To see clearly is to be grateful – to simply notice that life is a gift, eternally present and infinitely abundant. To perceive things as they are, is to be grateful. I have discovered it works both ways, if I am suffering, in some confusion feeling gratitude allows a clearer perception of life as it is to resume.
In order for the process to be complete, to see clearly in all circumstance, the gratitude must be complete and apply to all phenomena. This is to become entirely receptive to life, to receive its always now present abundance of breath, light, sights and sounds, thoughts and emotions. It is to allow this gratitude to expand and include all aspects of life experience, the darkness, the doom and gloom, death and misery too. It is to be grateful for being aware, for being, for being awareness.
You have perhaps been told you should be grateful at some point in your life. Of course nothing ‘should’ be. Instead offered here is an invitation to more fully realize the gratitude inherent in being when we cease shoulding on our life. It is an invitation to become grateful and experience a perception shift which will transform any circumstance. In William Blake’s words gratitude ‘is heaven itself.’ A bold claim yet one that makes more and more sense as I am immersed ever more wholly in gratitude and lose myself in heavenly unity. Here, the suffering of separation ceases.
We might be well practised in bringing forth gratitude for the aspects of life experience we enjoy or value. It makes perfect sense to take time to appreciate, for example, the way light and leaf dance, the technicolour delight of water and sunlight meeting or the moving still life of a flower blossoming. The culture of nature is an ever rich source of stimulation for the stillness, the vastness we are. All around us offers reasons to be grateful, invitations to unite with life itself – a child’s smile, a pleasant aroma, a breath in, a breath out, the feeling of cool or warmth upon our skin; infinite are the ways the whole speaks to its apparent parts that we may notice wholeness once again.
We are likely less practised in finding gratitude in the face of that which we do not value or enjoy. Yet it is in finding gratitude in response to the darkest despair, our most painful inner torment or most challenging circumstance or to the mass-produced madness and suffering we are called to witness that the depths of its transformative power is realised. For the experience of this receptivity, the realisation of our unity, the cessation of the dance of separation is of most value precisely at those points where in our confusion we have imagined there is something that should not be. It is in our suffering that gratitude becomes most useful. What we believe should not be are moments especially ripe to realise we are one with life. To be grateful in these circumstance is a step we add to the dance of separation that it may fall down and be seen more truly as an exquisitely choreographed dance of unity. We discover that there is gift to be found within every difficulty and that gratitude unwraps it. We experience problems dissolve and see gratitude is the dissolution. We realise that, as Rumi said ‘the wound is where the light enters’ and that gratitude is an effective piercer of the perceptual veil. Ultimately we come to see that every single arising, each and every challenge or pain is but an opportunity to realise our vast spaciousness within which there is room for all and everything to arise, peacefully and within harmony. Gratitude here is seen to be the end of experiencing ourselves only as a separate me that we be reborn, reunited, one remembering its Oneness.
I call this expansion of gratitude to all of life, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’, ‘Radical Gratitude’. I have found it to be the means by which a diagnosis of a brain tumour was experienced as joyous and delightful adventure. It has proven effective in transforming despair and hopelessness from foe to friend from suffering to freedom. I have heard other’s being grateful for being physically assaulted and discovering the gifts it brought. Another expressed how after decades of reflection he had become grateful for his being sexually abused as a child for he would not be who he was, so compassionate and kind, were it not for that experience. I am grateful that this world is so full of suffering and confusion for it gives such plentiful opportunity to serve, to love, to bring clarity and relief.
Is it possible to bring gratitude to what you perceive to be your greatest problem? Is it possible that gratitude might reveal the gift hidden within your greatest challenge? Would you allow something as simple as gratitude ease your journey home to the unconditional love that you are?