the MIRREN LEE

The 2012 Act Three Journey of an Actress/Coach/Writer.

Day 43 Buddhist Gratitude Prayer

Posted by themirrenlee on 12/02/2012

I am grateful for everything life hands me, knowing that all experiences bring gifts with them.

This is something I discovered at a Buddhist Festival many years ago. Printed copies were given away for free, and I have never ceased to be grateful for mine because even Google can’t seem to find the prayer. (Logic dictates that it must be there somewhere, but so far it has eluded me.) That makes me think this particular prayer is probably unknown to many people, so I would like to share it. I think the message is wonderful, especially for those who say that they’ve been treated badly by people (who hasn’t?!), and have trouble letting go of their feelings of hurt, resentment and anger because of it.

It became freshly relevant today because for several hours I helped a person close to me who is battling a bad chest infection. She is my ex mother-in-law (from my 3rd husband!), and she’s almost 91 years old, but one of the youngest looking/acting women of her age you will ever see. Her energy, stamina and drive are also remarkable, but then I think it has a lot to do with being part of that generation. She is originally from Lithuania, so she went through the occupation of both the Germans and the Russians during WW2, then came to Australia as a refugee with her husband and young son. They had to start their lives completely from scratch, and battle everything from learning English to finding jobs. Her late husband was a lawyer, but his qualifications weren’t recognized here, so he had to work in a paint factory.

While I was making her something to eat, setting up her new mobile phone, helping ease her symptoms (such a nasty cough), answering her medication questions, and helping with a computer issue, she remarked on how capable I am. I told her that when you grow up looking after 6 siblings (and then adding a baby at 16) while dealing with dysfunctional parents, being capable is a matter of swimming or sinking. I chose swimming! I thought the conversation was kind of ironic, though, because she is one of the most capable people I’ve ever met!

It got me thinking about what makes us capable. Yes, my upbringing helped me, but what about other people in our lives? What contribution do they make to our character, especially when they affect us in negative ways? Then I remembered this prayer, and how incredible I think it is that it turns negatives into positives. That in itself is a real blessing. Some people who’ve read it have become annoyed at it – saying that it would be better if people didn’t hurt us in the first place. But they’re missing the point. The mere fact that they did is what we should be grateful for, because they gave us the gift of the attributes we need to make us feel capable, and equipped to handle whatever life throws at us. Since the root of all fear is the belief that “we won’t be able to handle it” (whatever “it” is), feeling capable also makes us less fearful.

And anyway, while yes, in theory, it would be lovely if life didn’t consist of any bad people or experiences; in reality that’s never going to happen. As M. Scott Peck’s opening sentence says in “The Road Less Traveled”: “Life is shit.” His point is that our belief in the major myth that’s it’s possible to achieve perfection in our lives actually causes us great misery. We chase after it, trying to find the “perfect” job, the “perfect” relationship, the “perfect house”, etc., etc., because “then we’ll be happy”.  In actual fact, there will always be challenges in life to overcome, and people to battle, and we will never, ever be able to achieve perfect lives. I don’t believe that’s the nature (or purpose) of life. And we must make our peace with that.

This prayer helped me to do that, and I hope it speaks to some of you the way it does to me. I found it helped me to let go of the pain others had inflicted on me through their actions, and to be grateful instead for the individual gifts they had given me without realizing it.

BUDDHIST PRAYER OF GRATITUDE

I am grateful to those who have hurt or harmed me,

For they have reinforced my determination.

I am grateful to those who have deceived me, 

For they have deepened my insight.

I am grateful to those who have hit me,

For they have reduced my karmic obstacles.

I am grateful to those who have abandoned me,

For they have taught me to be independent.

I am grateful to those who have made me stumble,

For they have strengthened my ability.

I am grateful to those who have denounced me,

For they have increased my wisdom and concentration. 

I am grateful to those who have made me firm and resolute,

And helped in my achievements.

I’m just bein’ grateful …

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