A Peace to End All Wars – Day 321 of 365 Days to a Better You

They called World War I “the war to end all wars.” This was a wrong-headed idea from the beginning. War can never and will never end war. One hundred years later our civilization still buys into the idea that conflict can end conflict. Time and again, this premise has been demonstrated to be false. Yet, we’re still at it.

The truth has forever stared us in the face. Buddha said it 2500 years ago.”For hatred never ceases by hatred. Hatred ceases by love.”

Five hundred years later Jesus counseled, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

Yet, here we are still trying quench hatred and violence with hatred and violence. Here we are still cursing each other as enemies.

President Kennedy made a bold and insightful statement nearly 60 years ago. Never has it been more apt than right now. “Mankind must put and end to war or war will put an end to mankind.”

We’ve talked multiple times during our journey together about the need for an empowering foundation and a nourishing environment. War, hatred, and violence are the antithesis of that environment. So, issues of war and peace are fundamental to any personal development we hope to pursue.

Our society is the result of the cumulative thinking of us all. If we have perpetual war, it’s because that’s the mindset that dominates our consciousness as a whole.

Understanding the beneficial nature of peace to our own development, it behooves us to break the conditioning and become tireless advocates for peace and the changed mindsets that can support it.

A peaceful world is more than a nice aspiration. It’s now a prerequisite for human survival and our next steps out into the galaxy. Let us all strive to create a peace to end all wars because that’s all that ever will.

In case no one else reminded you today, you’re awesome!

Ray

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Light Conquers Darkness – Day 312 of 365 Days to a Better You

Today’s Affirmation

I embody the triumph of light over darkness.

Do you believe good defeats evil, right vanquishes wring, light conquers darkness? There’s no missing the metaphor this time each year. As we approach Winter Solstice n the northern hemisphere, we are also experiencing the longest, darkest nights of the entire year. Then, just when it seems darkness will prevail, the cycle reverses. The days slowly begin to get longer and light is victorious.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, the Solstice, or are just a casual observer, you’ll note this time of year is celebrated as a “season of light” in celebration of this victory; whether you see it as literal or metaphorical.

It begs the question. What’s your life philosophy when it comes to the great battle between light and darkness that wages constantly in our hearts, our minds, and our world? Do you believe in the eventual triumph of light in the human spirit or have you bought into the long night of humanity’s past and given up hope?

Your answer informs your worldview to a large degree. It affects your thinking, your words, your actions, and how you interpret the world around you. All of those create your life experience and the collective belief of a critical mass of people literally creates our world.

We cannot afford to cede victory to the darkness, while claiming to seek a better us and a better world. Hard as it is some days, you’ve got to believe that light is winning and will win in the end.

When you’re firm on that, the cynicism drops away, your mission clarifies, and you become an active participant in ensuring that’s the outcome we’ll experience.

Wishing each of you a light-filled day. Just in case no one has reminded you today, you are awesome!

Ray

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Making the World a Better Place – Day 283 of 365 Days to a Better You

Today’s Affirmation

My world is what I make of it and I choose to make it a compassionate place to be!

Has the world gone nuts? It seems so some days. Thankfully, you need not wait for change to occur in the world. You can start right now to create a more sane and compassionate world in the ways you touch it.

The simple things are still the recipe for greater happiness.

  • Treat others with kindness even when they don’t return the favor.
  • Only use what you need.
  • Maintain a measure of mindfulness with regard to your thoughts and activities.
  • Join with others who share your hope for a better, more evolved world and take the first steps today.
  • Smile, lighten up, have fun, and enjoy your life on this beautiful world and in this marvelous Universe.

Take the Ten Commandments, The Golden Rule, the Five Precepts of Buddhism, or other ageless tenets and try living by them. Not under the commandment of any God, religious organization, or out of fear of punishment, but out of a recognition that they make rational sense and create a better world.

The philosophy you hold – Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Muslim, Hindu – is not what is ultimately important. What is important is being the most ethical, compassionate Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, or Buddhist you can be and the world will be a better place for it.

During his 1989 visit to Los Angeles, The Dalai Lama said, “We don’t need temple, we don’t big Cathedral. We need warmth of heart. We, each of us, have a responsibility to shape the future of humanity. So let us try and contribute as much as we can.”

You have the power right now to do the good that you see needs doing in the world. Certainly, collective action by a group is important, but your actions or inactions in your life today affect the world around you in big ways. Never underestimate yourself and your power to influence things.

  • If someone cuts you off in traffic, don’t respond with anger that puts negative energy out into the universe. That helps.
  • Not giving in to your own prejudices and weaknesses that contribute the problems in the world. That helps.
  • Going out of your way to be friendly to a stranger just because. That helps.

There is no end to what you can do that will make the world a better place.

The problems we face in the world are a result of our interpersonal conflicts and our own internal conflicts projected out onto the world. If you do not address the anger and fear you feel in your own heart you will only be bandaging the problems of the world.

With just a little effort today, you can make all the difference!

In case no one else has told you today, you’re AWESOME!

Ray

Ray
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Love Thy Neighbor – Day 274 of 365 Days to a Better You

There’s a giant compassion gap in the very heart of our culture. You see it manifest on social media or when listening to talk radio. It may even lead to heated words at a family gathering.

What’s the problem? Millions of “woke” or”morally upstanding” people literally despise whole categories of people and believe they’re completely ethically justified in doing so. Names and labels flow from the mouth and the keyboard, in utter denial of the other person’s humanity or point of view.

It’s gotten so bad that some people band-aid a workaround strategy. They’ve stopped even communicating with people in certain groups. This passes for sanity in an increasingly dysfunctional social arena.

If I’m describing a struggle you’re having, I’m not here to point the finger at you. I am here to tell you it’s not healthy. You can’t really be woke or morally upstanding and despise whole swaths of your neighbors. You probably know that. Yet two words are longing to come out of your mouth, “But they…”

Two of history’s greatest spiritual teachers – Jesus of Nazareth and Siddhartha Gautama – had very clear words for us on this topic. I’ll paraphrase.

Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment. He replied, “Love the Lord God with all thy heart and love thy neighbor as ye love thyself.”

In another circumstance, Jesus said, “Judge not that you be not judged.”

Buddha was equally clear and on the same page. He’s recorded as saying. “He abused me, he hurt me, he robbed me. Those who harbor such thoughts know not peace. He abused me, he hurt me, he robbed me. Those who harbor not such thoughts shall find peace…for some do not know that soon we all die. Those who realize this cease their quarrels immediately.”

It can’t be much clearer. There’s no fine print. Jesus and Buddha didn’t have their lawyers review their teachings and tag on exclusionary language. They meant love everyone. No exceptions.

If you judge, you’ll be similarly judged. If you hold grudges and fight with other people, you’re on the very long road to enlightenment.

For those reading this who don’t care and are perfectly happy being in righteous conflict with your neighbors because they’re a special kind of evil, I can only say you’re stealing your own peace by failing to make peace. The vitriol that you put out into the world has to flow through you first and it’s toxic.

In a moment of enlightenment, it ceases to be about how wrong you think they are and becomes about how healthy you wish to be.

For those who know this is a problem for them and is stealing your joy, let me appeal to your better angels. If you could stand in the other person’s shoes for a few seconds, you’d see they are frustrated and baffled by you as you are by them.

You’d see that you both have common basic human needs and that you’re both attempting to get them met. You’d see that, like you, their perspective is not arbitrary. It has reasons, logic, and justification behind it just as yours does.

I can’t allow you to exit 2019 or I hope even this post without seriously reconsidering your tendency to group and judge whole groups of people. Yes. There are some beyond the pale that only someone better than you or I could love. That’s discovered, though, at the individual level not at the level of whole groups.

Let it go. Don’t contribute to this negative energy. You’ll be better for it and so will our culture. Hold fast to your views, but never lose your love for ALL your neighbors.

You’re all amazing. Have an awesome weekend. April and I are in the road to a family event. Safe travel to you wherever tomorrow take you.

Ray

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A Culture of Compassion and Dialogue – Day 272 of 365 Days to a Better You

Say something, do something, or be someone I don’t like and I’ll flame you, unfollow you, or even block you. If I REALLY don’t like what you said, I may seek to enlist others to ruin your career or even cancel you from our culture.

I reserve the right not to expose myself to ideas that challenge my worldview. If you cross that line, I reserve the right to destroy you. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re a famous celebrity or a long-lost friend from elementary school.

Meanwhile, I also reserve the right to be completely hypocritical about how and when I apply these standards, if they’re violated by political, religious, or cultural heroes of mine and it causes me too much cognitive dissonance to apply my standards to them, I’ll ignore and defend them to my last tweet.

This is the mindset of what some have called “Cancel Culture” or what I’ve called for years the Unfollow, Unfriend Culture. Social media, with it’s ability to block or delete someone with a single click, has simplified this, as have prevalent cultural mindsets that subdivide human beings into real and false tribes. Either agree with me 100 percent or I’m instantly clicking you out of my life.

What all of this really is, in my humble opinion, is the mindset of an infantile ego. It’s a small child stamping her feet to get her way. It is not the mindset that creates a compassionate, free, or democratic society where dialogue happens. It’s a recipe to further and further divide us into smaller and smaller circles ending with us being alone and ruled by that childish ego.

We’ve given this brand of ego the ability to create its own despotic fiefdom in our minds.

Is this the enlightened society we want? Do you REALLY want to disown your cousin or your best friend from second grade because he or she voted for someone different or fails one of your cultural litmus tests? What of their humanity? What of yours?

Is it really sound judgment to dismiss people that way? Think how complex and contradictory you are. Shouldn’t they be given the same slack?

I absolutely believe this mindset is an existential threat to critical thinking, freedom, and the compassionate society we must be building in the 21st century. I run several Facebook pages. I’ve never blocked one person, even when they’ve been disrespectful to me. Instead, I try to remind them of their humanity and mine and reestablish that connection. I’ve been instantly blocked on Twitter for daring to disagree, but I’ve never blocked one person. I simply don’t believe in it. Free speech gives other people the right to disagree even with my most cherished ideals. I never forget their humanity or that freedom because my ego is bruised.

This kind of culture only persists because we allow it to. If the social norm was to think of everyone you encounter as a free human being who is where they are in their journey based on their experiences just like us, maybe we’d have more compassion and understanding for their position.

I want to close today with an affirmation of sorts; a kind of pledge. Are you willing?

Affirmation: I refuse to participate in a culture that demeans, dismisses, and cancels other human beings. I’m beautiful, but far from perfect myself. I choose to see that beauty and accept that imperfection in others. I don’t know everything and I haven’t experienced everything. I accept that others can look at life and reach different, reasonable positions from mine. I reserve the right to dialogue respectfully with others in an attempt to persuade them, in the best tradition of a free society. However, I refuse to strip them of their humanity or diminish mine in that process. A sane, enlightened world is possible and I will do my part to bring that world to life.

I love and respect each and every one of you. No matter how similar or disparate our experiences or our views. Namaste and Aloha. I bow to greatness in you and I come to you with respect

Ray

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86,400

As many of you have already guessed, I’m referring to the number of seconds in a day.

Afternoon check. How many have you spent in mindsets of joy, peace, love today; and how many in stress and anger?

You don’t get a grade on this test or a kudos on this report? You don’t have to share your answer with anyone but you.

Your reward for getting it right? More joy and peace and live in your day. As Jeff Probst would ask, “Worth playing for?”

I hope you won reward!

Ray

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Big, Crazy, Ideas – Day 221 of 365 Days to a Better You

Count me a fool for big, crazy ideas and a dolt for big flipping dreams. Forgive me for not realizing I should have given up my idealism because I have a certain number of candles on my birthday cake. Pardon me for not accepting the belief that being “an adult” means capitulation to small thinking.

There’s been a definite theme in my world this week. I’ve been in a number of personal and online conversations this week where people have conveyed to me that I should cease aiming for the stars for our country and our world and get some realism. I should accept that what is is and it will never change.

No, that’s not what these good people thought they were conveying. They thought they were being logical, practical, and real. They thought they were talking me back from the edge of what we all know can’t be.

To that, I say thank you but no thank you. When I look around, I see a world stuck for the lack of big thinking. I see people sad because they “grew up” and stopped pushing for their dreams and their ideals. They packed it in, put on the armor of hardened dogma and “status quoism” and called it good.

Well, as long as I draw breath, that will never be me! I’ll never cease believing that the richest nation in the history of the world can figure out an enlightened approach to ensuring access to healthcare for all its citizens. I refuse to buy into the idea that we must fix every pothole on Earth before we can reach for the stars. I will never surrender to the idea that hatred and perpetual war is a natural, normal state for the human race. I will always believe we can create a just society where every single person lives in dignity and genuine abundance of mind, body, and spirit.

If I have to die on these “crazy” hills, I’m in. If you ask me to apologize for seeing a better humanity and a better world, I decline. I’d rather be labeled a crazy dreamer than succumb to the death of small thinking.

WHO’S WITH ME?

I love you all. Be crazy for your BIG dreams today.

Ray

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