Are you a dog being wagged by its tail? Most are.
I think the idea of gratitude is for the most part misunderstood. It is often seen as a humiliation. But if you think about it, there is nothing more ennobling.
When you are in the experience of gratitude, you are in peace. You are in the present. When you cannot rest in the now, gratitude for that moment is absent. And when gratitude is absent, then growth is absent. Plants grow in receptiveness to sunlight. If they somehow decided that sunlight wasn’t enough, the hypothetical unrest would only sicken them. It would stymie growth, not feed it. We as human beings receive much that we take no note of: warmth, air, food, water. If we cannot see that we are supported in the most simple ways, then we are off center in dealing with more complex issues.
Most people see gratitude to another human being sort of like this: “My friend does something for me that I can’t do for myself. That means I was not able, inadequate. My friends ability makes him or her superior to me. I should please them to continue to receive this help.” This of course is not a good way of thinking. It twists much of the spirit of the event. The sharing becomes obligation, not win/win. This is why people adopt the martyr complex. Martyrs feed their egos very well.
Gratitude is more than saying, “Thank you.” The words themselves without the spirit behind them are best abstained from, as is apoplectic speech. They are dodges. When you say “Thank you” from habit, what you are speaking thanks for, you are actually ignoring. Most people seem to put very little mindfulness behind gratitude. When you apologize, you are thanking them for forgiving you even if they haven’t yet, and usually with the same lack of mindfulness. Much that can be healed in human exchange never is because of those niceties that no one thinks about.
Zen teaching is correct in its cautions on language. The words point, but we don’t keep them at that. They replace in most peoples thinking. They blind. When you shift like that, what gets done? What actually changes? Much emphasis is put on repentance, renunciation. It’s the path of the mystic. Many fall away from that path because they were never in a place where they accepted what they are renouncing. They deny their connection and fail to see their connection to what they supposedly renounce. My experience is that people can only transcend what they first accept, and the only real acceptance is gratitude.
How many people are grateful for their mistakes? It is possible to be. Is it possible to move beyond the mistake before you can be grateful for it? Until you reach a point of peace with the mistake, you instead feed the mistake. On the foundation of gratitude, of acceptance, all other things can be built.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.