Grace and Gratitude

Please indulge me as I invite you to take a test and answer a few simple questions.  Sit back and relax.  Now that you are comfortably seated, please reflect on the following questions and answer with a simple “yes” or “no” without qualifying your response:

  • Do I feel hungry?
  • Do I get what I wish to eat (most of the time, anyway)?
  • Am I able to enjoy/digest what I consume?

If you answered in the affirmative to the above questions, congratulations!  We can deduce that you are healthy, your body is functioning as it was designed to, and for the most part, you are in control of your essential faculties.

Moving forward, allow me to present the following interesting data (courtesy of the omnipresent and ever-obliging universal aunt Google) which, in very general terms tells us that in the case of an average adult:

  • 12 – 20 breaths are taken by a human each minute
  • The heart beats 100,000 times each day and pumps 5.6 litres (6 quarts) of blood circulating through the body three times every minute
  • About 600,000 particles of outer layer of skin is shed every hour and the epidermis (apart from the thicker dermis beneath) replaces itself every 35 days
  • We get a new liver every six weeks
  • An eye is composed of more than 2 million working part and more than 1 million nerve fibres connect each eye to the brain

You probably already knew all this and are wondering what is all this leading up to.

Quite simply, it is just a reminder that the human body is said to be the most perfect machine.  Yet, we go through life completely oblivious of this fine gift, as it quietly continues to perform at optimal efficiency, calibrating and readjusting itself continuously in “auto mode,” enabling us to do whatever we wish to do, or not.  Usually, it is only on hitting a road bump, when some part of this machine malfunctions that we take note and then pray for divine intervention to help us get back on our feet.  How often do we just stop to acknowledge, and, thank the ultimate power which keeps this machine humming?  It took several heart-attacks and surgeries before this simple fact registered with me.

Expressing gratitude goes beyond simply saying “thank you.”  It is when one realizes that “but for the Grace of God” one could be in a different, not such a happy place.  The following story has stayed with me over the years.

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said “I am blind, please help.”  There were only a few coins in the hat.
A man walking by, took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.
Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning?  What did you write?”
The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you had stated, but in a different way.  I wrote: “Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it.”

Both signs told people that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind.  The second sign helped to remind people they were so lucky that they were not blind.

The Dalai Lama states, “For a person who cherishes compassion and love, the practice of tolerance is essential, and for that, an enemy is indispensable. So, we should be grateful to our enemies, for it is they who can best help us develop a tranquil mind.”  He adds, “When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect towards others.”

Let us remember to remind ourselves not just on this day of Thanksgiving but continually thereafter, to be thankful for what we have and for what we do not.  Above all, let’s learn to be grateful to our enemies.

9 Replies to “Grace and Gratitude”

  1. As I grow older and ever more grateful for life’s numerous blessings, I think that this realization is perhaps a factor of age. The young feel invincible, they grab at life, at happiness, with a sense of entitlement. If things don’t go according to plan, they respond with a bewildered, “Why me?” I, on the other hand, find myself thinking, “Why not me?” Or, there, but for the grace of God, go I. My years give me an appreciation for the non-material gifts. The gift of good health, a good family, good friends. The time to enjoy good music, or reflect on a good book. With age has come gratitude for a good life.

    To quote a song you had written about in one of your earliest posts, “Bahut diya dene wale ne tujhko, aanchal hi na samaye to kya kije.”

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    1. Thanks for your comments. I wonder though, whether age or something else is a factor in the “dawning of realization.” A “eureka” moment can happen anytime, to anyone. Perhaps, some of us had to wait a long time and are still trying to figure it out!!

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  2. One thanks a God who is perceived to be separate from oneself. With the realisation that my identity, however infinitesimal and fleeting, is but a part of the Universal Whole, who do I thank? Who is the thanker and who is the thanked? To live in awareness of this Grace is in itself an expression of gratitude, I suppose. Thank you for a thought-provoking piece.

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  3. Really puts things in perspective… alas, these basic blessings are easily forgotten….. and, with so much happening around you, its not easy to convince your mind of the value of these…. love the title ‘grace and gratitude’…. Joyeux Thanksgiving…!!

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