Gratitude and Seven Points to Generate Gratitude

Today we will discuss on gratitude, perhaps, all the teachings of Buddha can be understood from this perspective. For all people who believe in the religion, this topic, this point – gratitude – can be a force to practice. A practice of gratitude can be so very important that each and every being who believe in the religion can start their practice with this. Without the practice of gratitude, none of the religious practices can be as it should be, so the practice of gratitude is very powerful, it can be a motivation to practice, it can be energy to follow each and every religion as it should be.

Let’s me explain you why.

Those who believe in a Creator God, they must have love toward the Creator, then they will have faith, if they don’t have a faith, to have a faith they have to have some certain love or respect toward the Creator. One and only reason why they have faith to the Creator is when they understand what Creator has given to them. When you realize how much the Creator has given to you, then you will feel a gratitude automatically.

I mentioned in one of my previous classes that before all the so called religions have been started in this world, I believe that people started to take refuge to the sun, moon, tree, water, fire and fruits. The reason why they take refuge to all these things is by understanding their kindness and feeling gratitude toward them. When they feel gratitude toward the Creator God who creates all these things, then they have a special love toward them, it’s more like when you know how much your mother has done for you. The more we understand and the more we know how many sacrifices that our mother has sacrificed for us, the more we know about those things the more we feel gratitude toward our parents, the more we feel gratitude, the more we feel love toward our parents.

Similarly, for those who believe in Creator God, the more he or she perceives that everything have been created, all the good things have been done or given by the God, the more gratitude one gonna feel toward the God. The more gratitude one gonna feel toward the God, the more love one can generate toward the Creator. The more love you can generate, you’ll generate within yourself toward the Creator, the more respect, and obviously people will follow or walk on the path giving or reaching or talk about one particular religion.

Those who don’t believe in Creator God, for example Buddhism, in Buddhism we don’t believe in the Creator God, specially for Mahayana Buddhist practitioners, gratitude again plays very important role in our each and every practices, the way it plays a big and important role is this way. The difference between Mahayana and Hinayana practitioners is the whether they wish to be free just for themselves or whether they wish to be free for themselves then they can help others; Mahayana practitioners are those who wish to become Buddha, not for themselves, but to help all the sentient beings, it is more like I want to be a doctor then I can treat everyone. That sort of attitude is what it is called Mahayana practitioners who wish to become Buddha so that one can help other sentient beings.

In order to have the desire to become Buddha to help all sentient beings, the one and only way to feel that is when you think of the kindness of all the sentient beings. Each and every sentient being has exactly been the mother or the father or the teacher or any of our family member who has been so kind to us in this life, they also have been so very kind to us. There are many parents, they literally sacrifice their life, not just one life, but life and life and life for the welfare of the kids. By understanding that each and every sentient being has them the same to us in one of the previous lives. When we think of their kindness, the feeling of gratitude automatically generates, when you feel the gratitude, then you will feel like ‘I should repay that kindness’. The one and only way to help them is when you are equipped with such a quality which you can help them and one and only quality with which you can help them ultimately is by becoming Buddha, achievement of Buddhahood.

So as well, the practice of gratitude, meditation on gratitude, also helps to practice in one sense, I would say that this can be the force, the greatest feeling of gratitude can be an energy, force, motivation to practice accordingly. The meditation on gratitude can help us in many different aspects. Let me explain few of these aspects so that we don’t take thing for granted, so that we can spend our life a bit more meaningfully, so that we don’t waste our time contemplating or doing things which is very less meaningful.

I would like to mention seven points, the last Sunday class I were talking about twelve link interdependence, there were twelve members and here I just make seven points :

First, we should feel gratitude or very grateful that we are alive.

We can feel every second, being alive is not a special but when you spend your time in something meaningful then yes, being alive is very special. If you don’t spend your life meaningfully, being alive can be burden to many others. You have full right because you are alive, because of your own merits. But fetches live for very long time, it’s harmful for others, it’s harmful for themselves.

So it’s very important because we have every moment to live a meaningful life, doesn’t matter how we have been living our life, we have all the potential to transform ourselves, or this requires just one minute, just change the attitude, that’s when transformation in life takes place. We should be very grateful that we are alive, so that we can serve others, so that we can live a happier life without harming others, so that we can practice.

Because each and everyone of us has such a potential which can help to remove the sufferings, each and everyone of us has such a potential which with we can literally save million, which with we can create the world we are living such a nice place for many people in future generations. We can make such a livable place, we can bring such a huge transformation in many other people. We can save many beings and many animals. The world is full of such an opportune days as long as we take steps to help others, the whole world is full of such a opportune days, we can implant such novel actions.

The second thing that I would say that, we should be really grateful or thankful, it should feel grateful that we are not sick.

There are many great practitioners and many people who think of doing something good only when they are sick, only when they understand that, they have to do something. And also unfortunately, there are many people who are very kind, compassionate, loving, good-hearted, nice nature, but they have the laziness which avoid them to do something good and to practice. But when they are sick, when they are very near to die, that’s when they think to all these things ‘Oh I don’t have time, I have to practice now, I have to do this, I have to do that and all these things’. So now, you should really happy that you are not sick which means that you have all the things, it takes to transform yourself, to be touching, to practice all the good qualities, and to practice all the good things you know and learn in your life.

The third thing that I would say is we should really feel thankful, grateful and be gratitude about the fact that we are not starving.

There are many people in this world who die because of the lack of conditions in terms of the food, thousand and thousand of people in this world are died because  they are starving, they don’t have enough food to eat. We should be so grateful that we are not only alive, we are not only healthy, free from sickness, but we also have food to eat. That is much more favorable conditions for us to practice, for us to be the chance, for us to transform ourselves and the surrounding and others, to bring some positive impacts on this world, which is not just helpful and beneficial to us but for many beings, not just for this era and this time. We can bring such impacts into this world which can last for thousand and thousand of years.

And another point that I would like to mention: we have the capability to think

Billion and billion of beings on this world, many of them are in the form of insects, in the form of animals, in the form of birds, in the form of fishes. When they are in such forms, all they can think of is very temporary. What they are capably is just to get some food to eat, water to drink, a safer place to live. Whether it can be dogs, cows, animals, birds, fishes, occasionally they need something else, but then generally they are just satisfied with three things: food to eat, water to drink and a safe place to live, so their thought just involving in just those three things. There could be some exceptions, but majority of them are just busy that they spend their whole life just for those three things: food, water and safe place.

Unfortunately, many humans also spend their entire life pretty much for these three things. I won’t say it’s a waste of time, I won’t say that they are stupid, but I would definitely say that is more like you are living in 5,6,7 stars hotel, and from the moment you enter the hotel, think the moment you get out of the hotel or you do sleeping you have this luxury bed that you experience, but it’s just a waste. It’s more like you have a power to literally change your world, but you use that power just to change yourself, so, it’s very sad.   

From my perspective, I think this is just a waste of such a marvelous human rebirth, if you spend it just for something to eat, something to drink and a happy place to live, especially unlike animal, we have such capability to think. Human have a marvelous brain, such an intellectual capability to not only remove the problem for oneself, but have a potential intellectual capability to bring a huge change in the world, to solve problem of many people.

We should be very grateful and thankful, we should feel gratitude for the quality of intellectual capability that we have, without that, this is only different that I would say. If somebody asks what is the difference between human and animal, the one and only thing that makes a human a special is the intellectual capability. If we don’t use this, so we are pretty much living an animal life. If you wish to live a human life – a life better than animals, then there is no way that we can live such a life if you don’t use the intellectual capability.

One another thing that we should feel so very grateful this is we are equipped with all the five senses.

Because without these five senses, thing won’t be the same as it is, there would be lot of things that we won’t be able to do. We can enjoy this world, enjoy this human rebirth, at the same time, make the best use of it. At the end of the day, practicing each and every religion is to be happy, happiness is the ultimate goal of each and every religion, doesn’t matter whether one call it salvation, liberation, nirvana, moksha, enlightenment whatever it is called, you might give a different name, end of the day, what it means is ultimate happiness. If you cannot enjoy the luxury life that you have right now, then what you are doing something, at the same time, you’re forgetting why you are doing those things.

Such a coincidence that I just received a call maybe forty minutes, maybe an hour before, before this class, an old friend, Indian, living in Dehli. She is on holiday with her son, in one of the Southern part of India. She was asking me to give her some advices, because she has some issues with her son, and of course I asked what is issue, she said that she booked the 3 star hotel and her son is not happy with this, they are on holiday! When the rest of the world having a nightmare like situation from last one and a half year, they are on the holidays and the son is complaining like not having a better hotel, why the 3 star hotel! So, we might have 90% of luxury life, but when we are missing even a 10% of luxury in life, instead of being happy that we have 90% of the luxury life, we just complain about the 10% which is missing from the life or from the greedy perspective.

So, it’s very important to see the world not being into that too much. We have to take two steps

back and then see the situation from a larger perspective. Somewhere in our mind, we always complain about something, entirely forgetting the 90% of the goodness, but 10% of the thing that is missing from our expectation. So, to see the life from a larger perspective, not to take thing so granted, not to take those 90% for granted is very much important, because many of us surely have some situations in condition in our life where we have the 90% but we’re complaining about the 10% and we ruined the whole holiday. They should really be happy, because the rest of the world don’t have this luxury holiday, instead of being happy with 90% of what they have, they just occupied their whole time worrying about the 10% that they don’t have, based on that, they literally skip 90% of the luxury life. Marvelous human brain, when you don’t use it, this is what happened.

We have to enjoy the life, we have to enjoy the world. If we have a cup of tea, we should enjoy. At the same time, no need to get attach to it, no need to get expectation based on it. To live a very happy life means to live a life in a middle way, no need to torture yourself, no need to cut all the luxuries that you have in your life. If you are living in a luxury house, if you are drinking a nice tea, you can, but logically, if you can drink just one cup of coffee, just order one cup of coffee, no need to be greedy and ask for five, six cups of coffee while all you can drink is two cups of coffee, that is one extreme: one extreme is not to torture, not to let your body or your mind suffer in tension.

Another extreme is not to put your body or mind in too much luxuries. Eat to survive, live to survive, drink to survive, so that you can do something for yourself, you can make some changes in your mind, you can make some changes in others’ life. Even if you have a cup of water, enjoy it. Think about those people who don’t have it, so that you can enjoy and can be happy if you have a cup of water, instead of worrying that ‘I don’t have a cup of coffee to drink’, you should be happy that you have a cup of water to drink and many others don’t have, there are many beings.

And another point I would say that we can be really very much grateful and thankful when we look at our body.

It maybe more delicate than some car, if you pinch the car, nothing happens to the car. If you pinch your skin it will temp black or blue color, whatever it is, so our body is not really strong, but it lasts longer than a car although it’s made of steel or whatever it is, the body that we have last longer than those thing. Because of our karma, we have such a body that it recovers even if something goes wrong with it.

We have to feel so very grateful to have such a body. The Covid pandemic maybe is a good example, the world doesn’t have a medicine yet, a total cure to it yet, but majority of these patients who’re infected with Covid, they recover just because of the capability of the body itself. Body stand to recover by itself, so we should be really grateful to have such a body that recover, so not to waste a wonderful time that we have. We have all the qualities: we are alive, we are not sick, we are not starving, we have capability to think, have these wonderful five senses and we have this wonderful body. You should not worry about things you don’t have, think about all these things that we have. There are many people who have all these qualities, there are many people in this world who have all above qualities: handy, good body, not sick, five senses, marvelous brain. There are many people in this world who support violence, there are many people in this world who have some sting beliefs that if they harm something, they would be happy whose views will let them suffer.

You should really be happy that you all believe in the theory or the concept of non-violence. There are many people who have killed another people in this world, they will never ever be happy, even if the polices don’t know it, even nobody knows it, but that guilt will kill them. Even if they don’t have guilt, even if they think what they have done is right, but they have the fear that ‘somebody might come and kill me as well’, each and every terrorists who have killed another people, there could many people who may not be terrorists yet but they killed somebody else, they can never be happy. Some of them are not happy because they are guilt, they killed someone while others are not happy, because of the fear that somebody might kill them. We should be really very much happy that we believe in such a concept of non-violence.

When you love others, you have this somewhere in your mind that ‘I will also receive such an amount of love’. That is true, when you smile on others, what you receive is smile, when you care about others, you also receive such amount of care. In some cases, at the time could be different, but sooner or later, as long as you saw the seed and condition arises, this will go.

So, we should be really happy of having such nice mental attitude, we should also be happy that we value love and compassion. I personally think that there are following such a person who is a symbol of peace. We all believe in Buddha who is known for non-violence, who is known for love and compassion, because of which Buddha statue is pretty much everywhere these days. Regardless of whether you believe in Buddhism or not, you gonna find Buddha statues pretty much everywhere these days, not because Buddha looks nice, but because people feel peace to have the Buddha statue around and we are very fortunate, not just to follow him, not just to believe in him, but to have the opportunity to learn his teachings.

We should feel gratitude to our own positive karma

Of course we can have gratitude toward the nature, air, water, space and everything, but end of the day, all these thought is all because of our karma. Most importantly we should feel gratitude toward our own positive karma which we have all these things. That karma, that positive good action, according to some sutras, each and everything because of directly or indirectly influence of the teachings of love and compassion by the previous Buddha.

As a monk, I have been raised in such a way, I have been raised with such a practice, where we should see Buddha as a sort of all the happiness, not because he create happiness, but because the Buddha talked the way to be happy. Because of his teachings we engage in positive actions and because of his teachings we engage in merits, because of those merits, we are happy. We have all these things that we have right now, we don’t see the Creator God, but we’re thanking for helping us to engage all these positives. Because of which, there is peace and happiness in this world, because of which, we are human, we have a good health, a life, we have five senses and a good body, we believe in non-violence. We value the love and compassion and so forth.

Also because of this, in Tibetan Buddhism, we have this practice to see, to value, to respect one teacher and to rejoice the teachings that the teacher give, because it’s the teacher, through which we receive all the good teachings and goodness from Buddha, unless you see the Buddha himself.

Let’s taking my example, all the teachings that I receive is through all those great teachers that I encounter with obviously, all those great masters that I haven’t seen, the masters of my teachers, because I equally respect all those great teachers. Nalanda teachers who sacrifice all their life to write such marvelous, wonderful books, of course I receive those through my teacher. So, we should also feel grateful to have such a wonderful teacher like Dalai Lama on this world, otherwise we might be under such a teacher who may give 70 – 80% people a goodness, but he or she might be given some teachings we say that’s ok, you should keep, count because when you gonna be reborn in heaven, who knows, there are some teachers who teach a different thing.

But I personally feel very fortunate and grateful to have such wonderful teachers in my life, wonderful teacher like Dalai Lama and so forth. Because of their teachings, I get connect to the Buddha teachings, I understand Buddha’s teachings, and obviously, whatever they teach, it should reason it. We should go along the logic, we should match with the teachings that Buddha had given, if possible it should reason it with some the Buddha sutras.

At the end of the day, the whole purpose why we should feel gratitude toward this life, toward all the facilities that we have in our life; the main purpose, is so that we don’t waste this life, so that we can make the best use of this life, so that we can practice it nicely with our time and can take each and every opportunity as a practice. Doesn’t matter how hard the life is bounding back on you, doesn’t matter how hard the situation is, doesn’t matter how hard the circumstance is, there is always a way that you can transform this as an opportunity to practice, even if somebody throw you in the prison, perhaps that is for something better, perhaps that is how you get a better opportunity to practice, perhaps that is how you get a better time to practice. So doesn’t matter how hard the life is, we can always convert and transform into the opportunity to practice.

By the practice of gratitude, one can be more positive, one can reduce the negativity in the mind. There could be some negativities in our parents, in our friends, in our family or whatever. When you start to practice gratitude, when you start to feel grateful toward the contribution that they have put in our life, the negativity of them doesn’t affect us much, we can still feel gratitude toward them, we can still feel  thanks toward them. And also often we take things for granted – often we misunderstand – when we start to feel gratitude or practice gratitude, many of these things which make us unhappy in our day-to-day life when it vanish, we’ll be able to experience in life different, then we should be able to have a better attitude toward our life and what we have, through which we can be much happier.

I would like to conclude, we should feel a huge centre of gratitude toward our own previous lives, the previous versions of us in our previous lives because there has something so very good, so very positive because we are human, we have all these points. So, instead of worrying and focusing much on the 10% that we have not in this life, we should be happy and grateful because of the 90% that we have in this life. And along with this, I get to do some meditation on this, I get to do some practices, I get to share the Buddhist teachings because of all of you. So with the gratitude toward all of you, from one point you all appear as a student, from one point you all appear as a teacher to me, from one point you all appear as a motivator who motivate me to practice more, so I would like to thank you all of you for being there, for practicing, for attending the class, and most important is for having that wish to transform your life to bring some positive changes in this world. I truly appreciate all of you and very thankful to all of you.


The Note down from the Dharma Talk of Lama Nawang Kunphel in the Dharma Class on 3rd Aug 2021