Last evening before putting by son to bed, I asked him to say a little prayer with me. Well, not exactly a prayer from any of the holy books. But I asked him to just think about his day and thank for all the things he liked. So he started by thanking his recent spring holidays, his school, his friends, his teacher, his playground, the neighbor’s cat, Paw Patrol cartoon on TV etc. The more things he said, the more he thought of and he just wouldn’t stop. For him it was probably turning into yet another game of silliness to postpone bed time when he started thanking for things like the trash bin in our house, the noisy crane outside our house etc – to the extent that I had to ask him to stop with his thank yous and go to bed please. And thanked him for that.
But then I remembered that I can’t really blame him. When I do this little exercise myself, the same happens with me. Mostly when I do that I am sitting in a cozy, warm house and not fighting a terminal disease in a hospital. My nose is still breathing, my vital organs are still working. I have a brain that functions and a memory that makes me think of things after things that I can thank for. I have all those said things with me. When I join my hands, I see a ring on my finger that reminds me I am happily married, and have enough money to not have to sell that ring. The marriage brought a lovely child who is not crying out of any pain. I am well fed, so hunger pangs don’t interrupt my thanking process for those few minutes. There are clothes on my body that keep me warm and were bought from good shops with the dignity of paying by my money. And the list goes on. So just like my son, I can’t stop thanking either. And I have not even started on the things that are far and beyond my tangible reach. The whole design of the nature, meticulously planned everywhere, every moment – cosmos, and no chaos. All the great music, poetry, literature that people have made! Someone asked me once to play a little game of making a list of things I had gratitude for and things I had a grief for. The former turned out to be way bigger than the latter. It always does, it has always been designed to be like that.
Gratitude has to be felt, just like any other emotion. It can’t be taught, one can’t be conditioned to thank. Just like one can’t be taught to love. I can’t even teach that to my son. At the maximum, I can make him aware of the concept of gratitude, let him know that it exists within him. And let him experience the beauty of it all. It is more like affective learning and not cognitive learning. Just like I held his hand and made him take his first steps, but he learnt to walk on his own when he was ready as he was born with the ability to walk. Have you ever noticed that when we are angry at someone, we lose consciousness of ourselves and of that person? We BECOME the anger. Nothing else remains. The same happens with love, gratitude and all positive things. We don’t do those, they are felt, they happen, we become those. And once we see for ourselves how blissfully gratitude immerses us, making us so big by ironically making us feel so small in the whole grandeur around us – we never want to stop with it. It creeps into every moment of our lives, not only those 10 minutes of prayer time.
Now that creeping can be dangerous. I can bloody no longer complain about anything in my life! My conditioned mind and ego from so many years and perhaps lives, are so not used to that! The ego loves to nurture and celebrate problems, the mind likes to be engaged constantly in trying to solve it. Last evening we went to a popular restaurant and there was a huge queue and waiting times of over 25 minutes. What was I supposed to do – crib about my situation or thank that I have the tongue, the stomach, the money, the family to enjoy that lovely food with? Every goddamn time that I watch my mind like that – the complaint immediately turns into gratitude. In that split of a second, in that one breath – your reaction to any situation could swing to any of the two extremes. Whatever you give attention to, grows. The more you thank, the more you have things to thank for. The more you cry, the more you have things to cry for. We always get what we ask for.
So dear mind and ego, I would like to ask you to stay out and let me feel the gratitude every moment, will you?
(Image courtesy : godspa.com)