I made my way along the tree-lined streets, through fallen leaves and the scattered petals of camellia blossoms. Enjoying the sunshine and the mild, late autumn weather, I began to enumerate all the blessings in my life, and to reflect on the fruits of gratitude practice.
I reflected that, having received so much, whether through circumstance or our own endeavours, gratitude encourages us to share the bounty through acts of kindness and compassion and charitable giving.
But on this occasion, my thoughts moved in a different direction: if we have everything that we need, not only for survival, but for a good life, what else can we do, when we have already given all that we can of ourselves and our resources? How do we use the precious gift of leisure time?
Increasingly, I devote that time to creative pursuits, but what came to me as I walked along those sunlit streets, was the conviction that I must use these days, these months and, if I am spared, these years, in the work of deepening consciousness.
We cannot fix the world. Certainly, we can do our part to improve the lot of those less fortunate. We can create beauty to bring joy to others. We can meditate and seek enlightenment as a goal in itself. But, ultimately, the greatest gift we can offer the world is this: to wake up and see beyond our narrative, our fears, our dreams and the tapes we play over and over in our minds. The gift, this clarity, affects everything around us. We see the world differently, and the world, in its turn, views us in a different light, the one potentiating the other in expanding ripples of consciousness.
This is the ultimate fruit of gratitude – to bend our attention, our kavanah, our intention, to the work of becoming. It is a work of profound absorption, in which we penetrate the cloud of illusion until we realise a shattering truth – that we are the conscious universe reflecting upon itself. It is the greatest, most sacred work, and one which has the power to change the world in ways we can barely imagine.
It is a work which is never finished, but one which inspires gratitude. And in this way, the dance of consciousness begins anew…