Live Zen on a daily basis: the treasure of gratitude

- through Henry Oudin

Published on

What if we learned to cherish life and say “thank you” to it in all circumstances?

I believe that one of the first words that was passed on to me as a precious treasure as a child was the simple word “thank you”. I was then invited to produce it constantly, to embellish it with a smile, but I did not always take the measure of its value when, taken by haste and the desire to play, and not without resistance, I was executing.

Everyone knows that it is easier and more rewarding to give than to receive. We prefer the illusion of the power to give than the fragility in which the act of receiving seems to plunge us. Receiving is very difficult, it would almost be an art. In traditional Japanese culture, care is taken not to open the package in front of the person offering it. Of course, it is important not to insult his generosity, because that would be a little to assess its nature. But we would also blame ourselves for embarrassing the other with the ceremony of bestowals and recognition. In Asia, the act of giving has more value than the object that passes from hand to hand. And, for those who receive, what could be greater, more noble, more essential than the gratitude experienced?

In Asia, the act of giving has more value than the object that passes from hand to hand. And, for those who receive, what could be greater, more noble, more essential than the gratitude experienced?

This very life is an extremely rare present. What about this extremely rare opportunity that has been given to us to be born, to perceive and to be aware of ourselves and of others? Precious human existence of which we are not sufficiently aware. Our life only lasts a handful of years, but it is an incredible chance that is hardly likely. Gratitude for having a body, a word and an ability to act. Because, until proven otherwise, matter is blind and captive to itself. What can we say about our luck in having this awareness of existing, which so many forms and existences seem to lack! And what should be our gratitude to carry within us this “stardust” according to the expression dear to Hubert Reeves, of which we are all composed, because the very matter of our body is that of the universe in its confines. The whole history of our world can be read in the atoms and molecules that make us up. We are made of those who preceded us also thanks to the reality of filiation and its laws, but also through the miracle of physical law: the water that makes up our body also comes from the body of those who preceded us. Gratitude for participating in the universe in this way. Gratitude to be connected. To live this full interdependence, this co-emergence which means that we do not exist by our mere fact. We do not exist as an island or a separate being, fixed and rigid, immutable and permanent. We are evanescence in an ever-changing world. This is one of the essential meanings of what Buddhism calls 'emptiness'.

April welcomes spring blooms to Japan

To welcome spring, to contemplate the Sakura, as the cherry blossoms are called on the Japanese archipelago, is to experience the most moving gratitude for this fragile and beautiful existence that crosses us and that we cross. All the more precious and rare as it can waver at any moment. This splendor on the verge of undoing, this splendor of the petals scattered by the wind, this splendor of the petals strewing the bitumen and the gravel. Just a feeling of gratitude. A thank you that rises from the depths of being.

One petal at a time,
the cherry tree
is painted on the asphalt

Invitation to Gratitude

Each breath is like a flower that opens and blossoms. The breath brings out our vitality and connects us to the universal. Gratitude consists in living this moment as it is. Without adding or subtracting anything. Say thank you with our whole body. Live fully what is given. Fully accept it. Just be the breath and let the life in itself be born and grow.

Sakura in the rain
even more magical the light
on the branches

Breathe in calmly suspending all thought, then breathe out saying thank you clearly. A thank you without object and without addressee. Even sick or uncomfortable. Especially if things aren't going well. Be unconditional gratitude to be and to live. Single flower in the wind

photo of author

Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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