A few days ago one of our readers from the US wrote to us sharing a sad
story about his daughter’s response to his loving concern. He had been
saving considerable amounts of money for his daughter right from her
childhood and now when he sent the accumulated sum to his daughter, he
received not even a ‘thank you’ from her. Understandably, this tore his
heart and we felt prompted to write this Sunday’s article on the theme of
gratitude. Gratitude is a quality which Swami has emphasized in almost every
discourse he gave to the students. Here are some reflections on this very
important virtue by a former student of Swami’s Institute, Sri Y Arvind.
“I was a guest in the tea estates of one of my friends in the Coorg
District. They had a huge bungalow with a beautiful garden. Manicured lawns
private enclaves, arbors…their garden had it all. The bungalow was colonial
style and was designed so that each bedroom had its own balcony and being on
top a hillock every room was a room with a view. The vista of the dark green
spread out like a patchwork quilt and down the hill. My room faced the east
and I had the pleasure of watching the sun rise through the mist and
rain…when the clouds permitted.
One morning I woke with a feeling that today would be different. For some
strange inexplicable reason I was feeling at peace with myself…I wanted to
be alone…left alone…I wanted to savor every moment in its entirety. It had
rained the whole of the previous night and the gentle whisper of the drizzle
had ebbed into the sounds of dawn. It was still dark and the aroma of wet
earth wafted in through the French windows. Sitting up in bed I felt
different…a strange sense of humility enveloped me. The servants of the
house had already woken - I just had to ring a bell and tea was delivered to
With a mug of freshly brewed aromatic hot tea in my hand, I sat under the
awning that stretched all over the balcony letting the warmth of the rich
brown liquid seep into my palms. The haze that hung over the misty hills
from behind which would emerge the sun, were tinted pink, yellow and orange.
Even as I watched I saw them melt and reveal the lord of the day…suddenly
there was a lump on my throat. My eyes blurred with tears and I was floating
like a twig on waves of emotions. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of
gratitude to God; that I could see, hear, touch, feel and experience all
that He had created…in its totality. My head bowed with tears trickling down
my cheeks I thanked God…from the bottom of my heart. Thank you God! For the
gift of Life! Thank you for allowing me to be part of this moment and above
all thank you for awakening in me this sense of Gratitude.
The words of Earl Musselman ring true when he says:
"The sun was shining in my eyes, and I could barely
To do the necessary task that was allotted me.
Resentment of the vivid glow, I started to complain —
When all at once upon the air I heard the blind man's cane."
Every time we are faced with a situation in life where we have to adjust or
accommodate someone or somebody or something….we crib and quail that things
are not going the way we planned them. We blame destiny when we have a flat
tyre and curse fate if the gate is closed when we reach a railroad crossing.
We fight with the cabdriver who crosses lanes and roar at the truck driver
who overtakes us…life is so full of deadlines and commitments that we never
find a single moment to stop and smell the proverbial roses. Above all how
much time do we spare for God who has given us this beautiful world? Time
and again we are reminded that we are all children of immortality dressed
differently. All the differences are physical and ephemeral but deep down we
are all the same. Having said that…were we to really feel it, what prevents
us from expressing gratitude to the God in our fellow man?
Cicero, a consul of Rome during the reign of Julius Caesar concurred when he
said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all
the others.” And mentioning parents…. how much are we indebted to our mother
and father? Having given us this body with which we enjoy the world and
perform our duties, they should be the primary recipients of our gratitude.
Swami says ‘Mother is God’ and ‘Father is God’; He in fact deifies them as
Living Gods. Punning on the word ‘parent’ as ‘pay-rent’, Swami says, having
received so much from our parents, the least we can do is to offer them
Gratitude. The advantage of developing this wonderful virtue of Gratitude is
that Gratitude does not come alone. Sacrifice, honesty, love, forbearance,
understanding, tolerance, forgiveness…all of them arise as one develops the
wonderful virtue of gratitude.
The power of Gratitude is eloquently expressed by Melodie Beattie, author of
many inspirational books.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough,
and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into
clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the
unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a
vision for tomorrow.”
Gratitude makes us content with what we have and not crave for more. We
learn to accept the Will of God in our lives and not fight every
circumstance. We learn to discern with clarity and find order within
ourselves – it helps foster discipline. Problems we face in our lives are
actually lessons we learn in the school of life. They are custom-made to our
level of understanding and evolution by the Teacher. They become ‘gifts’
only if you learn from them so that you won’t have to pay the next time you
face one... Learn again from failures making them stepping stones to
Coincidences will cease to be so once we recognise the Divine Design. Every
moment of life becomes a miracle were we to perceive His Grand Play. The
past is a history of what we have done – and it will continue to repeat
itself as long as we don’t learn from it. As one wise man said, “You can
either learn from the past or run from it…” More often than not, in
retrospect, we find some past experiences which were bitter then to have
made now sweeter. Mistakes happen – don’t dwell on them . Take the essence,
absorb it and then look ahead. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past
cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power. Swami says “Past is
dead, future is a dream, present is all you have. Present is omnipresent” .
Thankfulness is limited to words but Gratitude reflects itself in action and
is therefore far superior. What better example of this do we find than
Swami? Late Professor Kasturi once found Swami patting and blessing a
buffalo(!) thanking it for the effort it had taken to carry water up the
hill everyday – while none else had bothered. Yet again on another visit,
the watchman of a guesthouse where Swami had rested had the privilege of a
personal photograph taken with the Lord. Just the watchman and God... but
the poor man did not receive a copy and was miserable. On His next visit a
year later Swami, sent for him and personally gave the photo.
Whether we are aware of it or not, He remembers every single act done for
Him and returns it a million-fold. Draupadi, the consort of the Pandavas,
bound the bleeding finger of Krishna with a strip of cloth torn from her own
sari. The Lord returned this small action, multiplied a thousand-fold when
she was being dishonoured in the court of the Kauravas. One can go on and on
in this vein… When God does not mind saying “Thank you” in His myriad own
mysterious ways…shouldn’t we do the same to our fellowmen?
Times change, people change, but let the change be for the better. Let our
days begin and end with gratitude to the Lord for this wonderful opportunity
of being alive. To be alive is a miracle and to be able to be of use to
others is a greater gift. And finally, life finds fulfilment only when it is
of use to others…Gratitude teaches us that!”.
Dear Reader, please tell us what you feel about this article. Did it help
you in any way? What are the other themes on which you would like such
articles from us on Sundays? Feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for your time .
Jai Sai Ram.
With Love and Regards,