The Buddha encouraged us to think of the good things done for us by our parents, by our teachers, friends, whomever; and to do this intentionally, to cultivate it, rather than just letting it happen accidentally.
Ajahn Sumedho, “The Gift of Gratitude”
Almost 15 years ago, I had a privilege of my lifetime in being able to spend a week in a silent retreat with Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. 1000 of us rose each morning in the pre-dawn darkness, practiced walking meditation, sat in silence, and chanted with the monks. We took our food, sat together mindfully, ate mindfully, and reconvened in the meditation tent for Thich Nhat Hanh’s daily teaching.
I learned from him that week to consider the kinds of seeds that I cultivate in myself every day, moment by moment. Every feeling, every experience, every thought and every action gives rise to something in me that I can cultivate or choose to let drop away. If you speak to me in a way that irritates me, I can choose to water and cultivate that seed of anger until it is full grown and becomes something hurtful that I say or do to many others around me. Or, I can refuse to water that seed and allow it die.
Many people have come into and through our lives who have planted good seeds in us, “parents, teachers, friends, whomever.” Who has planted good seeds in you? How do you cultivate them? Who has planted bad seeds in you? Are you cultivating them or letting them die from lack of cultivation? One of the most powerful ways to cultivate a good seed within is the simple and powerful act of gratitude. Today, notice the good seeds, from long ago as well as this moment. Offer gratitude. Cultivate the good seeds, the new things into a strong, compassionate life. You will begin to offer this to so many around you.
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