“You should be thankful for everything at all times. Realize that all power to think, and speak, and act comes from God, and that He is with you now, guiding and inspiring you.”
— Paramahansa Yogananda
Greetings from all of us in Paramahansa Yogananda’s ashrams at this blessed time of Thanksgiving. May it be a reminder to open our eyes and our hearts to rejoice in all that is good and beautiful in our lives — a renewal of that wonderful spiritual practice which maintains a constant sacred interchange between ourselves and the Divine: gratitude. By thankfulness, the One who loves us eternally and is sustaining us at every moment is revealed behind the tiniest and most majestic manifestations of nature, in the wisdom of great souls, in every kindness we receive, and in the soul-whispers of our own consciousness.
The common idea of gratitude is as a response to some beautiful surprise or gift we had not anticipated. But thankfulness as a spiritual practice is much deeper. It is a repeated attuning of the heart to an active awareness that God is omnipresent and working in everything. We can hone this ability by noticing with conscious appreciation even what may seem insignificant — all the good and beauty we take for granted as a matter of “entitlement.” To be mindful of how rich in blessings our lives really are is itself a form of God-realization. We become cognizant that it is He who is loving us through friends and family, and caring for us through all the little things that smooth our way and help us meet our daily needs. By replacing spiritual obliviousness with the habit of saying “Thank you, Lord,” we cultivate an intimate personal connection with God that allows His bounty to stream unceasingly into our lives.
As we persist in looking for the good and acknowledging the Giver, the reassurance of His supporting presence energizes us with hope and faith, and strengthens us when life tosses stones of difficulties on our path. If instead of reacting with fear or running away, we pick them up, looking for and appreciating the lessons and graces inherent in those experiences, we will find that they have turned into blessings. With the increase of our trust in God, our thankfulness no longer needs an outer motive. It springs from a constant undercurrent of the heart’s gratitude for everything in our lives, because we know He is working through all circumstances to awaken our souls to their native divinity, invincibility, and bliss.
Gratefulness to the Divine Benefactor naturally overflows into empathy for others and the joy of sharing with them the abundance of His generosity and lovingkindness. By expressing those qualities in action, you become the kind of person for whom others are thankful — and they in turn are motivated to enter into the sanctifying cycle of giving, giving, giving that is the veritable grace of the Infinite in this finite world.
Wishing you and your loved ones that true joy of Thanksgiving,
Sri Mrinalini Mata
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