Gratitude and Equanimity
From a talk by Cheri Maples
You can’t find gratitude in your mind. You can only find it by leading with your heart and living it. When we are grateful, we are able to delight in what we do not know. Gratitude is about recognizing that there is so much wonder, so much mystery, so much life beyond the realm of finite understanding, that we fall into a space of joy.
As our practice is developed, we are able to feel gratitude for what we see as our most challenging times. The practice gives us the ability to hold it all, the ability not to get caught by what we see and feel in any given moment.
Mindfulness and the practice, being present, develop an attitude of gratitude. Thay makes the phenomenal statement that the moment we focus on the desire for another to be happy and at peace, the energy of love arises in us.
Gratitude leads to equanimity, which is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. I will name several qualities of equanimity.
Integrity gives us the ability to feel confident about our actions and words, resulting in the blamelessness that leads to equanimity. We step away from needing perfection in ourselves or others in a journey of gentle, but not ruthless, honesty. It means not being aggressive in our actions, speech, or thoughts, and learning to put space between our thoughts and our words.
When we learn not to cause harm in ourselves by being in touch with the elements in our life that are refreshing and by selective watering of wholesome seeds, we learn how it is possible not to cause harm in others. My own flaws and the flaws of others don’t bother me. I learn to separate a person’s actions from who they are. We are all heirs of our own karma. This quiets my need to approve or disapprove of others.
Faith means having confidence in our ability to engage in spiritual practice. Faith grows as we try out teachings to see if they really make a difference in our lives. The Buddha discovered the answers about the nature of existence not through revelation from a supreme being, but through the power of awareness inherent in us all. In contrast to belief, faith is not a received answer, but an active open state that makes us willing to explore, to trust our own experience.
Commitment to our own well-being means using the practice to cultivate calm, concentration, and mindfulness as well as underscoring nutrition, moderation, sleep, exercise. It is making sure we take time to be present with our cup of tea, with our friend, with the sunset.
Insight means deep seeing into the nature of things as they are, and understanding the nature of our fears and our suffering. No matter how much we want it to be otherwise, the truth is we are not in control of the unfolding of our experiences. When we develop the insight that enables us to surrender to that knowledge, we will always live in a state of grace and gratitude, regardless of what is going on.
Save the Date for SnowFlower Fall Regional Retreat October 18-20
At Bethel Horizons. Led by Dharma Teacher Jack Lawlor.
Children’s Program, Tuesday July 23 and August 27, 6:30 – 7:25 at Friends Meetinghouse
Communi(tea) Time – Tuesdays from 6:00-6:50 at Friends Meetinghouse
Enjoy a delicious and informal cup of tea and conversation before the weekly Tuesday gathering
Tea with Susan Pearsall
Quiet Conversation and Turkish Tea in Susan’s home. Contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday and Friday Sangha Gatherings
The Friends Meetinghouse, 1704 Roberts Court, Madison, WI. 7:00 – 8:30pm.
Wednesday Daytime Sangha Gatherings
Locations Rotate, 1:30-3:00 pm – Refer to Wednesday listsrv emails for location information and updates. For more info, email email@example.com
Sunday Morning Sangha Gatherings
Locations Rotate, 10:00 – 11:30 am. Refer to Sunday listserv emails for location and topic. For more info, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org