Author Topic: Without gratidute no success  (Read 1573 times)

Offline Hanzze

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Without gratidute no success
« on: April 23, 2013, 09:18:12 pm »

Without gratidute no success

A starter into Dhamma is gratitude and without it, there is no progress on the path, mostly even no reason to seek for the path.

As it is a very important issue, I would like to give with this topic the opportunity to discover it deeper and as a maybe useful introduction I like to point on a great work which explains the dependency very well: "Lessons of gratitude"

He who does not recognize the benefit done to himself by another
 looses all the goodness he wishes for himself.

(Dalhadhammabodihisatta) Khu. Ja Sattaka. 27/228

He who realizes the benefit done to him by another with gratitude
will get all the good fruit he wishes for and will prosper

(Dalhadhammabodihisatta) Khu. Ja Sattaka. 27/228

One who wants to do afterwards what should be done first, will be as remorseful as the youth in the fable who carelessly broke the branches of the varunia tree.

(Bodhisatta) Khu. Ja. Eda. 27/23

A few general (and everywhere applicable) thoughts, explanations and general remarks about invitations, receiving and also refusing:

• Act consciously

Acting consciously means to not judge things based on belief and assumption but according to how they are.

"I will register", not "I'm going to register some time..."
"I invite XY", not "I'll see that I'll send them an invitation..."

"I accept this invitation", not "Yes, yes, put it there on the shelf"

• If a problem comes up, distinguish the problem from the emotions that come up.

If something does not work at the moment in the way one would like it to, just breathe in and out, and again, go back a few steps, and start from where there was safe ground beneath the feet.
Don't shy away from asking, nobody came into this world with complete knowledge and nobody knew by himself how things work.

• Don't be rash

You cannot always trust and be confident, and often we just act out of the present mood and follow our defilements.
Whenever there arises aversion in response to an invitation, take it as an important warning sign that you have just taken on an unwholesome attitude.
There are four reasons why we act wrongly: Out of delusion ("That's what it is, not anything else. I know it already."), out of greed ("There I'll get something better", "I want this, not that"), out of hatred ("There must be ill intent behind this", "He's doing that to trouble me", "Now I'll get back at you."), or out of fear ("Is it proper to accept this? Am I entering into engagements with this? What will the others say? ...")

Mistrust and fear are probably our greatest hindrances in accepting a present but also the greatest hindrances on the path to happiness. Fear and shame of doing unwholesome deeds is very important, fear and shame of doing something wholesome on the other hand just plain stupid. "I don't have the courage to..." may elicit pity, but only a push really helps here. Pity and support of false shame is not justified and helpful.

Don't slam shut doors. Even if you maybe deem it appropriate today to shut a door with a slam, it's only a question of time until that act (since it usually comes from an unwholesome state of mind) heavily pricks your conscience. Of course that is not the case if you refuse something that did not stem from well-meaning and wise intentions. But if it was a free gift you will inevitably feel ashamed about it.

Even if you have slam-shut a door, gather up all your courage to rise above this disgrace in your conscience, and open it again. It only takes a short conscious act and spares hours and days of unpleasent and unwholesome feelings and sentiments. Anyone who has freely offered a gift will be forbearing and understanding, and not resentful for past events. You only weigh yourself down if you scorn and disdain a well-meant present. It's only a question of time.

• Don't let things rest on assumptions and leave them hanging unresolved.

Assumptions are nice, they may be meant well, but after all they are just assumptions. If anything is unclear, ask. Of course there are questions which are appropriate and some which are unappropriate. But the more frank and open the giver is the less likely he will take offence being asked inappropriate questions.
"Don't look into the mouth of a horse that has been given as a gift", but one can still make sure that it has actually been given.

Even if something is common and customary, that's not a safe guide. If it was common to act in wholesome ways there would be no necessity to learn it and the Buddha's teachings would be all but superfluous. If we were used to really acting in wholesome ways we wouldn't have any need to change our ways. If that really is the case we can easily check by watching our states of mind, and the suffering that still overwhelms us recurrently.

If someone extends an invitation, listen to it. Accept things, or reject things (even if you are well-advised here to reflect soundly on the reason, and in most cases also to make it known), but don't leave things hanging between the taker and the giver. The giver has done his thing, the gift lies there unused, your conscience will burden you sooner or later.
All that aside from the fact that it may well be that little by little you won't have any givers and benefactors left anymore, and don't believe that everything is free from the outlet.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with rejecting something if it is well justified, but it is just plain stupid and presumptuous to not accept a gift, and such behaviour will rebound, not necessarily from the rejected (who may already be aware of cause and effect) but from the own confinement of conscience and with the ripening of results from that deed.

• Reading thoughts is good, speaking plainly and listening is better.

Even if one or the other may think one should "empathize", it will be quite a vague hope for most to be able to read thoughts. Speak about things plainly, speak out devotions and dedications, let others know what you are thinking.
We are not used to doing that, since we have often and in many places been taught to just have our own thoughts on the matter, but that is by no means Dhamma culture.
Refraining and restraint is called for in regard to unwholesome and injuring tendencies. But one should not stop oneself from well-meaning expression and not suppress what is wholesome.
The sphere of thought-reading is probably far away for most, and being inhibited in expressing wholesome things is probably a good indication for such a situation. Assumptions and knowledge are two different things, even if we may have developed systems of assumptions that seem solid and plausible.

• Receiving is giving as well.

Don't believe that you cannot give anything if you are in the situation of being the recipient. A gift received consciously and with gratitude is a present for the giver. You not only pay back the respect and the acknowledgement you have received but also share the gift and the affirmation and encouragement of wholesome action and help the giver to continue with this manner of acting and to gain confidence in it.

• Reject gifts given with wrong intentions.

If you receive a gift that isn't one, reject it. Check carefully, however, if that is really the case, and if there is no doubt about it that this present is not free from greed or hatred or binds you to unwholesome liabilities then skillfully avoid acceptance of that gift. Be honest, but also tactful and don't hurt the giver, since it may well be that he actually is meaning well but only acting in deluded predilection.
People that are not free from defilements may very well exact vengeance for such rejections in very hurtful ways. That you must be aware of. You may by all means receive gifts and then forward them to others or just not use them if their use is only disadvantageous and detrimental for you.
Disadvantageous and detrimental is never meant here as simply unpleasent. The greatest and most useful presents often appear quite unpleasent at first sight.

A good indication on whether a present is given freely or is bound up with liabilities is to check whether the giver is in any way dependent on you and your favour and sympathy. Whether he lives independently of you or in your dependency. People in strong mutual dependency seldomly give freely amongst each other, they only strengthen and tighten their mutual dependency.

Avoid presents which are not presents, but make sure that your current mood and emotions don't serve as a rule for that judgement.

• Kinds of presents.

There are presents which may appear as pleasent or unpleasent in the moment but are useful neither in regard to the worldly life nor beyond that. Those are gifts we are often presented with and usually either happily receive or angrily reject.

There are presents which may appear as pleasent or unpleasent in the moment, which are useful in regard to the worldly life but not beyond that. Those are presents we are given sometimes and which we sometimes rejoice in and sometimes reject.

There are presents which may appear as pleasent or unpleasent in the moment, which are not useful in regard to the worldly life but for what lies beyond. Those are presents which we rarely receive, which we rarely take delight in and we are rarely able to reject.

And then there are presents which may appear as pleasent or unpleasent in the moment, which are useful for the worldly life as well as for what lies beyond. Those are presents which are exceedingly rare and exceptional and which we only very rarely rejoice in and which we are only very rarely able to reject.

We should therefore not consider whether a present appears pleasent or unpleasent but whether it brings any long-term benefit if we want to judge it based on its usefulness.

• Don't promise what you cannot keep.

We give promises if we want to sustain something (a relationship, a preference...) but cannot yet comply with it. That is nothing but incurring debts, and debts must be repaid, whether one can, whether one wants, or not.
If one cannot repay them then this will have consequences, and may it "only" be concerning one's conscience.
No prudent human being expects promises from others since he knows about the impermanence and constraints. Better let go of your promises and give whatever is possible for you right now. Of course this has nothing to do with right effort and mindfulness. One can very well urge and encourage oneself to do good, or to persist with something one perceives as good, but don't give a promise that you cannot keep.
Should you not be able to keep a promise, or have broken one, admit to it and make it known.

Especially if you have made a promise to someone who is virtuous and who is very dependent on that promise you can do great damage with this.
Think of an old sickly person which you advise to take a rest and promise to provide with food and medicine. That person may rely on you, withdraw and completely trust you, and if you then don't fulfill your promise it may very well be that this person, for having relied on you, will starve and die.

Stay where you are and don't give away what you don't have but only believe you will have. Whether it be time, care and sympathy or material things. If you have promised something, see that you can fulfill it, through self-sacrifice or whatever the cost. If you recognize, however, that your promise does not lead towards good, wasn't a good idea, make it known and entreat for release from the obligation.

• Being really cool and unperturbed is the goal of the practice, but that has nothing to do with being cold, casual or negligent.

People who ridicule someone giving humbly, or receiving humbly, are stupid and such offhand dismissive behaviour along the lines of "I can get that by myself" or "Look at these pathetic figures" will neither make them happy nor esteemed by virtuous people.

Should you experience such cases, have compassion with these persons and don't forsake your good behaviour, even if it elicits incomprehension of not so intelligent people.

If you are or have been such a fool yourself, then now is the best opportunity to cast off these views. There is no better moment than now, since it's not sure if such a moment will ever come back.

Personal impressions in addendum:

Among the thickest crusts that I find in Westen Dhamma culture are the habits and customs around invitations and offerings.

Speaking frankly, I cannot construe clearly whether it is only pertaining to the Internet, modern culture in general, or just a personal "problem", but that may not be so important.

Dhamma culture is a culture of invitation and giving, not a culture of "there you can get it" or "what will you give me in return". Even if we may be used to different ways in everyday life, this here may be an opportunity to change our habits and recognize the beauty of a noble alternative.

As most probably know, it is not customary for those, who have strongly dedicated themselves to living by the Dhamma, but also for those who still adhere to somewhat older cultural customs, to simply take anything, or to appear uninvited anywhere.

Thinking about food for example, it may be a common practice to make the fridge available: "Take when you're hungry", but someone who only takes what is given would starve in front of that fridge, should he settle down in such an environment. In such an environment no virtuous or exemplary persons will be able to stay for long.

"Buddhist" practice is a practice of acting consciously and not a practice of estimating and assuming "he has surely put this dish here for me, has done it in that way before". Things are said and done clearly and consciously, consciously given and consciously received. Even unexpectedly in the normal environment one becomes someone who takes wrongly, or loses something one would have for oneself.

A nearly inexhaustable field of practice.

It is a pity that many in this regard feel caught red-handed a little bit and often know nothing better to do than to be embarrassed. As if anyone had ever arrived at good paths by himself.
Being ashamed is an important function, but it should always be a cause and motivation for change, and to remember such shame can be a good incentive. To react on such shame like an animal and hide in the bush with drawn-in tail, hoping that no one follows one, that is even worse than to walk about clumsily and awkwardly.

However, it is good to see that there are those as well who are willing to learn and to change themselves and who are glad about reminders and affirmation.

Here I have a lovely picture which says a lot about how we let ourselves easily be deceived:

"Monks, these two people are hard to find in the world.
Which two?
The one who is first to do a kindness*,
and the one who is grateful for a kindness done
and feels obligated to repay it.
These two people are hard to find in the world."

Who has received or instigated your attention? The dogs or the hands? And why?

* well-meaning service (without expecting a reward)
Source: Dullabha Sutta: Hard to Find

By sharing these words I want to thank all those people who have exemplified gratitude for me in vivid ways, have reminded me of gratitude, have shown me gratitude as an alternative and possible way. I think I could write books about all these persons and moments, but I will make it short here and only mention: my parents, my friends and teachers on the path, and those, who have inspirited and kept alive the lessons of gratitude.

In Cambodian language one says at the end of a thank or a gift "Som akun" which means in short terms something like: "There you are: a thank" or "please receive my gratitude".
In our German culture there is also "Bitte schön" [which is completely different from "pretty please with sugar on top"]- "may my gift be acceptable and pleasently felt" or "Danke schön" "beautiful thanks" - "May my thank be acceptable and pleasently felt".

Bitte schön & Danke schön

Offline ground

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Re: Without gratidute no success
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2013, 10:27:28 pm »
Usually beginners are drowned in words, traps of ideas are built all around them, so that once they get trapped they can stay busy getting out of the traps again.

Anyway ... may you and all beginners have all the successs you desire.  :fu:

Offline santamonicacj

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Re: Without gratidute no success
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2013, 10:57:35 pm »
As I have said elsewhere, my appreciation of Dharma is flavored by my appreciation of the wisdom in12 step programs. In those programs, gratitude, and its nemesis resentment, are big subjects. Suffice it here to say that you cannot progress beyond a certain point while holding resentments, and after that you can't go much further without garnering some gratitude. I personally think that one has not fully "Taken Refuge" until gratitude is part of your feelings towards Dharma.

But that's just my opinion.  :twocents:

Good post Hanzze.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2013, 11:00:42 pm by santamonicacj »
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline ground

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Re: Without gratidute no success
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2013, 11:20:10 pm »
Although I do neither agree nor disagree nevertheless I say "Thank you".
Only sometimes my gratitude arises depending on words of others and it surely increases to the extent the number of words these others have to say decreases.   :fu:

Offline Hanzze

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Dedicated to all mothers
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2013, 05:13:21 am »
Quote from: accesstoinsight
Kataññu Suttas: Gratitude
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2002–2013

"Monks, I will teach you the level of a person of no integrity and the level of a person of integrity. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "Now what is the level of a person of no integrity? A person of no integrity is ungrateful & unthankful. This ingratitude, this lack of thankfulness, is advocated by rude people. It is entirely on the level of people of no integrity. A person of integrity is grateful & thankful. This gratitude, this thankfulness, is advocated by civil people. It is entirely on the level of people of integrity."

{II,iv,2} "I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one's mother & father."

See also: MN 110; SN 7.14; AN 4.73; Iti 106.

In deep devotion taken and dedicated to my mother, my father, my teacher, my friends and guidance and dedicated to all mothers in the past, the present and the future. There is not a single being excluded with it.



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