Have you discovered the fulfillment and joy that gratitude can bring you, yet?
The first step toward recognizing the qualities of natural mind is illustrated by an old story told by the Buddha, about a very poor man who lived in a rickety old shack. Though he didn’t know it, hundreds of gems were embedded in the walls and floor of his shack. Though he owned all those jewels, because he didn’t understand their value, he lived as a pauper – suffering from hunger and thirst, the bitter cold of winter, and the terrible heat of summer.
One day a friend of his asked him, “Why are you living like such a pauper? You’re not poor. You’re a very rich man.”
“Are you crazy?” the man replied. “How can you say such a thing?”
“Look around you,” his friend said. “Your whole house is filled with jewels – emeralds, diamonds, sapphires, rubies.”
At first the man didn’t believe what his friend was saying. But after a while he grew curious, and took a small jewel from his walls into town to sell. Unbelievably, the merchant to whom he brought it paid him a very handsome price, and with the money in hand, the man returned to town and bought a new house, taking with him all the jewels he could find. He bought himself new clothes, filled his kitchen with food, engaged servants, and began to live a very comfortable life.
Now let me ask a question. Who is wealthier – the man who lives in an old house surrounded by jewels he doesn’t recognize, or someone who understands the value of what he has and lives in total comfort?
The answer here is: both. They both owned great wealth. The only difference is that for many years one didn’t recognize what he possessed. It wasn’t until he recognized what he already had that he freed himself from poverty and pain.
–Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, The Joy of Living
It’s easy to say, “I had a hard day.” It’s harder to add, “But, that day was nonetheless filled with blessings.”
Today I am grateful for a recent visit with wonderful friends. We should all appreciate our friends, and tell them often how lucky we are to have them in our lives. These friends moved recently to an island off the coast of BC, and we don’t get to see them much, but got to grab a short visit while they were in town over the holidays. Even an evening is precious when spent in such wonderful company.
I am also grateful for winter.
This is a hard one; winter – with it’s lack of sunlight and freezing temperatures – is usually something I wish away, but I’m trying not to do that this year. I’m grateful for the icy beauty that greets me when I open the door. I’m grateful for the heat that keeps us toasty in our house. I’m grateful that I have a new winter coat and gloves and hand knitted scarves to keep me warm. I’m grateful that I’m here for another winter, weather be damned!
Lately – for a month or so – I’ve been dealing with serious insomnia. As such, I take sleep whenever I can grab it, including many afternoon naps.
I think I had forgotten how awesome an afternoon nap can be – even in a room full of sunshine, that soft hour or two of dozing feels absolutely decadent. And I’m grateful for sleep in general – whenever and wherever I can find it nowadays, whether it’s 4 pm, snuggled up with my cat in a ray of sunlight, or 4 am, spooned around my husband. I gave up coffee to try to combat the insomnia, for quite a while, but the last few days I’ve started drinking it again – and have started sleeping a little more regularly, too. I’m grateful for both of those thing, for certain!
I’m rich, richer than most of the people in the world. I have a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator, and people to love. And I am so very grateful.