Sunday, June 8, 2014

Nourishing the Flower in You: On Being Grateful to Everyone

The next lojong tenet embodies a concept with which I've been working for a while: gratitude.
Be grateful to everyone.
The translation at is identical to the text I'm using, but their explanation adds depth:
"Every encounter with another person gives you an opportunity to practice mind training and presence, whether the encounter is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral." (Source.)
The Tricycle piece about this tenet is behind a paywall, so I've grabbed a little more than normal for you:
"Conventional gratitude is based on distinguishing what we like from what we do not, good fortune from bad fortune, success from failure, opportunities from obstacles. By practicing conventional gratitude, we may begin to better appreciate times of good fortune and opportunity. But what about all the obstacles, unpleasant people, and difficulties in our life?

According to this slogan, we should be especially grateful for having to deal with annoying people and difficult situations, because without them we would have nothing to work with. Without them, how could we practice patience, exertion, mindfulness, loving-kindness or compassion? It is by dealing with such challenges that we grow and develop. So we should be very grateful to have them."

After I got that famous "thank you sir, may I have another" Kevin Bacon scene out of my head, I remembered my favorite quote from another Buddhist writer, Thich Nhat Hanh: "And if you have no compost, you have nothing to nourish the flower in you. You need the suffering, the afflictions in you." This idea, of feeling grateful for the negative because it gives you an opportunity to push your practice, an opportunity to turn the negative into positive... this idea is what brought me to Buddhism more than anything else. So this is something I already do, but I'll be doing it more consciously and intentionally this week.

Until next week, namaste and all that.

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