From the BlogMeet Ron


 Dear friends,

In this post-election national day of giving thanks, some of us might find ourselves gathered around a table with people we may feel a distant from due to differences in opinions and views. 

I am grateful today for the insight and lifelong dedication of the Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, who founded the world-wide Network for Grateful Living. Brother David has studied and trained with the greatest Zen Buddhist masters of the past century, as well as with Thomas Merton and Paul Tillich. 

What I come home to on days like today, is the simple outline of a practice of living gratefully – yes, a practice of living gratefully, as described below by Brother David.

He says it starts with begins with slowing down to become deeply presentto this moment and the experience that we occupy right now, recognizing its preciousness and impermanence. 

Brother David then then asks us to notice that which is available to us, that which we appreciate, and that which we can acknowledge as treasured, including that which is challenging and difficult. 

And then, as Brother David instructs, the practice asks us to actually identify the opportunities which exist for our action – acting on behalf of what we love, what we value, what we long for. 

He writes: 

“In grateful living, we become responsible agents for making the world reflect our deepest cares and concerns.”

He wrote a piece some 13 years ago about sitting around a table during the holidays, in which he says:

“The moments around the table that are most poignant and make our most meaningful memories are those when we recognize aloud our connectedness and the blessings of our lives in the face of all that is currently untenable.”

In the Buddhist worldview as I understand it, gratitude is the natural response to selfless kindness from others. Buddhism also has a “practice of grateful living” – which helps us experience of the interconnections and interdependence of all life forms.

By being grateful we in turn cultivate a heart of compassion for all sentient beings on this fragile and profoundly threatened planet.

We can even be thankful for the recent election, if it caused you to examine who you really are, what you really value, and how you can best live this one precious life.

Following some of the Lojong teachings preserved in Tibetan Buddhism, we can re-frame suffering and discomfort and be thankful to people who annoy you – for allowing you a clear picture of our own impatience, anger and egoistic self. 

If you and I were around in the sixties, we can give thanks to our aching knees and back in meditation, for it reminds us of how patient and forgiving our body has been with us.

We can give thanks when we are grumpy and irritable, and catch ourselves. 

And thankful for the Dharma and the unconditional compassion, for ourselves and for others, it continues to teach us every moment. 

I’d like to share with you a poem I especially treasure today, by the singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer, see below.
Three Gratitudes
by Carrie Newcomer
Every night before I go to sleep

I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better

Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.
Sunlight, and blueberries,
Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain,
A good friend,
Fresh basil and wild phlox,
My father’s good health,
My daughter’s new job,
The song that always makes me cry,
Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.
Decent coffee at the airport,
And your quiet breathing,
The stories you told me,
The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos,
Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat,
A new poem,
My library card,
And that my car keeps running
Despite all the miles.
And after three things,
More often than not,
I get on a roll and I just keep on going,
I keep naming and listing,
Until I lie grinning,

Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.

Gratefully yours, Tom 

Have a wonderful rest of your week,
Tom, Katina, Kupaianaha … and Uilalani in NYC

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