The older I get, the more I understand the purpose of gratitude. Sometimes we talk about gratefulness in a way that detracts from it’s meaning. Is it me or is it almost trendy to have a gratitude journal…but what does it really mean to be grateful? I don’t want to go overboard with the corniness here, but I genuinely feel that the more we really focus our energy on being positive, grateful and bringing happiness into our lives, the more it will find us. Maybe I’m totally wrong, maybe energy really isn’t as powerful as I believe it to be, but in the end, what has thankfulness and gratitude ever done to wrong anyone? Nothing.
This is a Buddhist chant called ‘Gokan-no-ge’ (meaning five reflections) that is practiced before and after meals to express gratitude for the food on the table.
First, let us reflect on our own work and the effort of those who brought us this food.
Second, let us be aware of the quality of our deeds as we receive this meal.
Third, what is most essential is the practice of mindfulness, which helps us to transcend greed, anger and delusion.
Fourth, we appreciate this food; which sustains the good health of our body and mind.
Fifth, in order to continue our practice for all beings we accept this offering.
At this Thanksgiving, let’s practice this Zen tradition and offer not only thanks for our meal but for other things in our life that we are grateful for…who knows, it might even make for a more peaceful family gathering!