The attitude of Gratitude
11th October 2011
Today morning, I woke up with a whine in my voice. I had a complaint to make. I was just thinking of the mounting financial pressure on me and wondered as to why everything seemed to be going wrong. I felt hot tears make their way down my cheek. I looked at Swami’s picture and said, “Swami, I will not ask you anything for you know everything. But see how I am!”
That was my prayer. And I spent about fifteen minutes in front of His picture. Then I started the day. I was a bit low for life seemed to be unjust and unfair. I believe in the theory of reaction, reflection and resound - where everything we get in life is actually our own creation in the first place. But what I was getting seemed to be none of the three! It looked like some universal conspiracy. Swallowing hard, I decided to move on with my work.
That was when I heard the tale of G.
G’s sister had been admitted in the hospital, 6 months into her pregnancy. The child had to be delivered in a very premature state. G was very tense and naturally very worried. (In a few weeks, the little infant passed away!) G had not done anything wrong and yet life had placed him in a very difficult situation.
Then, as I went for work in the studio, I came to know of R’s mother - a pious lady who had great love for the Lord. R too was a darling in everyone’s heart and yet, it seemed like his mother was waging an almost losing battle against cancer! Still, R seemed so calm and serene. I wondered as to how someone could be so calm in such a traumatic situation. It seemed as though he was trying to heal cancer through faith therapy!
That was not the end of my morning. My fiancée (today my wife, Pooja) calls me and tells about a colleague of hers - a youth in his prime twenties. He was married just a few months before and everything seemed set in life for him and his wife. All of a sudden something happened - a stress related heart attack and he was gone in moments! His newly wed wife was inconsolable. But her company had called upon her good friend, my fiancée, to find out whether her deceased husband had 'nominated' her in his accounts.
"If that is not the case, then the company receives all his money!" - That was the inhuman intent!
As I heard all these in a span of a single day, my heart began to ache. My prayers began to change. I began to say, “Swami, look at these people. I shall not say anything for you know everything. But see how they are.”
Then I hear another story in the evening.
As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility, my fiancee's team had a group of 'deaf and dumb' children visiting their corporate office in Mumbai. There was a lot of interaction with these children and employees did their best to bring cheer into their lives. Many people also made donations and bought the little handicrafts that these children had made.
There was a sad observation , however. My fiancée told me that some of the people in office, who were sure to have a couple of thousand rupees tucked away in their purses at any point in time, made no attempt to give anything.
The heart must be rich to give! But the main story was what she told me about N.
N was a new employee. He had been struck by twin tragedy. He had lost his father and his sister in a single accident. This shocked his mother so much that she got paralyzed instantly! Imagine that for a tragedy!
N now was running his whole family on the meager Rs.18,000 that he got every month. In fact, he did not eat at the cafeteria choosing instead to go to the roadside vendor to cut food costs. This N, walked to the central office and put forward Rs.300 as his donation to the underprivileged children. He just kept smiling at the children who could neither hear nor speak but could definitely feel. And when my fiancée accosted him, he saaid with a smile,
“God has given me so much. Let me share.”
When I heard this story, I desperately wanted to cut the phone call for I wanted to cry! I managed to end the call and began to cry! I was so touched. And suddenly, my woes from the morning seemed like nothing.
I felt so blessed and remembered that for every negative that I have in my life, I have at least ten positives. Why then do I focus on the negatives? And even as I felt touched and stronger, I wondered what had made me feel this powerful change.
It was N’s Gratitude!
If the gratitude of a person, (so far away that he was absolutely unaware even of my existence), could touch me, gratitude must be a real mighty thing. I went back to my shrine. I knelt down and again I had tears streaming down my cheeks. I looked at Swami and said,
“Swami, I will not ask you anything for you know everything!"
The prayer just ended there. And in my heart was a calm and peace. From that calm emanated a reply,
"Deepavali will bring light to you."
On the day of Deepavali, the festival of lights in India, I received an unexpected bounty - so magnificent that I need a separate space to write about that. An old classmate appeared out of the blue and gave me an advance marriage gift - the exact sum which I needed to clear my head of the so called 'financial troubles'!!
Like attracts like. Gratitude attracts gratitude. Be grateful to the Universe and the universe will be grateful to you. Owe your existence to the world and the world will owe its existence to you. This much I shall state here that the above paragraph has been added months after the original article was written. The bounty that I received came to me through a person who was inspired on reading this same article! Wow! What goes round, comes round.
What makes gratitude so powerful?
For one to feel grateful, one must be able to appreciate all the plus points of one’s life. And to do that, one must be aware of the suffering all around. To empathise with the suffering, one must feel it as one’s own, just like N did. And when we do that, we become one with all creation.
In that moment of empathy, we become God!
That is because we feel for everyone. We then help someone not to relieve their pain but to relieve the pain in our own hearts. Strange but true, that the greatest service is actually done ‘selfishly’!
Gratitude is powerful for it makes us one with everyone, one with the Divine too! Cicero, a consul of Rome during the reign of Julius Caesar concurred when he said,“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
The power of Gratitude is eloquently expressed by Melodie Beattie, author of many inspirational books. "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."
Finally, as my warden and teacher, Sri.B.N.Narasimhamoorthy said,
“My sadhana is only this. Everyday, I sit before the Lord's picture and thank Him for all that He has provided me with. He knows all that I need and that He gives me beyond measure. As I do this sadhana, I cannot stop tears streaming out of my eyes.”
Ah! Indeed cleansing are those tears. Let them fall. I feel so cleansed today. It was the case of me complaining about the lack of shoes till I met people without feet - and most of them were happy for they abounded in gratitude!
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