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A Lesson in Humility and Gratitude

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    • #3646

      My Dharma Talk at our recent gathering in Coleshill focused on Humility and Gratitude:

      When we are stuck in self-centred ways our ego self does not open up to the possibility that another person could have helped us along the way. But unless we can acknowledge the help of others to get by in this life then we open ourselves up to states of depression and anxiety. If we see other people as obstacles and not helpers on our path through this life then this will only lead to suffering.

      You might think you are an island and that you don’t need anyone else, but we all need someone. For example without a supermarket you would not have food on your table, without the growers and the pickers who worked hard to produce the food you would not be here. The food on your plate would not be possible without the sunshine or the rain.

      How many times have you woken up and thought ‘oh another crap day to look forward to at work’ when you could say ‘I am grateful that I woke up this morning, that I can stand up, make my breakfast and go to a job that earns me the money I need to live’.

      How many times do we complain when we are ill? When even illness serves to show us humility and gratitude. In the throw of a heavy cold we can think we are dying, but when we turn a corner and feel well again do we ever thank our bodies for healing us?

      In Pureland Buddhism we actively remind ourselves to be grateful and humble from the moment we step in to the temple. We bow! To bow ones head is to humble oneself. The master bows to the student and the student bows to the master and we all bow to the Buddha.

      When we say Namo Amida Butsu the ‘Namo’ part means to ‘bow’. We bow to Amida and in doing so we are also bowing to all forms of life.

      We so easily get caught up in difficult emotions such as anger, jealousy, sel-doubt, insecurity and fear. We aspire to be kind and loving but how many times have we been hurtful or caused harm to another being.

      To be humble and show gratitude is to acknowledge that we touching a deeper part of our own being. We experience sadness and sorrow from a different place inside ourselves when we do this. The self-centred person who feels depressed or jealous or angry, is replaced by someone who acknowledges all that sustains their life. When life is lived with humility and gratitude; compassion and wisdom can be woken.

      “Gratitude does not envy or compare. Gratitude receives in wonder the myriad offerings of rain and sunlight, the care that supports every single life.” Jack Kornfield.

      Without gratitude for what we have we just simply desire more. What we have is never enough because we don’t see it’s value until it is to late.

      I used the zen story of the Stone Cutter to illustrate this point. A version of which can be found here:

    • #3648

      <p style=”text-align: left;”>Thanks Kusuma. It was a really good talk. I’d never heard that story before and it really struck a chord for me. I sometimes feel a bit powerless and insignificant and crave the glory of prestigious status. But it has been my experience that there is a subtle power in knowing and accepting your place in the order of things. It is possible to inspire and change people and situations even from the most humble of positions.</p>
      Namo Amida Bu(   ;

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