Gratitude is a way of undercutting your ego--that is, it is a way of being Buddhist. It really goes back to interdependence and those basic Buddhist concepts. There is an awareness that we get now and then of what we owe others, and Shinran feels that that should be the moving force of one's life. Then the egoism kind of takes care of itself.
from The Force of Gratitude, by Rev Dr. Alfred Bloom
Tricycle Magazine, Fall 2009
"...an awareness that we get now and then of what we owe others...."
What a wonderfully ordinary way of presenting the extraordinary dharma of gratitude! Thank you for reminding me Dr. Bloom, it really is this simple, and it really is a "moving force"!
Our lives are lived in Fast Forward. But when we pause long enough to consider all the places to which we owe our everyday wellbeing, our health, ease of living and Buddhist practice, gratitude sweeps up everything in its path. The heart opens with tenderness and love expands outward--it's a big, big love that simply includes everything!
Where are the boundaries? Nowhere!
Gratitude doesn't discriminate or judge, it flows like water and gathers everything in its wave.
Gratitude permeates all those places we might try so hard to ignore; the cracks, fissurers, clefts, and basins of suffering, and then overflows banks that were just an illusion to begin with, to which we obsessively cling!
"...an awareness that we get now and then of what we owe others..."
Sometimes, without any prompting I can discern, the moment of awareness is present. What has created this moment?
What's the point of wondering?
It's the same thing that creates every moment, don't think it's anything else!
All I can do is step out of the way as gratitude sweeps up the surly teenager behind the cash register, the discarded paper cup in the gutter, the sky that puffs up its breath to exhale top heavy round clouds, (look out! they're toppling), and the man eating lunch beside me, the sounds he makes while eating, as our hearts open like flowers. Does he see it too?
A high top sneaker left in the parking lot, laces undone, who knows where the mate is.
The checkbook that doesn't balance and the bills that must be paid.
The wondering who loves us and who do we love in return--or the love that is never returned....maybe there is no such thing.
Skin that needs moisturizer, scratching against shirt sleeves. Skin that is ashy looking, my dear you need sleep.
And the perfectly lovely "skin" of her being that my little granddaughter inhabits so effortlessly!
Age spots on very delicate hands, those belonging to my elderly friend who wears many rings.
In the mirror, a deeply grooved forehead where worry is worn, then discarded.
On the street, a smile not meant for me, but that tilts the heart none the less and pours the heart's contents onto the ground where, I promise, flowers spring up, wither and die, and then, in the blink of an eye, re-seed.
Hands together, bowingbowingbowing, sometimes losing my balance.
Often loosing my balance, in the losing, finding something else.
What is it?
In deepest gratitude for my teachers, Sensei Tony Stultz & Al Bloom
Namu Amida Butsu