Gratitude

Blogging

First, just a few words about blogging:  Mixed feelings: so much Zen practice effort aims at releasing self-centeredness, and blogging has a self-centered flavor.  Sometimes it feels not very different from a sea of Tweets and Facebook messages about nothing very interesting, and, at its most shadowy, not entirely distant from The Jerry Springer Show.  Still, blogging offers the possibility of connecting and communicating in a thoughtful way.  So I’m at it, and trying to be careful.  My intention is to encourage Zen practice (or any other form of sincere spiritual practice) by sharing questions, thoughts, and materials I’ve found useful.

Gratitude

Having just retired, I’ve been nearly overwhelmed with gratitude for my health, family, friends, practice, teachers and overall good fortune.  A growing body of scientific research suggests gratitude and happiness are closely related and that cultivating gratitude increases feelings of happiness.  One example is cited here: http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/09/practicing-gratitude-can-increase.php.  While it’s true that Buddhists are big on suffering, gratitude is also a natural and nourishing part of practice; countless Zen stories express the experience of deep gratitude that arises from practice.  Many Zen poems subtly express appreciation for the smallest tender moments.  Here is a beautiful poem of gratitude by American poet W. S. Merwin (who studied Zen with Robert Aiken Roshi in Hawaii, beginning in the mid-70s):

Thanks

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

Comments

  1. Adam says:

    Lovely poem :-)

  2. Norm says:

    Wow; nice website with a nice feel to it.

    Thank you for the offering.

    Gassho, Norm G.

  3. Peter says:

    Glad you liked it. More to come.

  4. I struggle with gratitude. I have a gratitudinal blockage, I think…

    Ditto on the poem! I love Merwin.

    And ditto on the blogging: having just started one myself-I’m trying to not get sucked in to negativity especially since I deal with politics…

  5. Maggie Jamison says:

    Thank you for this heart-opening poem. I’m glad to find out abut your blog.