Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Making It A Thankful New year

Think “Thank You”

This is the time of year when we traditionally think “Thank you.” Often, though not exclusively, these thank you’s are for the material things we have gained. But there is a traditional kindness chant that can extend our thank you’s in profound ways, extend our thank you’s so that we ourselves, those around us, and the world in which we live feel our thank you’s in each and every moment.

For this practice to be effective, we must first believe that the chant is true and then chant it often enough so that it arises spontaneously when unwholesome impulses and temptations arise as well as when wholesome and beneficial events and conditions arise.

If we chant it enough times, it will arise spontaneously and seemingly of its own accord. But first we need to develop an airtight logical explanation for the chant. Actually, several lines of reasoning is better.

Here’s the chant:

Each and every living being is supreme kind to me.

This will only work if you believe it. No exceptions. This isn’t about an act being kind or not, it is about our perspective on that act. If someone gives me something I want, I can see it as kind in that it gives me the opportunity to be grateful and generous in receiving it. If someone does something mean to me, I can see it as kind in that it gives me the opportunity to be patient and to see beyond the superficiality of the act to the underlying suffering that motivated the person to act in that way.

Contemplating this, we discover several lines of reasoning we can use. One, regardless of what someone does to me, I can consider it kind because it is an opportunity for me to strengthen my practice and grow spiritually. If someone does something nasty to me, for example, I can see it as kind because it gives me an opportunity to practice patience. If someone does something particularly nice to me, I can see it as a kindness because it gives me the opportunity to practice humility and modesty.

A second line of reasoning suggests that our basic nature, everything that we think, say and do, is an attempt to end some level of suffering we perceive in ourselves. Understanding that everything we do is about ending some level of discomfort or suffering in us, we soon come to realize that everything everyone does is an act to end their suffering–not necessarily wise or well-reasoned–but an attempt to end their suffering nonetheless.

If all that “they” are doing is attempting to end their suffering, why would I view this as anything but an opportunity for me to practice compassion toward them. Nothing else would seem reasonable. This doesn’t mean I necessarily condone the act, just that my perspective is to see that they are trying, even if unwisely, trying through what they have done to relieve suffering and so it is kind insofar as it allow me to be compassionate under duress.

On a deeply spiritual level, being everything is inherently empty of meaning and value from its own side, I get to decide whether something done to me is good or bad by the way I choose to perceive it. Therfore, if I get to define “duress” in my life, then why don’t I stopped defining things as stressful find another perspective that makes them all as kindnesses?

Believing this chant gives me an outlook that prevents me from getting anxious or angry, fearful or threatened. And that outlook is the framework that my mind can use to stay stable in the face of difficulties, even very great difficulties.

If I can know deeply and understand the chant Each and every living being is supreme kind to me, my intention in each moment will have me do the very best I can with the conditions in front of me. Knowing that I always do the very best I can with what’s happening, I can remain calm with any event or outcome. I can stay positive and without recrimination and guilt when the outcome is other than anticipated. If the outcomes aren’t appropriate, then I can course correct, finding better and new strategies for dealing with the same or similar situations in the future.

Realizing this, that I had, and do always do my best, I remain patient, compassionate and generous, to myself and others. My self-image stays clean and clear and positive without arrogance or conceit. Further, when I generalize this to all other beings, when I realize that no matter how unreasonable or terribly someone may act, they are doing the best they can, my intention will reset me to being kind, patient and compassionate and generous.

Assuming I believe this chant, then I will interpret and filter new information from my senses though intentional structures that lead me to positive wholesome thoughts, speech and action. In fact, they lead me to see the world as a kind place, supportive of me who is making his best effort. The more I practice, the more grateful I become, the more thankful I am for being here, now, connected to everyone and everything.

When I realize that each and every living being is supremely kind to me, I become one with the cooperative underpinnings of the universe. I have no regrets. I have nothing but thank you’s. And the world has nothing but thank you’s.

For all of your readership, practice, and support this year, a deep bow of gratitude and a thank you.