- Religion and Philosophy
Thanksgiving in an Apparently Infinite Web of Causation
Great Chain of Being
Maybe we've got this whole thanksgiving thing wrong. I'm not talking about the obvious rewriting and white-washing of historical events - the nostalgia inducing cultural propaganda myth thinly veiling the dark and bloody truth of our nation's true genesis - no, I'm talking about the fact that we go around saying, "happy thanksgiving", instead of just "thank you."
Just think about it for a second... thanks giving, giving thanks, saying thank you, they're all the same thing. The purpose of the day seems to be about giving thanks, and how do you do that? By saying "thank you."
Now of course, there are already traditions in place that are supposedly about giving thanks, the prayers, the sharing of the meal, the part where everybody takes a turn naming off all the things they're thankful for -"I'm thankful for my dog, my cat, my family, my friends, my significant other, the blessing of (insert name of deity), my material possessions, my career, my country, blah, blah, blah." But these all skirt around the main issue, which is giving thanks. At most you're doing it indirectly. You don't actually have to engage the person or thing directly and give them your thanks.
Why do we go through this ritual, instead of taking the more simple, direct, and literal approach of just saying "thank you" to these things? Go up to your dog, your cat, your family, your friends, and say "Thank you" right to their faces, looking them dead in the eye. You can also tell them why you're thankful for them if you feel like it.
You can thank inanimate objects if you want to, I don't see why not. After I'm done thanking my cup of coffee, I'm gonna go say thank you to my guitar. While I'm thinking about it, thank you bed that I'm sitting on, and thank you computer that I'm typing on.
If you really want to get into the spirit of things, you can try to thank every person and object that you come across, and even every thought that comes into your head. If the thing isn't directly present, thank it in your mind, or try thanking it telepathically. You can thank the past, and all that went into making it, and you can thank the future, and all the things that will going into making that. I especially recommend you try thanking your enemies and things you hate.
The point of all this is that thanks is just as important for the giver as the receiver. When you can thank things, even the things that cause you pain, you acknowledge that all that happens, all experience, is aiding in the unfolding and enriching of consciousness. There are no problems, only situations, experiences, and states of being that provide us with opportunities for growth and learning as evolving conscious beings.
Giving thanks naturally puts a person in a more appreciative, peaceful and open state of mind. Giving thanks acknowledges that you are not alone, not an island to yourself, but a part of all that is around you, and you owe thanks to the things that have helped make you what you are, and made you what you were, and the things that are helping to shape what you will be. Without them, you would not be you, and you and them are all a part of the same fabric.
Logically, giving thanks entails an infinite regression. If you are thankful for A, don't you also have to be thankful for B, which caused A, and C, which caused B? And D, E, and F for causing C? Since all things are part of a single, enormously complex, apparently infinite causal chain, every time you thank one thing, you logically have to thank everything else for its contribution to that one thing, ad infinitum.
Giving thanks therefore acknowledges the oneness of things. You can give thanks to everything, or give thanks to the one thing, its the same either way. You can thank every individual quanta of existence, or you can thank all existence together.
The best way, in my opinion, is to shift back and forth, to thank whatever pops into your mind or crosses your path, while alternately or simultaneously thanking all that is. (disclaimer: If what crosses your path is a speeding automobile, get out of the way first, then offer the automobile your thanks. Safety first!)
So, thank you reader, whoever you may be. Whoever you are, if I don't see you in person, I will be thanking you telepathically, either as an individual I have had the opportunity to interact with personally, or as an as yet unnamed contributing factor to all that is. Thank you.