The Incredible Power of Gratitude

There is a very beautiful Indian story about a man named Mohan who, like possibly millions through history, wandered through their land looking for the true teacher who would lead them to illumination. Mohan finally discovered the teacher of Vedanta who satisfied his craving for an intellectual understanding. When his teacher died, he hit the road again until he ended up in a village where he became a teacher of the spiritual path.One young man in the village, Saralah, was sure Mohan was the teacher he was looking for and spent most of his time hanging around Mohan’s hut, awaiting the sacred mantra that would free him and even – unbeknownst of Mohan – sleeping in front of his door should Mohan need some midnight service. But the latter had a very poor opinion of Saralah, viewing him as a half wit.

Once, getting up in the middle of the night to relieve himself, Mohan hits Saralah’s body outstretched in front of his door. Irritated, he roars ‘Always you.’ Saralah, taking this for the long awaited mantra, falls at the feet of Mohan who orders him to leave the village, never to return until Mohan calls him.So Saralah leaves in a state of total elation. Day in and day out, by storm or sunshine, whether rejected or welcomed, starving or nourished… he has but one thought and one thought only in mind: always You. He sees the divine absolutely everywhere, in the fields and the stars, in the crocodiles and the cows, the hateful and the kind, the rich and the poor, the priest and the prostitute. For him, there is only You, always You, You everywhere, at all times, in all circumstances. And his whole being starts emanating the radiance, quiet power and love which are the hallmarks of the Presence.

The Presence
One day he arrives in a poor village where the only child of a destitute widow is being led to the funeral pyre. For the poor woman, it is the greatest tragedy that can befall her, and the villagers beg Saralah to pray for the child’s revival. Saralah explains he has no magical powers, but that he will pray the mantra his teacher taught him. Sitting next to the pyre where the boy has been laid, he totally abandons himself to the Presence with the attitude of complete trust and especially unconditional gratitude the mantra expresses for him.

Suddenly the child comes back to life. The whole village calls it a miracle, and the people kneel in front of Saralah, offering him their modest gifts – a piece of cloth, a few coins, a little rice… But Saralah, absolutely oblivious to the meaning of a miracle for which he claims no authorship, tells the astonished villagers that all he has done was repeat the sacred mantra of his teacher and that it is his teacher they must thank.

It so happens that Mohan’s village is very close, and a little later an astonished Mohan sees a large crowd arriving at his door telling him one of his disciples has raised a child from death and that they are bringing their modest offerings to thank him. Mohan is stunned: not only does he know himself totally incapable of even a modest feat, but he cannot think of a single disciple of his with such a capacity. He asks the name of the disciple. When Saralah is mentioned, he is dumbfounded. ‘Tell him to come and see me’ Mohan requests.

Soon after, a radiant Saralah arrives. Mohan immediately perceives his exceptional spiritual depth and beauty. He asks him if the story is true. Saralah replies that he did nothing except repeat the mantra Mohan gave him years before. ‘But what is that mantra?’ asks Mohan. ‘Always You,’ replies Saralah.

Suddenly, in a split second, Mohan relives the whole scene: he hears himself roaring out loud, then telling Saralah to leave. And he realizes that all his spiritual knowledge is of the mind and dry, whereas Saralah has followed the path of the heart, of total devotion and constant, minute by minute gratitude for Her Omnipresence. And in a gesture of supreme humility, he falls at Saralah’s feet and implores him: ‘Master, teach me.’

A powerful antidote
Deep gratitude from the heart is the most powerful antidote to negativity of any sort that exists. It is absolutely impossible to entertain the slightest negative or dark thought, feeling or emotion at the same time as authentic gratitude.

Recently, I came across one of the most wonderful books I have read for a long time, Gratitude, A Way of Life [141004] by Louise Hay and friends. One of the chapters presents the concept of unconditional gratitude. Unconditional love or forgiveness is familiar to most of us – but unconditional gratitude? What’s that?!

Like Saralah, it simply means seeing the divine everywhere, in every person, every event of our lives and being grateful for all these manifestations. It means that there is a meaningful cosmic plan for our lives that is unfolding moment after moment. It comes from an understanding that ‘all is infinite Mind (Love) and its infinite manifestation’, as Mary Baker Eddy writes in the Scientific statement of being of that exceptional book on spiritual healing, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures [180701] (which is also the only non dualist presentation of the Christian faith I know of).

Unconditional gratitude also means… well start practising it; there is no better way to understand!

With a gentle rain of blessings on you,

Pierre Pradervand