By Sewa Singh
When presented with an opportunity to write about gratitude, I realized that my only qualification was that I have spent the vast majority of my life without any. I am an expert in having no “attitude of gratitude” whatsoever.
From childhood through most of my adulthood, I have not been truly grateful for the following things (this is a partial list):
- for being born
- for being able to breath
- for having a functional body and moderately functional mind
- for allergies and asthma that should have taught me to value the breath
- for parents
- for my sister
- for my spiritual teacher, yoga, Dharma and Guru
- for my wife
- for my son
- for safety
- for food and being able to eat and digest it
- for a home
- for my friends and relatives
- for insects and spiders
- for innocent pets
- for grass, trees, squirrels, rats and birds
- for rain and drizzle
- for thunder and lightening
- for snow and ice
- for sun and sunburns
- for neighborhood bullies, who taught me to stand up for myself (dude, sorry if I broke your nose)
- for all the other generally cruel children and vicious neighborhood dogs
- for all the kind children and loving adults who ignored my lack of gratitude
- for the dentists and doctors
- for the disabled boy down the street who frightened me (I should have learned compassion)
- for the cruel neighbor who regularly harassed our cat (I should have learned compassion)
- for long, cold, dark dreary winter days (that should have taught me to appreciate the hot muggy summer days and nights, that should have given me an appreciation of the fall, spring and winter)
I give up! This pitiful list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. It would be impossible to count the number of natural and human kindnesses and lessons gifted to me that I never have acknowledged. The endless waves of love, given so sweetly, that I have shown no gratitude for, are too vast to comprehend. At this point I am beginning to realize that I may have greatly under-estimated the depth of my special gift for having no “attitude of gratitude” whatsoever.
It is so embarrassing to realize this dubious talent so late in life. It is only by the Grace of the Creator of All Things that we have anything or know anything. Yogi Bhajan instructed us to live in an attitude of gratitude. I am only now, after so many years, beginning to understand that the attitude of gratitude must be for absolutely everything and anything. Profound gratitude is the foundation of Yogiji’s formula for us to create lives full of happiness, joy and reverence for each other and ourselves. When you have deep gratitude for everything, you do see the God In everything, and when you see the God in everything, you are naturally grateful.
I can only imagine what a state of deep gratitude must be. Perhaps it is when a person is so profoundly relaxed that a powerful warm glow radiates in all directions from the center of their heart and soul. Maybe it is when any sense of self dissolves completely into an ever expanding, celestial loving radiance.
It may be that if you can have that deep gratitude, you can then relax about the future, the past and the present, as you realize that these are all gifts. Relaxation, we know from yoga, is the platform upon which all happiness exists. So the process is clear and clearly a great challenge. We have been instructed to be grateful, so that we can be deeply relaxed and happily focus our attention on the sacred sounds within our hearts and minds. Gratitude for each breath allows us to relax into a state of complete joy with each moment of existence.
Sometimes we remember to Inhale Sat and exhale Nam, and we flood ourselves with a sense of gratitude and awareness of the sacred nature of our own awareness.
Please accept my prayer that the Infinite will bless us all with that most precious and rare gift; an attitude of gratitude.
"Better late than never."
Artwork by Sewa Singh www.sikhphotos.com
Sewa Singh Khalsa is one of Yogi Bhajan’s early students. He has acted as a counselor for many couples and individuals, basing his approach purely on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. He is also an accomplished artist and his work can be seen on www.sikhphotos.com. He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, Sewa Kaur.