In his classic 'The Gospel of The Buddha', Paul Caras recounts this tale:
On a certain day when the Blessed One dwelt at Jetavana, the garden of Anathapindika, a celestial deva came to him in the shape of a Brahman enlightened and wearing clothing as white as snow.
The deva asked,What is the sharpest sword? What is the deadliest poison?The Blessed One replied,
What is the fiercest fire? What is the darkest night?The sharpest sword is a word spoken in wrath; the deadliest poison is covetousness;The deva said,
the fiercest fire is hatred; the darkest night is ignorance.What is the greatest gain? What is the greatest loss?The Blessed One replied,
Which armor is invulnerable? What is the best weapon?The greatest gain is to give to others; the greatest loss is to greedily receive without gratitude;
an invulnerable armor is patience; the best weapon is wisdom.
I find it interesting that of all the things that The Buddha could have listed as 'the greatest loss' he specifically chose receiving without gratitude. When we are lacking in gratitude it is our own lives that are the poorer.
The teacher Philip Moffat says the following:
Gratitude for the grace of conscious embodiment evolves into the practice of selfless gratitude, in which your concerns slowly but surely shift from being mostly about yourself and those close to you to being about all living beings. As this occurs, you need less and less in the way of good fortune. It becomes enough that there are those who are happy, who are receiving love, who are safe, and who have a promising future. It is not that you would not prefer good things for yourself, but your sense of well-being is no longer contingent on external circumstances. You are able to rejoice that amidst all life's suffering there exists joy. You realize that pain and joy are part of a mysterious whole. When this state of selfless gratitude starts to blossom, your mind becomes more spacious, quieter, and your heart receives its first taste of the long-sought release from fear and wanting. This is grace.In this meditation we practice cultivating gratitude in our own lives. The form of the meditation we use is based on one suggested by Jack Kornfield. I highly recommend you read the whole article that this is based on, it is an excellent teaching.
The audio, including a fully guided meditation is below.
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