Tag Archives: gratitude

Gratitude

Reposted from my discontinued Ponder blog:

Most spiritual traditions tell us that being grateful for our lives and what we have in them is a necessary component of a full life. If we believe that God needs our praise, then I can see that expressing thanks to Him in our prayers would make sense. But I have had more trouble understanding the “why” of gratitude since I don’t believe God needs us to tell Him how wonderful He is. (Jesus says this in A Course in Miracles.)

Of course, I can understand that we need gratitude. It opens our heart. And, not incidentally, it makes us just feel good. Writing about the Law of Attraction, particularly Rhonda Byrne’s The Magic, says that without gratitude our wishes for a more abundant life will fall on deaf ears in the universe. But is not a rote recall of things we are grateful for just seem to be manipulation of ultimate reality?

Our heart needs to be in the right place when we are expressing thanks for the blessings of our life. We need not to be manipulative, we need not to say “thanks” just because it does feel good.

There is a higher reason for gratitude.

I know that I appreciate my life, and that is a good start. Gratitude does warms our heart, and maybe that is reason enough to be diligent in feeling and expressing gratitude for our lives.

Gratitude does keep us in the right pathway back to God. Separation healed, we are on our way.

Gratitude to Our Brother

“I have told you several times that I am in charge of the whole Atonement. This is only because I completed my part in it as a man and can now complete it through others. My chosen receiving and sending channels cannot fail, because I will lend them my strength as long as theirs is wanting. I will go with you to the Holy One, and through my perception He can bridge the little gap. Your gratitude to your brother is the only gift I want. I will bring it to God for you, knowing that to know your brother is to know God.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.VIII.15:1-6)

It is unclear who Jesus means by “your brother.” It is conceivable that he means himself, that he would like to have our gratitude, but I feel that this interpretation is probably off the mark. Jesus does refer to himself elsewhere as our “elder brother,” but all individuals are brothers (and sisters), and it is to our fellow man and women that it is likely Jesus refers. Knowing our brother (and sister) does lead one to God, for holy relationship is the means that A Course in Miracles uses to take us home. We do realize that in the sixties and seventies, when Jesus was channeling, the masculine term included the feminine as well.

We are chosen receiving and sending channels, for long ago we learned in Sunday school that we are the hands and feet of Jesus. If we do his bidding, we are taking our part in the Atonement, the miracle that will take all of us home to God, though, we are told, this final healing may take as long as the separation did to happen, which was millions of years (and maybe even longer). The time can be foreshortened if all of us pull together. After all, we are all in this together.

Jesus stands ready to help us, though he does not foster dependence in an unhealthy way. In our lives, we have to make our own decisions, with our own guidance being led by the Holy Spirit or the Christ-Self. Jesus as an individual does not force his opinion upon us. We might sometimes want him to do so, but this is faulty thinking.

To know our brother is to know God. This is a startling assertion. Our brother’s essence is of God, for God is living through him. And the operative word is “know,” not “perceive.” Our knowledge is true understanding.

Entertain Happy Thoughts!

“It is your denial of all your happy thoughts that has led you to a life of such unhappiness. Thoughts of terror and of sin you will embrace, but thoughts of resurrection and new life you still before they have a chance at birth and call them wishful thinking. What harm do you expect happy thoughts to do to you?” (ACOL, C:6.21)

Do you often find that unhappy thoughts predominate our thinking? Our “what if’s” are a big problem, usually. And we worry and obsess about the slightest things. Never a pleasant thought that we sustain! We need to change this, as this passage makes clear.

A Course of Love wants us to think happy thoughts. To dwell on what is going right. One way to do this is to keep a gratitude list. We can begin with just five things, written down in the evening before bed, five things that we are grateful for. This is a painless and potent way to lift our way out of depression. Some days it will be easy to find five; some days we will have to fall back on the tried and true because we have had a decidedly bad day. No matter. The exercise is sufficient to lift our mood, done over time, carefully and consistently.

I have heard first hand from a number of people that this suggestion works. The specific number, five, ensures that everyone will have enough blessings to quickly and usually easily find five blessings to thank God for. And when we do so, we drift off to sleep in a better frame of mind. The first dig out of depression has happened.
When we take to heart the truth that we create our own reality, we can see how harboring distasteful thoughts can be so bad for us. We make more of the same! Just that. And Jesus asks us, poignantly, in this passage, just what do we think that happy thoughts are going to do for us? They will lift us up, change the tenor our days.

There is no doubt about the truth of this assertion, to change the day by thinking happier thoughts. The law of attraction, which unfortunately so often is employed to bring materialism into our lives, also works for the intangible as well. And the law of attraction is another way of saying that we create our own reality.

Play with these ideas today. Accept whatever disastrous thought comes to mind, but resolve not to dwell upon it. Just accepting it, and moving on, in the flow, will move mountains of debris under which we have buried ourselves.

Try it, and we will see.

Love Cannot Be Far Behind a Grateful Heart and Thankful Mind

1 – Name of Jesus Christ

“Remembering the Name of Jesus Christ is to give thanks for all the gifts that God has given you. And gratitude to God becomes the way in which he is remembered, for love cannot be far behind a grateful heart and thankful mind. (M58)”

2 – Not Magical

Calling on the Name of Jesus in prayer is not a magical act. It reminds us that he is our elder brother, who is there to help us whenever we ask. He promises this in the Course. At one point he recommends that we imagine him taking our hand and leading us, and he assures us that this will be no idle fantasy.

3 – Keys to the Kingdom

Being grateful and thankful are keys to the Kingdom. We are so often not grateful for the good that we receive. No sooner than we have received it than we are off asking for something else–never stopping very long to say “thank you.” But this passage indicates that love will follow a grateful and thankful heart and mind. And love is the opposite of fear, love and fear being the only two emotions (the rest being variants of these two).

4 – Blessings

So, with a grateful heart, thank God in prayer for the blessings that He has given us. And use Jesus’s Name, if we can feel secure in doing so. As an elder brother, he appreciates (as do we) that we are giving credit to him when it is due. (This is an interpretation, not a Course tenet.)

5 – Christ’s Vision

“In his eyes Christ’s vision shines in perfect constancy. He has remained with you. Would you not learn the lesson of salvation through his learning? Why would you choose to start again, when he has made the journey for you? (M59)”

6 – The Pathway

Jesus walked the pathway before we came along. He led the way for us, for we have chosen him as our way. There are other leaders for other traditions, but we have chosen Jesus. And he has chosen us. Why, indeed, would we stumble along, trying so hard to get it right, when just a word from Jesus would set our little worlds right side up? Why do we hesitate?

7 – Let Down?

I think we hesitate for fear of being let down. We think that maybe Jesus won’t be there for us. But his promises are that he will be.

8 – Ask for Help

Why not take a risk and ask for his help today? Why not indeed? I suggest that none of us will be disappointed, though a doubtful heart may interfere with our awareness of his answer. Ask in confidence, certain that A Course in Miracles is right, and see if we are not well-assured by his response.

9 – Jesus

“This course has come from him because his words have reached you in a language you can love and understand. . . Do you, then, teach with him, for he is with you; he is always here. (M59)”

10 – Always Nearby

A very reassuring passage, this passage affirms that Jesus is actually always nearby, even when we are thinking of other things. “He is always here.” Yes! Jesus would not leave his followers adrift in a difficult and tragic world. We call on him, and he answers.

11 – Simple

It is just that simple.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I am grateful for my many blessings, and I feel this both in my heart and my mind. Your blessings pour out on those who are grateful for what they already have. May I be careful to acknowledge Your presence in my life today.

Thank you for Jesus’s help. He has promised to be with us also, and we pray in his name.

Amen.

Forsake Attack / Find Gratitude

ACIM Workbook Lesson 197 – for Monday, July 16, 2012

 

Affirmation:  “It can be but my gratitude I earn.”

“God blesses every gift you give to Him, and every gift is given Him, because it can be given only to yourself.  And what belongs to God must be His Own.  Yet you will never realize His gifts are sure, eternal, changeless, limitless, forever giving out, extending love and adding to your never-ending joy while you forgive but to attack again.  (WB377)”

Reflections:

1 – Attack / Forgiveness

As long as attack is attractive to us, we will need to turn again and again to forgiveness so that we get back on the right track.  And who among us can say that we never have the urge to attack (usually verbally), or that we never feel anger?  These are very human characteristics.  After all, think of Jesus in the temple with the moneychangers, as depicted in the New Testament.

2 – God Does Not Condemn

When we have made progress toward leaving attack behind, we will know the love that is described in today’s Workbook lesson.  We will know that God does not condemn, and we will know that our best action is also not to condemn–even when we don’t recognize that there has just been a mistake that can be rectified by forgiveness.  Remember the illusion in which we live.  The Self is never hurt–only the “little,” personal self.  And we would not take offense at a brother or sister who is having a hard time and takes it out on us.  We need to be bigger than that.

3 – Very Human Traits

All of this is not easy.  We carry these human traits, many from childhood and brought on by the insane ego.  Most of us have not completely relinquished the ego, and so we are more prone to take offense easily.

4 – Harmony

We need to do what we can to bring more love into our lives.  Do we not sense the harmony that can be ours when we choose the word or deed that comes from love rather than attack?

5 – God = Love

Let us today ask for the grace to live our lives in love, or in Love.  For God is Love, as the Scriptures tell us, and now as borne out by A Course in Miracles.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for reminding me that attack has no place in the group of reactions that we would have in this world.  Attack always blinds us to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, and attack also hurts our brothers and sisters.  We need the harmony that Love (God) and love (Awakening or Christ-consciousness) can effect in our lives.  May I ask for that harmony to be mine today.  I realize that this may be a daily prayer, for I do not know when I will be ready for You to reach down and awaken me.

Thank You for being here for me.  The day has been good so far, and always a day goes better when the morning is good.  You know that I am not a morning person, though I get up and start the day at a relatively early hour.  You know that I need structure to my day, to make that day be devoted to the pathway that You point out to me.  Thank You for guiding my decisions, so that the little decisions that the Holy Spirit gives me, moment-by-moment, are heeded.

I am grateful for the blessing of Your Love.  May I never forget my indebtedness to You.  And may I never forget how much You love me.

Amen.

All Cause of Sorrow Disappears

ACIM Workbook Lesson 195 – for Saturday, July 14, 2012

Affirmation:  “Love is the way I walk in gratitude.”

“Gratitude is a lesson hard to learn for those who look upon the world amiss.  The most that they can do is see themselves as better off than others.  And they try to be content because another seems to suffer more than they.  How pitiful and deprecating are such thoughts!  For who has cause for thanks while others have less cause?  And who could suffer less because he sees another suffer more?  Your gratitude is due to Him alone Who made all cause of sorrow disappear throughout the world.  (WB372)”

Reflections:

1 – Do Not Compare

We would be wise not to compare ourselves to others.  There will always be those who seem to have more, as well as seem to have less.  This practice of comparison is not a good practice that could ever lead us to a sane mind.

2 – Cooperation

We need cooperation, not competition, in our world (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  And in cooperation we find the gratitude due our brothers and sisters that is so lacking when we are competing with them for the “top” spot in our world.  We find ourselves loving each other more when we cooperate toward a common good.  We do not find ourselves in a loving mood when we are competing.

3 – Public Schools

Even the public school system is learning this truth.  Research in educational circles has been going on for a quarter of a century, and more, that recommends “cooperative learning” in our schools.  It is conceivable that this wide-based endeavor will turn out very different young adults than in our generation.  Our world needs a new system, and perhaps cooperative learning and living will emerge in the next generation.  (These ideas are not discussed in ACIM or in A Course of Love.)

4 – Pity Is Unworthy

It is particularly unworthy if we simply look with pity on another’s suffering, and use that situation to be glad that we too are not suffering that much.  Surely we ought to do what we can to lighten another’s load, and turn suffering into joy.  Surely we ought not to doubt the results of a healing when symptoms still seem evident (a Manual tenet).  But we need to recognize that, however lamentable, the suffering is not real (a Manual tenet).  It is an illusion, however much it may seem real to us or to the sufferer himself/herself.  The real Self (the “Christ” in us) has not been harmed.  Our task now is to move beyond suffering and to turn it back, if need be, simply into pain that would be avoided.

5 – Sickness as a Way of Life

Not everyone is ready for this change.  Some use sickness as a way of life, and a sudden healing might precipitate depression so deep that one would want to commit suicide (from the Manual).  So healing has to wait.  But we cannot doubt that a healing will be accepted when the individual is ready.  This can be either physical or emotional healing, and perhaps the emotional is the most important.

6 = With Grateful Eyes

Let us look with grateful eyes on our brothers and sisters, and let us help them, with more kindness, through their journey.  What better way to spend our day?

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I do feel grateful today for my many blessings.  I would feel more gratitude than is usual for me, for this lesson today is a reminder of how much we owe to You.  Be with me today as I walk through this world.

May I never use sickness to get me something that I want.  Nothing needs to be used in such a way.  I would not feel pity for those less fortunate, though I would try to help my brothers and sisters in need.  Show me what to do and say.

Thank You.

Amen.

Should I Repeat the Workbook?

ACIM Workbook Lesson 360 – for Monday, December 26, 2011

Affirmation:  “Peace be to me, the holy Son of God.
        Peace to my brother, who is one with me.
        Let all the world be blessed with peace through us.”

“In holiness were we created, and in holiness do we remain.  Your Son is like to You in perfect sinlessness.  And with this thought we gladly say ‘Amen.’  (WB484)”

Reflections:

1 – We Say “Amen”

This is the final lesson before five days of repetition.  Now we say “Amen.”  Jesus has guided us through a year meant to lead us home to God.  Have we made it?  Although many students/teachers of A Course in Miracles take the workbook lessons year after year, nowhere does Jesus proscribe this.  We can make our own choice in the matter.  We do not have to be tied to the Workbook if we are ready to move on.

2 – Turn to Our Guide

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in this decision.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me today to know if You would have me repeat the lessons of the Workbook in the upcoming year.  Many students/teachers just start over with a new year.  These individuals find the meditative aspects of the Workbook a good daily devotional.  Would I?  Help me to know today.  May my Guide, the Holy Spirit choose for me in this instance.  I do not know my own best interests.

I thank You for the closeness to You that the Workbook has brought to me this year.   Your felt Presence is a joy for me, a solace in times of trouble, a tranquil peace in more serene times.  May I ready myself today to move into a new year.  And I would spend that year also with You, whether or not my Guide directs me to repeat the Workbook.

Thank You for a good year.

Amen.