Thanksgiving blessings, and a way to develop gratitude
November 24, 2006
Singing our blessing before dinner
Today we had a sweet (sweet in Spirit! though there was also pumpkin pie) dinner at the Meditation Retreat. This was my second year here for it, and both years what I have enjoyed most is serving together with spiritual family. There was a sweetness there that transcended for me the attraction of food! It was like how meditation can be more enjoyable than any other activity: higher delights transcend the lower.
Yesterday there was a 150-people-large group of Ananda school children and their parents here for a small celebration-event. I’m told there was a lot of noise. They left a little tree at the retreat, and on each leaf of the tree was written something that a person was grateful for. “Family” was very popular. It was moving to see.
Looking at it, I had the thought to, with each step back home, think of something I was grateful for. Normally, it is about a three minute walk. Doing this practice, I was amazed at all the things a person can come up with to be grateful for. I was of course walking slower than usual, but I was by no means in danger of running out of ideas: spiritual qualities, gifts of inspiration, gifts of Divine friendship, the gifts of Yogananda’s teachings, and on and on. This must be because gratefulness is first a state of consciousness, and only second a feeling that arises due to circumstance.
Over time, I found that I needed to expand the “range” of my thankfulness, feeling gratitude for things that others had. As I said, this was not for a shortage of things to feel grateful for – it was simply more joyful to be grateful on their behalf than only on my own: grateful for their spiritual progress, for their happiness, for their commitment to meditation, and grateful even for their tests!
Surprisingly (to me), the most difficult thing to be grateful for was a particular test that a friend is going through. She is shining because of the way she is rising to meet it, but it has not been easy, or pleasant! Yet it does look like a great blessing is taking place. I feel blessed by association, and so am grateful, in fact, for both of us.