Gratitude Along with Sadness and Fear – It Is Life
The famous Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh gently advises us to appreciate the many things that we may take for granted. For example, when he does walking meditation he believes and feels that the the earth below his feet is, itself, a miracle of reality. Yes, he advises us to more deeply appreciate the earth and all it does for us. For Thanksgiving Day he suggested that we smile at the entire universe for supporting our existence; the food we have eaten comes from the interbeing of many forces: earth, sunshine, rain, seeds, and the people who farmed and transported it. Hopefully we all practiced mindful, appreciative eating
on this holiday. Hopefully, we all practiced some form of gratitude. And hopefully, we did not forget those who are less able to eat a good meal on such a day. Hopefully, we reached out with gratitude, compassion, and generosity to those less fortunate than ourselves. This is the kindness of people. This is a special form of joy.
Pema Chodron, another very famous Buddhist teacher, advises us to have an open, kind heart. Even if we cannot locate it exactly, we can “feel” the inner tenderness of our soft-heartedness. Perhaps under that inner tenderness we shall also discover a special kind of human sadness, a sadness that feels as natural as it does uncomfortable. She notes that such a sadness is an inherent, natural sadness that humans experience. Perhaps it is part of our long genetic history; perhaps it is an outcome of daily witnessing (via media) the suffering of so many people; and, perhaps it is an outcome of our own personal suffering. Human do have ample supplies of
emotional pain. All people suffer; all people experience joy; and, all people experience times of neutral boredom. This is theWAY it is. This is part of our human tenderness in life. So have the courage to feel your tenderness and joy as well as your suffering.
Gyalwang Drukpa of Tibetan Buddhist fame, suggests that we can utilize active compassion to combat fear of differences, fear of others. Humans have common experiences; some of these experiences include uncertainty and fear. Usually there is greater personal fear when we confront diversity – people, places and things different than ourselves. These reactions often come in times of great inequalities in human experience. He notes that fear thrives on concerns about differences. It can become the basis for hateful aggression. To bring peace to our fears we need to embrace such differences through highly active compassionate behaviors. If we can celebrate human differences, and if we can welcome them with deep awareness and curiosity, we combat fear. Tolerance and acceptance of others is the higher way of life. Can we do it? It requires compassionate action!https://www.amazon.com/How-Train-Wild-Elephant-Mindfulness/dp/1590308174
For more information refer to Chosen Bays, J. How to Train a Wild Elephant... p.143 . Also refer to Thich Nhat Hanh. How to Live… Chodron, P. The Pocket Pema Chodron, pp. 39-40 ,and the August 2016 presentation given by His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa at the Bucerius Summer School on Global Governance.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
New Edition in Production…Coming soon!