What is Gratitude?
I think the idea is for the most part misunderstood. Seen as a humiliation often, but if you think about it there is nothing more ennobling. When you are in the experience of gratitude, you are in peace. You are in the present. When you cannot rest in the now, gratitude for that moment is absent. And when gratitude is absent, then growth is absent. Plants grow in receptiveness to sunlight. If they somehow decided that sunlight wasn't enough, the hypothetical unrest would only sicken them. Would stymie growth, not feed it. We as human beings receive much that we take no note of: warmth, air, food, even if maybe not in adequate amounts, water. If we cannot see that we are supported in the most simple ways, then we are off center in dealing with more complex issues.
Most people seem to see gratitude to another human being sort of like this: My friend does something for me that I can't do for myself. That means I was not able, inadequate. My friends ability makes him or her superior to me. I should please them to continue to receive this help. This of course is not a good way of thinking. Twists much of the spirit of the event. The sharing becomes obligation, not win/win. Is why people adopt the martyr complex. Martyrs feed their egos very well.
Gratitude is more than saying ‘thank you’. The words themselves without the spirit behind them are best abstained from, as is apoplectic speech. They are dodges. When you say ‘thank you’ from habit, what you are speaking thanks for, you are actually ignoring. Most people seem to put very little mindfulness behind gratitude. When you apologize you are thanking them for forgiving you, even if they haven't yet and usually with the same lack of mindfulness. Much that can be healed in human exchange never is because of those niceties that no one thinks about.
Zen teaching is correct in its cautions on language. The words point but we don't keep them at that. They replace in most peoples thinking, they blind. When you shift like that, what gets done? What actually changes? Much emphasis is put on repentance, renunciation. It's the path of the mystic. Many fall away from that path because they were never in a place where they accepted what they are renouncing. They deny their connection and fail to see their connection to what they supposedly renounce. My experience is that people can only transcend what they first accept, and the only real acceptance is gratitude.
How many people are grateful for their mistakes? It is possible to be. Is it possible to move beyond the mistake before you can be grateful for it? Until you reach a point of peace with the mistake, you instead feed the mistake. On the foundation of gratitude, of acceptance, all other things can be built.
Gratitude is . . .
There is a simpler word for gratitude, but the word is generally seen in a more abstract light. Gratitude is love.
We didn't make ourselves. We are not the source of our own advent. We still exist due to a process that we can't really control and we don't need to. Gratitude is faith, present centered faith. People struggle with the idea of faith. They think it means they hope for something in the future. Faith can be right now. It can give you peace right now.
Research into performance psychology suggests that we do not do our best when on edge. Contrary to what some believe our bodies and minds function best when happy, when relaxed. People believe it's hard to be happy. They think it's dependant on something, but right now, not moments ago or moments from now. What is wrong? Is their anything wrong right now, this moment, for any of us? Our thinking makes something wrong. Our feeling only responds to our thinking or our senses. Thinking is a sense like hearing or sight. We don't believe that we have to see everything. In school we took geography. We know those places exist even though we have never seen them. Our consciousness undisturbed is happy. It's our default or at rest state. I am forced to paraphrase a concept, but it is a good one. All problems stem from our inability to remain in a room alone quietly. It isn't doing or seeking. We have alot of our anxiety about doing from what we think others expect and they think the same of us. If both people could be grateful just for the contact, just for the being and for the other being. Then what? How does the world look then?
As a child I once asked my father, ‘isn't being enough?’. He answered with an emphatic no. He explained that I had responsibilities, that he did and that we had to do things even if we didn't want to. I am not certain that is true. I have been so despondent as to want no action at all yet something inside me moved me to act anyway. I think we will act no matter what occurs. . Is it our nature doing absolutely nothing? Well for me it's not possible.
Though I think we can take guidance from starting at zero. We get ahead of ourselves. Think we can find our true path in doing what we have to. Yet it's just as commonly said that the only thing we have to do is live until we die. We ignore even that morbid insight. Gratitude can guide us to right action. I dare say it is the only guide. Gratitude for our own natures, our hearts and minds. Gratitude for the force that brings us together with other human beings. Gratitude for the common ground we share and the diversity of virtues in the community as a whole. Thinking on gratitude seem to give plenty of grounds for action. Does it not?
If we act for a different reason then gratitude what comes of it? When I give from obligation it seems at best a numb neutrality even if only subtly, it lessens me. A life of obligation? What is that like? When I give from gratitude, it is joy and rather than lessening me it seems to energize me. Even in the strictly pragmatic sense seems to make my being and doing go so much better. Is this anyone else's experience?
Life of Gratitude
Imagine a life of gratitude? For what we are. For what we can do. For what we can experience. Would that be a selfish life? Why are we taught it is? Really the secret of gratitude isn't a secret. It's realizing a simple truth. We are connected, not chained. Supported. We are connected by genetic heritage. We are connected by our place in our eco-system. Even our society, though it seems to struggle against these core truths. Any ideas why?
I think it's because obligation is control. Fear is temporary loss of connection. Yes it seems enduring. Mostly because people are set in being comfortably numb. Gratitude makes you feel, makes you engage life and makes the responsibility yours. Can't blame someone else when you are grateful can you? It's essential as water and food. But even food and water is someone else's responsibility to common thinking. We are told we need to acknowledge obligation to have our life supports. Thus we have to kill our souls for our flesh to survive or do I go too far in that metaphor?
We can't really kill our souls and if we showed gratitude for them it would heal us. Make us whole and powerful rather than hobbled as we are. I think that is in part why people fear that acceptance of soul. The atman or soul is one with Brahman. Brahman is the all encompassing. The soul is not a nebulous presence floating somewhere in the astral. It is the very foundation of the universe itself.
Brahman is the supreme being. Shown with many faces, the other deities are called the faces of Brahman. But what was the face you had before you were born? The face you had is the face you see. Though that face you see isn't really the face that is there. The paradox of material existence on a personal level.
The face of gratitude shines. When someone is in gratitude. What did they look like? We respond to many things when we react to physical presence. Has even been music written about it with some humour. When someone is in gratitude they are beautiful even if they don't posses the “traits". They are magnetic even in silence. They need not show off. True heart filling gratitude cannot be hidden. Thus the edict about not hiding your light under a bushel. You didn't create that light but to hide it is to deny its value. To be ungrateful to the source. Now the source holds no grudges. That isn't its nature, it cant actually be sinned against. But when we deny that part of us that is it, then we hold a grudge against ourselves. You cannot love yourself and hate god. There is no separation. The divine is your breath.
To deny your worth is to deny support. Why things go the way they go is no great mystery. There are two things that happen that superficially can be called bad. There are difficulties. Things that distress us naturally like the death of a loved one. And there are problems, things that occur from our efforts to “better" our lives. Here is something sort of complex. All of our problems have benefits but we aren't grateful for them. Thus we lose control of those problems. We don't accept them and thus we don't allow ourselves the fullest understanding.
I will share one of my own problems. I have been having an issue with feeling disconnected from those dear to me. Now what benefit is there in this? Well it isn't boring, it makes me think a lot. It makes me pay attention to those who I care for. It also urges me to be more straightforward in my interaction and this thing that distresses me only distresses me because I resist it. I call it a problem because it makes me feel bad but it doesn't make me feel bad. I feel bad because of my stance toward it. My pain is internal and self generated. I lost sight of a value, of gratitude, and generated pain for myself and pain by sympathy for others. Was regrettable. I don't think it's unique to me.
If you would choose a focus for contemplation, for meditation, find gratitude in your heart. Could spend your life with it, to much healing and benefit for you and others.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.
Travis is Dragon Intuitive's natural intuitive/psychic who is able to experience and interact with alternate planes of energy and consciousness to gain deeper understanding. With unique direct experience of intuition and paranormal phenomenon along with an in-depth knowledge of theology and human behavior, Travis offers understanding and life alternatives.
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