Gratitude = Love

“[Gratitude] turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”   — Melody Beattie

“The enlightened are grateful for what other people take for granted.” — Michael Beckwith

“If you never learn the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness. — old proverb

Gratitude is similar to love.  Regularly express them to yourself, and you’ll more generously give them to others. You can give both away continually, and yet your stores will never be diminished.  In fact, if you look back on your coffers, you’ll notice the inventory of both, gratitude and love, have increased.  You pause, look, look again, shake your head, smile, give thanks and get on with what you were doing and who you were being.

Gratitude is similar to love.  Shared they cause things to grow, to bloom, and when withheld they cause constriction, stagnation and disease.  Both heal separation and melt barriers.  No person or creature is excluded from giving or receiving them. Neither gratitude nor love can express themselves without a living being to “be” them. Thus our awareness of them empower them and us. Now, scientific studies are offering empirical evidence that when people express gratitude in their everyday lives, they are more likely to become healthier and happier.

Gratitude is similar to love.  They both transcend time and space.  It is never too early or too late to express either. Your amazing mind allows you to send them for past events, and send them for the future you are creating today. You can send them to departed loved ones. You can even send them to people you’ve never met before! And, don’t forget to send some to our generous mother of all forms that has given clothes to our spirits, Mother Earth.

Gratitude is similar to love. They both bring us closer to God. From the Bible, 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you …” . From the Bhagavad Gita with Lord Krishna speaking, “Whatever I am offered in devotion with a pure heart – a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water – I accept with joy. Whatever you do, make it an offering to me – the food you eat, the sacrifices you make, the help you give, even your suffering.”

It would seem that gratitude is love, and love, gratitude.

Gratitude is a beautiful and powerful energy that is too often under appreciated, and misunderstood.  Gratitude takes us out of a competitive mind and puts us in line with the creative energies of the Universe. We all know this in some deep part of ourselves. Here is a quote I found in a quiet corner of the internet: a discussion of gratitude among a handful of strangers enrolled in a course on fulfilling personal potential, “I do not know this process works because I have faith in it, I have faith in this process because I know it works. But, it is a paradox. I only know it works because I had faith in it. It requires a leap of faith. You have to step blindly into the unknown for it to become the known.” The man’s name was J. Khalsa. He did such a great job … let’s thank him!

Clinical pharmacist, with over 20 years experience, finds that meditation and surrender are best things for his MS

Second Chances

Eastern wisdom traditions, like Vedanta for example, have a concept that I think is great. The idea of Dharma. It can have several different meanings and I wanted to touch on just a few facets as I understand them. It is a Universal Law or call it what suits you, like one of God’s Laws, Law of the Great Spirit, or Brahman. There are many more!

Dharma is the role and function you are born to live. For example, every cell in your body has a dharma. When it fulfills its unique role the success of the whole is much more likely. According to Vedic traditions you also have a perfect role to play. And, we accomplish this by being none other than ourselves and by exploring, listening, discovering and working with what really excites us.

“You can call a part a whole, but never a part.” I heard this while studying Traditional Chinese Medicine. Very strange thought after 9 years of pharmacy training! But, as medical theories go it has withstood the test of thousands of years. What is true for your cells is also true for you, the big You.

The advice to do what you love sounds like the right path from this perspective. The wisdom traditions tell us when you are living your Dharma, you and all those around you have their lives enriched, beautified and good things flow to and from you more easily.

Why second chances? In 1992 I had just finished a clinical psychiatric pharmacy residency and a few weeks later I attended a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation retreat. The retreat, the technique and its lessons made more sense to me then anything I had encountered in my life up to that point when I considered me, my friends and family.  Also, it had more benefits, physical, psychological, and spiritual and was proving itself more beneficial than 9 years training as a healthcare practitioner.

I was so excited, and when I got home to tell my folks. I told them I wanted to devote my life to the teaching, research and practice of meditation. This was an especially prickly moment because I also just decided to opt out of an additional 2 year fellowship! My mother replied, “You can’t do that. You just spent 9 years in school studying something else!” We had some history together and I folded, and started living a sort of split existence. You know how those turn out!

Well, last week I became a Chopra certified meditation teacher. I feel a deep rightness and am looking forward to taking this gift back to the world. My advice (even though you didn’t ask) – keep listening to your heart, and look critically at the results you are getting in your life. Be true to who you were born to be!

So you left your job to write a book? You could have been vested in another 17 years!

Seemingly risky you might say, but from the point of view of dharma and deeper happiness, it was essential. I enjoyed my work at the SE Texas Poison Control Center, and the people I worked with. And then there still was a quiet, sometimes unsettled voice that wanted me to look back at a particular time, or maybe even a particular event that so wanted my attention. But that was it! I withheld the most important, and perhaps, most powerful thing that we possess … attention.

The working title of my book, as you likely guessed, is “The Prescription for Happiness”. It is an exploration of the “perennial philosophy”, law of attraction, meditative practices, sprinkled with some important teaching points and shamanesque happenings from my life that have relevancy to just about everyone.

More about my story, and the book as the days unfold. Thanks for stopping by!

This Might Be a Risky First Post!

Some critics did not like the Hollywood-ness of this film.  Some even said it was insolent to people who really had to experience cancer and go through its treatment.  I am a clinical pharmacist and have had some dealings in oncology, bone marrow transplant, hospice and talking about pain management to near a dozen groups in the community.  Also, I have lost my mother, father, and step-father to cancer. So, I see where they are coming from but I also saw more … the potential for conversation, education, sharing and maybe even some enlightenment. Caution: Spoiler Alert!

This is not my typical film, and I went just because it was going to involve end-of life issues.  The film was, “The Fault of Our Stars.” In some ways it was a sentimental teenage love story, but what made it more interesting and effective was that the two main characters, Gus and Hazel, both have a possibly life threatening illness, cancer. This post does not attempt to review the film, and frankly, I’m not sure I would do an acceptable job. And yes, it was very Hollywood compared seeing and working with most people who really have cancer.   Nevertheless, anything that brings about dialogue on death and dying, especially for young people, may be useful for our cultural heart, or should I say our cultural denial.

Boy meets girl in cancer support group.  She is seen dragging, literally, an oxygen tank for an unclear lung problem, into the meeting.  They fall in love, and at one point Gus delivers this beautiful truth to Hazel, ” You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.”  A magnificent truth recognizing and honoring the complete uniqueness of her.  And just like everyone else we share this beautiful planet with. How do you show appreciation for the uniqueness of the ones you love?  And, at another point in their conversations they discuss, “How many infinities are there between 0 and 1?” I was really good at math in high school but that abruptly changed when I got to college, but I think there is still an infinity at every possible point of separation between 0 and 1, and in space/time.  She says to him (or vice versa?), “You gave me forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”  A glimpse of living in gratitude and in the eternal now! Great lessons!

At our deepest level I believe we do share infinity, but we still need to make peace with our limited time with each other, and with ourselves. To deny this is to deny how special every moment is.  To deny this is to grasp at things that do not serve the needs of our deepest self or the possibility of our living in joy.  Letting go of the ones we love is hard no matter how much you know its coming, and you understand that it has to be that way. Gus says to the Hazel, “ Grief does not change you, Hazel.  It reveals you.” Being curious about our own passing is never time misspent, just don’t get stuck there.  Such thought exercises can create discomfort, fear, denial, anger, and more, but when you arrive at acceptance you are free, and you will never want or be able to go back to denial.

I tend to be forgiving when someone tries to tackle the big issues of our life, and death maybe the biggest. No matter how well they do it will touch some people, and some conversations will ensue. What does this have to do with a book about happiness? In my experience, freedom, or free will, which is above intellect, but still below the ego, holds hands with the possibility of joy. Freedom to choose “to be or not to be” in every moment, while we have time. To not react to “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, but cultivate and respond from the quiet place within all of us.

Gus asks his two friends, Hazel and Isaac, to write and read him his eulogy, and they do.  As you can imagine there was much sniffling and sobbing in the theater.  We grieve the passing of those we know and love, not just for who they were, but also because a part of us is recognizing the fate of its own physical instrument.  Gus writes his girlfriend a eulogy that is delivered to her after he dies. In it he says that he hopes she is happy with the choices she has made. What might he have meant for her, and how does it feel coming from someone who has passed?

Writing a eulogy was one of the most difficult and beautiful things I have ever had to do.  In the process I learned more about myself than almost any other single thing I’ve done. Not trying to sound morbid here, but I would recommend that you write a eulogy for someone you love, and another for someone you have not forgiven yet.  You don’t have to tell them or read it to them, but you can do whatever feels right for you.

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 8

  1. The highest good is like water.
  2. Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
  3. It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.
  4. In dwelling, be close to the land.
  5. In meditation, go deep in the heart.
  6. In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
  7. In speech, be true.
  8. In ruling, be just.
  9. In business, be competent.
  10. In action, watch the timing.
  11. No fight: No blame.

Something to read, and inspire you while I get going on the site!