An Attitude of Gratitude
For sixty years I have been forgetful, every minute, but not for a second has this flowing toward me stopped or slowed. I deserve nothing. Today I recognize that I am the guest the mystics talk about. I play this living Music for my host. Everything today is for the host.
Rumi, as quoted in The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne
Rumi puts it perfectly. We are indeed guests in his beautiful creation, and our every breath should be one of gratitude to our host. In our day to day lives, when we are invited to someone’s home or when we receive a gift, we are normally quick to express our gratitude with a note, a phone call or some other gesture. But somehow, when it comes to the Lord, we forget that he is indeed our most gracious host, and the abundant blessings that we are conferred with are often taken for granted.
The mystics explain to us that gratitude is an attitude of thankfulness and acceptance of our circumstances in life. It is the ability to accept and be grateful for whatever comes. It is opening oneself to the understanding that our life is a journey not a destination, and there-fore each moment should be appreciated for what it is, a part of the beautiful ‘big picture’.
As we try to cultivate this attitude of gratitude, we will naturally shift our focus from the mundane and the negative, and begin to view the world from a practical and positive perspective – one that is founded on love and respect for all that exists. When we channel our focus on our numerous blessings and the support we have been given, we take our minds off issues that worry, frustrate and hinder us from moving forward in our evolution. When we are feeling grateful, the positive energy dispels negative emotions like fear, anger and hatred. It also provides us with an option to choose how we want to view our circumstances. We can focus on what we lack, end up miserable and negative, and perpetually see our glass as ‘half empty’; or we can focus on all that we have, be inspired and develop a mindset that is in tandem with our destiny, go with the flow, and perceive our glass as ‘half full’.
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all others.
A grateful mind is a great mind which eventually
attracts to itself great things.
It is said that spirituality is the seed, and gratitude is the water that helps it grow. Having a grateful attitude is actually very important for our spiritual maturity. The mystics have explained to us that whatever we are today is the result of our past actions. By the same rule of cause and effect, what we become in the future will be determined by what we think and do today. We can choose at every moment to make a difference now, in this life, not only for the rest of our lifetime but for all eternity. Being grateful also helps us to develop other positive virtues that are essential in the practice of spirituality. When we are able to develop and nourish a grateful heart, we find that we are able to feel our connection and closeness with our source. We are able to relate to the notion of being one with him, instead of drowning in the illusion of separation, which our ego thrives upon.
We are truly fortunate, for the Master has given us both the opportunity and the method by which we can “play the living music for our host”, as Rumi has beautifully expressed this concept. When we sit for meditation each day, let us remember to do so with a grateful heart and a relaxed and happy attitude. The mystics tell us that this will make it much easier for us to collect and focus our attention. Maharaj Charan Singh in Quest for Light writes:
We can show our gratitude by attending to our meditation every day and by listening to the voice of the Lord with our entire attention.
He further states:
So our feeling of gratitude to him must never be lost. He alone knows what is best for us and it is for us to live within his will.
The ocean of his mercy is boundless.
The tongue cannot be grateful enough,
and the heart is confounded.
Although my sins are grave, his mercy is greater.
In fact, we are swimming in the ocean of sins.
Sarmad Shaheed, as quoted in Sultan Bahu