Gratefulness and Sufficiency
Today I started an online course with Borther David and Lynne Twist. for exercise, these were some reflective questions. what early influences shaped your values? What lessons did you learn about gratefulness, contentment, generosity, and/or scarcity? From whom?
As far as I remember, I first learnt about generosity through my grandfather. At the age of Five I had gone to a boarding school and during holidays when I would return to my village, I would spent time with my grandfather in his small shop. Often pilgrims and wandering monks would pass by and ask my grandfather for food and shelter. Without hesitation, he would give them food and some money. Sometimes few of them would smoke a cigarette there and I would ask him “Babuji how do you know if they are going to use the money for their pilgrimage ?” with love and great affection he would say “Bittoo, does a tree every asks who is going to eat my fruits, a saint or a sinner ? a hungry man or not, he knows simply to give and with joy he gives with all his love, now imagine what if he holds back for the most deserved candidate, what would happen? maybe a time will come when the tree will fall down with the weight of its own fruits. His life depends on giving and in giving he thrives” This story left a deep imprint in my heart about generosity. Yet at the same time being born in Marwari business family, we always put money in the center of all things and relationships, which also created a sense of scarcity in my mind. During the beginning period of my boarding school, I would be teased as a miser. I had been taught not to spent too much, or ask price of everything and in this process I forgot to see the value to things. It took me a long time to break this conditioning. Later my time in Gandhi Ashram taught me about simplicity and contentment and I am still learning to find a balance between affluence and simplicity. The lessons I have learnt so far is
1. When I am grateful, my heart feels lighter and suffering seems to cease.
2. Contentment is a state of mind, to trust life that what we need will be provided.
3. Generosity does not only mean giving of things but your self, your presence. When you can give, give whatever you can, without holding back.
4. Scarcity closes my heart and to overcome it I have to learn to give specially when I need most or want to hold back most.
“People are terrified they don’t have enough money, they don’t have enough time, they’re not good enough…they’re not something enough.” What fears and/or circumstances get in the way of appreciating what you already have, and are?
Lately a deep sense of restlessness and entered my soul. I do feel I am not doing enough, as if I am not fulfilling my highest full potential, my task in this world. In some moments I feel I am walking in the dark, disenchanted by everything in the world, everything seems to have no meaning, no work seems to be fulfilling or they do in beginning but does not last long enough. One of my greatest fear is not to be loved, to be abandoned, to live a life without any purpose.
Lynne Twist says, “Happiness is something we pursue like this ephemeral goal that we can’t necessarily reach…Contentment comes from an inner knowing of who you are…” What does this distinction mean to you? What is your experience of this difference between happiness and contentment?
I agree, happiness has been like a mirage to me, a deer in the desert. I am learning to see that contentment means to appreciate this moment, this place, people who are around me at this time, to be present in my body and mind. To do what is necessary, to show up to life everyday and say “here I am, ready to embrace, you as you are”.
Br. David says we make the bowl of our contentment bigger and bigger and bigger, “just when the bowl of our heart wants to overflow.” What are some of the influences that might cause you to give the possibility of contentment away? What might you do to allow the bowl of your heart to overflow instead?
I tend to drift away either in the memories of past or plans for future. I love to travel but sometimes it becomes the cage of wanting me to continuously do it. I am learning to appreciate the pauses in between. To see life itself as a pilgrimage, to increase awareness. As a practice to allow the bowl of my heart to overflow, I need to keep adding value where ever I am, may it be with small acts of beauty, cleanliness or with deep and authentic presence.
A beautiful poem on gratitude by Shane O’Reilly:
Joy, my Life
Mystery, my Partner
Belonging, my Love
Narrowness, my Encounter
Fear, my Poison
Time, my Opportunity
Now, my Eternity
Space, my Proof
Hope, my Salvation
Stop, my Awakening
Look, my Presence
Go, my Creation
Gratitude, my Answer