On Gratitude

As we enjoy (Canadian) Thanksgiving let us take a moment to think about the occasion. In North America, Thanksgiving is our Christian version of a harvest festival. It is a celebration of the earth’s bounty, which sustains us despite our torture. Traditionally, the first fruits of the harvest were offered to the Divine, who makes the rain fall and the seasons turn. However, we’re not all farmers any more but Thanksgiving nonetheless gives us the opportunity to reflect on gratitude and “count our many blessings” as it were.

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“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.'” Luke 17:11-19

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I found myself in a similar situation in 2008 at Mookambika Devi Temple in Karnataka. There, myself and two friends met a gentleman and he offered us a once in a lifetime opportunity: a private darsan (viewing) with the goddess. He explained his story: He had had lots of troubles with his daughter and so the whole family was packed up and brought to visit Mookambika. After some time things seemed to have settled; the daughter was married and was now expecting her first child. In recognition of the blessing, he had pledged to return to Mookambika. He explained that he was shocked by his family’s dismissal of the importance of a second trip; to his surprise even his wife (soon to be a grandmother) refused to join him. He had sponsored a large pooja (ritual) and private darsan and invited us to take the place of his family. He found his family was ungrateful and that despite the time and expense it was very important to cultivate a feeling of gratitude.

I also feel that gratitude is important but it comes through perspective. In fact, it’s a really easy exercise. No matter how bad we have it or how difficult things seem, there is always (and I mean always) someone who has it much worse. Sometimes we should even be thankful for the set-backs and problems that we do have (Oh my! My internet is down!; I’m stuck in traffic, in my nice car!); these are amusingly referred to as “First World Problems”. I was once told how gratitude is expressed by Orthodox Jewish community. They see everything as a gift from God. This being the case, we should enjoy everything we do because not enjoying God’s gifts would show ungratefulness. Whether smoking a cigar or eating a smoked meat sandwich (that was the example I was given), you had better relish the experience. Another part of cultivating a feeling of gratitude is positivity. If you can truly understand that you are indeed a very fortunate person, it will change your outlook and you can’t help but feel a little more positive. With that we can enjoy our lives a little more, knowing just how lucky we are. So kiss a loved one, hug a friend and eat your Thanksgiving feast with delight; enjoy it and be thankful.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~Dr. Seuss

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. John Karpat
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 17:07:59

    Thank-you, Shantidas.

    Once that we realize how well off we are and are conscious of it at all times. We can then develop another level of compassion,tolerance and understanding of others.

    Enjoy the weekend of giving thanks !!

    John/Vishnu

    Reply

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