Abundance and Gratitude
Mistakenly, some people think that Buddhism condemns all desire. But there is no getting rid of desire. Instead, Buddhist psychology leads us from desire to abundance.
The Indian sage Nisargadatta, one of my teachers, challenged his students, saying, “The problem with you is not that you have desires, but that you desire so little. Why not desire it all? Why not want complete fulfillment, joy, and freedom?” Nisargadatta did not mean boundless greed. He spoke from the state of consciousness that knows it is not separate from the world. Kabir, the Indian mystic poet, put it this way: “I laugh when I hear a fish in the sea is thirsty.”
We already contain that we most deeply desire. Life, love, inner freedom, connection to all. The more we can realize this, the more we can undertake all things with a sense of abundance. Our inner abundance radiates a sense of worth, value, and ease, of having something to give to the world and enjoying doing so. Without abundance, we can be in the midst of riches and feel like a hungry ghost. Wise parents and teachers bring out abundance in their children by helping them feel that each has much to give, and providing them the opportunity to do so. For each of us, whether raising a healthy child, building a conscious business, planting a garden, or serving our community, a heartfelt dedication is required. Wise dedication springs from our own sense of inner abundance.
The state of abundance is connected with a deep sense of gratitude. When we open to abundance, we can enjoy the fog lifting from the morning’s melting snow, and the steam rising from the hot bowl of tomato soup on our lunch table. We can appreciate the half smile of the tired waitress, the silver crescent of the moon at twilight, the unstoppable laughter of children in the schoolyard, and celebrate the fact that we are here, breathing and alive, on this marvelous earth. This fulfillment is far beyond the “prosperity consciousness” that is promulgated in books and workshops that urge us to visualize fancy cars, sprawling mansions, and burgeoning bank accounts. Unbridled outer seeking can actually reflect an inner limitation, of a sense of insufficiency.
Our true nature is much greater than this. The abundant heart is already whole. We have all touched this at some time. The abundant heart embraces our world, holding all its joy and fear, gain and loss, nobility and selfishness, enveloped in a field of compassion and love.
In this season of Thanksgiving, let’s pause and take time to settle into a quiet and grateful appreciation. With a full heart, sense that you can care for this beautiful and troubled world while receiving its blessings and adding your gifts to the whole.