Gratitude to be born in a land and time where we have the freedom to step off the wheel, to cast aside aversion and attraction, to abandon the unconsciousness of daily cyclic samsaric existence. While burgeoning civilization is devouring, exterminating, and domesticating all non-human life on this bluegreen jewel planet, we have the opportunity to personally cease this devouring and urge and support others in doing likewise. Gratitude for the unique opportunity I have to repent of past evil, to abandon cruelty.
Great gratitude to live in a land and time where the Dharma can be heard, where one can live comfortably working 40 hours a week, sleeping 56 hours and still leaving 72 hours for other activities, including lots of time for Dharma. Further contemplating the 40-hour work week reveals this possibility: every weekend from Friday evening to Sunday morning being devoted to seclusion and concentration. Then in one year you would have spent 78 days in meditative practices, as opposed to 14 days if you had used your 2-week vacation to attend a retreat, a seminar, or an intensive, etc. Surely the Sambogakaya will follow.
Now is a time when one may choose from among many genuine lineages originating with Shakyamuni Buddha and coming to this land from India & Srilanka, South-east Asia, Tibet, China, Japan, and Korea. It is hard to imagine any seeker unable to find a style and flavor of meditation suitable to his karmic propensities. Gratitude to live in a land and time where at least four true spiritual geniuses are now alive and in their primes, occasionally passing through town to expound the Teaching. The people I'm thinking of are the Dalai Lama, Thich Nat Hahn, Thomas Cleary, and Robert Thurman. Who among us can't think of others?
Great gratitude for the chance this fleeting life offers, so very fleeting and with each breath closer to death. How many more days of health do I have? Can I ask the Lord of Death to please come back another time because there are a few things remaining which I'd like to do before I die? I may not live through the night, yet the Gandavyuha Sutra will still be here for all the people, clearly illustrating the path to deep and permanent happiness. Great gratitude for the vast truth shared in this Sutra; and also for the tantra of the Lotus Sutra and for the medium-length and long discourses of Shakyamuni. Gratitude for the remaining forests & streams & wild creatures, in whose midst one periodically dwells. Great gratitude to all spiritual friends, wise and self-disciplined, working for the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of all sentient beings; for my spiritual friends who delight in making offerings, who "deny themselves, pick up their crosses, and follow Jesus," who abide in love and compassion, put on the robe of endurance, and take the seat of emptiness.
Gratitude to my late teacher Dr. Ajari, whose loud voice many years ago came to me in an early morning dream, saying only, 'THE PATH IS REPETITION,' but so firmly that I was startled awake to exclaim, "what??" to which the reply came, naturally, "The path is repetition!" The years have shown each repetition, being dependent on conditions, to be different from every previous one, ceaselessly and creatively unfolding and flowering. Gratitude to Enami Kakusho on Mt. Hiei, and to his forebears Jikaku Daishi, Dengyo Daishi, Chi-i, and Nagarjuna, and to everyone in between in an unbroken line from Shakyamuni Buddha 2500 years in the past.
Though 2500 years ago, Shakyamuni's demonstration of how to step off the wheel is as fresh as now. If the world uses duplicity and vagueness, the Buddha uses clarity and openness. If the world drinks alcohol, the Buddha urges people not to drink alcohol. If the world chats about this and that, The Buddha remains silent, in samadhi. If the world enjoys fine food and beautiful clothes, the Buddha subsists on staples, leftovers, wears rags. If the world acquires possessions and wealth, The Buddha acquires the bliss arising in meditation. If the world loves sensual pleasures, the Buddha shows people desirelessness. If the world pulls the weeds in the garden, the Buddha uproots thoughts which arrive. If the world is concerned with the self, the Buddha looks deeply and finds no self.
The world is a prison and happiness is here in the midst when there is nothing I want, when I can transform anger, hatred, and anxiety, and enter the profound and tranquil Way.