[There are times when someone with Yudhishtara shares a personal experience, such as happens here, and the sharing not only reveals what the process of expansion feels like, but also becomes an affirmation for all of us that this is, indeed, what happens for us as we growS.]
Yudhishtara, I just wanted to share something that is happening now for me. I can be really present with an object. Then I see the object, like a tree, and spontaneously I am just so overwhelmed by how beautiful it isas it isand not according to any description I have of beauty in my mind. Whenever that happens, a natural gratitude arises. It’s not a decision to be grateful. It’s a natural gratitude that arises that this should be so. And the more that happens, the more gratitude pervades my life slowly from within. It is for me more powerful than trying to make a decision to be grateful the way you have taught.
Natural gratitude, if anybody wants to compare different kinds of gratitude, is the best gratitude.
In the beginning, it is more often like an effort of diligently bringing up the awareness of being grateful. It feels like an effort because we’re thinking about it and we say that we’re going to be thankful about something. So we do that. It is more like work at first. And we are diligent. But then it starts to change.
It starts to change our whole essence because we begin noticing all the things we could be grateful about. It’s like an exercise even though there are no exercises. It’s an exercise that says, “Gosh, I’m walking. I’m talking. I can smile.” We look at insects. We look at birds. We look at the sky. We look at the sunset and say, “Gosh, look at that!”
But for years and years and years, many of us never do that. All we do is say, “I don’t like this. I don’t like that. I don’t like the other thing.” We never say anything is nice. Many of us even think that it is very chic, very cool, to go out there and not appreciate anything as if nothing is good enough for us.
We put everything down. We don’t appreciate these things and we don’t have any gratitude. Soon we don’t know how to have gratitude. Then we have to redevelop a sense of gratitude.
There’s nothing better than to have gratitude
without knowing what it’s for or what the reason is.
A feeling comes inside of us and we are grateful. There’s no definition of why. We are just grateful.
When we see things without any judgments
gratitude comes naturally.
We talk about opinions and judgments. We have judgments. We have opinions. As soon as we make a judgment, then something is right and something else is wrong. When we have a very strong opinion about something, then something is not appropriate on the other side.
Eventually we become somewhat child-like. We are adult but at the same time we have a lot of a beautiful qualities that small children have. We see something and we appreciate it. We like it and we’re happy. We don’t spend much time and effort in criticizing how it could have been better.
But once we have many things in this life, once we’ve seen many things, once we’ve experienced a lot of things, we can’t help comparing these things. We start saying, “This is nicer than something else. A 5-star restaurant is the best restaurant, so if I can’t eat at one then I’m not going to be happy.” But if we have a throat operation and they took our tonsils out, any kind of food would taste good. It could be in a C restaurant!
But it does not have to be that way if we pay attention. We can get up in the morning and actually set the mood for the day.
We open our eyes. We know that we are awake. The first thing has to be, “I love you, my Beloved, and I thank you for another day. I love you, my Beloved. I thank you that I am awake.”
Not that I’ve got to get up now and I’ve got to go do this and I have to do that. And nobody likes me and I’m fighting with somebody. As soon as I get up, I’m going to start screaming at my wife or my husband because I remember what they told me last night, or who knows what. That’s not the way to start.
It’s very simple. We use very simple sentences. It’s not a prepared statement. It’s not a poem. It’s just a couple of words that come from our heart. Then we do the same thing at night when we go to sleep. “Thank you for my day. I’m going to sleep and I rest in you.”
Once we decide that we are not going to complain all day, once we decide that just having a day is a great and precious gift, then we are going to live an enlightened life.
We are going to live an enlightened life!
THANK YOU NOTE
Sometimes when I feel lost
or gripped by ennui,
I turn to nature’s grandeur or beauty
like a flamingo sunset or the stars in the galaxy.
I give thanks for these
and feel the shift in me
as if the purpose of my life
(at least for the moment)
may simply be
to acknowledge what I see,
to say, “Ahhhhh… yessss!”
to thank and to bless.
Oh, my Beloved, what I have seen!
What I have loved!
What has touched my soul!
If my life is nothing else
may it be
a thank you note.
There are reasons to say thank you,
millions of them the mind cannot deny.
But I love you comes harder to the lips,
as if the tongue were bound and tied.
I love you is surrender, a melding in the heart
from which there’s no return and the mind has little part.
Sometimes it is easier to fill one’s mind with gratitude,
more honest to say thank you than to say I love you.
So I’ve found things to be grateful for
blue skies and mountains high, grassy meadows,
a dancing horse and miles of trail to ride,
food on my table and shelter from the rain,
coffee with a friend, a way that eases pain,
eyes that can see, ears that can hear, a mind that remembers.
All these things I hold dear
the ability to wonder, the strength to breathe,
the way things work out to settle my needs,
dew drops on spider webs, music that thrills,
finding a way to pay my bills,
surviving my youth, enjoying my age,
being able to sit with a wonderful sage,
my successes, my losses, my loves and my life.
The list goes on and on
with “thank you, my Beloved” my constant song.
As my litany is growing slowly flowers a knowing
of what I really long to say“I love you, my Beloved.”
And somewhere deep inside a boundary line melts away.