Posted by Roberta Grimes • May 16, 2020 • 66 Comments
Book News, Jesus, The Teachings of Jesus
Oh Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
– Carl Boberg (1859-1940), From “How Great Thou Art” (1885)
The Gospel teachings of Jesus are the simplest and most effective way to grow spiritually to the point where you might even make this your last needed earth-lifetime. But simply reading and trying to follow the teachings of Jesus on forgiveness and love isn’t enough to make your spiritual growth a truly simple matter. No, to make it work well there is one more thing you will need to do first of all.
I have had few earthly teachers in the past fifty years. Nearly all of what I have learned about death, the afterlife, and spiritual matters has come from doing a lot of research under Thomas’s guidance, and from his insights shared during our nightly meetings. But Dr. R. Craig Hogan has been my helpful Seek Reality guest thirty times in the past seven years; and another of my living teachers has been Hillis Pugh. Hillis is the Guru of Gratitude. I first met him six years ago when he was an earnest young man absolutely obsessed with the spiritual importance of gratitude, and at first I was mystified. Our definitive spiritual teacher is Jesus, and He mentions the concept of gratitude only a dozen times through all four Gospels. Eight of those times He is thanking God for food! He also thanks God as He raises Lazarus. He is disappointed that only one of the ten lepers he had cleansed has bothered to come back and thank Him, and His two other references to gratitude are incidental mentions in His stories. Compare that to more than thirty mentions of forgiveness in the Gospels, and more than sixty mentions of love. So if gratitude wasn’t important to Jesus, how could it be spiritually important at all?
We now know that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is essential preparation for our efforts to grow spiritually. To understand why this is true, please remember two points:
It turns out that gratitude is the crucial third aspect of the Gospel teachings of Jesus. Unless we begin with gratitude, we more than double the difficulties we face in making spiritual progress in this lifetime! As I have learned from Thomas – and from Hillis Pugh – cultivating an attitude of gratitude is like plowing the field before you fertilize it with forgiveness, so then finally you can plant seeds of love. And Jesus did talk about preparing the soil if we want to grow spiritually. “(He) spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear’” (MT 13:3-9). It may be that Jesus said a great deal more about our need to prepare by cultivating gratitude before we attempt to grow spiritually; and either what He said was less remarked by His listeners, or else it was removed by the first-millennium councils in favor of the showier virtues of forgiveness and love.
It is time for us to get rid of the rocks and clear those pesky thorns away! And the best way to do it all is with a gratitude practice. Here are some points to keep in mind:
You will decide on your own best gratitude practices. But here are four key components that have been shown to work for many people:
My suggestion is that you apply all four of these gratitude practices, and thereby begin to prepare your mind for the more rapid spiritual growth to come. You might choose not to continue to journal beyond the first few months, which is fine; but for you to continue the remaining three gratitude practices for the rest of your life will help you to forever maintain your grounding in ever greater spiritual health. Most people take to gratitude easily, especially since if you are firm about it you should find your mood lightening within only weeks. In making gratitude central to your life, you are preparing the soil of your heart to yield a bountiful harvest of forgiveness and love. Beginning with gratitude makes real spiritual growth so much easier!
Another of the wonderful friends I have made in the course of doing this work is Mary Holden, who is a gentle and graceful woman with a beautiful heart. She was one of the first people with whom I shared the forgiveness mantra that I still recite each day as I renew the gift of my life to God; and she has just shown me what she has done with it. She has turned it into a whole gratitude prayer!
Thank You for giving me work to do.
Thank You for showing me how to do it.
Thank You for giving me life to live.
Thank You for showing me how to live it.
Thank You for giving me people to love.
Thank You for showing me how to love them.
I am astounded. Mary’s prayer is such a perfect way to make your gratitude practice central to your life! And in praying it daily, you also will supercharge your mind. Perhaps when your own mind is at its elevated best, your learning to ever more perfectly forgive and love will be so effortless that this really can become your last necessary earth-lifetime. Dear beloved Mary, thank you so much!
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee,
How great thou art, how great thou art!
– Carl Boberg (1859-1940), From “How Great Thou Art” (1885)
66 thoughts on “Gratitude”
My name is Nhat. I am grateful that I found you on the internet yesterday. I am very excited to learn from you everyday, and practice gratitude, forgiveness, love everyday. This is the turning point of my life. Thank you very much, Roberta!
Dear Nhat, I’m grateful that you have found us, too! And whatever help you might need, you know that you can always contact me through the green Contact block on this website. You will find a wonderful group of commenters here who also are quite eager to help you. If this is your turning point, dear Nhat, you will find it to be a vastly enjoyable one!!
I noticed that too, Warren, and almost said something, but it’s so much better coming from you! Dear Nhat, our friend Warren has pointed out the amazing fact that you posted your comment at precisely 11:11, which is a glorious number-sign of approval from your spirit guides. How wonderful for you!
Thank you Roberta and Warren for pointing that out. I feel very grateful now. Five months ago, I picked up my niece at the San Diego Airport when she moved down here from San Diego for her studying. She asked me what I would like to do to feel happy. I told her I would like to find the truth (she did not ask me about the truth of what). Now I’ve just found Roberta on youtube and all the information to learn the truth. This really makes me happy! Thank you so much, Roberta! LOVE to everyone!
from San Jose, CA
Oh my dear Nhat, what joy you have ahead! This adventure of seeking and finding is what Jesus invited us to do, and it leads us out of all religions and into ultimate union with the genuine Godhead, which is only love. It is absolutely the most fun there is!!
I read your article most every Sunday and appreciate the time and effort you put into your articles. I especially love your post this Sunday morning. As I read your words one thought is dominate in my mind and that is
simplicity of finding gratefulness in every moment is achievable for me, so thank you and I am grateful you are the first email I have read this morning.
Love to you and all, Lois
Oh dear Lois, I am so glad this message resonates with you! I thought of gratitude as a lightweight virtue when I first met Hillis, and it took me awhile to realize (after much experimentation) just how foundational it really is! But I can see this morning that many people are far ahead of me. Which makes me so glad!!
Thankyou for giving me work to do. Thank you for showing me how to do it. Raberta, I say that prayer everytime I wash my hands! While I walk. I pray i gratitude all the time. Now i will start writting it down.
Inspite of my business being closed down, i am excited about the future. I am excited to see how my people to people business will now be on line. I just never know what God will give me next, with an open mind and heart i am greatful.
Thank you so much for being my teacher.
Dear Marilynn, you make me smile! Good point to be reciting that mantra whenever you wash your hands, since we are all doing that now all day long. Your attitude toward being grateful for the opportunities for new beginnings the shutdown is affording us was a topic here a few weeks ago – “What Good is a Crisis?” – and it surprised me to get lots of cranky emails about it. So many people see obstacles in their paths as crises, when in reality they are great opportunities for lifting our heads and spotting new and better directions. Thank you for this further reminder!
Good Sunday morning Roberta, personally I don’t have a problem with gratitude. I express it every day, thanking God, Lord Creator of this Universe for the awesome natural paradise, Mother Nature’s beauty, I get to experience as often as possible.
My problem is tolerance and compassion. At my age, I find it impossible to feel compassion for Humanity’s ignorance and destruction of our Mother Earth.
I used to be able to put up with nonsensical beings by thinking to myself “Well, this person is so NOT nice, probably because of a miserable childhood.” So I would “kill” them with kindness and give them the best service possible to try to get a smile out of them.
I still keep a good attitude when I go walk my dog. I tell my adorable dog “Let’s see how many smiles with can get today”.
But as far as feeling real Love whatever that is for most human, these days are gone.
In this day and age with all the resources of the internet at your fingertips, I just don’t have anymore tolerance for stupidity and ignorance.
Maybe you have a trick for that too 😉
I can relate so well to what you are saying. I have been beating myself up for almost a year now, for I found my “spark” of tolerance and compassion almost depleted. I work in public/ service, and between the unconscious acts of the public to the people I work with, I have been in tears of rage, despair, and soliciting His forgiveness when I even have negative thoughts about others who push my buttons. It’s been quite a roller coaster. I “found” Roberta maybe 3to 4 weeks ago in a serendipitous way so I knew I was to “check her out”. SO GRATEFUL. If you haven’t read “Liberating Jesus” yet, I encourage you to. I learning to put some attention on myself-self care- to bolster me so when I am at work, I don’t feel so depleted. I am also being made aware of boundaries- knowing God never asks me to extend myself beyond where He wants me. I’ve spent decades trying to be a “good” girl, never asking for recompense, but it caught up with me, because I was following a religious doctrine and not My Father’s Will. God bless you with ALL you need to nurture, comfort, and sustain your self on all levels- body, mind and spirit!
Dear Francine, thank you for saying this! I am more grateful than you know that I have been able to help you, and knowing that your change of heart and mind are rooted in Liberating Jesus especially delights me. It is really Jesus Who is helping you now, but perhaps I have helped you to find Him; and I am gleeful to know that!
Oh dear LG, thank you for writing this! When I first read your comment, I thought that now I know why Thomas chose gratitude for this week’s topic. And what he wants for next week didn’t make sense to me until right now!
Dear LG, it is your very difficulty with tolerance and compassion that makes learning gratitude so essential for you, and for everyone (there are many) who feels as you do. Having contempt for any human being, no matter how awful that human being seems to you, is the emotional equivalent of pouring acid into all the pristine rivers of the world. If many people who agree with you go on a spiritual strike and refuse to put forth the effort required to learn how to love every human being on earth, then there never will be hope for humankind, and even less will there be hope for a clean and healthy planet. The only possible way for us to fix anything is with love! We will talk next week about why this is true, but for now please understand that forgiveness and love for all of humankind will likely be impossible for you unless you first concentrate on gratitude. And when you decide to implement a healthy gratitude practice, and put your whole heart into it as if the future of every wild creature of the world depends on it, you will find that forgiving all the people you cannot stand now will become much easier… and then, at last, empathizing with and loving the very people you look down on now will eventually be a piece of cake.
Please try it! You have nothing to lose. And we all have a healthy and beautiful world to gain!
Thanks for your reply Roberta. I just downloaded your audio book Liberating Jesus. That’ll be my project for the week.
Till next week…
Take good care.
Oh dear LG, you are such a good sport – thank you! Many people in your situation would bristle to read what I wrote to you, and in fact I fretted a bit before I posted it. But you are such a classy and open-hearted soul. I am very glad that you have joined us here!
Dear Roberta, Your teachings on the importance of gratitude are a real inspiration.
I have practiced the concept of “gratitude affirmation” on many occasions and am always amazed by the results. It ranks at the top of my most powerful spiritual experiences. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.
Dear Tom, you have found what I think of as the Great Secret. Praying in gratitude affirmations is so powerful that if you can do it with your whole heart then it is almost as effective as having a magic wand. Thank you for sharing your experience here!
Roberta! This is so perfect and so needed for many of us who have been so focused on forgiveness and love, especially in situations that make it so difficult to do so. Fierce and diligent gratitude, is indeed the missing “ingredient “. I have been reading “Liberating Jesus” the last few days. Oh my! My heart sighs with relief and gratitude for your book, for the many years of your research, for your persistence in reaching to Jesus, despite your sadness and fears when your journey uncovered truths your innocent heart came up against. God bless you, God bless Thomas!
Dear Francine, I love your term, “fierce and diligent gratitude.” So many see gratitude as I once saw it, as kind of a pallid and polite way to act in society. Being gracious. Verbal thank-you notes. But no, the kind of gratitude that helps to elevate us spiritually really does need to be fierce and diligent! It takes every blessing down to base and thanks God for each of them, no matter how small and no matter how hard they may be to receive. Not every gift from God is fun to get, after all, but they are all gifts made in love just the same!
Dear Roberta, Thank you for this! Gratitude is indeed fundamental. As mentioned in a comment above and other places, the fundamental gratitude we’re taking about isn’t for the material things we have or people in our lives (although being grateful there is important too), as many lack things and relationships that they consider positive experiences, and those of us who do, in seeing gratitude as only for those also are in a sense acknowledging what’s true: they could be lost at any instant. The gratitude implied in your affirmation, “thank you for giving me work to do. Thank you for showing me how to do it,” is a cosmic gratitude for the opportunity to exist and grow as a spiritual manifestation of divine Consciousness. The work isn’t toil for things in this experience we perceive as incarnation, but the work of God, which we accomplish through the phenomena of our relationship to that divine Consciousness. It’s not really “work” as such, but growth in spirit.
PS-bit of a syntax meltdown up there, but I think the point is made.
Oh dear Mike, this is wonderfully expressed! When I first prayed that mantra, I was sitting in a Unity Church and listening to a sermon when it occurred to me – probably at Thomas’s instigation, although it was a good five years before he first came out to me – that I had lived a full and wonderful life and accomplished everything I had wanted to accomplish, so it was only fair that I give the rest of my life to God. My first praying those words was just that impulsive. But it was the beginning of what I think of now as my genuine life! You are so right: working for God is not work at all, but instead it is more joy than I ever in my previous life imagined was possible. Now I urge everyone to make the same gift!
What’s more, my wonderful and beloved spirit guide has shown me that, although we have elected to “forget the details,” we were recruited for this experience as part of this phenomena we call 21st century earth life. Nobody signed on for an easy row to hoe (to expound on your seed metaphor), but as we grow to “re-member” the details of our mission, we become aware of how extraordinary indeed is this gift to be involved in this larger Cosmic work.
There have been many moment in my life that gratitude has been hard to find.
What helps me it, I play this song in my mind and it helps me greatly for I am blinded by a lack of gratitude.
When upon life’s billows
You are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged
Thinking all is lost
Count your many blessings
Name them one by one
And it will suprise you
What the lord has done
Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your blessings,
See what God has done
Count your blessings,
Name them one by one
Count your many blessings
See what God has done
Are you ever burdened
With a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy
You are called to bear?
Count your many blessings
Ev’ry doubt will fly
And you will keep singing as the days go by
Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your blessings
See what god has done
Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your many blessings
See what God has done
So, amid the conflict
Whether great or small
Do not be discouraged
God is over all
Count your many blessings
Angels will attend
Help and comfort give you
To your journey’s end
Songwriters: Johnson (rev.) Oatman, Jr.
Hello dear Rockey! Lovely song. Thank you for sharing it!
And it puts me in mind of the song that I’ve been singing since childhood. I think it’s from “White Christmas,” and by Irving Berlin:
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep,
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.
When my bankroll is getting small,
I think of when I had none at all,
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.
I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads,
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds.
If you’re worried and you can’t sleep,
Just count your blessings instead of sheep,
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.
… Yours is more sophisticated, dear Rockey, but this little ditty is more my speed!
Thank you Roberta. Gratitude practice has been an easy thing for me to work with and has such wonderful benefits, I can’t praise it enough, it’s like the best medicine on the planet. I was so happy to find you and your work, what you say about the Afterlife, Jesus and Christianity resonates with me so much – I feel as if I found a key to unlock a door that I’ve been longing to peek behind for such a long time. I’m so very excited, comforted and enthralled all at the same time – again, thank you 😊🙏🏼
Dear Elaine, thank you so much for this! The first time I read it, it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for joining us in this journey, dear one – we are going to have the most wonderful fun that anyone ever has had in history, simply in discovering and sharing the truth that Jesus promised 2000 years ago to one day give us!
Thank you for this wonderful reminder to always practice gratitude, Roberta! I have been doing it for many years now and I can attest to its value.
For those dear readers who sometimes have trouble with it when faced with human ignorance and cruelty, I have a suggestion that may help.
My biggest bugbear is cruelty to animals and I find it hard to forgive such acts when I hear about them. What is there to be grateful for, you may ask? I am grateful I live in a world where there are so many people who make it their life’s mission to expose such cruelty and set up animal shelters and animal charities and rescue animals from bushfires and other dangerous situations.
When somebody says something outrageous or horrible, I may not like what they say but I am grateful I live in a country where they have the freedom to say it and not be imprisoned or killed.
When I get annoyed about my job I am still grateful to have it and also have the time to read your wonderful blog posts and feel uplifted!
Blessings to you all.
Dear Kristian, I have thought about your comment since first reading it yesterday. I think that all that you say is right, but we’ve got to find a bridge from here to forgiving and then loving the very people who were cruel to the animals that you are grateful that someone helped. The point of gratitude is that it makes forgiving even possible, and the point of forgiveness is that it leads to our loving every fellow human being without exception. Perhaps if we just will always keep that end in mind, we will indeed be able to raise the consciousness vibration of this whole planet!
In a million years I would not defend cruelty to any sentient being. But perhaps the bridge you refer to is found in remembering that every soul is here to learn something unique—and we do not necessarily know what it is. There is, if not immediate forgiveness in this awareness, then compassion for whatever someone seems to be struggling to learn. It’s also important to remember that we must forgive the soul because often that soul, upon discovering, will not be able to forgive themselves. Just food for thought.
Dear Mike, Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Personally, I would be grateful to someone who had been cruel to animals for giving to so many people the gift of such a wonderful forgiveness opportunity!
As always thank you for the lovely thought provoking post.
I must admit, I learned to have an attitude of gratitude a while back, and it has been one of the foundation blocks of my “awakening”. (You Roberta, introducing me to the real teachings of Jesus has been an even greater blessing.)
“Whenever you suffer a cranky thought about anyone or anything, immediately replace it with something that you are grateful for, even if you have to stretch a bit.”
I would go a step further with this and in fact “thank” the original cranky thought for showing up to allow you choose a better thought in it’s place, for that very cranky thought is showing you where you need to “do your work” as in …“Thank You for giving me work to do. Thank You for showing me how to do it,”
Our thoughts are constantly showing us what is happening in our subconscious mind, the part that works in the background to keep us going, but also the same “thing” that has picked up lots of “self-protection strategies” in order to help us navigate through life. Unfortunately, most of these strategies are based in fear and lack, but when we come to understand that God and Jesus are with us all the time and that we can turn all our worries over to our Heavenly Father to be taken care of, and in “knowing and having faith” that this Devine work WILL be done, we no longer need to harbour such fearful thoughts.
So when we ask God to give us work to do, I truly believe that working on our outdated beliefs and habitual thoughts is a huge, and probably the most important area that we can improve for our highest good, and by “thanking” the “cranky thought” for coming up in the first place, we are acknowledging that our “Higher Self” is fact is always showing us what we need to work on, and that truly is something awesome to be “Grateful” for.
Love and Blessings to you
Dear Kenneth, this is such a wonderful point! Being grateful for negative thoughts because they show us where we most need to concentrate our forgiveness, and of course knowing that God is always in charge so we have nothing to fear is another powerful way to begin to elevate our personal consciousness vibrations. Two points! Thank you. As you will see next week, I have become rather agitated thinking about the fact that we are not doing enough to elevate the world. Perhaps if we can all put our heads together, we can do a lot better?
I relate closely to the agrarian image set down here by Thomas and your good self. (You see I love growing plants; it is wonderful for the soul.)
So – you plow the soil with the attitude of gratitude, then fertilize it with prevenient forgiveness and plant the happy seeds of love that spring forth amid fresh rain and sunshine. That’s beautiful!
The relationship of gratitude to forgiveness is evident indeed. I try to actually be grateful for the hurt that is done to me, which allows forgiveness to be achieved. It’s a method I learned when I exited a yoga foundation, quite emotionally disillusioned and bereft. After some time I realized how much the experience taught me. Not by what the leaders and practitioners did – but by what they did NOT do. So I employed what this group didn’t do in my future life and work.
The lessons were painfully acquired, but I learned; not to support a hierarchical community structure, not to be judgmental nor sharp of tongue, not to be bound by dogma and religiosity. I learned that assorted human vagaries were to be enjoyed, even loved, and not stamped out in the name of conformity. I learned that fear of ‘spiritual failure’ was not to be taught. I learned that a shun culture actually exiles the most free hearted, forward thinking, inventive, compassionate people.
In short, it was being grateful for my fifteen years enculted that allowed me to forgive every perceived harm. Then I could let all the hurt go.
Now I’m learning to be grateful for what my own missteps have taught me and I allow self forgiveness to occur too. By mucking things up I can ask, ‘what do I need to learn from this?’ Then I’m grateful and I am on the way to forgiving myself.
Thanks my dear for providing such wise weekly blog entries and a forum for us to share our experiences and understandings. So today, I’m most grateful for our Roberta and this unique forum. 😉🙏🏼❣️
Dear wonderful Efrem, the agrarian point was one actually made by Jesus, 2000 years ago (MT 13:3-9). And I agree that it is brilliant! When His teachings on forgiveness and love fall on the rocky, thorny soil of resentments, hatreds, or petty political gripes, then they won’t be able to grow much at all. Today and every day, I am above all grateful that the infinitely compassionate Godhead came to earth in the person of our much-beloved Lord to teach us the core truths that all are there waiting to be found, once we accept His invitation to “seek” and to “ask.” Even with how badly we have fouled up everything, God doesn’t ram the truth down our throats, but rather God waits for our invitation.
And thank you, dear Efrem, for sharing more of your story! It’s wonderful that you have gotten to the point where you can be grateful even for awful treatment. And it is that – the treatment, the gratitude – that has prepared you to be the beautiful being who now shares his wisdom in this space. Thank you!!
After reading your chapter on gratitude in The Fun of Growing Forever, I thought of a way to have the attitude of gratitude AND to share that attitude with family and friends. I had not been on Facebook, so I opened an account and started “friending” family and friends. Now, I post once a day regarding somebody or something that I am grateful for. It brings a tear to my eye each time I compose a post.
Thank you for helping me to enrich my life and the lives of others.
Oh dear David, what a beautiful idea! You are not only doing the exercise in gratitude journaling, but you have found a way to share it with your loved ones without having to preach to them. How perfectly lovely! And isn’t it glorious how doing that lifts your heart?
Hi Roberta and everyone,
I just feel so grateful today. I would like to share the book by Dr. Joe Dispenza with everyone:
How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon
Hello dear Nhat! Thank you for sharing.
With a crack of the bat, it’s a fly ball into center field! It appears another one is going out of the park, folks! As Roberta begins to round the bases, the crowd is wild with excitement. Beyond the fence, a fan waits, with uncertain anticipation in gaining a souvenir to take home. Amazingly, the trajectory of the ball is somehow perfectly focused on one small area, exactly where the fan happens to be! With extraordinary and (seemingly) unearthly guidance, the ball finds its way into the waiting glove of a very surprised, yet appreciative spectator, landing with a solid ‘thud’ and giving a little tingle, confirming an undeniable receipt. I am so very grateful I was there to catch it. Thank you. Jeff
Oh dear Jeffrey, this made me laugh! Thank you! I’m so glad that you found our gratitude discussion helpful, and and very glad indeed that you brought me an unexpected giggle ;-).
I have been listening to a subliminal tape on finding my purpose, working on gratitude and affirmations, praying to Yahweh, marveling at the works of Yeshua and tonight I found you on Youtube. I feel so guided and blessed. I was encouraged to release self-pity and lean harder on God’s promises this morning. Now I have my next steps, thanks to you Ms. Grimes! Thank you! Looking forward to your books and rereading the Gospel. I meditate by closing my eyes, breathing and feeling love. Good music helps me stay awake!
Dear James, I am so glad that you have found your way here! It looks as if you truly are on your way. If you ever have questions or anything private to say, simply reach out to me via the green Contact block to the right. It can take me days sometimes to answer all my emails, and I’m sorry for that, but I always do respond, and I am delighted to do it!
One more thought about gratitude. Although from our voluntarily limited experience that we perceive as incarnation, there seems to be much negativity, there can be no negatives in the great Mind of God, which is within us, and which we are eternally a part of, and which we can call on for our slightest need. This is the larger perspective. We hear the cliche, “the Lord is merciful,” but it’s we who must be merciful — toward others, toward ourselves. The nature of Consciousness and Creation is abundance (meaning eternal potential), affluence (meaning creativity eternally flowing), and evolution (meaning unending exploration and growth). The “earthly experiences” we attach to these are just symbolic representations–defined differently by each of us; it is we who focus on these symbols (such as a new car for abundance, or money for affluence). In fact, our awareness of and intention toward abundance, affluence and evolution within the larger, Cosmic nature of our existence is very subtle. Being mindful of this subtle awareness about ourselves opens us to gratitude, not for the symbols, but for the divine nature intrinsic within ourselves. To remaster an old saying, “That’s gratitude for you!”
Dear Mike, well said, although we might then take it one important step further. It is important to remind everyone that before we were born each of us set a powerful life-intention for spiritual growth, and we each worked out a life-plan that would maximize our opportunity for growth to happen. Raising our personal consciousness vibrations is the primary – perhaps the only – reason why we even are in these bodies, and giving us a place to do that is probably the only reason why this universe even exists at all. We cannot change our behavior in specific instances and make any difference in the world at all! The only chance we have of significantly improving anything is if we can significantly change ourselves. And the only chance we have of changing ourselves will be if we can actually elevate our personal consciousness vibrations. Each of us does that individually, or nothing ever really changes!
I really like this idea of not changing behavior but changing ourselves. I think that what Arrow is trying to communicate to me when she talks about the subtle awareness of potential and opportunities intrinsic to our being. If we associate gratitude with specific instances, then we are focused on limited reaction; if we cultivate this awareness of our being, we are focused on our larger mission—which is eternal growth.
Yes! Well said, dear Mike, and a kind of lead-in to our next conversation. The more we look at them, the more we see that gratitude and forgiveness are companions in the ways that they both re-set our minds for spiritual growth.
Thank you, Roberta! You know that Arrow is always prompting me to anticipate the upcoming blog entries. Sometimes she seems to be a few weeks out, and sometimes she’s right on top of it. Anyway, we look forward to reading the next installment! (She’s likely already read it since it exists in the “timeless now.)
I’m grateful for finding you and your work, Roberta. It has changed my life in incalculable ways.
It is indeed interesting that Jesus didn’t say much about gratitude. My mind is brought to Luke 6:32, “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” I can imagine him saying something like that to his close disciples regarding gratitude. It is very important and good to be grateful for all the obvious nice stuff, but it’s also important to move beyond that and learn gratitude for all the great lessons the negative people and events can teach us. We can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can learn to change how we react. I try to remember (often fail) to be grateful for the opportunities people and life’s vicissitudes give me every day to grow, and find so much peace in that.
Dear Scott, I have come to think that Jesus did talk about gratitude, but in a world where everyone said grace over meals and went to Sabbath services – in a much more religious world – being grateful was more of a given than it is now. And in His parable of the sowers, quoted above, He gives us the primary reason why gratitude matters: it plows the field and prepares us for powerful spiritual growth based upon His teachings. He may have made that plainer in a different parable or two that did not survive. But when He was always being watched by Temple guards, He couldn’t make more explicit the fact that He was trying to do away with the religious practices that He saw as coming between us and a close living relationship with the Godhead. I have come to think that this is one of the areas where He struggled a bit to do the impossible, which was to share radical teachings punishable by death while making them seem benign.
Hi Efrem: You handled this very well. When you said that a shun culture exiles free hearted, forward thinking, inventive and compassionate people, you said a mouthful. This sums up most all of these groups. They are after power, but do it in a “nice” way – at least initially – to lure people in. They actually prevent spiritual growth and in extreme cases, they can be quite dangerous. I’m glad that something positive happened for you through this, as in many cases, lives have been wrecked and psyches have been destroyed. However, if you hadn’t looked at it in the way you describe here, you most likely would have been one of those unfortunate people.
Hi dear Lola,
Thank you for your heartfelt response. You know I only relayed something of my previous yoga group experience, because I wanted to share how I was removed from mental-emotional harm. Maybe this gratitude response to hurt can help someone. Hopefully.
Yet since I have shared something of my personal life journey, and since you wrote me such a kind response, I’d like to explain something:
My yoga foundation experience didn’t start out as a painful one. On the contrary, it started out euphorically. I was learning how to actually meditate and it felt sooo good. People at the meditation centres were very kind, inclusive and friendly. My own seeking-sense made me feel that I was getting somewhere. I was being spiritually fulfilled, I thought.
However the situation changed gradually as the organization became more severe, increasingly puritan and strictly judgmental over time. Soon my loving, enriching experience included both love and fear. And the fear grew. Then came cognitive dissonance due to my sexuality issues, and the growing unkindness shown to non conforming practitioners.
My years of yoga ended as my inner state grew much sadder and this became unsustainable. I soon learned one really important thing: The combination of guru exultation and the constant talk of compassion should alert one to danger: Beware those who talk constantly of compassion for they can be crueler than ravening wolves.
Indeed Our Lord was right when He said that we can know false teachers by their fruits.
Sadly Lola, many people who have had a crushing cult-like experience give up their seeking for the rest of there lives. They just stop looking and turn away from it all. Lola, I have seen many ex-yoga people do this.
However, we in this blog family can be truly grateful that the annihilation of seeking didn’t happen to us!
They always start out supportive and helpful in order to gain trust, and then gradually (sometimes not so gradually), they become more like tyrants, but they wait until they think they have you between a rock and a hard place. You’re right. The victims of these people turn away from everything, as they feel they can no longer have any trust. I did a study on cults years ago, and looking back now, there is a very thin line between them and many organized religions. It’s sad, as almost all those people ever wanted was love, acceptance and a feeling of belonging/
Yes my dear, by the targeted understanding of your responses, I can see that you get how cults work. The thing that many people may not get is the thin line between emotional and spiritual ‘inspiration’ (for want of a better word). Much emotional conditioning can seem to be spiritual experience. Humans developed firstly the animal (instinctual) brain, then the larger emotional (limbic) brain, with the logical rational brain cortex on top of them. Rationality then, is the lesser and the last part of us to evolve. We are basically instinctive-emotional beings.
(Hence the frantic toilet paper hoarding at the outset of the Covid situation.) The logical process may be overridden by emotions.
Or to put it another way: the pitfalls of our awareness include ego identification and the heavy conditionings that attach to the ego. So, it is possible that gradual, largely emotional conditioning can cause a person to remain enculted as things slowly get harsher over many years…(The slow boiling frog?)
Please allow me a disclaimer here: My disenchantment is with the particular group I was part of. (Guru based collectivity gone toxic in this case.) I am still admiring of the deep truths nurtured in the Vedantic tradition itself.
There are great souls that emerged from out of this philosophy. Three people I continue to regard with real warmth and respect are; Paramahamsa Yogananda, Ramana Maharshi and Shirdi Sainath.
Oneness with the Source, Creator-Creation, is the thing for me Lola. And you sure can know the good guys by their fruits too! 👍😉❣️
Dear Efrem, you beautifully describe the way that all religions work. There is nothing spiritually positive about any fear-based institution, but yet we are taught to think that religions and cults are the essence of spirituality! And you explain why. It is all emotional delusion, with the emotion substituting for a feeling of growing spiritually.
Efrem: You might still admire the truths in the Vedantic tradition (so do I), and you may only be disappointed in the particular group you joined, but what happened was that they took the beautiful truths the Vedantic tradition is based on, and twisted them around to suit their own agenda, which is the need for power. Some are much more clever at doing this than others are, and people don’t even realize what’s happening until they are truly immersed in what is being taught to them. They did the same thing with the Mormon religion and Christianity. In fact, when child sexual abuse was reported to the police, they came to talk to the then Mormon leader Jeff Warren about the charges, and there were several girls there between 12 and 14 years of age. When asked if he would remove his children from the room so they could talk in private, he told them they were not his children – they were his wives! This was the “leader” these people were following as being a “messenger” of God.
Thanks for the information about the rational part of the brain to be the last to evolve. I didn’t know that (or maybe I forgot), but it certainly explains a lot of things (like some people’s rather insane beliefs).
Dear Lola, you make a wonderful point! Like all fear-based human structure, religions and belief-systems of every strips all are cults at their core, coercive to the point of being emotional dictatorships and too often increasingly emotionally brutal. We are told that it is God or some higher power that is the dictator and the people in charge are his messengers, when in fact it is always those in charge who are the brutal and arbitrary bosses. It’s tragic, but it is entirely predictable and is a big reason why Jesus tried to move us beyond religions toward a direct relationship with God, with no clergy in between.
I agree 100%, Roberta. Emotional dictatorships is a perfect way to explain it. As we already know, Jesus was also used as a front for Christianity’s fear based agendas, and that’s why it was so successful, and that’s why much of what he said was edited by the Council of Nicea and others. It is not possible to control anyone unless they are first made fearful. There is a minister that is now saying that because many of the churches are now closing down, we are in what he calls the “end days.” I think it is a desperate attempt to bring fear back in the picture. He may not even be doing this on purpose. I got the sense that he truly does believe what he’s saying. He says that those of us who stay with Christianity’s teachings will be saved, and the rest of us will perish — I think you get the picture. His message was very fear inspiring.
Ah yes! The whole End-Times game has been splendidly successful for Christianity. Whenever Christians get complacent, some preacher will declare that Jesus is coming back – sort of the equivalent of a weary mother telling rambunctious children that Dad is coming home so they had better watch out – but then the day of the Lord’s return comes and goes. Life goes on, but Christians have had a jerk on their leash so they are more fearful for awhile.
Often I find the comments on your blog, Roberta, as impactful as your blog. Of course, some comments resonate with me more than others. I think I was really enlightened this week by gratitude for things that haven’t been especially good or even painful. It’s easy to thank God for the obvious: food, shelter, family, country. But the trials in life are really what build our character and spirit, and they are the real things we need to learn to be thankful for. For instance, I just passed my 20 year anniversary at my current company. I am a little embarrassed to say I have never been promoted in 20 years. Some days I feel a tinge of resentment at my company and anger at myself for not being perhaps more aggressive or ambitious. I see younger associates being promoted in 5-7-10 years. So, now I am working on gratitude for those 20 years, and what lessons lie within? I was told long ago that if the Titanic was sinking, I would have gone down with the ship. Meaning, sometimes I stick with things long after a good reason to abandon ship has arrived.
Dear Timothy, thank you for sharing these thoughts about your life! So often in Western cultures we are conditioned to think that a life without ever-greater success and wealth is in some way a lesser life, but the work and material aspects of our lives are just part of who we are. And they are the lesser part! Being in the love of family, rearing good children, learning and thinking deeply, seeking and achieving real spiritual growth: these are the important things in life, and this is true even for those who achieve great worldly things! All that work and money do is to give you a frame within which you can cultivate what is truly important.
Our whole lives on earth are just an eye-blink of time, and when we go home neither success nor wealth on earth will mean a blessed thing! But the kindness, joy, and love that we have shared on earth, the spiritual growth that we have garnered, are going to mean everything.
Roberta you are an answered prayer ! In Gratitude, Jeanette
Oh my dear Jeanette, thank you for saying something so lovely! I hope your spiritual journey will be full of joy, and if you ever have a question that I can answer, please don’t hesitate to send it through the green Contact block to the right!