Gratitude begets

Grateful that my father-in-law introduced me to reading Maugham. What one of his character says, hit me very hard, and stays with me: “Oh, my dear boy, one mustn’t expect gratitude. It’s a thing that no one has a right to. After all, you do good because it gives you pleasure. It’s the purest form of happiness there is. To expect thanks for it is really asking too much. If you get it, well, it’s like a bonus … it’s grand, but you mustn’t look upon it as your due”.

In some ways, this was a part of my upbringing. My parents always taught that the opportunity to do good is it’s own reward. In school, we were told नेकी कर कुये में दाल (Do good and forget about it). Doing good is always a responsibility and a privilege. I have elsewhere written about the Zen monk, who on receiving a huge donation from the King, gave him an even more valuable lesson, “It is the Giver who should be grateful.”

Denali National Park in autumn, Alaska, USA, North America

Unfortunately the human condition is different. The normal experience we all have is…even the people who do very little, expect others to acknowledge and compliment. And if others have not recognized their contribution, people are unhappy!! The sheer & pure joy of having done a good deed is a fast passing fancy! Rather, it is as though unless others acknowledge and compliment, my good deed is not “complete”. And I will  somehow or other find a way to showcase my “good deed”, my action and point to others my nobility, in having gone down to the level of the hoi-polloi, and made them  benefactors of my munificence!! My endeavour is to prove that I am next only to God, as omniscient & as compassionate,  as giving & as forgiving, such that, really, people should hail the second coming of the Christ!!

Sounds familiar? In smaller or larger degree, we all carry this seed of thoughts and feelings. And always feel wronged…at being misunderstood, at being undervalued, at not getting our due!!! Superior to all others, we keep wondering when will they wake up to our greatness? when will they understand how wrong they are? when will they kowtow to the superior being who is amongst their midst?

the-struggle-ends

Again, the fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves. What we need to do is just change our mindset, change the lens through which we look at the world…and it will flash upon that inward eye that I am the supplicant, I am the receiver, I am the beneficiary, I am in the debt of forces and people around me who are giving me this living experience. They contribute in innumerable ways to make my life and my living richer and fuller!! I should be grateful for all that I am receiving, and continue to get, day in and day out.

Albert Einstein captured this thought so beautifully: “A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.” This quote disabuses my ego, and reminds me that without the contributions of others I am nothing. I get support from hundreds of others to enjoy the life as I do.  I stand on the shoulders of so many giants, people far better and more learned than me, who contribute to helping me understand my real situation. In front of all these, it is foolhardy for me to expect that others should thank me. Rather the fact to understand and learn quickly is, I must be grateful, I am the beggar, and my bowl is always over-full if I develop my eyes to see this. As the Hindi song goes: एहसान मेरे दिल पे तुम्हारा है दोस्तो , ये दिल तुम्हारे प्यार का मारा है दोस्तो.

GratitudeChangesEverything

Piglet in Winnie the Pooh by A A Milne showed us the way to be: “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” Can we learn from Piglet?  As soon as we are able to see things and people around us with gratitude, the world around us blooms and blossoms. Recollect all the happy people in your life. You will see clearly that they are grateful. Grateful they are alive. Grateful they have another bright and shining day unfolding before them. Grateful for the very chance to be happy and alive. As they say, we can complain that rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice that thorns have roses!! Long long ago, Epicurus cautioned us:  “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”  Remember whatever your condition, what you have today, is the dream and aspiration of many others who are hoping they would reach your position/condition. Blessings have to be counted. Unfortunately our habit is to hunger for things one does not have. But once received, we quickly undervalue it and think this was only your due….and hunger now for something more, something different, something always beyond our grasp. Can we change gears and learn to be grateful instead?

enough

So start every day with a grateful heart. Grateful that you are alive. And look forward to the new day unfolding its’ gifts and treasures before you. Everything that happens in your life is an experience. See it positively and learn its’ teachings. The Greek philosopher Seneca obviously had a great insight, when he wrote:  “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing.” 

end

Why go that far back. Our modern master Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth: Awakening to Life’s Purpose) reminds us an eternal truth: “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” We have it within us to be happy. To be happy, be grateful!! Gratitude. That is all we need to bring heaven on earth!! That is why Hindu scriptures always said: It is all within you. You hold the Keys of the Kingdom. Meister Eckhart had the last word on this: ” “If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” 

 

पोटा पुरता पसा पाहिजे नको पिकाया पोळी देणाऱ्याचे हात हजारों दुबळी माझी झोळी                                         (I need just a handful of grains to fill my stomach, not पुरण पोळी. There are thousands of hands ready to give, but my alms-bag is too flimsy to hold all that I receive).

Thank you all for being in my life: vikas

grat

27 Replies to “Gratitude begets”

  1. Hi VS:
    Your blog reminded me of an analogy i had drawn during my farewell speech at Atul: On the Janmashtami day , you see groups of Govinda all around to break the ‘matki’. The one at the top who finally breaks the matki is visible to everyone ..and is applauded. It is important for him to remember that he is standing ,taking support of a large no of his team mates …making 2-3 tiers of enthusiastic people, with their heads down and locking their hands with the next person to make a strong foundation. Their faces are not even visible. The person breaking the matki has to understand that he is able to do so on the strength of all those willing team mates.

    if we observe ourselves minutely, every little thing that we do..has a helping hand of someone or the other !

    u have chosen a topic which touches lives of every one ..moment to moment.!

    superb write up!

    while u always claim yourself to be an atheist, from your blogs i get a feeling that deep down , you are very spiritual person. Your thoughts reflect values which are the essence of spirituality. Perhaps you are more spiritual than many of those who claim to be one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JLS
      thanks for your comments.
      The Govinda example is a superb one for team work and those worl selflessly for group’s goals. I often use this example in my training programmes. In J&J we once hosted an WorldWide Consumer Business Leadership meeting. Lot of seniors had come from all over the world, and as an opener we actually created a film on the Govinda theme with the “matki” being the “SOL” (Standards of Leadership) Competency Model of JnJ globally. That was a theme which was new to most people who attended and it was a real hit with the audience. My high spot came when Collen Googins who was WW Head of JnJ Consumer asked me to give her a copy of the film on a CD as she said she would like to use it in other meetings!!! Great fun, Great recognition.

      Unfortunately who climb on top, often forget their route up and the silent contributions of others who have put them on top. And that is where Gratitude plays in.

      Best part is that ennobles the Giver even while it pleases the Receiver….happiness all around.

      As re spirituality and faith, I am only against ritualistic religion, temples and idols, and blind faith. I do understand that even what I debunk, serves a purpose for many people who find it easier to pin their trust and prayers on a “hook”. I have moved to a stage where I understand that there is very little I understand and so I do not proselytise or be evangelistic of my views. Of all that I have read, teachings of Gautam Buddha, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Ramana Maharshi resonate most with me, as they do not try to make faith magical. To them it is as simple and as tangible as breathing and eating. I look FW to a day when more and more people move away from blind faith and take their lives into their own hands and own thoughts. Of course I know people will move their at their own speed and comfort, and i am nobody to judge anyone else but myself.

      Personally, I will keep questioning, keep exploring and keep learning… I am having too much fun to do anything different!!! Good night now

      Like

  2. Folks, my exboss and long ti/me friend Subhash Chitre is now in USA. He follows the blogs and writes his response to me. I am copy pasting it here so that others too can enjoy his anecdotes, examples and comments. So here goes

    QUOTE
    Vikas, I thoroughly enjoyed your write-up on ‘gratitude,’ which as usual you have presented with deep feelings. Indeed, an appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. And if we were to make a list—well, I don’t know where will it end. If we closely examine; are we truly appreciating the role of innumerable people who have’ helped build our parachutes?’

    Why go so far, how many of us and how often, are we thanking our parents, teachers, superiors and even critics, without whose help we would not have been able to achieve/accomplish whatever we might have.

    Ramu bhaiyya Date, as we know, father of Arun Date, was a renowned singer from Indor. He started vocals near Indore with Kumar Gandharva. In 1955, he started singing with All India radio.
    रवी दाते ह्यांनी ‘रामूभैय्या दाते- एक आनंद प्रवाह ‘ पुस्तक लिहिले. त्यांत त्यांनी रामू भैय्यांच्या च्या आठवणी सांगितल्या आहेत. : In his book, He has written about his sense of appreciation (gratitude). for good food prepared by a housewife. He says, “ Chutney’ perfectly prepared is as great as very well sung ‘Thumari.’ He goes further saying “To express gratitude may look like a formality, but when not expressed it is an offenc. In the above context, he further says: ‘
    ‘ खरं तर माझ्या मते रसिकाचे महत्व कलाकारा पेक्षाही ज्यास्त आहे. रसिक हा माझ्या द्रीष्टीनी कलाकारा पेक्षाही मोठा आहे. कारण भौतिक शास्त्रा प्रमाणे एखाद्या पदार्थाला सामावून घेणारे पात्र त्या पदार्थाच्या आकारमाना पेक्षा मोठे असावे लागते. ( Container has to be bigger than the content). कलेचा आस्वादक हा जर कलेची रस निष्पत्ती धारण करणारा असेल तर भौतिक शास्त्राच्या तत्वा प्रमाणे रसिक हा कलाकारा पेक्षा मोठा असणे आवश्यक आहे .’

    Truly, Vikas, you said it so well !

    Chitre.
    UNQUOTE

    Like

  3. अप्रतिम
    अतिशय सुंदररित्या भावना व्यक्त केल्या आहेत.
    सध्याच्या एक प्रकारच्या Attitude ने
    जगणाऱ्यांच्या स्वभावात हा Gratitude चा डोस चांगला बदल घडवून आणेल

    Like

  4. Amazing. Observations, flow of thoughts, quotes, everything. Something I would like to read after I get up in the morning and before I sleep at night. Need to search for a photo frame worthy of this piece, to be framed and kept for life.

    Like

    1. Mimi that is sooooooo sweet of you. You are a pillar of strength and support forever. Thanks a ton for being on my side, always.
      You remind me of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous one: “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
      Stay Happy, as a man greater than me has said often to all of us.

      Like

  5. Humility has now become just a word rather than a virtue. As I go through this piece that you’ve written, I really wish there are more who think and feel the way you do because it’s a world which believes that ‘mine is bigger than yours’ and frankly if you do not ‘strut your stuff’ you’re not hep or even happening. C’est la vie. The best lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity…

    Like

    1. Yes Ameya it is sad that today we are in a world of comparisons and contrasts. There is little joy in others’ achievements and contributions. Forever it is about me and mine. What should we be more worried about? the doubts of the intelligent or the certainty of fools? while walking through these conundrums I take solace in the clarion call of Cicero who avers that Gratitude is the parent of all virtues. That was what truly prompted this blog. Can we all connect to that inner core of good, take joy in seeing good around us and celebrate goodness. Let us hope that is life. En effet, c’est la vie, mon cherie!!!

      Like

  6. What a beautiful piece. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Very uplifting & good learning. It has always been my advice to our daughters…Just learn to begin each day by thanking the Almighty everyday. .no need for lengthy prayers. Tks once again my friend !

    Like

    1. Cynth Thanks a lot. I enjoy writing down my thoughts as it helps me clarify all the dust-storms inside. And so when what I write resonates with friends, the joy of discovery, the thrill of a common human condition makes it all so much fun. keep encouraging me dear. It means a lot to me

      Like

  7. Good one..

    Loved the thought “It is the Giver who should be grateful” … If the Giver indeed gives with a grateful heart, there is dignity in receiving too… And then like Ajoba’s fav lines from Vinda Karandikar’s poem, the receiver can one day start being the giver… घेता घेता एके दिवशी देणाऱ्याचे हात घ्यावे

    Like

    1. Thanks Praju for your comments. I always tell Vinita, give more than what people expect, and give it happily. It is a skill and mindset to be learned…not to be transactional, but to give because you like to give. Then only it is a truly noble act

      Like

  8. This is tenth time l am attempting to write in this space but somehow it escapes when l push the
    keys after my reply. I hope l get it through this time. Vikasji livenotes penned by you are an essence of essence . Everyone of passes through one’s life mostly unmidful of the rich tapestry of nature and elements delivered unto us as we try to make sense of the chaos caused by humanity surrounding us in this tower of Babel. Only a handful of philisophers, poets, prophets or great authors pause to ponder over the mundane to divine the elixir and share it with rest which has power to elevate the the society and the people to usher in the golden millennia which we all seek. But it is unfortunate that such works are often discovered too late. My prayer to you is pl keep writing and the fortunate will hunt for it sooner than later. God bless.VRP

    Like

    1. Page sir your nine misses and final one hit tells us that while there is the Tower of Babel, but there is also the Promised Land… we must trust the process and keep the faith and we will awaken in the Land of Plenty. My experience has been true to the Biblical pronouncement: “Ask and you shall be given; seek and you shall find”. There are enough indications and teachers all around us, if only we will keep our eyes open. And seek with a loving heart. We are, unfortunately, so busy staring at the closed door, that we fail to see that while one door opens, another opens, if you keep your eyes open to possibilities. You are a beacon of hope and positivity to so many who know you from near. So your kind words of praise help lighten up my path. and a la Tennyson’s Ulysses:-
      “Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
      We are not now that strength which in old days
      Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are.”
      So onward and ahead, dear friend. There remains much to be done. Tally Ho!!!!

      Like

  9. As always great reading your blogs. It always leaves behind points to ponder and reset ownself. Beautiful quotes and pictures enhanced it. May Lord provide you with all strength and Wisdom from tomorrow which is really a humble beginning

    Like

  10. Very well written Vikas…enjoyed reading your thoughts and reflecting how naive am at times. However, it’s friends like you around my life who help me to introspect and change for better.. for all around me..

    Like

    1. Shikha ji many many thanks for your kind words. We all are what we are because of a nudge, a shoulder, a finger or sometimes a hard slap piloted us along the “right” path. Such moments give me the time to reflect and thank all those who have made me what I am. As Gibran has said Life celebrates itself, we are merely transients in the storm.

      Like

    1. Amol this is your love speaking and not your brain.. We learn from everyone in our lives. Some we acknowledge, some we don’t. But finally it is fun. Careening down the raft, on this raft called life, buffeted by waves, adversities and experiences. We do develop love and affection for our fellow travellers. And the trick is t enjoy the journey. Remember the Campa Cola advert jingle? We are all in it together for the fun of it, for the taste of it. Enjoy my friend. And make good memories.

      Like

  11. Giving model coupled with complete humility is apparent in your thought and in text.
    I can say it with my personal experiences the way in which you assist many silently.
    As usual, the blog makes great reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sureshbhau, your love and affection shaws through the comment. I feel privileged to be your friend. I have always followed my father’s advice: he used to say , my only earning is my friends. Thanks a lot for your encouraging words

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s