Let’s practice gratitude this month. Every morning when you wake up, and or when you go to bed at night, think of at least three things you can have gratitude for. I will practise along with you. This practice belongs to the group of meditations called the four sublime abodes, or the four immeasurables, or the brahma viharas: Metta – loving kindness, Karuna – compassion, Mudita – sympathetic joy, and Upekkha – equanimity. They are a group of meditations that work at cultivating the internal conditions to help liberate ourselves and let go of our addictive habits. They cultivate positive attitudes and positive mental states.
The third of these meditations is called Mudita – sympathetic joy. We gladden our heart by calling to mind things we feel gratitude and joy towards ourselves, towards a friend, a neutral person and an enemy. In fact in this practise we can see clearly how our friend can become the enemy, because sometimes we resent our friend’s success, our friend’s good fortune. This is where we have to turn the resentment around and bring about gratitude and joy for our friends.
Beginning with ourselves is most important in all four of the meditations. And with mudita we can reflect on some of the ten endowments that have made our birth precious.
- Born as a human being
- Living in a country where the buddhist teachings are available
- Having at least one faculty that we can either hear the dharma orally, or hear via sign language – or read the dharma in books and read via braille
- Not committed heavy negative karma like murder
- Confidence in the three jewels
- Born in a country where the Buddha has appeared
- Born in a country where the Buddha has taught
- Born in a country where the dharma has flourished
- Living in a place where there are other followers of the dharma have gained enlightenment
- Where there is support from the kindness of others and a teacher
We can also have gratitude if we have not been born into unfavourable states: Like war on our doorstep, or born in a country where the dharma has never been taught, or born into a country where buddhism may cost us our life. We can rejoice in the fact that we have not been born into the animal realm.
Although be aware if you are craving so much that you can only be satiated by food, drugs, sex, money, power or by your choice of distraction, you will be languishing in the realm of the Hungry Ghost and functioning merely as an animal. Similarly if you are clinging to negative mental states, clinging to biases, judgements and views, unable to cultivate Mudita you must take caution.
Mudita flourishes when we can have faith in the three jewels: faith in the Buddha as the teacher of the path; faith in the Dharma which is the path; faith in the Sangha that guides us and helps us to stay on the path. We must also want to be liberated, be free of craving, and have faith in the fact that our actions have consequences.
What can you have gratitude for right now?
For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: [email protected]