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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gratitude can turn unpleasant encounters into blessings!

Be grateful to your detractors too – because they are teaching you what Life is! They are showing you a dimension you aren’t aware of and which you can learn from.

Often times when people are unkind and unjust to us, we end up disliking them. We carry anger and grief within us which soon turns into hatred. This is undoubtedly a natural response. But there’s another way of looking at such people. Be grateful to them – for they are teaching you what Life and people can also be.

There’s a story about a Zen Master. He was on a pilgrimage and he came to a village at sunset and begged for lodging for the night, but the villagers slammed their doors. They were against Zen. They didn’t allow the Master to stay in the village; they threw him out. It was a cold night, and the old man was with no lodging, nowhere to go.…he was tired and hungry. He had to make the cold stone steps of a dilapidated temple, outside the village, his shelter. It was really cold, and he could not sleep well. He kept hearing animal noises through the night – and that kept him on the edge too!

At midnight he awoke — because it was unbearably cold — and saw the reflection of the full moon in the temple pond in front of him. A few lotus buds floated in the pond. The moon’s reflection amidst these lotuses made the moment look very surreal. Overcome with the beauty of what he saw, he sat up and bowed in the direction of the village. “Through their kindness in refusing me lodging I found myself on these cold temple steps and saw this immensely beautiful sight of the full moon’s reflection in the pond’s shimmering water,” he thought to himself. He felt grateful. He thanked those people who refused him lodging, otherwise he would be sleeping inside someone’s home and he would have missed this blessing — the beautiful moon, and its magical reflection in the temple pond, amidst the lotuses, and this silence of the night, this utter silence of the night. He was not angry. He accepted his shelterless, cold moment that night. And he welcomed it with great gratitude.

Osho, the Master, while narrating this story, has said: “A man becomes a Buddha the moment he accepts all that Life brings with gratitude.”

I have found great value in holding this perspective. Every time someone is rude to me or criticizes me without knowing the full story or opinionates and passes judgment based on what they think I must be doing, I let that moment of anger and grief pass. I don’t deny that I feel anger and grief at such times. I do. But I let that moment pass. My awareness then reminds me that this painful moment is actually a blessing to practice forgiveness and patience. Like the Zen Master’s cold night became a blessing to witness the beauty of the moon and its reflection in the temple pond,  I too find that each unpleasant encounter with a detractor turns into a blessing when I treat it with gratitude. Doing this is not difficult. All it requires is awareness and practice. When you are grateful, and not agitated in trying times, you are peaceful.

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