Gratitude is mentioned a lot as a spiritual practice, and with good reason as it is an important one. What you may not have heard before is that gratitude goes through stages of growth, it is not just one practice that stays the same thru-out our journey, it evolves as we evolve. With this in mind here are three basic stages of gratitude that we need to pass through:
- Ingratitude or an absence of gratefulness – At this stage our ego is very contracted and small in its thinking, the things that we have to be grateful for we very quickly take for granted, we have no idea or feel for the interconnectedness of the web of life and the kindness that we are shown directly and indirectly by so many beings on so many levels. We live our lives in a state of perpetual discontent and “lack”. Our mind is like a closed window to the light and grace of gratitude.
- Conscious gratefulness for the manifest good in our life – The second stage of gratefulness is where we have developed some form of evolutionary aspiration in our mind, and we recognize the benefits, both for ourself and others, of appreciating the good, the beautiful and the true in our life. Each day is spent consciously taking into account what we have to be grateful for and reminding ourselves not to slip back into a state of taking-things-for-granted-ness. This stage of gratefulness sees a battle between the consciously grateful mind that is growing and evolving in our life, and the old ungrateful ego-contraction that it is trying to replace (and that tends to be stubborn as a mule!)
- Spontaneous gratefulness – This third stage of gratefulness arises from a direct perception and experience of our living relationship as an individual to the evolving Life-force of the Universe. More traditionally you could call this a gratitude for being in a living, participating relationship to God and the wonder of creation.
Whether you choose the words Life, the Universe, God or otherwise, the subjective experience here is basically a spontaneous sense of gratitude that arises effortlessly due to our constant connection and ‘simpatico’ with the dancing energies of life and the universe as they continue on the journey and adventure of evolution. At this stage gratitude has become a state of being rather than something that we have to battle constantly to maintain.
Initially we have to work quite hard to journey from stages one to stage two. After a period of years, depending upon our effort we will find ourself starting to ‘peak experience’ into level three for short periods of time, then regressing back. Eventually we are able to stabilize our mind at level three as our “default gratitude attitude”, at which point we can truly have said to have a realization of gratitude.
© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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