An Attitude of Gratitude
Maharaj Charan Singh often referred to adversity as a blessing in disguise, for it is during the most difficult times in our lives that we are pulled closer to the Lord. Mystics explain to us that all events that appear to be misfortunes are not really so – every situation we go through takes place for a reason. Whether adversity is given to us to discipline us or to strengthen our power of resistance, each incident takes place as a result of our previous actions. We may never understand what the Lord’s plans are for us, but the mystics explain that the suffering we go through in this world purifies us and makes us worthy of that eternal joy within.
As harsh as it may sound, a death in the family, financial difficulties or humiliation are all signs of his grace, because grace is anything that turns us towards the Lord. We should be grateful for any event in our life that reminds us of him and his love for us and makes us shift our focus to him. Every day is given to us as a gift, and the only appropriate response to it is gratitude. We should let our gratitude to the Master overflow, in the form of meditation, for every blessing he is showering on us.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important learning opportunities. If we apply this attitude and take whatever comes to us as the Lord’s will, then whatever we receive will become divine in itself. When asked about this once, Maharaj Jagat Singh said that the best and most appropriate way of appreciating his kindness and expressing our gratitude is to give more and more time to simran and bhajan.
Thankfulness is an effective antidote for discouragement and depression. In many cases when we are down and depressed, have we ever noticed where our focus lies? On ourselves. What happens when we focus on God or our Master and start giving thanks – where is our focus then? No longer on ourselves, but inward and upward. Gratitude leads to tranquillity and peace of mind. A person who is thankful isn’t a big worrier for the most part; he doesn’t fret much because being thankful gets his mind off problems and results in peace and contentment.
Surrender to the will of God is made easier if we embrace the present moment. We should value and be totally satisfied with each moment. By learning to see his presence in every small detail of our lives, in all happenings, whether enjoyable or painful, we will tap into the unending reservoir of his love. What he has arranged for us to experience at each moment is the best thing that could happen to us.
It is our resistance to his will that is the source of all our problems. We must remember that our senses and our earthly desires will never be satisfied, so we would do well to seek the Lord or our inner Master alone and hold only lightly to the perishable things of this world.
Maharaj Charan Singh explains how changing our attitude to life will bring us closer to happiness by making us better able to deal with those difficult ups and downs we encounter:
If we try to pick up all the splinters of the world, we cannot succeed. But if we have strong shoes on our feet, they do not bother us at all. The saints arm us with that meditation – the strong shoes – so that the ups and downs of the world do not bother us. We rise to that stage, that level, where our worldly situation makes us neither happy nor unhappy.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III