To Live in Gratitude
In almost every question-and-answer session, there is usually someone who expresses his genuine gratitude to the Master. It may be as a result of a specific incident, or it may be just an opportunity to say “thank you” for all that the Master does and for all the blessings received. After all, who can resist thanking him? But can the words ‘thank you’ ever convey our true gratefulness for everything that we are given? Words are a weak expression of our gratitude. Maharaj Charan Singh explains this very beautifully:
Actually, we have no words with which to thank him - we cannot thank him at all with this tongue, whatever the Lord or the Master does for us in this life. We owe our very existence, all these privileges, just to the Father. This very human birth is nothing but his grace. So at every step we must thank him. We must find every excuse to thank him. After all, we take our Master as a representative of the Father, as being one with the Father. Actually, we are passing on our thanks to the Father through the Master.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
For many of us, it is when we experience something extraordinary, or only after we overcome a major challenge, that we offer the Lord our deepest gratitude. But as time goes by, and as life takes its usual course, we often forget our gracious benefactor, and assume that we are responsible for our success. If we become wealthier, we believe it is through our hard work; if we have a good family, we give credit to our efforts in implementing good, moral values at home. The truth is that nothing can be achieved through our efforts; we owe everything to the immeasurable grace of the Lord.
We therefore express true gratitude when we recognize this truth, and live our lives as a gift from the Lord, when we thank him through our actions in the way that pleases him the most - by giving him our time, attention, effort and love. We don’t express it only when good things happen; in fact, the real test is when we accept even the most painful times of our lives, as though they were a gift from him. Thomas Ã Kempis writes in The Imitation of Christ:
Be thankful for the smallest blessing, and you will deserve to receive greater. Value the least gifts no less than the greatest and simple graces as especial favours. If you remember the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem small or mean, for nothing can be valueless that is given by the most high God. Even if he awards punishment and pain, accept them gladly, for whatever he allows to befall us is always for our salvation.
Mystics explain to us that all events which appear to be misfortunes are not really so; for every situation we go through takes place for a reason. Whether adversity is given to discipline us, or to strengthen our power of resistance - each incident takes place as a result of our previous actions.
Hazur Maharaj Ji often referred to adversity as a “blessing in disguise”, for it is during the most difficult times that we are pulled closer to the Lord. We may never understand what his plans are for us, but the mystics explain that the suffering we go through in this world purifies us and makes us worthy of that eternal joy within. As harsh as it may sound, a death in the family, financial difficulties, humiliation are all signs of his grace - because grace is anything that turns us towards the Lord.
In Come Be My Light, Mother Teresa reveals the amount of suffering she had to bear during her lifetime, yet she had only one desire: “to love God as he has never been loved.” She advises: “To live a life of love for God with great joy for what we have is all his gift and to use it all for the greater glory of his Name.”
If we apply this attitude and take whatever comes to us as the Lord’s will, then whatever we receive will become divine in itself. As we attend to meditation with sincerity and faith, eventually we will experience his presence all the time, and that includes the good days and the difficult ones. Then, there will no longer be any need for words; our entire being will be filled with gratitude. With every thought, deed and action, we will be saying: “thank you, thank you, thank you….”
The best and most appropriate way of appreciating his kindness and expressing our gratitude is to give more and more time to simran and bhajan, so that we may go in and contact Nam, and thus have a first-hand experience of everything.
Maharaj Jagat Singh, The Science of the Soul