When Henry Thoreau went into retreat at Walden Pond, he and his friend Ralph Emerson had been studying Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist texts. He wrote: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” He understood that conscious life was a gift for which the highest form of gratitude was to know it in all its depths.
This grace of conscious life, of having a mind that can know “this moment is like this,” is the root of all wonder, from which gratitude flows. The wonder, the mystery, is that you, like everyone else, are given this short, precious time of conscious embodiment in which you can directly know life for yourself. However you find life to be-cruel or kind, sorrowful or joyous, bland or stimulating, indifferent or filled with love-you get the privilege of knowing it firsthand.
Gratitude for the grace of conscious embodiment evolves into the practice of selfless gratitude, in which your concerns slowly but surely shift from being mostly about yourself and those close to you to being about all living beings. As this occurs, you need less and less in the way of good fortune. It becomes enough that there are those who are happy, who are receiving love, who are safe, and who have a promising future. It is not that you would not prefer good things for yourself, but your sense of well-being is no longer contingent on external circumstances. You are able to rejoice that amidst all life’s suffering there exists joy. You realize that pain and joy are part of a mysterious whole. When this state of selfless gratitude starts to blossom, your mind becomes more spacious, quieter, and your heart receives its first taste of the long-sought release from fear and wanting. This is grace……Phillip Moffitt
this ancient release into a practice that heals, no matter the culture, religion or era……as powerful as forgiveness and more humbling than mercy…..may we live in the heart of gratitude…..beauty abides…..
Oryoki, the Japanese word for a begging bowl, means “just enough.” The Irish word “go leor” (Westernized galore) also meant “sufficiency,” at least at first, sufficiency being a synonym for plenty. But over time, “plenty,” has metastasized into “more than enough,” and finally into “too much.” There is nothing wrong with having “too much of a good thing” on a feast day, or for a celebration. But when one comes to take that more for granted, requiring excess on every ordinary day, then its celebratory aspect is destroyed. “Slow down a little,” we remind each other. “You’ve got to take the time to smell the roses.” Beauty is transient; here, and swiftly gone. “I don’t know anything about consciousness,” said the Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki. “I just try to teach my students to hear the birds sing.” As we know, however, this is more easily said than done. In ancient Greece, the beautiful and the good were seen as almost indistinguishable: ethics and aesthetics not contradictory, but matching values. “Choose beauty,” I told myself repeatedly. “Pay attention.” The cloudscapes were tremendous, sunsets especially. Again and again they caught me by surprise: pale turquoise washed with green, scored with coral and soft gold, a spill of egg-yellow against steely gray. They came to me “gratis,” free- a grace, a daily blessing- and I felt for them tremendous gratitude. This etymological trail, in which grace opens into gratitude, and gratitude flowers into praise, is a humanly accurate one, perhaps especially for artists, for it is precisely this readiness to be moved, this interest and curiosity, that draws us towards making of whatever kind: poetry or songwriting, dance or music, photography or art…….Christian McEwen
Unexpected intrusions of beauty.
This is what life is.