We Got To Have Peace – The Affirmation Spot for Saturday August 15, 2009

Ray’s Daily Affirmation:

“My world is what I make of it and I CHOOSE to make it a peaceful place to be. Your world is what you make of it and you choose to make it a happy place to be.”
(Choose from 100s mp3 affirmations at The Affirmation Spot)

Peace is an age-old dream of humanity. Yet our greed, our anger, and our need for control of our fellow human beings has led us often to kill, to steal, and to destroy. We need to get a clear understanding the violence and war are not givens for humanity. Peace is possible. PEACE IS A CHOICE.

Let’s be clear about that. When we don’t have peace (within ourselves or in the world) it is because we have failed to choose it. We have failed to think the thoughts and take the actions that would bring it about. We are snared by “Us” and “Them”…..”Me” and “Mine”.

Here a beautiful musical expression of these sentiments and this wisdom by the great Curtis Mayfield.

The great teachers have all implored us to achieve. Why not today?

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth… Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy… Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 5:5-9)

“Few know that our purpose in this world is to live in harmony. Those who become aware of this cease their quarrels immediately.” ~ Buddha (Dhammapada)

“The taking of one innocent life is like taking all of Mankind… and the saving of one life is like saving all of Mankind.” ~ Qur’an, 5:33.

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” ~ Martin Luther King

“What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary.” ~ Talmud, Shabbat 31a

“Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”

Buddha Quotations – The Affirmation Spot for Satruday May 16, 2009

Siddhartha Gotama – better known to the world as The Buddha – was born about 563 BCE in Nepal. Nepal was then a part of ancient India. He was born a prince, but gave up his wealth and status to pursue truth and enlightenment.

He has witnessed birth, sickness, old age, and death and wished to find a path whereby humans could escape this cycle of suffering.

After several years of searching and studying under various teachers, Siddhartha sat down beneath a Bodhi Tree. He determined not to move from that spot until he had attained absolute enlightenment.

Mara – the god of deception – appeared before the Buddha and sought divert him from his task. He tempted the Buddha with desire and tried to frighten him with fearful images. Siddhartha was not swayed and attained supreme enlightenment through his discovery of the famous “The Middle Way”.

Today’s video offers many of the Buddha’s most profound quotes. Whether you see these words as spiritual advice or just practical advice, is up to you. My hope is that everyone will find value in these beautiful words.

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”

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

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Dhammapada Twin Verses – The Affirmation Spot for Friday July 11, 2008

The world we live in is full of promise, threat, and opportunity. As you look beneath the surface, you begin to understand that none of us is safe unless all of us are safe. None of us is free until each of us is free.

The challenges we face are of our own making and the solutions are within us. As Albert Einstein once said, “The world’s problems will not be solved by the level of thinking that created them.”

This is true on both the micro and macro levels. We need new thinking, better thinking. We need to empower ourselves and move in the direction of a bottom up world promoting individuality and decentralization. Top down and centralization approaches are not working. Violence is not working. Hatred is not working. Division is not working.

Interestingly, one of the most masterful expressions of this point of view is over 2500 years old.

The Buddhist Dhammapada is a book of collected sayings attributed to Buddha. The first chapter usually called Twin Verses says, in part, the following.

  1. We are the result of our thoughts. Our present thoughts create our future life. Our life is created by our mind. If a person speaks or acts with a mind grounded in fear suffering will follow him as surely as summer follows spring.
  2. We are the result of our thoughts. Our present thoughts create our future life. Our life is created by our mind. If a person speaks or acts with a mind grounded in love happiness will follow him as surely as his shadow never leaves him.
  3. ‘He offended me, he hurt me, he owes me, he took what was mine.’ Those who dwell on such thoughts will never be free from hate or find peace within.
  4. ‘He offended me, he hurt me, he owes me, he took what was mine.’ Those who dwell not on such thoughts shall be free from hate and find peace within.
  5. For hate only feeds on itself; but love overcomes hate. This is an Eternal Law.
  6. Few know that our purpose in this world is to live in harmony. Those who become aware of this cease their quarrels immediately.

We need a fresh reality. It begins with our thoughts. We need to think about what our thoughts create when they ripple out into the larger pond that is our world. To do otherwise, leaves us more susceptible to the threatening aspects of our world and less able to access the promise and the opportunity.

The good news is we get to choose.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh: Flower Insights – The Affirmation Spot for Monday May 12, 2008

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ray_launchpad.jpgYour Fifth Affirmation is Always Free at The Affirmation Spot

Whenever you download four affirmations at The Affirmation Spot your fifth affirmation is free. Simply type five in the coupon field at checkout to get your fifth affirmation free. (Offer valid only on a per order basis. Multiple single downloads do not receive this discount.)

Today’s featured affirmation is:

“The more I love and appreciate myself, the more beautiful I become.” (repeats 5 times)

“The more you love and appreciate yourself, the more beautiful you become.” (repeats 5 times)

Hear an audio mp3 version of this affirmation right now.


 

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)

Stay inspired!

Ray

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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Bhutto Assassination Proof of Work to Be Done – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday December 27, 2007

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‘He offended me, he hurt me, he owes me, he took what was mine.’ Those who dwell on such thoughts will never be free from hate or find peace within.

‘He offended me, he hurt me, he owes me, he took what was mine.’ Those who dwell not on such thoughts shall be free from hate and find peace within.

For hate only feeds on itself; but love overcomes hate. This is an Eternal Law.

Few know that our purpose in this world is to live in harmony. Those who become aware of this cease their quarrels immediately.

~ Buddha (Dhammpada Chapter 1, verses 3-6)


benazir_bhutto.jpg‘The Buddha’s words are extremely timely today.

The news from Pakistan this morning is dire. Former Prime Minister and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated after a campaign rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. This nuclear-armed nation is about to be thrown into chaos and turmoil. Many on both sides will likely call for armed conflict.

Unfornately, 2500 years after these words were uttered too many human beings still don’t “get it”. Our leaders don’t “get it”. Our media certainly does not “get it”. Our arms dealers don’t “get it”.  We clamor for war. We clamor for revenge. We support leaders as “strong” who feed our desire for revenge and war.

The “it” is that violence is the birth of hatred and chaos, not the solution to it.

Even in the western nations, we extoll the virtues of our military prowess and take pride in the fact that we are better able than others to wreak havoc on our enemies. We honor the warrior above the peacemaker and so we get more of what we reward.

Most of all, we promise with a straight face that we will stop killing “them” right after they stop killing “us”. It’s circular logic because there are two sides to the “we” and “them” equation and both sides promise to stop the killing as soon as the other side does. And thus, the killing never ends.

In these few simple verses (and others like them in many sacred texts), rests the solution to the problem. But, we must be willing to take the medicine, if we are to be healed. 

We are reminded incessantly by the purveyors of war and vengeance that this is “unrealistic”.  “Neville Chamberlain, Neville Chamberlain,” they shout. “Peacefulness is weakness.” “We must be strong or our enemies will destroy us.”

The “kill them before they kill us” method has enjoyed a 10,000 year trial run in human civilization. It has utterly failed to solve our problems, but it does line pockets and create jobs. No other product or idea has failed so miserably and yet lasted so long. It survives because it plays on our lowest instincts such as fear and selfishness.

Pakistan is a perfect look into our own future, if we fail to take the medicine. If we fail to understand, as the Buddha says, “that our purpose in this world is to live in harmony.” If we fail to grasp that the vengeance mindset that counts every offense against us and ignores our own faults, is a mindset dooming us to destruction; then we are sealing our fate.

The expiration date on that mindset is fast approaching. The weapons of mass destruction genie is out of the bottle and we are, in a very few decades, going to be faced with a stark choice. Adversaries the world over are going to stand nose-to-nose with nuclear, chemical, and biological weaponry.

The question is will we choose to change or race down the fast track to destruction? The force of habit is hard to stop. We are a world addicted to violence. Sometimes an addict cannot stop himself even at the cost of self-destruction.

Here is the challenge for those of us who “get it” in 2008. We must increase our efforts bring positive change in the world. We must first convince our fellow human beings that a better world is possible. Shockingly, many don’t believe that it is.

  • We must “be the change we want to see in the world.” We must work on our own thoughts and actions to stay positive and focused on a better future. 
  • We must make intelligent, self-interested arguments that counter fear-based and selfishness-based arguments by capitalizing on positive core human instincts.
  • We must be patient with our fellow human beings. They have been conditioned to accept this nonsense for a long time and it is going to take time for them to change. 
  • We must recognize that help is not coming any time soon from our leaders and media who thrive and profit on the conflict. These institutions will probably be the last to change. We will have to force the change by changing hearts and minds.
  • We must see through arguments, even highly emotional ones, that rest on logical fallacies.
  • We must call attention to those logical fallacies and challenge their validity at every turn.
  • We must create a clear vision of what the world will look like without the conflict.

There is hope. There is possibility. There is opportunity. The world need not suffer constant chaos and violence.  For that to come about, though, enough people must believe.

Think about it today. Do you believe a better world is possible or have you bought into the assumption that nothing more is possible and so you accept what is?

I hear people say things like, “I don’t like war, but there has always been war.” “I know our leaders are corrupt, but leaders have always been corrupt.” We need not accept these as immutable truths.

John F. Kennedy quoted George Bernard Shaw in his inaugural address in 1961, “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not?”

Today as the chaos heats up in Pakistan and elsewhere around our tiny marble of a world. I’m asking you to think about a better world and ask, “Why not?”

Be peaceful Be prosperous

Ray 

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