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!

Metta and The Monk – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday January 24, 2008

Leave your comment on today’s blog


Today’s affirmation is actually a version of a Buddhist meditation called Metta (loving-kindness). This meditation is practiced by directing the following words at yourself. Then spreading them to loved ones and people towards whom you have positive feelings. Then applying them to people that you are neutral towards. Finally, you direct the meditation towards people you view negatively – enemies or people who have hurt you in life.


In my own practice, I have also expanded it to include all people and living things on the Earth and all living things where ever they may exist in the universe. Back in my days as a sales professional, I also would direct this meditation particularly at the customers I planned to call on the next day. It had an uncanny way of opening doors where they appeared to be closed.


“May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from suffering.” “May (fill in the name) be happy. May (fill in the name) be peaceful. May (fill in the name) be free from suffering.”


cave.jpgToday’s post is a random meandering from a few years ago. During my own meditations, this image of a monk sitting in the entrance to a cave kept appearing. He just sat there playing this old flute and meditating on the sound. He seemed to be communicating with me without saying anything.

How wonderful to remember that there are people out there who spend every waking moment hoping and believing in what the rest of us are capable of becoming.


“The Monk”

Gongs echo in the darkness of the valley below;
one hour to sun up.
Against the mouth of a mountain cave sits a solitary monk;
meditating on the sound of his weathered flute.


Clothed in tattered robe that once was of yellow tint;
he owns nothing in this world
but the peace of mind
born of transcendent joy.


Each morning at this very time he prays with every breath;
that those of us in the world below
would give up our anger, greed, and hatred
and be transformed by the profound bliss he knows.



Be peaceful Be prosperous!

Ray

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