Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving of Thanks this Thanksgiving Day

America's tradition of a national day of giving Thanks is one that all nations and people would be well counseled to observe. This was the comment today by Ananda's founder, Swami Kriyananda, in an email message from India to members and friends around the world.

I have heard it said that in Indian culture family members do not (or perhaps did not) traditionally thank each other for small services rendered in the home on a routine basis, e.g., thanking mother for a delicious dinner. The idea is, I suppose, that it is both mother's duty and honor to serve her family in the name of God (as manifestations of God), or as Paramhansa Yogananda put it when he thanked disciples for assisting him and they objected thanking him in turn, "God serving God."

But it is surely sweeter and also helpful that we express our gratitude even when it is not expected or needed.  I have observed Swami Kriyananda doing so with no great fanfare or mawkish sentimentality, but simply and quietly, thanking someone, for example, who served him a cup of tea. Such acknowledgements can help us stay mindful and intentional.

A gyani yogi (a nondualist) might understandably see all outward forms and activities "merely" as manifestations of the One and in so doing find it unnecessary, or, even unhelpful, to acknowledge a service rendered to him, as the person were different and separate. Such austerity of demeanor and attitude is dry and lacks warmth and heart quality. Better it would be to observe the outward formalities of acknowledgement and gratitude, paying inward obeisance to the One in all.

Surely a bhakti yogi (a devotee) would thank another for a service rendered seeing in that person the Divine Mother while a karma yogi (one who serves others humbly and happily) would perhaps be the one so serving others!

So long as we breath the free air of earth we should render grateful service and take up the yoke of dharma, supporting ourselves, helping others, and leaving this world a better place.

I have long felt that the greatest tragedy that befalls the homeless is not lack of food or shelter, but lack of love and opportunity to render creative, grateful service to God through others. In America and most other countries, only a little effort is required to find food and shelter, even if temporarily. But lacking no means to serve and be creatively engaged in the large world of life, well, that is the greater loss.

As Swami Kriyananda and so many others on this earth committed to service have said, "I will die with my boots on!" That may not be for everyone, but certainly let us be grateful for the opportunities we have to give of ourselves to God through our fellow creatures.

To you, a blessed day of giving Thanks!

Nayaswami Hriman