Posted by: Michael Rickicki | 12/18/2020

Gratitude and Suffering

A friend just posted the following quote:

And, although I think it is right in ultimate terms, it is seems to be wrong-headed and poor advice to give anyone who is suffering.

In my understanding of Buddhist psychology it is taken as a given that one cannot attend to more than one phenomenon simultaneously. In that regard, anything wholesome has the effect of knocking the unwholesome out of one’s immediate perceptual apprehension. However, the so-called asavas, more or less habitual tendencies to create suffering, are still there in potentiality. So, gratitude does not put an end to grief (only wisdom can do that), but it certainly provides a respite.

I experienced this very thing last night when I was struggling to complete my physical conditioning routine and, even more clearly, this morning during my twenty-five minute session of Tai Chi standing meditation. I purposefully used gratitude as an antidote to intense physical pain by reflecting on such things as:

“I am fortunate to have met with this practice.”

“I am grateful that this body is still whole and healthy. “

“It is a precious thing to be able to feel pain.”

And, believe it or not, this helped to take me out of the pain, however briefly, and allowed me to cultivate contentment. So, no, gratitude isn’t the final answer, but for world kings like myself, it can be a much needed stepping stone.

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