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How universal is gratefulness?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sometimes I hunker down, mired in the more distressing mundane aspects of everyday reality, or the in-the-face awareness of the old age-sickness-death cycle...and where I am in said cycle, or my loneliness and feelings of isolation, etc., and then I shake myself and straighten up, realizing that all of that is true...AND SO MUCH MORE.

For instance I have heard the *good news* of the Buddha's instruction of how to go beyond suffering, I have the good fortune of having encountered teachers who provide guidance about reaching that *place,* I have a comfortable living space and enough money, I have knowledge about how to eat healthfully for optimal health, I can afford natural and organic food, I have friends, I have rewarding work, I have dependable vehicles, and the list goes on! So I say *Blessed be!* and understand how REALLY blessed I am as I read, from , the gratitudes below and muse about:


Gratefulness – the simple response of our heart to this life in all its fullness – goes beyond boundaries of creed, age, vocation, gender, and nation. J. Robert Moskin, former foreign editor for Look magazine and senior editor for Collier's, writes that “thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.”

Grateful living offers a universal ethic for our times because:
• The universal sentiment of gratefulness is shared by all cultures and religious traditions
• Gratefulness lies at the mystical core of all religions, and can provide a point of agreement between people from different traditions that transcends the divisive dogmas of each religion or sect.
• In the same way, it provides a common language for dialogue between religious people and non-religious people, since both groups share this sentiment fully.
• It teaches us to appreciate what we have, automatically relieving the fear of scarcity that drives our unsustainable consumption patterns.
• One cannot be grateful and feel oneself to be a victim at the same time, instantly diminishing the anger that can lead to war.
• It teaches us to appreciate the gratuitous, which for many people includes the non-human natural world with its many plants and animals.
• It causes us to regard other peoples and cultures as blessings and not as threats to our way of life.
• It offers a spirit of generosity and trust to replace the suspicion and resentment that stands in the way of achieving a peaceful transition to a more just sharing of the world's bounty.*

The following diverse array of quotes reflects this universality as a representative sample. A comprehensive list, we are happy to say, would take years to compile.


Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.
– Hausa proverb from Nigeria

The happy heart gives away the best. To know how to receive is also a most important gift, which cultivates generosity in others and keeps strong the cycle of life.
– Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo, speaker, author, musician and spiritual leader in the Eastern Tsalagi (Cherokee) tradition

Whenever feeling downcast, each person should vitally remember, "For my sake, the entire world was created."
– Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer, Baal Shem Tov,
founder of Hasidic Judaism

Under affliction in the very depths, stop and contemplate what you have to be grateful for.
– Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science

A thankful person is thankful under all circumstances. A complaining soul complains even in paradise.
– Baha'u'llah, founder of the Baha'i Faith

There's a self-expansive aspect of gratitude. Very possibly it's a little known law of nature: the more gratitude you have, the more you have to be grateful for.
– Elaine St. James, author, leader of the simplicity movement

Do all you can with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are.
– Nkosi Johnson, twelve-year-old Zulu boy, living with AIDS

Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.
– Yoko Ono, Japanese-American artist and musician

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.
– Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman stoic

As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude.
– Etty Hillesum, Dutch Jewish writer known for her diaries and correspondence from Westerbork concentration camp

Grateful living: an alchemic operation of onverting "disgraceful" things into grateful events.
– Raimundo Panikkar, Roman Catholic priest from Spain specializing in comparative philosophy of religion

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
– Native American prayer

Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art....It is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world.
– Joanna Macy, eco-philosopher and scholar of Buddhism

Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
– G.K. Chesterton, writer and Christian apologist

I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable...but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
– Agatha Christi, crime-fiction writer

Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.
– Jacques Maritain, French philosopher and political thinker

Thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives.
– Jalaluddin Rumi, Persian Sufi poet, from Camille and Kabir Helminski's Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance

Gratitude is so close to the bone of life, pure and true, that it instantly stops the rational mind, and all its planning and plotting. That kind of let go is fiercely threatening. I mean, where might such gratitude end?
– Regina Sara Ryan, former Roman Catholic nun now aligned with the Bauls of Bengal, India


* Our thanks to Chris Wilson, a member of the Board of Directors for A Network for Grateful Living, for his insightful description of grateful living as a universal ethic for our time.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VALERIEMAHA 10/1/2008 6:19AM

    Good morning -- thanks everyone for the comments! Savoy, you may be referring to the J. Robert Moskin quote above, in the papagraph after HOW UNIVERSAL IS GRATEFULNESS? which says,

“Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.”

So right and juicy and *right on!*


Comment edited on: 10/1/2008 6:17:15 AM

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PEACEFULONE 9/30/2008 10:25PM

    This is a great blog! Thank you for sharing!


Comment edited on: 9/30/2008 10:23:08 PM

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SAVOY1 9/30/2008 10:03PM

    There is a quote of the day on essentially saying the idea or emotion of gratitude goes back to prehistoric times - it really is an innately simple thing and so beautiful and gives back in real time.

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ANGELBELIEVER 9/28/2008 1:10PM

    What a beautiful post on gratefulness. I like to live with an Attitude of Gratitude every day. I have so much to be grateful for. I try not to waste my life complaining. Thank you again for your words of wisdom for us t o learn and grow. emoticon

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MOMMA_GRIZZ 9/28/2008 1:03PM

    How very true - thank you for sharing that very inspirational post.

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Speaking of shame....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's about 11:40pm and within the last hour I consumed an entire 4.15 oz. box of Ak-mak Crackers with peanut butter and jelly. AK! is right...sMAK me back into mindfulness, pl-EASE.

I'm getting jittery because I'm still in the thoes of organizing and unpacking from the move and we leave on Wed. for the first show, which means organizing and packing everything for that. Then I drank strong coffee this afternoon. Big mistake. That's why I'm bouncing around like a tight spring and thus, part of why I'm eating at this time of night. I'm also an emotional eater. Put these two pieces together and WHAMO! I crumble.

Well, I'm not going to cave in and go on a self-hate campaign. I'm running a bath with Bath Therapy. Soaking will help relax this tired ol' bod. I'll read something to lift my spirits (like Rumi), to help elevate my mind.

And I'll sleep without the alarm, getting up ready to be totally focused until the 2:00pm departure for a weekend visit (not the best timing, but unavoidable). Upon the Sun. pm return, I vow to return to the basics of preparation without panic, but with clarity of vision and energy, without conditioned thinking that will limit me in doing my best.

Oh, and I publically vow to be online 15 minutes in the morning to post gratitudes...AND NO MORE. Can I get a witness?

Blessed be!

May it be so,
*** *** *** *** *** ***
And now it is 1:40am and I am readying myself for sleep.

Out beyond ideas of
There is a field
I'll meet you there

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase
"each other"

doesn't make any sense.



Ahhhhhhh...the Crack....

Friday, September 19, 2008

God's joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flowerbed.
As roses, up from ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines,
now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
til one day it cracks them open.

-- Jelalludin Rumi


The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

-- Leonard Cohen, from _Stranger Music_, a collection of poetry; it subsequently became the lyrics to a Cohen song:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTDUCKY1405 2/10/2010 10:04PM

    My dear Maha... I think I may have been cracked!

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VAL503 9/20/2008 12:44PM

    Wow, Maha... Rumi AND Leonard Cohen, two of my favorites. What a great way to start the day!
Thanks for the beauty and inspiration.

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ANGELBELIEVER 9/19/2008 12:27PM

    Your blogs are incredibly inspiring. I really enjoy them even if i don't comment on wveryone of them. Love You dear Sister!

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Becoming A Spiritual Revolutionary

Friday, September 19, 2008

by Andrew Harvey, interviewed by Colleen O'Conner

CO: Given the current economy and state of world affairs, many people feel they're undergoing some sort of dark night.

ANDREW HARVEY: The entire world is now going through a massive crucifixion on all levels. It's going through an environmental crucifixion -- hundreds of species are vanishing every month. It's going through a personal crucifixion. There are two billion people living on less than a dollar a day. It's going through a crucifixion of all the patriarchal systems -- look at Enron and what it has shown us about Corporate America. Look at the Catholic Churches' scandals of pedophilia and what it shows us about authority. Look at the growing disillusionment of politicians of all kinds. All of the systems are being exposed as illusory and as fantasy ridden -- as deeply corrupt and exploitative. There's another kind of crucifixion going on -- crucifixion of purpose and hope. Everybody is totally bewildered. They know that the world is potentially on the brink of total apocalypse. There's a tremendous danger that as people wake up to the horror of what is going on, they will run into political extremism or into fundamentalism of one kind or another. So it's extremely important that the wisdom of the dark night gets across because if people understand the necessity for this crucifixion, and understand that it's preparing the resurrection and the birth and an empowerment, then they will be prepared to go through it without fear -- or without too much fear -- trusting in the logic of the divine transformation.

CO: You write about your friendship with Bede Griffiths, who is one of my spiritual heroes. What was his experience of the dark night of the soul, and how was it connected to his devotion to the Black Madonna? In other words, is there a link between the dark night of the soul and the sacred feminine?

ANDREW HARVEY: There is absolutely a link. Bede gave me the clue in an amazing series of conversations that we had just before he died. I was lucky enough to be invited to make a film about him with an Australian film company, and spent two weeks talking to him about his life. One evening he shared with me his experience of the dark night, which came to him at the beginning of his 80s. He said that he was sitting outside his hut one day and he felt as if a hand hit him on the right side of his being. What he went through was a massive, massive heart attack that completely destroyed what he described as his patriarchal mind and introduced him to a holy, new reality. This gave him access to a much deeper elaboration of Oneness with all things. This is what Bede actually said, and I think it's worth quoting because it is so beautiful. He said, "It is a very strange thing, Andrew, but when I thought of surrendering to the Mother I naturally of course thought of Mary -- I often say the Hail Mary--but it was Mary as the Black Madonna that came into my mind. For me the Black Madonna is the mother of the earth as well as heaven, of the body as well as the soul, the mother of the subconscious, the hidden, of all those powers that the 'masculine' mind represses; the Mother of the sacred darkness. In Her the Western Christian vision of the Divine Mother and the Eastern one merge and meet; you can think of her as both Mary and Kali, both preserver and destroyer. From that time on, I have turned to Her again and again: invoking Her strength and grace, I find, makes the 'birth' go so much faster and more cleanly."

See, the power that is doing this to us is coming towards us simultaneously with terrifying destruction and extreme grace and prosperity. The destruction is, in fact, a form of that extreme grace. It's quite clear that humanity is now terminally ill, and can only be transfigured by a totally shocking revelation of its shadow side. And this is what we're living through, these shadow sides exploding in every direction because we have done nothing but betray the sacred in us.

We have lacerated the sacred in others. We have betrayed the sacred in an orgy of fundamentalism. We have brutalized the sacred in nature. We are now terminally destructive.

So only an almost terminal destruction that reveals to us the full extent of our responsibility in this destruction can wake us up. And that is what is happening, and it will get worse. It's bound to get worse. But it is only being done to us for our own redemption.

Those who turn to the Mother in total faith, those who turn to the Black Madonna in total admiration, those who realize the mercy behind the violence will be given extraordinary protection, extraordinary strength, and extraordinary revelation. They will be empowered in the core of themselves to become what everybody who has a heart and a mind must now become -- a spiritual revolutionary devoting their entire life and all their resources to the preservation of the planet. So, finding the Black Madonna, in whatever form you want to find her, realizing the massive task that she's doing and turning to her for protection is now crucial to the preservation of the planet. It's extremely important that people really come to understand the feminine and turn towards it, because it's our betrayal of the feminine in ourselves and in the divine that has led to this crisis.

Excerpted from an interveiw with Colleen O'Conner, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco:

Andrew Harvey's website:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTDUCKY1405 2/10/2010 10:01PM

    I pray to keep the courage, faith and strength to do my part, each and every day!


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PEACEFULONE 9/27/2008 12:23AM

    Excellent piece. Going through the turmoil that is ahead will not be easy. Somewhere there is a quote about the extreme pressure necessary to turn a lump of coal into a diamond. Life must be like that. Corporate greed is out of control. Just heard today that the leader of the failed bank WaMu got $11-14 million in compensation for something like 3 months on the job. The planet has enough resources to feed and care for the people of the world. It's just so unevenly spread around. Time to join the revolution.

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Liberate Your Imagination!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It is unnecessary for me to try to articulate things close to my heart and soul when others have done it so well for me! Rob Brezsny is one of those who is indubitably a kindred spirit. His work is nothing short of breathtakingly beautitful...and critically important.


I for one am no longer willing to tolerate the epidemic obsession with big bad nasty things and flashy trite empty-hearted things. I say it's time for us to re-consecrate and regenerate and lubricate and liberate and take back our imaginations. Here are my demands.

DEMAND #1: I demand that Amnesty International launch a crusade against a form of terrorism I call the genocide of the imagination.

DEMAND #2: I demand that you periodically go on a media fast. For a week at a time, once a season, avoid all TV, movies, novels, yalk shows, newspapers, magazines, and Internet.

DEMAND #3: I demand that you learn to tell the difference between your own thoughts and those of the celebrities who have demonically possessed you.

DEMAND #4: I demand that People magazine do a feature story on "The World's Fifty Sexiest Perpetrators of Beauty, Truth, and Rowdy Bliss."

DEMAND #5: I demand that you wear underpants on your head and dance naked in slow motion whenever you watch movies on TV about tormented geniuses who create great art but treat everyone in their lives like crap.

DEMAND #6: I demand that you refuse to be entertained and entranced by bad news--by stories whose plots are driven by violence, abuse, terrorism, bigotry, lawsuits, greed, crashes, alcoholism, disease, and torture.

DEMAND #7: I demand that you seek out and create stories that make you feel that the universe is friendly and life is on your side. You could hunt down stories about how, for example, rising rates of intermarriage are helping to dissipate ethnic and religious strife worldwide; how the violent crime rate in America has been steadily declining for 30 years; how death rates from cancer are shrinking; the birth rate among teenage mothers is the lowest it's been in six decades; acreage devoted to organic farming is increasing rapidly; the number of refugees and weapons sales all over the world are way down from the level they were 15 years ago, and how the actual bare naked truth is that levels of literacy and education and political freedom and peace and wealth are steadily growing all over the world.

DEMAND #8: When you're too well-entertained to move, screaming is good exercise. Which is why I demand that you scream now and then whenever you're soaking up slick crap generated by the imaginations of people who are devoted to money, power, and ego instead of love, reverence, and play.

Adapted from the book PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings, by Rob Brezsny

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTDUCKY1405 2/10/2010 9:55PM



I once had a customer, when serving tables, laugh at my ignorance to what was going on in the world at the time! I remember it not bothering me in the slightest... I just said, "I would pick up the paper more and watch the news if the good in this world were the focal points!" And walked away!

He left me a pretty good tip that day!

I was only 20 then! I often find myself reflecting back to that conversation, and how very clear it is to me now, that I was and always will be a peaceful soul!

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