Friday, October 5, 2012


Hiroyuki Itsuki wrote:
"When one is accustomed to kindness, one naturally loses the feeling of gratitude. That's why it's so important not to become accustomed to it. One must continually return to the spiritual starting point of no expectations."

In today's world, at least in the parts of the world i have visited, it seems true that people have overwhelmingly lost the feeling of gratitude. I can't argue with that first sentence. People, in general, have come to expect, not just kindness, but an easy life.

The food for your meals is readily available, in all sorts of varieties and pricing. The fuel for your vehicle is readily available at a pump not too far away. The main roads you use to get to work are repaired as soon as problems develop. Gas, electricity, and water are piped and wired right into your home so you have heat, electricity, and toilets on demand whenever you want them. These also keep your refrigerator running so your food stays fresh and you aren't required to go shopping every day. With the turn of a knob, your stove comes to life and food preparation is quick and easy. Drinking water? Turn another tap.

We have become accustomed to an easy life. Most of us do simply take it for granted. And, AND, we are wrong for doing so. But, the way to correct our mistake is not to return to "no expectations," but to open our eyes and hearts and once again teach ourselves to see where everything in our lives comes from. To understand that we have what we have, our lives are what they are, only because others have provided for us — and be genuinely grateful for their offerings.

This is not a difficult thing to do. When you open the refrigerator and take out a carton of milk, take 2 seconds and remember that someone raised the cow that produced the milk. Someone dedicated their days to caring for and feeding those cows. Someone drove a truck to that dairy farm and transported the milk to where it is processed. People worked in that factory as well. Someone scheduled the pickup to ship the cartons of fresh milk to the grocery store. Another driver drove it there and unloaded it. Someone stocked the shelves at the store so you could access it. Someone checked you out when you finished shopping.

Someone designed and built the equipment used on that dairy farm. Someone designed, built, and maintained those trucks used in transporting everything. Someone designed and built the carton your milk comes in. Someone built and maintains the machines where those cartons are made. Someone maintains and cleans the grocery store. Someone taught those people how to design and build dairy farm equipment and trucks and milk cartons. Someone built the school where they learned to do that. Someone did the administrative work required to keep the school, trucking company, and grocery school running. Someone maintains the roads. Someone maintains the gas and electrical grid so that the business can continue to stay open. Someone refined the oil into gas so the driver could drive the truck.

Someone spent a significant portion of their life raising you, and teaching you, and clothing you, and feeding you, all so you had the skills to live an independent life of your own, so that you, too, could have a family, for which you might, one day, reach in the refrigerator for a carton of milk to feed them.

And on and on, ad infinitum.

All it takes is 1 or 2 seconds to have that entire picture flash through your head as you reach into the refrigerator. And you could see the same kinds of pictures in every situation you encounter each and every minute of each and every day. There is nothing you do that doesn't require the input of others. To see and appreciate that on a continual basis takes a lot of practice, but very little effort. All you have to do is to consciously look around and allow yourself to recognize and appreciate the unseen kindness of others that allows us to be what we are and to do what we want.

No man or woman is an island. Islands do not exist. No one stands alone, isolated, sufficient only by himself or herself. We are all interconnected. We are all interdependent. Whether i like it or not, your actions affect my actions. Whether i like it or not, your beliefs affect my beliefs. Whether i like it or not, your life affects my life. Whether i like it or not, who you are affects who i am.

The way forward in this world is not to teach ourselves to expect nothing from others, but teach ourselves to see that no matter what we do it depends on the kindness of others and to be grateful for that. Gratitude can be learned and is vitally important.

No comments: