great fullness & and the subtle nourishment of gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all of you south of the 49th parallel!

Some of my favourite food is shown below.

Anything written about mindful consumption on a day of celebration would be too preachy so I shall simply say, “Enjoy!”

And why not.  It’s always struck me as odd that we flagellate ourselves for having the good fortune of bountiful food, relationships, time, and finances.  In a session with a client, I was enjoying her story about a spouse who dotes on her but whose unconditional love makes her uncomfortable.  Having to work through the anxieties about payback in her story was a karmic payback for my own inability to freely accept the care of others.

It occurred to me that it takes courage to allow myself to be open to the generosity of others.  To gift to others the opportunity to give to me just as I want them to accept unconditionally what I give to them.  When I resist receiving my giving to others becomes a form of unmindful consumption of my own resources.  I’m thinking of printing up gift certificates:

To:   My Beloved

From:  Your Beloved

The sum of ___ minutes freely giving to me.

This certificate is valid from _______, 2011 to __________, 2012

No substitutions allowed and cannot be combined with any dysfuntional program running at the time of redemption.

There are many wonderful books and articles on generosity.  My favourite is Being Generous: The Art of Right Living by Lucinda Varley and John Dalla Costa who explain that generosity is not generous unless it regenerates.  In other words, it must circulate through a community to mindful givers so that it is always replenishing the system.

Sweeping Zen, quickly becoming one of my favourite sites of all things Zen, recently carried a beautiful article, Gratitude by Roger Shikan Hawkins from his book Great Doubt (which I hope I will receive from a certain Beloved who reads these posts at 0530 every morning).  Hawkins discusses the term “great fullness” from Dogen’s sayings from The Shobogenzo.  Brother David Steindl-Rast, he says, calls gratefulness “great fullness.”  It is knowing that we are greatly filled by the events and experiences we meet in each moment with nothing more needed.  The article deals mainly with feeling gratitude to those who gift us the opportunity to practice when our delusions, aversions, and clinging are activated by them.  Yet this statement lends a broader application:

Let our gratitude extend to the opportunities presented by others.

It is equally applicable to seeing a gift given through the arising of love as an opportunity to practice that replenishing generosity simply by accepting it.  To deny ourselves that is to miss the opportunity to truly give thanks.

Thank you for practising,



OK… I can’t resist.  One of my Practicuum Interns submitted a review paper of Jan Chozen Bays’ book Mindful Eating and Tricycle just posted this piece by Chozen Bays.

5 thoughts on “great fullness & and the subtle nourishment of gratitude

  1. Pingback: baking bread « 108zenbooks

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