Los Angeles, USA
Gratitude is extremely important. And why is it important? I mean, of course, we all know gratitude, right? You know what gratitude is. We’ve been taught “gratitude” since we were very young—“Say ‘Thank you.’” Is that gratitude? (“Say ‘Thank you’”?)
A little kid—the mother, the father: “Say ‘Thank you.’” The unfortunate thing is that for so many of us, that’s all we know of gratitude. We don’t know any more!
And today, I’d like to open up a whole another world to you, and it’s called “the world of gratitude.” Because what does it take to feel gratitude?
First of all, gratitude is a feeling—and a feeling cannot be coerced. Either you feel it—or you don’t feel it. It’s not one of those things, “Sit down—and let me talk you into hunger.” Hunger is, either you feel hungry or you don’t feel hungry. Thirst is, either you feel thirsty or you don’t feel thirsty. Happiness is, either you feel happy or you don’t feel happy.
So, for a lot of people, when it comes to this one thing of gratitude, it’s a mystery—“What are you talking about? Yeah, of course I have gratitude; I say ‘Thank you’ all day long! When the flight attendant brings me the horrible food, I say ‘Thank you’”—and you don’t even know where it’s been.
And there are so many people who keep telling you about “recycle, recycle, recycle—and that’s good; that’s green.” And is this food recycled too? And there’s something suspicious about it because all the galleys are so close to the bathrooms. (And in India that would be a no-no—you cannot have a bathroom close to anywhere you’re preparing food.)
So, we say “Thank you.” We haven’t tasted the coffee, (and the coffee might be horrible), and we say “Thank you.”
“Have a great flight!” (How do you know? Are you a meteorologist; are you the captain?) And where is the turbulence? You know, did the captain get a good sleep last night? Is he feeling okay? Is it the copilot’s turn to fly? But “Have a good flight,” and you go “Thank you; I will.” So we think, somehow, we can just talk ourselves into gratitude, feeling thankful—but that’s not the case.
So, what would make you thankful? Is there something naturally going on inside of you that would make you thankful? Is true gratitude a head thing or a heart thing?
You’re thinking, aren’t you? I can hear you thinking; I can hear you going, “Nobody has ever asked me that question, ‘Is gratitude a heart thing or a head thing?’” Because your contact with gratitude has been a head thing—and that’s not the gratitude I’m talking about. Those are good manners. Manners has nothing to do with gratitude. Otherwise, the word “thank you….”
Say, you are in a situation which is horrible—horrible situation—and somebody gives you a glass of water—you’re not even thirsty—and he says, “Drink it.” Should you say “Thank you”? Shouldn’t you say “Thank you”? (You’re thinking again, aren’t you?) And that’s a million miles away from gratitude—has nothing to do with the situation.
It is not that you are rich, that you should be thankful, and it is not that you are poor, that you should be thankful. It is not that you are healthy, you should be thankful; it is not that you are sick, you should be thankful. It is not that you are young, you should be thankful; it is not that you are old, you should be thankful.
It is not any of these things. Gratitude happens when you realize in your life, what you have been given—innately, without requesting, without pushing a button, without making a call, without putting a request form in—so, what have you been given? You have been given life.
If you’re here and you’re listening to what I am saying—and you hear my words, obviously, you’re alive. And if you are alive, do you recognize what that means? That that is the first gift that you have been given for which you need to be thankful for.
And when you feel that life, when you feel like you are alive, you don’t have to create gratitude—the gratitude naturally flows from within you. And this is the essential gratitude—the basic, the core gratitude. The real gratitude, the true gratitude.
And without it, you cannot even begin to truly enjoy your existence. All you live in then is a peril of all these dualities, all these ideas, all these definitions which keep changing, year to year to year to year.
Today, I go around the world and people talk to me about peace and I talk to them about peace. For the life of me, one thing I have not been able to understand is, “How can it be that, well, this is an English word—it’s simple; it’s called ‘peace’—and nobody has any idea what it means?” How can that be?
But here we are, and in this world is so much crazy stuff…. “Gratitude?” Shouldn’t I be talking about how you can press an acupuncture point on your body and it completely relaxes you when you see the headlines of the newspaper? Shouldn’t I be talking about some antidote that you could use when you accidentally turn on the television and happen to just flash through a news channel?
No, because in reality, because you are alive, the most beautiful thing is happening, even with all the craziness in this world. And it can get ten times crazier. And even then, in the midst of all the craziness, there is something beautiful taking place.
And the greatest message in that, is that “Even in the middle of this craziness, there is sanity. Even in the darkness, there is light.”
There is a truth that remains defiant to all the lies that one faces in their life. That there is a power in the power of this breath, that this breath comes into you, even though you are surrounded by all those things that would steal it—defiant.
That there is a wisdom inside of you that defies all the ignorance that you may be surrounded with. There is a light inside of you that defies all the darkness around you. There is a well inside of you that is perpetually full of beautiful, clean, sweet water, and it defies all the droughts around it.
And the day you discover this well, the day you discover this wisdom, the day you discover this light, the day you discover this beauty, you will be filled with gratitude—and that will be the truest, most real gratitude there is.