By Gurudevi Nirmalananda
You have no reason to give thanks unless you receive something that is meaningful to you. Genuine thanks is a rare experience, unfortunately. Americans, particularly, are very good at mouthing the words without inflection, “Thank you.” I’ve heard it called the American mantra.
I remember being taught to say thank you to my elders when I was small, even when they were giving me something I had no interest in. It felt like I was being trained to lie, except that they also told me I should never lie. The phrase became meaningless to me; it stayed that way for a long time.
At one point I even decided to stop saying it. When a waiter brought food to my table, I didn’t thank him because it was his job, for which he was getting paid as well as getting a tip. If he did well, I gave a larger tip, which I figured was meaningful to him. It seemed sensible to me at the time. But my adolescent children said I came across as rude. Worse, it was embarrassing them. So I went back to saying words that I didn’t mean.
I could see that the words acknowledged someone who did something for me, like hold a door open when I was approaching. But did I feel grateful? Truly, I have to say no. I didn’t feel gratitude much. It turns out that was the real problem. It wasn’t that the words were so difficult; it was that I wasn’t feeling grateful.
I tried doing the gratitude jar. I could list things that I knew I was fortunate to have, but did I really feel gratitude? Instead, my head and heart were full of complaints, along with unrealistic agendas and expectations that fed future complaints, enough to last me a lifetime. It was a very uncomfortable way to live but I didn’t know another way.
When I got Shaktipat from Baba, everything changed. There was bliss arising within, from a source I couldn’t find and didn’t understand, but I loved it anyway. My many complaints began to dissolve, along with my ideas of what everyone else should be doing.
Better yet, I had an inner sense of purpose. I was working on something important, even beyond self-improvement. Eventually I learned it was called Self-discovery, even revelation and realization. Since I was finding fulfillment within, the outer world wasn’t so frustrating to me. But still I wasn’t grateful. Why? Because I still wasn’t receiving.
I had received Shaktipat, the initiation that opened up the inner realms for me to explore. Unknowingly, I thought of it as a one-time receiving, like when someone gives you a tissue when you need it. But Shaktipat opens the floodgates of Grace — it just keeps flowing. I was living in the flow without recognizing it. It was only when I went to meet Baba in person that I could see that more was going on, much more than my puny little mind could understand. It took me three weeks of living in his Ashram to finally get the point — it was all coming from him.
It was a bit shocking at first, that anyone could be so spiritually advanced that they could zap me open. I could see his depth, power and love, but I didn’t understand that he freely shared it with us. Once I figured that out, I still didn’t know how to receive, so I asked him to help. “Baba, please help me open myself to you.” He smiled and nodded, obviously delighted with my question.
It worked! I got more than I’d ever dreamed possible, with profound meditation experiences and incredible insights blossoming forth within. And I saw that there was still more for me to receive. So I’ve been developing my ability to receive ever since. And my gratitude has grown exponentially. The more I receive, the more gratitude I feel, both to Baba and more.
My gratitude extends to all of you, that you want to know the profound dimensions within. My gratitude extends to the sun, to the earth and rain, to all the things I was always supposed to be grateful for. Only now it’s real. I’m grateful to my body and mind, that they give me a way to experience the Divine Reality masquerading as this world and everyone in it. My heart melts in gratitude, which means I get to live in the melting. It’s the only way to live!
OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h