Sunday, October 10, 2010


There is a saying, oft-heard in Twelve Step group meetings (such as AA and NA), "Always practise the attitude of gratitude." Sure, we have problems, for problems are a sign of life, but there are always things for which we can be grateful. I have learned from my Shinnyo Buddhist practice that without gratitude on my part I cannot show compassion or lovingkindness to others nor ever hope to experience the joys of enlightenment.

Now, mindfulness did not come to me overnight. There are so many people - most of whom I have never met in person -  to whom I will always be grateful for affording me some important guiding principles relating to various aspects of both the philosophy and the more practical side to the daily practice - yes, practice - of Mindfulness.

1. I am grateful to my late parents Harry and Phyl (both pictured below), who believed in me and taught me to be honest and always to strive for the best. Without honesty there can be no acknowledgment of what is, and without determination there can be no enlightenment.

2. I am grateful to my dear wife Elspeth and my three children (all pictured below, along with myself), all of whom have stood by me even when I let them down, thus teaching me the power of suffering love and that I am the owner of my actions.

3. I am grateful to the Buddha Shakyamuni (pictured below) whose teachings bring the mind back to its natural state, who taught that "the mind is everything" and "With our thoughts, we make our world", and who, when asked about himself, simply said, "I am awake". Buddha's teaching is very practical ... a way of life, as opposed to a way of belief. He was very empirical and very practical.

4. I am grateful to Jesus (pictured below) who said, "The kingdom of God is within you" (Lk 17:21) and "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you" (Jn 14:2). I believe in the religion of Jesus, not some supposed religion about Jesus. Like Buddha, Jesus' simple teachings have been horribly distorted and corrupted by his so-called followers.

5.I am grateful to J. Krishnamurti (pictured below) who opposed all gurus, and who said, "There is only one revolution, psychological, inward revolution", and "In the acknowledgement of what is there is the cessation of all conflict." Like Buddha, Krishnamurti taught that the "I" of us is simply a habit, a series of words, memories and knowledge ... the past. The "I" cannot change anything. "I" cannot change "me". With choiceless awareness, let things come and go, without effort, pursuit or recall.

6. I am grateful to Dr Norman Vincent Peale (pictured below), whom I had the privilege of meeting on two separate occasions, who taught me how to put the attitude of positive thinking into action in my life, and who said, "Stay alive all your life" (also the title of one of his many best-selling books). Dr Peale not only said that problems are a sign of life, he even went so far as to say that "the more problems you have, the more alive you are ... and if you don't have any problems, watch out ... you're on the way out, and you don't know it!" (NOTE. For those who are interested in the writings and ideas of Dr Peale, I have compiled and edited a book entitled The Norman Vincent Peale Book of Quotations.)

7. I am grateful to the French humanist writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (pictured below) who wrote in The Little Prince (<Le Petit Prince>), one of my all-time favourite books, "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

8. I am grateful to the Scottish-born Australian philosopher John Anderson (pictured below) who taught, "There are only facts, i.e., occurrences in space and time." Professor Anderson was Australia's greatest philosopher and one of this country's best academics. He lived just a few doors down in my street at Turramurra, where he wrote so many of his scholarly writings. He was a radical empiricist and a realist in his philosophy and although he had no time for organised religion I think he would have supported Mindfulness because it is entirely empirically based ... no dogma, no metaphysics, no theology, no idelogy ... just being alert and aware of each moment, in each moment, moment by moment.

9. I am grateful to the metaphysician Emmet Fox (pictured below) who wrote, "We are all sparks from the Great Fire." Like Dr Peale, Dr Emmet Fox taught that we all have great power within us ... the one Power and Presence that animates and sustains all things and all people, in which we all live and move and have our being.

10. I am grateful to Plato (pictured below) who wrote, "Nothing in the affairs of man is worthy of great anxiety." According to Plato, there is a world of being, in which everything exists, “always is”, “has no becoming” and “does not change” (the world of forms), and there is a world of becoming, which “comes to be and passes away, but never really is” (the physical world or cosmos).

11. I am grateful to the Japanese meditation master and artist Shinjo Ito (pictured below) who wrote, "Enlightenment is the result of the daily practice of mindfulness." Shinnyo Buddhism teaches that all of us have goodness in our heart ... the buddha nature. I much prefer that view to the Christian doctrine of the innate "total depravity" of human nature.

12. I am grateful to L. Frank Baum (pictured below), author of The Wizard of Oz, who told us that the Wizard is nothing but a "humbug", that all that we are seeking can be found within us, and that we can go home to "Kansas" at any time we want to.

To all of the above, and many others not mentioned, I say ... thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.