Wednesday, January 20, 2010

LOOKING AT LIFE - WITH GRATITUDE

While watching '3 Idiots' yesterday, I was reminded of an event in my life that took place in 1996. This was triggered while listening to Aamir Khan give the explanation to his friends, while using the 'Aall is well' phrase.

1996. I had just quit the Indian Air Force and was relaxing at home in NOIDA when a friend dropped by and asked me to join him for a Reiki course of 2 days duration being conducted in New Delhi. Since I had nothing better to do, I agreed to join him. We landed at the venue on time - it was a private home, in which the drawing/ dining had been converted into a sitdown accommodation for the course, with mattresses and white sheets spread all through the area. There was a mixed crowd of about 30 people. We were all expected to remove our footwear at the entrance and walk in to our seating postions. We all did so and waited for the Reiki master to come and commence the course. He walked in and started with certain formalities of introductions and gave us information about the course.

After this he asked us, "How many of you have expressed gratitude to your footwear before occupying your seats"? This question baffled most of us - we were not prepared for this. I personally was wondering as to what did he mean by 'expressing gratitude to my footwear'. He thereafter asked each one of us to get up and go and express gratitude to our respective footwear. We all got up and did so. I was still wondering on what did this whole thing mean. As we came back and sat down, he asked us one more question, "How many of you would not have come for this course, if you did not have footwear"? Some hands went up, some thought over it and some more hands went up and finally as the question kept sinking in all our hands were up. He was glad and said that "isn't that reason enough to express gratitude to our footwear"? This did answer our initial doubts that we had after he had asked us the first question.

The class continued and it was time for a break. We wore our footwear and went out to the street to relax. On coming back, Question 1 was once again asked; about half the hands went up. He asked all those who had not expressed gratitude to our footwear to get up and go do the same. I was among the half that got up, went out looked at my chappals and expressed gratitude. The class continued and it was time for a break again. On return once again the same question was asked - this time only 2 or 3 people had their hands up - they were asked to getup and go and express gratitude to their footwear. This continued after every break, but now everyone was prepared and nobody slipped up on this account. I came back home that first evening and narrated this incident to my wife.

In our house, I am responsible for checking that the outer main door is locked before we retire for the night. In case it is not or there is a doubt, I have to go and latch it. On this night when I was latching the door a realisation dawned on me - if not for this tiny latch, we would never get a peaceful full night's sleep - we rely on it so much to give us refreshing sleep, and yet we never express gratitude to it. Next I lay down on the bed and set my alarm clock.... it hit me again.... without this alarm clock, I would be waking up every once in a while to check whether it was time to wake up...... this alarm clock helps me get a good night's sleep. The "Good Knight", the bed, the mattress, the pillow..... the list seemed endless, and that is when the import of our Reiki Master's question in the morning hit home. I actually felt gratitude for all the things around me, and to all those who helped create these things that helped me lead a normal life. Every human is doing something that in some way helps make my life comfortable - whether I was aware of it or not.

This feeling stayed with me for a few weeks; for as long as I continued to practice Reiki. Slowly I lost interest in Reiki and also in the attitude of gratitude and then I became my usual self; I, me, and so full of myself.

Whenever I introspect, I find that I am just a cog in the wheel being helped along in my life by objects and people around me - this feeling takes me towards the attitude of gratitude - but then I never find enough time to introspect, so as to be grateful for all of God's Creation. I know I should be......

10 comments:

Nilu said...

Hello Sir,

I totally subscribe to this attitude of gratitude. That is the only way to be at peace with ourselves and our surroundings. It instills a sense of fulfillment and humility.

You have talked about gratitude toward inanimate things, but even animate beings such as our maid, the dhobi, the car-cleaner, the aaya, the neighbourhood bania, the gossipy neighbours - we should be thankful to them all for the services they render to us in big and small ways. Without them, our day-to-day life would come to a stand-still. And of course, the people closest to us, whom we keep taking for granted - our spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, friends and colleagues. They tolerate all our eccentricities and yet find it in their heart to keep loving us:)

Balvinder Singh said...

Most of the times we are only complaining about our problems, our discomforts, our losses etc., Never do we thank God for having chosen us for the job which are doing, the position that we are in, for the family that we were born in, for the country that we belong to. And it boils down to the little things in our life which may seeem unimportant at first glance. Very pertinent post JP. I have to watch 'Three Idiots' Heard lots of praises.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi JPJ:)

This is a wonderful piece of information you have imparted. I think I should try this. Probably I will be grateful for many things which surround me including people.As I was reading this post I felt the immense truth contained in this post and I realised how ungratefu I have been all along.

This is a wonderful post.

Have a nice day JPJ:)
Joseph

J P Joshi said...

Nilu: You are so very right when you say that " It instills a sense of fulfillment and humility". An attitude of gratitude is the ideal condition but I find it difficult to live up to it in our day to day lives. I found that introspection does help. An attitude of gratitude towards the animate beings would definitely make life much richer, I believe and also there would be fewer clashes of the egos.

J P Joshi said...

Balvinder: I couldn't agree with you more on what you have written in your comment. Thanking God is the easiest way for us humans to stay in an attitude of gratitude but even that is difficult because of maaya or illusions. One definitely has to consciously develop this attitude otherwise the ego develops its own "I, me and mine" attitude, I feel.

J P Joshi said...

Joseph: Thank you for your comment. You know the first time the Reiki master asked us whether we had expressed gratitude to our footwear, you should have seen the look on our faces. Like I said, the import of his question only hit home after nearly 12 hours when I was latching the door at night...my subconscious mind must have been busy trying to resolve this very out of this world suggestion of our Reiki master.

Are we consciously ungrateful.. I believe 'NO'. It is probably God's design that unless we are careful to be grateful, our ego would take over and assert itself. I feel we need to be conscious of this fact. In my case introspection does help.

SWAGATIKA SARANGI said...

Hello sir.

the post invoked the reality behind
the connection of the supreme power
existing among us.The same thing
has told about umpteen times by
my seniors even at saibaba's
temple.I remember it for the day
and come to home and attribute
my solely gratitude to the supreme
power for each and everything,that
has given to me.It mostly exist
for a day or two and then i
being a human-being get back to
my basics like(i could have scored
more,god why did not you help me?My
friend's friend-yeah she is good,
but she shows up a lot etc.etc)
And now while going through this
post i m referring myself to
those 3rd round people who got
up and again went to their respective
shoes to show gratitude.
We remember so many silly things
complaining again and again,but
when the time is for showing the
gratitude for the things we win,
mind seems an utter blank.
Thank you sir,for letting me do my
forgotten duty again.
Have a good day!

How do we know said...

such a beautiful post!!!

J P Joshi said...

Swagatika: Welcome and thank you for your comment. You are so right. It happens with me too... the good intentions and the right attitude stay for a short while, and then the ego takes over and that is why Baba says that we must come back to charge our spiritual batteries... the spiritual charge leaks out very fast, if one is not careful and conscious .. our five physical senses are very overpowering and can make this maaya or illusion into reality.

J P Joshi said...

HDWK: Thank you.