In last week’s article, I offered “thank you” as a mantra (or prayer, using the word of Meister Eckhart) that we can say throughout the day. “Thank you tree,” “thank you Sam,” “thank you computer,” and so on.
The focus of the thank you mantra in that article was on objects, nature, people, animals. That’s all well and good. However, I missed something … really two somethings.
One is our internal experience.
The other includes those circumstances in our lives that aren’t so pleasant.
Remember Eckhart’s missive: “If the only prayer you say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
There are no qualifiers.
“Thank you unpleasant experience,” “thank you argument with my child,” “thank you meeting that didn’t go so well,” “thank you back pain,” “thank you bill to pay.”
To embrace the offer of Eckhart, “thank you” isn’t a contemplation to be embraced in a discriminating way. It just is … always … no matter what my egoic, separate self, thinking might want to suggest.
Thank you fear, anger, frustration, anxiety. Thank you peace, imagination, beauty, intuition, love.
What I often find is that when I say thank you as I experience fear for example, the fear washes away.
Of course, saying thank you as we experience events or feelings we deem unpleasant can be challenging, extremely challenging. Especially for circumstances where we experience intense grief or loss, say with the death of a loved one or tragic circumstances such as mass killings. After some time, we may be able to manage thank you, and it may require some time … quite some time.
And remember, thank you is not thank you FOR something, so it’s not thank you for this horrific event, but thank you. For me, thank you arises as acknowledgement of the experience of living and being more fully human. Yes, I feel the sorrow. Yes, I love. Thank you.
What is the understanding of life that might contain meaningful thank you for challenging and unpleasant situations and experiences?
Who we essentially are is OneBeing, as great wisdom teachings and science tell us.
We discover this ourselves and it becomes real for us, beyond concepts, when we investigate our personal experience. That is beyond the scope of this article, however.
As OneBeing, Consciousness, Source, the Universe, we are an open, empty, vast, allowing space, out of which everything arises and within which everything appears.
A useful analogy is the space of the room in which you are sitting. You can notice it is open, empty. There is no resistance. If you throw a ball across the room, the space doesn’t say, “Stop that; you might break something!” If an angry client walks in, the space doesn’t try to stop her. If a happy coworker enters, the space doesn’t say, “I’m so happy to see you.”
We have received messages and conditioning from our culture that we are solely contained in, and limited by, our bodies, i.e., finite. Therefore, we haven’t had a relationship with being this open space.
As we embody the nondual* (wisdom) teachings, we begin to experience ourselves as vast, open, allowing. Yes, it takes focus and time, at least in my experience.
What occurs as we know ourselves as that space is that we bring into the foreground of our experience that openness and allowing. So even for situations that our thoughts and feelings don’t like, our true self knows there is nothing to resist. What has occurred has been allowed; it already exists.
As we cease resisting what we label good and bad (yes some even resist good) and we say thank you, no matter what occurs, we are more available to respond rather than to react. To bring wisdom to a conversation rather than judgment, to remain open rather than be defensive.
This does not mean that all behavior is acceptable. Unacceptable behavior, however, is able to be addressed with wisdom, presence and love.
However, as I noted last week, reciting this mantra (in my case silently) can alter our experience of and relationship with everyone and everything. I personally feel deeper communion with life. As a result, then, it is much much easier to be present with love and wisdom in a challenging conversation or situation.
I’d love to hear how you’ve embraced thank you as a mantra/prayer. Feel free to send me an email.
* Nonduality is the realization that although we seem to experience a separation between ourselves and other people, animals, nature and objects, that there is a single reality, a relatedness, infinite and indivisible, the nature of which is pure Awareness, or Consciousness, Divine Spirit, Infinite Intelligence, the Universe or Source, and that the existence of all people, animals, nature and objects originates from this Source.