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Gratitude and Appreciation

Bodhinatha shares some wonderful stories, one by Helice Bridges which emphasizes the importance of showing appreciation. He also includes quotes by Gurudeva from "Living with Siva," about the sadhanas of gratitude and appreciation.

Unedited Transcript:

Good Morning Everyone.

Welcome to our guests this morning. Nice to have you with us.

A lot of nice developments in Mauritius- the first Sunday of the Month public Satsang at the Spiritual Park, a homa- fire ceremony like we do a bit simpler, burn a lot of prayers, singing a lot of wonderful songs. It's been going on now possibly as long as two years, quite a while since they got permission to start it. I was impressed that I got a note recently that said, "oh by the way we had 450 people at the event last time". They're getting an excellent turn out which is very encouraging. Plus we have an offer from Vanakkam magazine, to have a whole page, it's actually a religious newspaper on Hinduism, giving us one full page every month to introduce us. So I thought maybe we could develop some materials specifically for that. So I thought this morning I'd pull out a talk I gave some years ago and revamped it so this version two and may do a few more editing and come up with something that could be used there in Mauritius and also printed in the Vanakkam newspaper.

This is called Gratitude and Appreciation. Some of you may remember the famous Bridge story, a new improve version.

A few years ago Palaniswami and I attended a "Vision Kauai "meeting with some of Kauai's Civic leaders, including Mayor Maryanne Kusaka. This particular Sunday afternoon there was a special guest, Helice Bridges. Helice is the curator of "Who I am makes a difference" blue ribbon, which is a popular technique for verbalizing our appreciation of another person. In fact we had used her blue ribbon technique in our moments of appreciation as part of our recent Innersearch programs.

Helice told a number of moving stories and I thought I'd begin by sharing one of them. Helice works a lot with schools in this story the teacher acknowledged every student in his class. He went around one at a time expressed how much he appreciated this student and the qualities that him or her, that he appreciated. The teacher was very careful to verbalize specific qualities for each student that make a difference, it was not just a generalization "You are wonderful," "You are smart," or other general statements. Rather he strove to really see the student and acknowledge that student for the different wonderful qualities that he or she had. (It's interesting, this talk was given verbally and transcribed and I was reading it this morning and used the work "wonderful" around 20 times and the word "nice" about 15 times. I cut back but still you find the word "wonderful and nice" in here a few times.) Acknowledge for that student for the different wonderful qualities that he or she had. Part of the exercise was called a "pay forward" the teacher gave each student two ribbons, the students were then to appreciate one more person and then give that person another ribbon to appreciate someone else, so in that way it goes forward. The forward part was very effective in that it catalyzed a number of students to appreciate a parent- that the student would never have otherwise done. As a result the students significantly improved his or her relationship with the parent.

After our Vision Kauai meeting I was reflecting on the material on this topic that Gurudeva gives us in Living with Siva, specifically he gives us two sadhanas. The first one is the sadhana of gratitude and then after we've done that one there's a sadhana of appreciation. So reading from Living with Siva, Gurudeva says, The sadhana of gratitude is to take out paper and pen and list all the good that has come into your life during the past five years. This list will grow as memory is stimulated.

Should it not be possible to think of even one good thing, then write the affirmation several times "I am a spiritual being of light maturing in the ocean of experience." Soon a good memory will come up followed by more. Feelings of loving appreciation will begin to flow toward those who participated in the good times. Forgiveness then wells up for the bad times.

This is the first sadhana, gratitude and it is a good one to do now and then. Of course if we do it regularly we don't have to go back for a full five years. But definitely if we are feeling, shall we say, a little down, not fully inspired, if we are looking at the glass as half empty rather than half full, it is a good time to do this sadhana, because then we will remember all the wonderful events that have taken place in our life and all the people who have participated in those events.

This leads to the sadhana of appreciation. This sadhana is to approach those to whom you are grateful and tell them to their face, while looking deeply into their eyes, how much you esteem and value them. That is the key of course is to be specific. To quote from Living with Siva,"Be specific, find details to share so they know that this is not a shallow compliment, explain what each one has done to inspire this loving confrontation and convince each in turn that you are sincere. The look of a smiling face, eyes shining and heart full of love, perhaps followed by a big hug is convincing enough in itself. Words of appreciation are often words people do not hear. These loving confrontations do not happen nearly enough among friends and family and relatives in today's world. Loving appreciation is a magic formula that works both ways. When we commend another, we are automatically uplifted."

Helice told another story that was included in the book "Chicken Soup for the Soul" (which she's quite proud of) and Gurudeva was impressed by this story enough to include it in

Photo of  Gurudeva
When heart and mind are freed of baseness, when desires have been tempered and excesses avoided, dharma is known and followed, and good conduct naturally arises.