Tonight I am thinking about the many paths that lead to cultivating a gratitude practice. ” BE GRATEFUL TO EVERYONE” is the 13th slogan from a list of 59 slogans or mind/heart training techniques from the Tibetan Buddhist lojong teachings. The function of this particular lojong is to help the student learn how to make peace with people we find challenging as well as to heal aspects of ourselves that need healing. I have observed that the most difficult people I have ever encountered in my life, the ones who have brought me to my metaphorical knees, have actually been what I now think of as “cosmic couriers”; the messengers bringing chances for change and growth. In my lowest moments I confess to thinking of them as A.F.G.O.s, which is acronym speak for “Another @$%^?!# Growth Opportunity.” Coarse but true. These times have provided me with a mirror and an opportunity to befriend and release all of that old baggage that I had been hauling around. I am typing this from a different place in time and in a calm, reflective manner but I can assure you that in the moment there probably were tears and much gnashing of teeth. Rumi wrote, “Pain lops off the branches of indifference.” Very true. When we are able to practice the 13th slogan with any kind of awareness, we can recognize the Crazy in our lives as Crazy and, instead of crawling into bed with the covers over our heads, we can make an effort to learn from even the hard stuff. Practicing the 13th slogan does not mean checking your wits and common sense at the door and just blithely accepting all the tough things that come your way. It is really more about a change of attitude about everything and everyone that shows up in our lives. “BE GRATEFUL TO EVERYONE” means to me that all situations have the opportunity to teach me something. In my life it has been the fire of the hardest times that has burned away some of the dross and afforded me a chance to respond in a different way to those people who push my buttons. Everyone can probably name at least one person in our life who we always seem to meet in a place of challenge; dukes up, snarky comments poised to fly. These are the people that I have occasionally (and fervently) wished would just GO AWAY. Sometimes they do go away, but–surprise– they just pop up again wearing a new face and a new name but playing the same old game. There it is–the same annoying situation repeating itself like my own personal Groundhog Day movie. Barbara Brown Taylor once said that if we are willing to stay awake, our painful situations can become reliable alters in our world. I love that. In my highest moments of awareness I may realize that, GEE, it appears that I have found another teacher. This is where I am hoping that my memory and compassion kick in and I can try to practice that 13th slogan and maybe even get a glimpse of the Good working through the other person. It is a tricky deal to be conscious of this dance. Being grateful to everyone is for me the journey of a lifetime… compassionate action is what I aspire to and though I do not always hit the mark, most days I am grateful to just be striving to BE GRATEFUL TO EVERYONE, especially those who come to meet me at the places I am most stuck…Namaste.
Rebekah Lang on The 13th Slogan Rebekah Lang on B.Y.S. Rebekah Lang on Reading Sugar Rebekah Lang on Friction athomeinmyheart on Reading Sugar