If We Want Change, We Must First Question – The Affirmation Spot for Tuesday January 15, 2008



Today’s affirmation is:

“I question assumptions and long-held beliefs to discover new and beneficial ways to live.”
 

If we are to have change in the world or in our lives, we must learn to question. Questioning is difficult. The group does not like to be questioned. So much so, that in many instances the questioner is ostracized or even put to death. Jesus, Martin Luther King,  and Gandhi are all examples of those who challenged the status quo and felt its wrath.

The ego is not much more forgiving. When we challenge its dominance the ego can be nearly as viscious as the group. Stress, depression, and self-destructive behavior are defense mechanisms used by the ego to maintain its control.So, questioning is scary. Nonetheless, a failure to question is an invitation to slavery, tyranny, and unhappiness. We must question so that fresh ideas can be aired and new possibilities created.

Questioning is not the same as not believing. In fact, questioning is really an empowered type of believing that takes belief to a whole new level by verifying it and testing it against reality.Today we have three very short stories. The first two illustrate the trap of failing to question. The final story offers one way to test the validity of our beliefs and assumptions and come out stronger because of it.

The Ham  ham.jpgThere is a story of a woman who was preparing a ham to be baked. Before placing it in the oven, she sliced an inch off the end of the ham.

Her daughter was watching her bake a ham for the first time. She asked, “mom, why did you cut an inch off the end of the ham before you placed it in the oven?”

“I don’t know,” replied the mother, “my mother always cut an inch off a ham before she put it in the oven.”

Curious, the mother picked up the phone and called the grandmother to ask why she cut the end off a ham before baking it.

The grandmother answered that she had no idea why she cut the end off hams before baking them. “My mother always did it,” she said.

Finally, the mother and the grandmother got the great-grandmother on the phone. The grandmother asked, “Mom, why did you cut an inch off the end of the ham before placing it in the oven?”

The great-grandmother replied, “I cut the end off the ham because my oven was too small to fit a full ham.”

We learn by watching and absorbing the thoughts, actions, and beliefs of those around us. Often we don’t even stop to question them. Two generations of this family always cut off the end of the ham. They never quetioned it. They did it because they had seen their mothers do it.

Nothing changed until the great-grandaughter finally asked, “Why?”

Blind Leading the Blind 

buddha_teaching2.jpgWe have generational blindness leaning on generational blindness.

The Buddha once spoke to a group of young Brahmins (priests) about their “belief” in Brahma (God). “Who among you has personally seen or spoke to Brahma,” asked The Buddha?

The Brahmins answered, “None of us has seen or spoken to Brahma.”

Buddha continued, “Well then, which of your teachers has seen or spoken to Brahma?” Again, the youths answered that none of their teachers had actually seen or spoken to Brahma.

Finally, Buddha asked, “Who in your lineage going back seven generations has seen or spoken to Brahma?” The young Brahmins admitted that no one even going back seven generations had actually seen or spoken to Brahma.

“Then,” said Buddha, “If not you, nor your teachers, nor their teachers going back seven generations has seen or spoken to Brahma, you are but the blind leading the blind.

Buddha was not attacking their beliefs. He was trying to get them to examine their beliefs and ideas and to become a fully awake and responsible human beings. 

Challenge Beliefs and Put Them to the Test

buddha_teaching.jpgDuring a visit to the town of the Kalamas, the Buddha was asked a crucial question.

“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, you should give it up.”

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

We all need to examine the beliefs that are driving our actions in this world. When we look at the state of the world we must conclude that there is more each of us can do to make a difference. It all begins with questioning age-old beliefs. Even beliefs based in truth can become clouded by generations of unexamined hatreds, fears, and prejudices.

Every change, personal or global, begins with the courage to question.



 Be peaceful Be prosperous!


Ray

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One in a Trillion Miracle – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday December 19, 2007

Welcome to The Affirmation Spot. If this is your first time to the site, be sure to click one of the subscription options (top left) to be notified each time the blog is updated. Thank you for visiting. If you enjoy what you read here, help us spread the word about The Affirmation Spot.

There are direct links to downloadable mp3 affirmations at The Affirmation Spot.com on the right menu. They are set to music and allow you take positive thoughts with you wherever you go all day.

There are new affirmations in the Christianity section, the tennis section, and the Personal Empowerment section.

Enjoy today’s post. 
 


Today’s affirmation is:

“Today I recognize the miracle that is me and the other miracles all around me.”ggb_trafficjpg.gif

 Well it’s Wednesday and in case you were thinking it is the middle of “just another week” here are some things to ponder.

Someday we will all face the end of our walk in this form.

Sometimes during the course of “just another week” we don’t recognize how precious each moment is and how quickly all this is passing us by. We forget what a miracle it is that any of us are here at all.

Have you ever really considered just how many unlikely things had to happen for YOU to be here, or, for that matter, for HERE to be here?

Every single thing we see around us all day long every day was a one in a trillion shot. Each blade of grass, each cloud, each person, even the traffic jam you found yourself in on the way to work this morning – all are totally unlikely combinations that beat the long odds to burst into existence. That’s nothing short of a miracle.

grass1.gifSomeday when you do reach the end of this stage of your journey; this “just another week” may seem a lot more special than it does now. You may wish you had stopped to witness and marvel at the whole miraculous play.

Today, make a point to see the miracles. Tell the person you care most about in this world that you love them and remind them that they are a miracle.

And when you encounter the traffic jam on the way home this evening, breathe deeply and say, “Ah, yes. You are a miracle too.” It won’t get you home any faster, but it will make the ride more enjoyable.

Enjoy a miraculous Wednesday!!

 Be peaceful Be prosperous

Ray

The Affirmation Spot

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Moving Mountains Beginning with Mole Hills – The Affirmation Spot for Tuesday December 18, 2007


Today’s affirmation is:

It is not the mountain I conquer, but myself. I am reaching for the top of the mountain and my day in the sun is here.”

mountain.gifThere is a famous quote variously attributed to several people that says, “Whether or not you believe you can do a thing, you’re right.”  In the Book of Matthew, Jesus audaciously states, “Had you the faith of a mustard seed, you could command a mountain to be moved from here to there and it would be so.”

Both statements clearly to remind us that we have within us an astonishging capacity to do what would ordinarily be considered miraculous. In both instances, the fuel for the miracles is our belief.

I have often pondered this statement of Jesus and thought, “Ok, I believe it. I command the mountain to move.”  Immediately, even before I can get the words out, “common sense” enters my mind and says, “This is nonsense. The world does not work that way.”  Doubt has entered the picture. That’s why Jesus started his statement with, “Had you the faith…”

In Buddhism, doubt is one of the “five hindrances” to wisdom and considered the most difficult to overcome. We live in a society that teaches us that doubt and mistrust are prerequisites for our own self-protection. I wonder if the doubt spread by this world view is hindering us, individually and collectively, as we pursue our goals.

Although easier said than done, if we could suspend our disbelief just long enough to allow a firm belief in ourselves and our potential to take root and flourish; we could begin bringing the miraculous into our lives.

Maybe we start with things smaller than mountains like succeeding in our career, or strengthening our friendships and relationships, or simply achieving peace of mind.  Then perhaps we can tackle the mountain.  But then as Edmund Hilary stated, “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

How true!

Everyone have a great Thursday. Find a situation today to suspend your disbelief long enough to allow your miracle.

Be peaceful Be prosperous

Ray

The Affirmation Spot

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