“Reflection on Gratitude”
A reflection on practice by Ariya Baumann
Gratitude is a quality and virtue that is like a hidden treasure. It is a spiritual force that brightens our existence and leads to inner harmony. Gratitude can bring an incredible amount of joy into our lives. It makes us happy.
As a beautifying quality of the heart and mind, gratitude is not as well-known as other qualities such as the Ten Perfections or the Seven Factors of Awakening. However, the Buddha stated very clearly, “The good person is grateful and thankful.”
Those who are grateful remember words, deeds, situations, or events that were beneficial, profitable, or instructive. What is profitable or instructive does not necessarily have to be pleasant or beautiful. Even unpleasant or painful experiences and encounters can be instructive or beneficial. Spiritual maturity is reflected in the understanding that the potential for inner growth can be found in every situation and every moment. Whether pleasant or painful. Those who are grateful recognize that everything is a gift and that nothing should be taken for granted.
When a heartfelt ‘thank you’ goes beyond the conventional mechanical phrase, it creates a connection with the other person and brightens up both lives.The practice of gratitude not only sharpens the awareness of our connection with others but also how we depend on them. Food, clothes, transportation, computer, toothpaste, books, toilet brush – all these things are produced by others. On top of this, there are the social and emotional aspects of our lives that are covered by other people or living beings. In this way, we are always beneficiaries and we owe so much to others.
Gratitude engenders a sense of fullness and causes appreciation for everything we have and for whatever we encounter. And we realize that we have so much! We recognize our ‘wealth’. People often focus on what they are missing, ‘I still need this to be happy. I should have another pair of shoes ….’, and so on. With this perspective, there arises a feeling of never-enough, a sense of lack. This is truly a sorrowful and miserable feeling. I call this the ‘never-enough-syndrome’. Additional to a free-flowing gratitude practice throughout the day, we can take a few moments in the evening and reflect on at least three things for which we are grateful today. We may probably find that it is more and more the simple and ordinary ‘everyday-things’ that we are grateful for.
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