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.

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14 Motivational Marianne Williamson Quotes

Before she became a presidential candidate earlier this year, Marianne Williamson had a long career as a spiritual author, speaker, and activist. In short, she’s spent her adult life taking action to make the world, as she affects it, and the people around her better.

I first became aware of her work in the early 1990s, after seeing an amazing appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. She has been a voice of moral conscience and consoler in moments of national tragedy from 9/11 to school shootings.

Whatever happens in her run for the White House, whether she secures the nomination or not, I hope the next president will make use Marianne’s unique voice and gifts to help our nation find its way forward.

Here are 10 of her most powerful quotes to call out the best in you today.

  1. A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love.
  2. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?
  3. Anytime you try to be a loving person, you’re doing your part to save the world.
  4. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.
  5. Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.
  6. The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.
  7. It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.
  8. And no one will listen to us until we listen to ourselves.
  9. Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. 
  10. Nothing binds you except your thoughts. Noting limits you except your fears. And nothing controls you except your beliefs.
  11. You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.
  12. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
  13. Success means going to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that serves others.
  14. Ego says, “Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.” Spirit says, “Fund your peace and everything will fall into place.”

Stay inspired, my friends. See your greatness and help those around you see theirs too.

Ray

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Walking Among the Greats

I wrote this is, well, not quite a poem back in 1997. It’s about getting on your path and encountering the giants that came before you. It’s how you measure up.

On my journey this day, I follow in the footsteps of the immortals. The imprints they have left behind on the Earth are large and their strides are a stretch for me. Yet, if I dare not encounter them and measure myself by them, how shall I ever know the true immensity of my own being?

So, I step consciously into the light; walking the path they once walked. Leaving it, occasionally, and improvising. Adding to it qualities uniquely my own.

Breathing with the trees and conversing with the clouds, as once they did. Our collective wisdom grows until no distinction remains among the path, the immortals, and me.

Follow and achieve your greatness!

Ray

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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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The Sage Who Sees – Day 260 of 365 Days to a Better You

Thank you so much for taking a few minutes to read today’s post.

Do you ever feel different; like you don’t quite fit in with the ways of this world? I do. It’s not something I came to as an adult. It’s who I’ve been my entire life. It’s like what’s intuitive to me is counterintuitive to our civilization. My polarities are reversed.

My own mother once asked, “Why can’t you just fit in?” Do you vibe with that?

There’s a great quote in the Bhagavad Gita that explains why you and I might feel this way.

“In the dark night of all beings awakes to Light the tranquil man. But what is day to other beings is night for the sage who sees.”

    • The world lusts for war. You seek only peace.
    • The world strives for bottom lines. You believe people are the bottom line.
    • The world adulates at the alter of fear. You have always known love is the answer.
    • The world wants to be cool. You’d rather be wise.
    • The world looks without. You have always gone within.
    • The world sees the dark clouds. You see the bright sun behind the dark clouds.
    • The world clamors for instant gratification. You opt for sustainable gratitude.

    I’ve long suspected something. While you and I see ourselves a unique, I’m not so sure we’re that unique. Maybe what comes natural to us is the secret yearning of most people. In fact, I’m certain of it. They simply can’t bring themselves to believe it’s possible. They retreat into the herd safety of the mass consciousness.

    As the sage who sees, I believe our mission is to light the path to this greater realization the same as our teachers and mentors have lighted it for us.

    Your poles are not reversed because there’s something wrong with you, Don’t give into the gravity of that thinking. Your poles are reversed because you’re here to be a beacon to the world that can be if only a critical mass of people would believe. And today, today, we’re one step nearer than ever before.

    You’re absolutely awesome just as you are! Keep following your bliss!

    Ray

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    Happy St. Francis of Assisi Day

    Today’s Quote:
    No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves.
    St. Francis of Assisi

    St. Francis of Assisi was born Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone in Italy in 1181. He is the patron saint of animals, the environment and one of the two patron saints of Italy. He founded the Franciscan Order. Many literary critics consider him Italy’s first modern poet.

    He’s most famous for his affinity with animals. Images of him often show him holding or near animals.

    The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi is celebrated annually on October 4.

    Most famous among his works is the poem titled “The Prayer of St. Francis”. He is remembered as one history’s truly great souls. In recent years, one our time’s greatest souls – Sarah Mclachlan – recorded a song version of the famous poem. I found this wonderful version of it on YouTube. Enjoy!

    Stay inspired!

    Ray

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    Planting Mindful Seeds – Day 242 of 365 Days to a Better You

    Ray originally wrote this article for EzineArticles.com in 2007.

    There is a famous saying, “You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed.” Big things often have small beginnings.

    Each day is a new opportunity and anything is always possible. Each day we are planting seeds in the orchard of our future. We choose whether we do it mindfully or mindlessly. If we act with wisdom, one day we will wake to find ourselves in an orchard of sweet ripe apples. If we proceed mindlessly, we may find ourselves in an orchard full of sour apples or worse a dead field. The choice is ours with each seed we plant.

    The human beings now inhabiting this planet have planted many mindless seeds. The only way out of the current situation is to take today as a new day and begin planting the seeds of the future more mindfully.

    Simplistic? No, simple. Naive? Naiveté is the habit of hopelessly believing in the impossible. A different world is possible if we begin tending to our orchards more thoughtfully. We arrived where we are through our choices and we can achieve something far greater if that is our choice. Compared to what we have now, how can it be anything but the first step in the right direction?

    It is time for evolved people everywhere to step to the fore and move a sane and peaceful process forward where peace and not hatred is the primary crop. Some argue that peace is not possible in this world. To them, I can only say that as long as their view predominates; they will be correct. However, the moment humans are ready to accept the possibility of a peaceful world, it will become our reality.

    Stay in your truth!

    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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