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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gratitude – CREDO CXXIII

As a child, I grew up with the fictional Beejum “Wise Old Man” Gezeebius, so any pithy saying was called a “Saying of Gezeebius.” One of those that came down in my family, thanks to my parents who invented the Beejumstan that ended up in my The Beejum Book, was, “If you want to be rich, count your blessings! I find myself reminded of that every day, especially with all the distressing world news that threatens to submerge us daily. Thus it is, that though old, weak, in pain etc., I am gently brought back to being grateful by that Saying!

As I savored my porridge and coffee this morning, I realized again that the word gratitude comes from the Latin gratia, meaning grace. Now grace is one of those words with a double meaning; we receive grace when saying grace! Aha!

So, it is by appreciating the love, beauty, and bountiful goodness of our earth and its inhabitants that is out there for us that we receive their blessings. Just writing these words this day when the world news totally contradicts them, seems like a Pollyanna absurdity. The irony is that this rings so true in the prophetic words of the “Gnostic Gospel according to Thomas”: Heaven is spread out upon the earth but men do not see it. Words written almost two thousand years ago!

Thus it is, that I recommend to anyone reading these words to take a daily moment to be grateful for something, if only that one is alive and able, as Jung reminds us, to make it consciously conscious through our appreciation.

The importance of gratitude was brought to my attention decades ago by one of the men who, in my opinion, has been a humble saint among us: Brother David Steindl-Rast. A rare combination of a Benedictine monk and a Zen priest! An Austrian by birth, he is one of the most accomplished scholars, teachers, and writers I know of. And he walks his talk, year after year.Today, he has a beautiful website,! I met him in 1972, when we were both lecturing at Wainwright House, and subsequently many times. He invited me to spend a week at the Monastery of St. Clare in Memphis, Tennessee, actually a convent of forward-looking nuns. They were studying the Gurdjieffian enneagram and I was invited to see if there was any connection to astrology!

The convent was a commodious building, and the nuns were delightful. We assembled and the Mother Superior spoke eloquently about the geometric figure of the enneagram which has nine points. Each marks a psychological type. For three days I struggled to find the connection to astrology, and then suddenly I had a breakthrough: it had to do solely with the Moon, which is associated with the Ego. Then it made sense. While it is far too complicated to explain in a CREDO, what I want to concentrate on is the importance Brother David gives to gratitude!

Gratitude itself is a receptive matter. For me, it shares the physical attributes of a cup or a bowl, which can be filled and poured out. “My cup runneth over”are words from the 23rd Psalm; these are words that contain the essence of gratitude!

But as a Scorpio, I realize that just as the Moon reflects both light and the lack of it, a bowl may be filled with anything: poison, filth, etc. but few of us would be grateful for such contents! Though, some bowls are essential even there! The lesson is that psychologically speaking, we are constantly filling and emptying the cups of our souls, and sometimes we can make a more conscious choice. I thought of this as I savored my morning coffee, and of the simplicity of being grateful for those blessings that we receive and usually take for granted.

One of the secrets, I discovered, is that when you invite your Divine Guest to partake of any moment, you never lose it! I first discovered this on a lonely one-track road on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. My car broke down in a howling storm of wind and rain. I was totally stuck! For almost two hours I watched the terror and beauty of the elements, the greys, browns, and livid greens out the window. Finally, I called on my – what turned out to be – Divine Guest and invited it to share the experience, thinking it was too extraordinary not to share with somebody! I cannot express the awareness of what that moment meant! Not only was I making it conscious, but just the invitation sealed it with gratitude for that first instant of realizing the purpose of consciousness itself! Time and space evaporate as I write these words. I am still in that car, the rain pounding on the roof, and I am in awe of the reality of Spirit. And, of course, to the rugged wet-locked guy in his bright yellow mackintosh, who discovered me, tied a rope between his truck and my car, and set off for a garage in Portree. What we didn’t realize was that his tail lights were not working! So I had to guess when he might stop and I might bang into him . . . I was a wreck when after miles of curving narrow roads we drew into the garage and I was able to totter out and ask for the loo!

But I know forever in this life, that if you want to be rich, count your blessings of any kind. This is the secret of gratitude!


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