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.

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The Sacred Life Equation – The Affirmation Spot for Tuesday June 17, 2008



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 affirmation is:

“My world is what I make of it and I choose to make it a happy place to be.”
(5 times)

“Your world is what you make of it and you choose to make it a happy place to be.”
(5 times)

Hear an audio mp3 version of this affirmation right now.


Many of us were stunned at the untimely passing last Friday of TV journalist Tim Russert. The broadcasting world lost one of its giants. Americans lost one of the few journalists with the courage to ask the hard questions.

It is my fervent hope that young journalists, reflecting on Mr. Russert’s passing, will rededicate themselves to their vital and independent role in maintaining freedom and democracy by truly keeping the people informed.

Of course, whenever an event like this happens it gives us each pause to reflect on the brief moment we are all here. A colleague of mine reminded me yesterday that, “each day is a gift.” We say things like that and we think things like that, but do we really live it every day?

Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us in his 1991 book Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.

“Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.

Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it.”

Even for someone like me, who experienced the chilly breath of death on the back of my neck at an early age; it’s easy to forget how precious each day, each moment is. We get caught up in what we’re doing and worrying about what other people think and we lose sight of what is important….why we’re here.

There is a very simple tool you can use to weigh the importance of things that are stealing your happiness, your joy, your peace today. I’m calling it – this is dramatic – The Sacred Life Equation.

On one side of the equation is your joy, happiness, and peace of mind and on the other side are the worries and problems that are dragging you down.

  • My joy =  the bills
  • My happiness = what others say and do or don’t say and don’t do
  • My peace of mind = having so many things

You know the equations for you. Obviously, when you put them in this simple equation these worries are not equal. Your joy is worth more than worries about the bills. Your happiness does not rely on others. Your peace of mind does not come from possessing things.

The actual equations we should be living by are:

  • My joy >  the bills
  • My happiness > what others say and do or don’t say and don’t do
  • My peace of mind > having so many things
  • How is unconsciously living as if your concerns are as important your dreams damaging your experience of that precious gift of this 24 hours?

    You know what’s really important. “The question,” as Thich Nhat Hanh poses it, “is whether or not we are in touch with it.” Are we living as if our happiness is more important than our worries?

    What do you think Tim Russert would tell you, if he could speak to you today? Put your worries into the The Sacred Life Equation against the important things and see how they come out. Today is a brand new 24 hours. Make the most of it.

    Stay inspired!

    Ray

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

    Thank you for visiting The Affirmation Spot. Your comments on the blog or this article are always welcome. What do you think? Please click here to comment on today’s blog.




    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