As my wife, Mary, and I talked about last week’s reflection on Gratitude, she said, “It takes some faith to have gratitude,” especially in light of all that is happening in the world today and in individual lives.
That is really true! All of our attitudes (thought patterns that yoga calls “samskaras”) and firm convictions (called “vasanas”) begin with faith. Faith initially is an instinctual trust in a reality that protects and nurtures us. We instinctually know that our mothers will feed and keep us warm and protected. When they don’t do this, we cry and our trust (faith in mom and life) is challenged. But faith is regained and strengthened when she holds us close to her and offers us her breast or the bottle. These initial experiences confirm our faith in the attitude (“samskara”) that life has meaning and purpose. They provide us with the basis for our “Gratitude Attitude.”
Actually, faith is the foundation of all knowledge. However, faith is easily challenged in this world when events that seem to deny or totally contradict meaning and purpose enter our world of experience. Only experience itself cements the reality of the purposefulness or the meaningfulness of life in our being and our mode of operation.
If we don’t experience mom caring for us constantly, or good things happening to us when we truly need them, we begin to lose that faith. Experience then becomes the foundation of our knowledge and the source of our attitude that life is not meaningful, that there is not a loving “God” in our world.
Experience becomes the “highest source of knowledge (“sri vidya”).” Our intuitive awareness of life’s goodness begins to shut down and experiences of non-goodness begin to shape our attitudes towards our self, others, and even the Source of Life. We begin to think of ourselves as the maker of our lives. We begin to think we alone are the shapers of our life.
The power of experience can and should be used, in my opinion, for our good. We do have the power to make and shape our destiny, but if we let it up to others and the outside world, we have given up our power (“Shakti”); we have given up our initial realization that life has purpose and meaning.
So, we need to use our decision-making power and ability to experience by focusing on the experience of our inner world. We have to make the effort to shut out the outside clamor and confusion and focus on the inner core of our being. That is where the Source of our life resides! This, again, takes faith initially but continued experience of our inner world will strengthen and confirm the truth that we are loved and protected and guided through our lives, even when the external world seems to contradict that.
My daily practice of stilling my mind and listening to the breath of life within me has convinced me that, even when all hell breaks loose in my life and the life around me, I am loved and protected. The Divine Mother surrounds me with a gentle caress, as though to say, “All will be well! Don’t worry! It’s okay.”
Gradually, life does become all okay and it unfolds in wonderful ways as the next few hours and days demonstrate.
However, initially, as my Mary said, “it takes a faith before one can be grateful for all that occurs in our lives.”
Thank you, Mary!