The Fruits Of Gratitude Practice
I’ve decided to dedicate the days towards the end of our challenge to the fruits of gratitude practice. By now the practice of gratitude opened our hearts wide enough to embrace infinite compassion, limitless unconditional love and immeasurable appreciative joy. These, in my opinion, are the ultimate results of any spiritual practice. They are the expression of the formlessness in the world of form.
Every moment of presence. Every moment of compassion. Every moment of unconditional loving kindness. Every single moment of joy or gratitude and appreciation are expressions of our divine essence.
Some of us already abide in a sphere where these states of mind just flow out of our hearts effortlessly. But even if you’re not yet abiding in heaven, the good news is that these beautiful states of mind/heart can be intentionally cultivated and activated. And so I’d like to take the opportunity of the next few days to raise some ideas on how to activate these states of mind intentionally.
Please do continue to stop inwardly ten times every day for the rest of our project to express gratitude. It is the practice of gratitude which enables us to experience infinite love, compassion, joy, peace and oneness.
Let’s intentionally dedicate this day to look for opportunities to radiate compassion. Let’s make an effort today to see and know the pain of others and wish them to be free from physical and mental sufferings.
A wise man said that the heart of spiritual practice is compassion and that the seed of compassion is self compassion. So let’s begin with ourselves.
Once again, I invite you to think of your own pain, your own difficulties or the hardships you are dealing with these days. It might help if you look into your own eyes in the mirror or if you place your hand on your heart. Then inwardly and softly wish yourself to be free from sufferings. Be specific. Wish yourself to be free from your specific suffering whether it is anger, guilt, remorse or chronic pain. And be generous. It’s ok to wish yourself to be free from both jealousy AND stinginess or selfishness AND impatience.
It needn’t be a long exercise. Although it’s always good to dedicate time to practice, it’s enough if you pause for just a moment. Right now!!! and wish yourself to be free from sufferings. It is the pausing and the intention that really matters.
A loved one.
Now bring to mind a loved one whom you know is presently suffering. Perhaps a dear one who is dealing with cancer or someone under allot of stress. A loved one who is going through a hard break up or redundancy or anything else. Bring them to mind. Try and feel their sufferings and wish them to be free from all their sufferings. Once again be specific and generous with your blessings.
THAT is the real challenge of today. What I want you to do today when you get out of the house is to intentionally look for suffering and pain in others. A crying child in the supermarket and his frustrated mother. A couple in a heated argument. An old lady struggling to walk and keep her back straight, a beggar at the street corner. Or a sad looking person on the bus.
Our task is to actively look for that pain. Instead of our tendency to walk away from pain we will literally look pain right in the eye today. We will look into people’s eyes. The eyes are the keys to our souls. They will clearly tell you how the person in front of you feels at a particular moment. If you track sadness or pain or suffering wish that person in front of you to be free from all sufferings. Wish them to be free from all pain and all dangers. Expand your heart. You CAN take the suffering of others without collapsing. You can. We all can. I assure you.
A difficult person
Traditionally, the practice goes on to radiating compassion to a difficult person in our lives, sometimes even referred to as our enemy. You are, of course, welcome to practice this way today if you feel up for it but I think we have enough to deal with for today, so I will discuss it in more details some other day.
We cannot take away anybody’s pain. I’m not sure that if we could have, we would be doing them a favor. We cannot solve the world’s misery and tragedies. I’m not sure we’re meant to do so. There is suffering in the world. We know it. Everyone alive knows it.
But we can do small gestures for another. We can hug a loved one, listen wholeheartedly to a friend, smile to a stranger who looks like they need it or wish a sincere wish for someone to be free from suffering.
Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch Jewish woman who became enlightened during the Holocaust says in her remarkable diary “the sky within me” that in the face of overwhelming suffering we should not ask what God can do for us, rather we should ask what we can do for God. (my paraphrasing)
Mother Theresa, the embodiment of compassion, answer to that is that we can do no great things only small things we great love. She also said that in the act of love it is the loving that matters and not the result of our actions.
And this how Albert Einstein puts it “A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
May we never turn away from our own or other being’s sufferings. May we live with an open heart. May we live with a heart that can embrace all the sorrows of the world and all it’s beauty, a heart so wide it can take all the contradictions.