The queen’s bed
…….there is a story of a servant girl in ancient India who cleaned the queen’s room…one day she wanted to feel what it was like to lie on the queen’s bed which looked very comfortable and grand……….so she climbed onto the bed and fell asleep.The queen came into the room to find the girl asleep on her royal bed………she was furious!”how dare this servant girl sleep on my bed!”.The queen took the girl’s broom and started beating her…….at first the maid cried and screamed in pain from the blows………after a few beatings,the girl started to laugh…the queen stopped beating and was puzzled….she asked the girl why was she laughing instead of crying…..the maid answered……..”I only slept in your bed for a few minutes and I got several blows,I laughed because I thought how many blows you must have suffered sleeping on this bed for years!”………….
The ‘blows/beatings’we all suffer in life are the same for everyone….the rich and poor,the ugly and beautiful,the clever and ignorant,the good and bad..etc.Whether we sleep on a fancy expensive mattress or a cheap simple mattress,whether we enjoy the extravagance of riches or the lack in poverty,no one escapes the inner states of suffering….worries, anxiety,envy,torments,fears,guilts,shames,desires and attachments.When we can have a true understanding of our inner self and strive to see the beauteous Within ourselves….there can be no envy or hatred or anger or judging or misunderstanding of another…when we know ourselves,we know the other.True happiness comes from the wisdom of knowing the Self!
“when we practise gratefulness,there is a sense of respect towards others”
~~~~The Dalai Lama~~~
For the misfortunes/sufferings of families, loved ones and friends,for those who are afflicted with various illnesses and those marginalised,those in the throes of suffering mental deficiency and dementia,for them who are undergoing tragic circumstances and events…….for those left uncared for,forgotten,ignored and downtroddened,children traded in sex trafficking and the weak who are abused repeatedly….the poor and destitute,the homeless and hungry,aged and helpless,the drug addicts,traffickers and prostitutes,the mega-rich, politicians and people(including religious personalities) in the position of abusing power and control,the terrorists and creators of war/strife………..we thank them for they are the living moments of grace that can help give each of us the chance and opportunity to open our hearts and be of humble service to exercise our innate human gifts of love, kindness, courage,endurance,compassion,peace,charity,benevolence,healing potentials/empowerments and joy.
We thank them for their presence to learn from each one that we are not separate or different from them but we are them,we could be anyone of them…….while we are able to see and witness their visible sufferings….we too cannot deny our own inner struggles or outward sufferings which may or may not seem grave or horrendous.
Very often too we are the ‘terrorists’ of our own creation of problems and negativity…..we internalise this anger,resentments and hatred and project it out upon others,we inflict unreasonbale and unconscious suffering upon others,we too want to be in control and wield deliberate unhappiness and abuses upon ourselves and others then to make it worse,we blame others for our pains and so called failures, mistakes and hardships.We too become one with living in unfortunate circumstances,but we might not be conscious or think that we are one of those living in dire circumstances………how easy for us to take people,situations(good or bad) and having things around us for granted.We feel its ok to throw our anger and frustrations at someone else just because we don’t feel so good and are having a ‘bad’day!
When we become selfish and think that others don’t deserve our blessings and benevolent gestures,when we think that others make their own problems….that others suffering are not caused by us so therefore we don’t care,we don’t want to acknowledge or see others in suffering.This way of thinking,adds and not substract from our own sufferings.
Yes,we cannot deny that all these various unfortunate realities of living exists and it may sound absurd to be thankful for them but without all these truths that we witness happening around us wherever it may be or that we only notice over the media or hear of it or are personally affected by it ourselves,if we don’t acknowledge these various circumstances of sufferings,we cannot see the truth of suffering and put an end to suffering…….ours or that of others!We therefore cannot practise generosity of heart,we lose the connectivity of the innate wisdom of the heart to act in goodness and with kindness in the face of tragic circumstances of ours or that of others………we cannot engage in benevolence,we remain oblivious and unmoved……the path to witness our true nature of love and compassion are blocked!Can we therefore feel joy and happiness and peace that we sought after?
Of course its tremendously difficult to cultivate or feel or to simply be grateful for our misfortunes or that of others…how could we be thankful for those who have hurt, betrayed us through divorce, separation, abandonment and death,how could we practise the joy of feeling gratitude in the wake of all the suffering and tradegies we encounter every living day either through the media or within our own daily cycle of life?
In truth it is difficult to generate thankfulness or to become aware that practising gratitude in the wake of suffering acts as a catalyst to bring us back within ourselves to see our own true nature of innate wisdom and truth…so we can understand to accept that adversities in life are inevitable and will happen and can happen without warning and that we can choose to face them without resistence,anger,hatred,vengence and burying ourselves deeply in melancholy,depressions and hard-core bitterness.
If because of our and the misfortunes/griefs of others can drive us to exercise thankfulness,forgiveness,humility and the surrender to acceptance of its fate,how grateful for others too to be a witness and have hope,inspiration and motivation for living their life and to be open to goodness themselves.
When we can practise giving thanks even when we are feeling miserable because of our unfavourable,painful circumstances,we learn to trust in the abundance and bountiful positive gifts of life,we can restore and purify our inner negative afflictions with hope and healing,we grow in depth and maturity of being fully human in coping in times of distress,we can therefore become resilient to buffer the aches of life and living,we gain courage and feel the power of spiritual wealth within us.
The unfortunate realities of suffering in the world are present for us to be a witness not to criticise or to frown upon,or give us something to talk and discuss about,to feel sorry for or to have pity on them less fortunate than us or give us to think that we are better off than others…but it gives us the power to act with our hearts to do something however small,however possible with a sincere simple heart without expecting any rewards to show concern and care and to allow the suffering of others to help change,transform and heal us into the wholeness of understanding,respect, being kind,compassionate and loving beings…in other words we see our own suffering and our true nature of innate love through them…………and the world will surely and slowly heal just from the thankfulness and spiritual growth of one human being facing adverse conditions.
How easy for us to forget to say thank you to our spouses/lovers for their presence and support in our lives,to say thanks to our friends for their generosity in treating us with their time, fun and laughter,to our parents for cradling us in their arms when we were fretful and especially for the person who hurt us and made us feel unworthy…we thank them all for they give us a chance to truly open and journey into our hearts………….
“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?