy (someone you have strong negative feelings towards)
  7. The world

You can include as many people as you wish, but maintain at least this minimal pattern.

When you practice Metta regularly you begin to develop a more constant state of lovingkindness towards yourself and the world around you.

Back in my sales days, I used to include customers I knew I would be calling the next day. I cannot tell you how many times meetings, presentations, and closes went far more smoothly than expected after Metta meditations.

Metta is a way to take the positive you are developing within you and spread it out into the world. You may experience a new sense of peace for you, see old tensions with people in your life fade away, and even break down barriers with your most persistent “enemies”.

You might even use the practice to dispel negative thoughts and feelings or develop a greater capacity for acceptance.

I’m sharing this with you today because I have not practiced Metta regularly for several years. The benefits are so apparent I cannot imagine why. I am going to take up the practice and I hope you might consider it too. Along with affirmations, Metta brought me up from some pretty low times.

I know it can add value to your life and help you turn your positivity outward.

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

Ray

Ray Davis is the founder of The Affirmation Spot and an advocate for the potential of the human race.  He’s the author of the breakthrough novel Anunnaki Awakening: Revelation – order your signed copy today at AATrilogy.com

anunnaki_cover_full_colorAnunnaki Awakening: Revelation is turning heads and opening minds. Humanity’s past is checkered, secret, and dangerous.

White House Correspondent Maria Love is on to the story of her life and with the help of an Anunnaki leaders seeks to unravel and reveal history’s biggest conspiracy. The Awakening has begun!