Yesterday was ThanksGiving Day in America where millions celebrated this festival. In the mood of Thanksgiving and incidentally I am also teaching the topic of “Gratitude” to the eN-Vidyalaya children this month, I would like to share some insights I learned about gratitude.
The first truth is – gratitude is our real nature, but we don’t realize it because currently we are covered by layers of conditioning from society. For example, society taught us that any action needs a reason. Society knows only the language of utility i.e. when there is utility there is action, or else it becomes difficult to justify the action. Driven by results and performance, society immediately instils greed and fear in us if we don’t give the expected results. Society doesn’t know there is a path of gratitude that will give much better results than the paths of fear and greed. The next conditioning is the concept of individuality and freedom. We feel that we have a right to everything that we receive and because of this attitude, we desire and demand. We develop this continuous expectation in us all the time. Through 5 sensory inputs, we continuously expect something to happen in a certain way. These expectations move our energy outward instead of inward towards our self. When we work with expectations all the time, we will carry a subtle violence in our body language.
When we desire, demand and expect, we start to take everything for granted. Others do things for us out of love, kind gesture but we take these things for granted. Each individual plays an equal part in our life, we should not take anyone for granted. This can be tricky with our loved ones especially familiarity breeds contempt, something we need to be constantly in awareness.
By and by, we develop a feeling of discontentment but we don’t know the real reason for that feeling. Actually discontentment is a product of the mind not from the heart. Our mind constantly asks for something or other things because we have been taught to thank only for what we receive. We have been taught gratitude as a social etiquette nothing more than that. We are only aware of the people who are directly responsible for providing and caring for us. We always think that whatever was given to us, was either because we deserved it or because it was an accident. We fail to see the benevolence of Existence and the gifts showered upon us.What is gratitude?
Gratitude is our response to recognizing the abundance of Existence. When we recognise that we are lovingly taken care of by Existence every minute, we are overcome with gratitude. If we ever feel there is something missing in life, it means gratitude has not happened in us. Gratitude is the energy that makes our life intense and exciting every moment. When we carry causeless gratitude in us, life will be sweet all the time irrespective of external circumstances.
Gratitude opens the door for us to tune ourselves to Existence and then Existence will reveal to us its magical splendor. If gratitude becomes our very breath, this positive energy has the power to harmonise us with the energy of the Universe and brings back tremendous prosperity to us. This is because our energy of fulfillment attracts fulfillment back to us in the form of material gains, good relationships, good health and so on. It increases the level of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. The attitude of gratitude makes us resonate with Existence and transforms us into a beautiful human being such that not only our body language changes, our response to situations also changes. This resonance with Existence makes our body flow with a cool grace, fluidity and softness. There will not be violence only overflowing of joy.How to get back to our real nature of gratitude?
- Start from this Life itself. To be born with human consciousness is the first blessing we have received from Existence. Just being alive and breathing, we should feel grateful. Every morning as soon as we wake up, before getting out of bed, just try to feel deep gratitude for just being, for just living as a human being in this wonderful Existence. When we take our plate to eat, see the plate as a gift. When we serve food on the plate, see the food as a gift. When we sit down on the chair to eat, see the chair as a gift. When we wash your hands after eating, see our fingers as a gift. There are many people who don’t have a plate on which to eat, some who don’t have fingers with which to eat! We only look at those who have a diamond ring on their fingers. We never look at those who don’t have fingers. There are millions of people who are born with deficiencies or are handicapped, but we have everything yet we take life for granted. That is why we don’t feel anything in our life is a gift. Similarly, every night before we go to sleep, bring in deep gratitude for just being. Feel it in our whole body and mind. Put all judgments aside and feel gratitude. When we start feeling grateful for small things, our whole sensitivity will increase automatically. When sensitivity happens in us, every moment will pass in deep awe of the happenings in Existence.
- Operate from heart not the mind. The mind is the one constantly desires whereas the heart is the one feeling in gratitude. Desire and gratitude can never co-exist. When we feel one desire after another, it means that we are not living with gratitude. When we live with gratitude, we can never have any desires. With gratitude, whatever is given to us will simply fulfill whatever next we need at the moment. Our ego always swallows everything and asks for more, the ego that prevents us from enjoying whatever is being showered upon us. We have complete choice to decide whether we want to base our life on asking or on gratitude.
- Be Grateful for No Reason. Real gratitude can never have a reason, it happens as a causeless overflowing within us. This life itself is a gift that we have received. Just for being, we should be grateful. When we live with overwhelming gratitude, we have found a space where nothing else is needed. With gratitude, there will be no expectation or greed. Fulfillment can never happen if our actions are rooted in expectations. With expectation, there is a desire to possess things, we become the owner of few material things. With gratitude, we become the enjoyer of everything in Existence. When we look to own, nothing will seem enough. But when we enjoy, everything seems to be overflowing.
- Accept our Self and Celebrate Life. The Vedic scripture states that the whole of Existence is an auspicious happening. Everything is a blessing. Since we are a part of Existence, everything happens around us is also auspicious. When we understand this truth, there will be no complaint about life. Only with acceptance of self that we can celebrate what we are as well as celebrate life with all its different dimensions and paradoxes. Don’t judge anything because every incident raises our intelligence and our frequency of consciousness. All we need to do is see the world as an intelligence mystery. If we approach the suffering with acceptance and intelligence, suddenly we will see that the very suffering leads us to wisdom which adds joy and experience to our life.
- Respond with pure love and gratitude. With gratitude flowering within us, we respond with love instead of the insecurity that people are waiting to hurt us or take advantage of us. There will be no possessiveness because we will allow the person to have his or her own space. Gratitude helps us to see everyone as a unique creation of Existence. We will feel deeply connected to everyone and everything around us. All negative emotions will be released with this growing realization of our inter-connectedness.
Here is the truth we need to catch: The attitude of gratitude has the power to transform our whole perception of life and bring lasting peace and joy to us. Naturally, we will be constantly overflowing with love and gratitude, then comes a sense of fulfillment which is the ultimate fulfillment that every man is seeking. Namaste!