As I was doing my meditation practice this morning, I was directing my attention toward gratitude. And as I continued to consider the great many things that I have to be grateful for, my mind became overflowing with images of the tremendous blessings I have in this life.
I flashed on creating a collage of images that I could post here, to demonstrate the abundance of people and things that I have to be thankful for. But immediately realized it would be overwhelming and perhaps even appear egotistical.
Regardless of the images, or even recounting all of them with you, I am awakened to several realities.
Not only I am so fortunate and blessed to live so comfortably and surrounded by so much love, but how ignorant I am to ever feel unhappy for that which I do not have. And in lacking the mindfulness of this, I find a clear understanding of the Pali word “akusala”. The word akusala often is translated into English as “evil.” However, it doesn’t mean what most English-speakers usually mean by “evil.”
Akusala refers to acts that are karmically unwholesome and that carry the seeds of future suffering. In particular, it refers to the “unwholesome root” or “three poisons,” which are greed, hate and delusion. However, anything that is a hindrance to realization of enlightenment, such as laziness or mental agitation, are akusala.
Perhaps gratitude (kataññuta) should be ever-present as the forerunner of our mindfulness practice. Even in being grateful for our practice, and the ability to meditate. We each have the time and comfort, the ease of life, to do this for ourselves. We are not living in a war zone, or amidst a civil war, as so many are in this World right now. We are not living in starvation conditions because of droughts that have effected great portions of our planet. We are not a helpless creature being electrically prodded down a path towards its own death, simply for the purpose of its flesh being used as food for other beings.
For most of you reading this, you have an easy life. You have a computer that you are using to view this Blog. You have the time and freedom to think and enjoy this moment, and cultivate compassion and equanimity.
It is easy for any of us to dismiss all of this, and selfishly return to thoughts of unhappiness and discontent. Thinking all of the thoughts you can muster about the things you do no have, or that which you think you need or want.
But I assure you, my dear friends, this is not the path to eliminating suffering. Less is truly more, and we each have so much that we can give. And this is why the Buddha taught about giving (dana), before he would teach anything else.
And I for one, do not give as much as I could or should. I am spoiled and lazy, reliving my negative kamma day by day. But always with constant opportunities to develop wholesome actions that can overcome this by applying virtue and wisdom. Skillfully applying my thoughts, words, and actions to be of benefit to the self and all other beings. And always with full awareness of the tremendous gratitude that I have for this life.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.