“for it is in giving that we receive” ~~~~~~~~~Saint Francis of Assisi
Generally as sentient beings,we move along in our lives sometimes with this big gap within ourselves ….. a sense of dis-satisfaction with life,as though nothing is worthwhile doing or living for or that there is so much to do but having very little time,we feel afraid of not living up to expectations(ours or others),we accuse ourselves of failures and inadequacy,sometimes we can inwardly feel that we may be overdoing things like enjoying too much or denying ourselves and others of quality time……..we start being critical of things…we tend to be hard on ourselves…so we push on,we either deny ourselves of happiness or we strive too hard superficially to make ourselves and others ‘happy’…and this usually takes it toll on our being and the lives around us…………….we tend to judge that others are better,happier off than us,that they have a good,successful life,that she/he has an ideal partner/family,etc,etc……but in truth if we can think this way…so can the others think of us the same!Then we start to create this separation around us….we unconsciously become selfish,self centred,thinking that the other is always better off…we start holding back and becoming self deprived,we dont want to give and hence become devoid of joy……………….
While being selfish with ourselves and others and holding back our true capacity to give and be generous and be kind,we forget how to be grateful for our very existence and for the little/plenty we have and for the opportunity as human beings to be able to walk into and enjoy our Inner Source and see the treasures we have,we are within!……
Jesus,the Buddha and all spiritual masters of various religious traditions will testify…”the kingdom of heaven is Within.” There is nothing without that would give us lasting joy…we can only utilise the external factors and circumstances(usually suffering) and with our own innate intelligence and creativity initiate the journey of revelations back into our Being to find everlasting Love and Joy and Peace! The Buddha said that the first thing we have to do to take that journey within is to make a conscious effort to start!
Prior to starting out on my journey within myself,in the year 1998/99……I took life for granted…I had this devil may care attitude,enjoyments,fun times and yes suffering that I was not aware of…I thought that this was what life was about,taking for granted that living conditions of ups and downs,mood swings, pleasantness and unhappiness,peoples(others) idiosyncrasies were all part of dealing, struggling and putting up with in life,that there was nothing one can do about it,we either become hardened to fight back or bite our tongues and be complacent or go the doctor and get a prescription(anti-depressants or sedatives to help with sleep and relaxations).Yes, I was depressed most of my adult life,I did go to see psychiatrists,and took anti-depressants and sleep aids,and continued on my foolish merry-making ways!Did popping pills help me to be a better,gracious and wiser person with a conscious purpose for a beneficial role in life……..not really! In fact I admit to being more restless,desperate and dwindling deeper into unhealthy habits,self hatred and so much anger with myself and the world.
I am not saying that resorting to medical help and medications are not helpful or that they are futile,however it may be beneficial to some degree in conjunction with other alternative lifestyle changes/enhancements,eg.herbal remedies,natural sources of food supplements,a healthier diet,seeking counselling/therapies,spiritual exercises of meditaiton,breathing,yoga,reading self-help books,taking up self developmental courses/workshops,going on short retreats,spending quiet times in nature.In other words we become aware of the needing of help and to be open to the various methods of help.
I did not know how to utilise the gift of gratitude,the restlessness of struggling to find happiness,love,joy and peace of mind drove me further to only want to take and get as much as I can out of life and from others…or so I thought! ………I thought that I was giving back to to others too by trying hard to please or simply by having fun with them or that the exchanges of cordiality was good enough.Instead I unconsciously became ungracious and ungrateful to life itself!
So,I associated thankfulness for only the gifts given to me which I could see and validate such as material things or when people did favours and extended friendly deeds or when people made me ‘happy’and when situations in life went fairly well.
As I grew deeper in awareness of my foolhardiness while engaged in meditative/spiritual practices and made many life-changing decisions and options,I learnt very quickly that gratitude is not only saying thank you for the good things that bring us happiness and pleasure in life but that it takes true fortitude and courage to say thank you for the very tragic situations that bring us grief!
Looking back into my past and the way I lived it and the many ‘downfalls’ I faced……..I learned to be sincerely grateful for the chance I was given to make amends and transform my life and the opportunity to exercise courage, resilience and fortitude to adventure within myself to find the source of Truth……all along within me(us) waiting to be uncovered and revealed.
Gratitude brings Joy and kindness to oneself and others….it allows for sustenance and nourishment for inner growth and stability.The cultivation of joy in return dispels the darkness of misery and lack……when we can practise joyful giving …we cultivate joyful Loving within!
Continuous practise of gratitude in bad and happy times renew and rejuvenate life,we can give back to humanity in little ways, in thoughtfulness, in kind,with our time and in surprise gestures,we give without expecting back anything,we give with a smile in our hearts……its a Soul’s prayer praising humanity and creation because without gratitude,there will be no Joy, life becomes a drab,there will be no aliveness within….the soul is parched………a thirsty being cannot and will not offer to quench another thirsty being…….…
When we can practise saying thank you for everything we encounter in daily living,we cultivate generosity of the heart….the heart expands with equanimity to embrace all conditons with no divisiveness or biasness…..thankfulness then becomes a gift for comfort and consolation to oneself and others……….when we can sincerely say thank you,we learn to be appreciative and thus we attract the same back to us,we are truly learning to be unselfish with ourselves and others.
If we ask with clenched fists,how are we to receive or give?