For Zen Buddhists, it’s all about gratitude. Even an empty rice bowl is something to be grateful for, especially if you’re the reason it’s empty in the first place.
In the Buddhist’s eyes, there are an infinite number of things in life to be grateful for; the only reason people are ungrateful is that they take those things for granted.
The trick is to pay attention to the things we take for granted in life, and recognize that they are truly special.
If you need some lessons in being grateful, there’s no better place to look than within the serene perspective of Zen Buddhism.
The very foundation of their belief system is placing others higher on the priority list than themselves.
This is how they can be grateful for literally everything; if someone does something for them, even a simple act of kindness, they’ve gone out of their way for someone less important.
Take a look at these three lessons, and be grateful you can learn them.
1. The Blind Turtle
The Buddha’s story of a blind turtle is all about being gracious for life itself. Being alive is enough for one to show gratitude because so many things had to happen in order for life to exist.
You as an individual are the result of an infinite number of circumstances that had to occur; this should make you eternally grateful.
Gratitude is so important in this regard that Buddha compares it to a blind turtle living at the bottom of the sea.
The turtle only surfaces once every hundred years to take a breath, and when he places his thin neck through the vast, foaming sea, his head goes through a golden yoke that’s been floating aimlessly on the surface of the ocean.
This relates to the chance of life. Life so random that one can only show gratitude for being alive.
2. The 10,000 Sorrows
Part of being grateful means recognizing the painful realties that life brings to us. The understanding that we gain from negative experiences and the practice of gratitude starts to blur the line between positive and negative forces.
When practiced enough, we no longer see the duality in the world, we simply take life as it comes.
No matter what life throws our way, we can either choose to exist in a narrow minded state of fear, or we can continue to see the love and appreciation that exists in the world.
All life comes with 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows, but the focus is up to you as an individual. Life will always recreate, with no regard for what we find positive or negative.
3. Gratitude for Our Parents
Although many people have less than optimal experiences surrounding their parents, some of us would quite naturally be gracious for what our parents have done for us throughout life.
Parents have the immense responsibility to watch over a child from the moment of birth.
The Buddha says that there are two people in the world who are not easy to repay, which are a mother and father.
He teaches that even if you were to carry your mother and father on each shoulder for a 100 years, you would not be able to pay them back for what they’ve given you.
They introduced you to the world, gave you breath, and nourished you from the beginning.
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