A late thanks giving – Gratitude


Dear Dhammika and Dhammikinis,

Thanks the gift of a generous translation and the possibilities I am given, I would like to use them to make some shares about gratitude:

A starter into Dhamma is gratitude and without it, there is no progress on the path, mostly even no reason to seek for the path.

As it is a very important issue, I would like to give with this topic the opportunity to discover it deeper and as a maybe useful introduction I like to point on a great work which explains the dependency very well: “Lessons of gratitude ”


A few general (and everywhere applicable) thoughts, explanations and general remarks about invitations, receiving and also refusing:

• Act consciously

Acting consciously means to not judge things based on belief and assumption but according to how they are.

“I will register”, not “I’m going to register some time…”
“I invite XY”, not “I’ll see that I’ll send them an invitation…”

“I accept this invitation”, not “Yes, yes, put it there on the shelf”

• If a problem comes up, distinguish the problem from the emotions that come up.

If something does not work at the moment in the way one would like it to, just breathe in and out, and again, go back a few steps, and start from where there was safe ground beneath the feet.
Don’t shy away from asking, nobody came into this world with complete knowledge and nobody knew by himself how things work.

• Don’t be rash

You cannot always trust and be confident, and often we just act out of the present mood and follow our defilements.
Whenever there arises aversion in response to an invitation, take it as an important warning sign that you have just taken on an unwholesome attitude.
There are four reasons why we act wrongly: Out of delusion (“That’s what it is, not anything else. I know it already.”), out of greed (“There I’ll get something better”, “I want this, not that”), out of hatred (“There must be ill intent behind this”, “He’s doing that to trouble me”, “Now I’ll get back at you.”), or out of fear (“Is it proper to accept this? Am I entering into engagements with this? What will the others say? …”)

Mistrust and fear are probably our greatest hindrances in accepting a present but also the greatest hindrances on the path to happiness. Fear and shame of doing unwholesome deeds is very important, fear and shame of doing something wholesome on the other hand just plain stupid. “I don’t have the courage to…” may elicit pity, but only a push really helps here. Pity and support of false shame is not justified and helpful.

Don’t slam shut doors. Even if you maybe deem it appropriate today to shut a door with a slam, it’s only a question of time until that act (since it usually comes from an unwholesome state of mind) heavily pricks your conscience. Of course that is not the case if you refuse something that did not stem from well-meaning and wise intentions. But if it was a free gift you will inevitably feel ashamed about it.

Even if you have slam-shut a door, gather up all your courage to rise above this disgrace in your conscience, and open it again. It only takes a short conscious act and spares hours and days of unpleasent and unwholesome feelings and sentiments. Anyone who has freely offered a gift will be forbearing and understanding, and not resentful for past events. You only weigh yourself down if you scorn and disdain a well-meant present. It’s only a question of time.

• Don’t let things rest on assumptions and leave them hanging unresolved.

Assumptions are nice, they may be meant well, but after all they are just assumptions. If anything is unclear, ask. Of course there are questions which are appropriate and some which are unappropriate. But the more frank and open the giver is the less likely he will take offence being asked inappropriate questions.
“Don’t look into the mouth of a horse that has been given as a gift”, but one can still make sure that it has actually been given.

Even if something is common and customary, that’s not a safe guide. If it was common to act in wholesome ways there would be no necessity to learn it and the Buddha’s teachings would be all but superfluous. If we were used to really acting in wholesome ways we wouldn’t have any need to change our ways. If that really is the case we can easily check by watching our states of mind, and the suffering that still overwhelms us recurrently.

If someone extends an invitation, listen to it. Accept things, or reject things (even if you are well-advised here to reflect soundly on the reason, and in most cases also to make it known), but don’t leave things hanging between the taker and the giver. The giver has done his thing, the gift lies there unused, your conscience will burden you sooner or later.
All that aside from the fact that it may well be that little by little you won’t have any givers and benefactors left anymore, and don’t believe that everything is free from the outlet.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with rejecting something if it is well justified, but it is just plain stupid and presumptuous to not accept a gift, and such behaviour will rebound, not necessarily from the rejected (who may already be aware of cause and effect) but from the own confinement of conscience and with the ripening of results from that deed.

• Reading thoughts is good, speaking plainly and listening is better.

Even if one or the other may think one should “empathize”, it will be quite a vague hope for most to be able to read thoughts. Speak about things plainly, speak out devotions and dedications, let others know what you are thinking.
We are not used to doing that, since we have often and in many places been taught to just have our own thoughts on the matter, but that is by no means Dhamma culture.
Refraining and restraint is called for in regard to unwholesome and injuring tendencies. But one should not stop oneself from well-meaning expression and not suppress what is wholesome.
The sphere of thought-reading is probably far away for most, and being inhibited in expressing wholesome things is probably a good indication for such a situation. Assumptions and knowledge are two different things, even if we may have developed systems of assumptions that seem solid and plausible.

• Receiving is giving as well.

Don’t believe that you cannot give anything if you are in the situation of being the recipient. A gift received consciously and with gratitude is a present for the giver. You not only pay back the respect and the acknowledgement you have received but also share the gift and the affirmation and encouragement of wholesome action and help the giver to continue with this manner of acting and to gain confidence in it.

• Reject gifts given with wrong intentions.

If you receive a gift that isn’t one, reject it. Check carefully, however, if that is really the case, and if there is no doubt about it that this present is not free from greed or hatred or binds you to unwholesome liabilities then skillfully avoid acceptance of that gift. Be honest, but also tactful and don’t hurt the giver, since it may well be that he actually is meaning well but only acting in deluded predilection.
People that are not free from defilements may very well exact vengeance for such rejections in very hurtful ways. That you must be aware of. You may by all means receive gifts and then forward them to others or just not use them if their use is only disadvantageous and detrimental for you.
Disadvantageous and detrimental is never meant here as simply unpleasent. The greatest and most useful presents often appear quite unpleasent at first sight.

A good indication on whether a present is given freely or is bound up with liabilities is to check whether the giver is in any way dependent on you and your favour and sympathy. Whether he lives independently of you or in your dependency. People in strong mutual dependency seldomly give freely amongst each other, they only strengthen and tighten their mutual dependency.

Avoid presents which are not presents, but make sure that your current mood and emotions don’t serve as a rule for that judgement.

• Kinds of presents.

There are presents which may appear as pleasent or unpleasent in the moment but are useful neither in regard to the worldly life nor beyond that. Those are gifts we are often presented with and usually either happily receive or angrily reject.

There are presents which may appear as pleasent or unpleasent in the moment, which are useful in regard to the worldly life but not beyond that. Those are presents we are given sometimes and which we sometimes rejoice in and sometimes reject.

There are presents which may appear as pleasent or unpleasent in the moment, which are not useful in regard to the worldly life but for what lies beyond. Those are presents which we rarely receive, which we rarely take delight in and we are rarely able to reject.

And then there are presents which may appear as pleasent or unpleasent in the moment, which are useful for the worldly life as well as for what lies beyond. Those are presents which are exceedingly rare and exceptional and which we only very rarely rejoice in and which we are only very rarely able to reject.

We should therefore not consider whether a present appears pleasent or unpleasent but whether it brings any long-term benefit if we want to judge it based on its usefulness.

• Don’t promise what you cannot keep.

We give promises if we want to sustain something (a relationship, a preference…) but cannot yet comply with it. That is nothing but incurring debts, and debts must be repaid, whether one can, whether one wants, or not.
If one cannot repay them then this will have consequences, and may it “only” be concerning one’s conscience.
No prudent human being expects promises from others since he knows about the impermanence and constraints. Better let go of your promises and give whatever is possible for you right now. Of course this has nothing to do with right effort and mindfulness. One can very well urge and encourage oneself to do good, or to persist with something one perceives as good, but don’t give a promise that you cannot keep.
Should you not be able to keep a promise, or have broken one, admit to it and make it known.

Especially if you have made a promise to someone who is virtuous and who is very dependent on that promise you can do great damage with this.
Think of an old sickly person which you advise to take a rest and promise to provide with food and medicine. That person may rely on you, withdraw and completely trust you, and if you then don’t fulfill your promise it may very well be that this person, for having relied on you, will starve and die.

Stay where you are and don’t give away what you don’t have but only believe you will have. Whether it be time, care and sympathy or material things. If you have promised something, see that you can fulfill it, through self-sacrifice or whatever the cost. If you recognize, however, that your promise does not lead towards good, wasn’t a good idea, make it known and entreat for release from the obligation.

• Being really cool and unperturbed is the goal of the practice, but that has nothing to do with being cold, casual or negligent.

People who ridicule someone giving humbly, or receiving humbly, are stupid and such offhand dismissive behaviour along the lines of “I can get that by myself” or “Look at these pathetic figures” will neither make them happy nor esteemed by virtuous people.

Should you experience such cases, have compassion with these persons and don’t forsake your good behaviour, even if it elicits incomprehension of not so intelligent people.

If you are or have been such a fool yourself, then now is the best opportunity to cast off these views. There is no better moment than now, since it’s not sure if such a moment will ever come back.

Personal impressions in addendum:

Among the thickest crusts that I find in Westen Dhamma culture are the habits and customs around invitations and offerings.

Speaking frankly, I cannot construe clearly whether it is only pertaining to the Internet, modern culture in general, or just a personal “problem”, but that may not be so important.

Dhamma culture is a culture of invitation and giving, not a culture of “there you can get it” or “what will you give me in return”. Even if we may be used to different ways in everyday life, this here may be an opportunity to change our habits and recognize the beauty of a noble alternative.

As most probably know, it is not customary for those, who have strongly dedicated themselves to living by the Dhamma, but also for those who still adhere to somewhat older cultural customs, to simply take anything, or to appear uninvited anywhere.

Thinking about food for example, it may be a common practice to make the fridge available: “Take when you’re hungry”, but someone who only takes what is given would starve in front of that fridge, should he settle down in such an environment. In such an environment no virtuous or exemplary persons will be able to stay for long.

“Buddhist” practice is a practice of acting consciously and not a practice of estimating and assuming “he has surely put this dish here for me, has done it in that way before”. Things are said and done clearly and consciously, consciously given and consciously received. Even unexpectedly in the normal environment one becomes someone who takes wrongly, or loses something one would have for oneself.

A nearly inexhaustable field of practice.

It is a pity that many in this regard feel caught red-handed a little bit and often know nothing better to do than to be embarrassed. As if anyone had ever arrived at good paths by himself.
Being ashamed is an important function, but it should always be a cause and motivation for change, and to remember such shame can be a good incentive. To react on such shame like an animal and hide in the bush with drawn-in tail, hoping that no one follows one, that is even worse than to walk about clumsily and awkwardly.

However, it is good to see that there are those as well who are willing to learn and to change themselves and who are glad about reminders and affirmation.

Here I have a lovely picture which says a lot about how we let ourselves easily be deceived:

“Monks, these two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness*, and the one who is grateful for a kindness done and feels obligated to repay it. These two people are hard to find in the world.”

Who has received or instigated your attention? The dogs or the hands? And why?

* well-meaning service (without expecting a reward)
Source: Dullabha Sutta: Hard to Find

By sharing these words I want to thank all those people who have exemplified gratitude for me in vivid ways, have reminded me of gratitude, have shown me gratitude as an alternative and possible way. I think I could write books about all these persons and moments, but I will make it short here and only mention: my parents, my friends and teachers on the path, and those, who have inspirited and kept alive the lessons of gratitude.

In Cambodian language one says at the end of a thank or a gift “Som akun” which means in short terms something like: “There you are: a thank” or “please receive my gratitude”.
In our German culture there is also “Bitte schön” [which is completely different from “pretty please with sugar on top”]- “may my gift be acceptable and pleasently felt” or “Danke schön” “beautiful thanks” – “May my thank be acceptable and pleasently felt”.

moment of receiving the translation:

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

What should I saw… in the time as you translated it, I came across OSHO: Selling Bliss . A remarkable being, and I have always to think of, what he would have gained if he had not only met Adhamma and the tantric world control nature. If one who has never experienced gratitude, never met a person of wearing integrity in his heart and hears his words, one might easily think that his ways are the only left to go on. Then I thought about where to put the video inside the forum best, so that it would be not misunderstood, but explains the situation while still offereing the alternative, the Dhamma. And then I see your post and even the smallest doubt has no more base to arise, even for those who might have just little confidence.

Thanks for the support and openness, to share the present of the Buddha in a living way! 1001 stories of gratitude in the heart and yet again one more.


He who does not recognize the benefit done to himself by another
looses all the goodness he wishes for himself.

(Dalhadhammabodihisatta) Khu. Ja Sattaka. 27/228

He who realizes the benefit done to him by another with gratitude
will get all the good fruit he wishes for and will prosper

(Dalhadhammabodihisatta) Khu. Ja Sattaka. 27/228

One who wants to do afterwards what should be done first, will be as remorseful as the youth in the fable who carelessly broke the branches of the varunia tree.

(Bodhisatta) Khu. Ja. Eda. 27/23


Kataññu Suttas: Gratitude

“Monks, I will teach you the level of a person of no integrity and the level of a person of integrity. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak.”

“As you say, lord,” the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, “Now what is the level of a person of no integrity? A person of no integrity is ungrateful & unthankful. This ingratitude, this lack of thankfulness, is advocated by rude people. It is entirely on the level of people of no integrity. A person of integrity is grateful & thankful. This gratitude, this thankfulness, is advocated by civil people. It is entirely on the level of people of integrity.”

{II,iv,2} “I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one’s mother & father.”



Die gesamte Welt und jeder darin braucht das Dhamma als Schutz. Wir alle überleben und finden Wohlergehen im Leben mit der Unterstützung durch das Wissen und die Geschicke, die Achtsamkeit und Weisheit unzähliger anderer. Ohne ihre Hilfe würden wir alle zugrunde gehen, sobald wir den Mutterleib verlassen. Wir hätten keine Nahrung zum Essen, keine Kleider zum Tragen und kein Haus, um darin zu leben. Unsere Eltern (die uns anfangs vollkommen Fremde sind) geben uns Leben und alle Dinge, die wir brauchen, um uns gesund und stark zu machen. Für unsere Kleider und Wohnstätten und all die verschiedenen Geschicke, die wir lernen, stehen wir gänzlich in der Schuld bei anderen. Von den ersten Augenblicken im Mutterleib an haben wir alle eine Schuld von Dankbarkeit gegenüber unzähligen anderen – ganz zu schweigen von unseren Eltern und all unseren Lehrern, gegenüber welchen unser Gefühl von Dankbarkeit unermesslich sein sollte.

Selbst Menschen in einer Nation haben jenen in einer anderen viel zu verdanken. Das ist etwas, das, wenn man darüber nachdenkt, nicht schwer zu sehen ist. Von der Schuld, die wir anderen gegenüber haben, zu wissen und sie dankbar anzuerkennen, und sie über uns selbst zu plazieren, nennt man kataññuta. Das Bestreben, die Schuld zurückzuzahlen wird katavedita genannt. Diejenigen, die wissen, was für sie getan wurde, werden als kataññu bezeichnet, und jene, die den Gefallen dankbar zurück geben, nennt man katavedi.

Kataññu-katveditā: Das Anerkennen dessen, was wir anderen schuldig sind, und das Zurückzahlen dessen durch Taten der Dankbarkeit sind spirituelle Qualitäten, welche die Welt vor Gefahr schützen, der Gesellschaft zu funktionieren helfen und die zu Frieden und Glück führen. Die Menschen sind allerdings weniger und weniger in der Lage, zu sehen, dass wir alle diese gegenseitige Schuld der Dankbarkeit haben, welche zurückgezahlt werden muss, und das Versäumnis, dies zu verstehen, ist der Grund für den Zuwachs an erhitztem Kämpfen und Streiten. Daher ist ein Interesse an den Qualitäten von kataññu-katavedi zu finden, von entscheidender Wichtigkeit für uns alle.

All die schönen Bräuche und Traditionen der alten Zeiten gründeten sich zum Teil auf die Prinzipien von kataññu-katavedi. Diese Qualitäten wurden von allen Gesellschaften fest etabliert, mit der Zeit genährt und tief verstanden. Jeder, der versäumt, zu verstehen, dass unsere Leben untrennbar miteinander verbunden sind, und der nicht unser gegenseitiges In-der-Schuld-Stehen erkennt, wird mit Sicherheit ein Leben selbstsüchtiger Undankbarkeit führen.

Die Menschen, die am meisten Dankbarkeit manifestieren sind jene, die anerkennen, dass selbst Kühe, Wasserbüffel und andere Tiere uns auf dem Weg geholfen haben, und um so mehr noch unsere Eltern und Lehrer. Wenn Menschen Dankbarkeit gegenüber den Kühen und Wasserbüffeln unserer Welt entwickeln könnten, wäre die Gesellschaft stets glücklich und friedvoll aufgrund solchen Weitblicks und hoher Gedanken. Wenn wir dankbar selbst gegenüber den Tieren sind, wie können wir unsere Mitmenschen verletzen, denen wir so viel mehr schulden?

Jede Gesellschaft gedeiht und floriert, wenn ihre Mitglieder spirituelle Qualitäten entwickeln. Das menschliche Potential und die Kapazität für tiefgründige Gedanken voll entwickelt, werden die Menschen wachsam und geschickt darin sein, ihren Lebensunterhalt zu verdienen, ohne auch nur den geringsten Schaden füreinander zu beabsichtigen. Wenn wir wünschen, wieder so zu gedeihen, versteht es sich von selbst, wie sehr wir unseren Eltern und Lehrern dankbar sein müssen, da sie die wahren devas sind, die unsere Leben erhellen, die pujaniya-puggalā: die Menschen, die würdig sind, hochgehalten zu werden, hoch über unseren eigenen kleinen Köpfen, und wahrhaft geehrt.

Jeder, der einen verfeinerten Sinn für Dankbarkeit im Leben entwickelt, wird mehr und mehr eine tiefe Wertschätzung gegenüber Wäldern, Feldern, Strömen, Flüssen und Sümpfen, den Wegen, Straßen und allem in der Welt entwickeln, den Blumen und den unbekannten Vögeln, die hier und dort überall um uns herum fliegen. Den Wert von Wäldern nicht kennend, sind da jene, die sie durch ihre Selbstsüchtigkeit zerstört haben, so dass unsere Kinder und Enkelkinder kein Holz für ihre Häuser haben werden. Darüber hinaus trocknen die Flüsse und Schwemmen aus, weil die Wälder, wo die Wasserreserven sich natürlicherweise sammeln, alle verschwunden sind. Ohne Wälder und die fließenden Ströme können sich keine Wolken mehr formen und sich sammeln, um ihre reichlichen Regengüsse zu geben. Obstbäume werden im Ganzen niedergeschlagen, so dass ihr gesamter Wert darauf reduziert wird, was mit einem Mal geerntet werden kann.

Wenn die Leute einfach Dankbarkeit in ihren Herzen hätten, dann könnten diese Dinge nicht geschehen. Die Dinge, welche den Geist in Frieden erfreuen, wären reichlich auf der gesamten Erde zu finden, und wir würden überall mit Leichtigkeit leben. Dankbar für all die Dinge, die unser Planet uns gibt, würden wir sein Wohl in Ehren halten, es nähren und pflegen.

Auf einer tieferen und noch subtileren Ebene können wir sogar die Dankbarkeit anerkennen, die wir unseren Feinden schulden, und uns dankbar für die Schwierigkeiten des Lebens fühlen. Aus diesem Blickwinkel betrachtet, helfen uns solche Gegner, in Weisheit, ausdauernder Duldsamkeit und einem Sinn für Opferbereitschaft zu wachsen. Menschen, die neidisch und eifersüchtig sind, dienen nur dazu, unsere eigenen Herzen zu stärken und das Beste unseres mettā und karunā hervorzubringen, woran es uns normalerweise mangelt.

All die Schwierigkeiten, denen wir begegnen, erlauben uns, die Welt in ihrer wahren Natur zu sehen. Und durch das Lernen, wie wir die Herausforderungen des Lebens überwinden können, finden wir den Weg zu einem Leben in Leichtigkeit. All unsere Krankheiten und Probleme können daher Einsicht in uns wecken. Wir sind gezwungen, loszulassen, bis wir wirklich die Wahrheit von anicca, dukkha und anattā sehen und schließlich den Pfad und die Frucht von Nibbana verwirklichen. Menschen ohne kataññu kennen nicht den Wert dieser Schwierigkeiten, und sie häufen Unglück und Verderben auf ihre Leben, während sie sich mit Ärger und Negativität ihr eigenes Grab schaufeln. Ihr Geist kennt keine Leichtigkeit, und ihr Mangel an Selbstbeherrschung mitsamt der Frustration, die dies mit sich bringt, bedeutet, dass sie mit Angst und Zittern erfüllt sind, während das Leben immer mehr in die falsche Richtung zu gehen scheint. Sie befinden sich auf festem Kurs in die Selbstzerstörung.

Diejenigen allerdings, die die Herausforderungen des Lebens wertschätzen, die ihnen dankbar und aufrecht entgegentreten, bringen unermessliche Kühlung und Schönheit in die Welt. Wenn alle Leute in dieser Weise fühlten, wie könnte die Welt nicht zu einer himmlischen Welt werden?

Den Wert von Widrigkeiten kennend, wird nichts im Leben als lästig oder schwierig wahrgenommen. Mit hohen Gedanken wie diesen, indem Menschen diesen feinsten Sinn für Dankbarkeit entwickeln, kühlt diese Kapazität die Hitze aus den Reibungen der Welt: diejenigen, die uns entgegen stehen, anzuerkennen, und jene Dinge, die uns den Weg versperren.

Bedenkend, wie selbst unsere Feinde von solch großer Hilfe für uns gewesen sind, vergegenwärtigt den Wert unserer Mütter und Väter, und den des höchsten aller Objekte der Verehrung, des Buddha, des Dhamma und der Sangha.

Spirituelle Lehrer unternehmen die Aufgabe, den Geist ihrer Schüler zu trainieren, von dort fortsetzend, wo ihre Eltern aufgehört haben, um sie zu noch höheren Ebenen zu führen. Zu diesem Zweck müssen Lehrer außerordentliche Geduld und Ausdauer entwickeln und mit äußerster Sorgfalt ihr Herz in diese Arbeit stecken, wenn sie höhere und höhere Stufen spirituellen Bewusstseins im Geist ihrer Schüler kultiviern wollen. Dies ist das Zeichen von wahrem mettā in einem Lehrer – sie müssen ständig lernen und sich selbst zu einer sehr hohen Ebene trainieren, wodurch sie die nötigen Mittel haben, um die Wahrheit in den Herzen ihrer Schüler zu erwecken. Dies ist das Zeichen wahrer Weisheit in einem Lehrer.

Lehrer müssen ständig selbstlos sein und bleiben in dieser Weise verlässliche Objekte der tiefen Verehrung durch ihre Schüler – nicht bloß spirituelle Arbeiter, die angeheuert und wieder entlassen werden. Alle Schüler, die ein heilsames Bewusstsein und ein Wissen davon entwickelt haben, was angemessen ist, werden viel kataññu gegenüber ihren Lehrern fühlen, jene, die mit ihrer ausdauernden Geduld und Weisheit Kühle in die Welt bringen.

Die Schuld gegenüber unseren Eltern und Lehrern anzuerkennen, lässt einen einfach im Gegenzug geben wollen; dies wird erreicht dadurch, dass man nur das tut, was zukünftigen Generationen von Nutzen ist. Schüler werden alles tun, um den guten Namen ihrer spirituellen Heimat zu ehren und sie teilen ständig die Verdienste ihrer heilsamen Taten mit ihrer Mutter, ihrem Vater und ihren Lehrern.

Diese Gelegenheit, die wir haben, diese höchsten Geschenke zu erhalten, ist so wundervoll, als ob der Erhabene selbst sie uns direkt in die Hände gäbe. Die Edlen Schüler ertrugen alle Arten der Entbehrungen, um wahrheitsgetreu die Lehre des Buddha zu erhalten, all dies getan mit einem Herzen tiefer Hingabe und Dankbarkeit an den Lehrer.

Wenn die Herzen aller auf Erden wahrhaftig mit kataññu-katavedi erfüllt wären, dann wäre unsere Welt zweifellos schöner und anziehender als ein himmlischer Bereich. Wenn wir dies gründlich besinnen, werden wir fähig sein, Zügelung gegenüber einander aufrecht zu erhalten, nicht impulsiv oder aus Ärger zu handeln. Wenn wir an Leute denken, die uns in der Vergangenheit geholfen haben, Eltern, Geschwister, Tanten und Onkel, dann werden wir nicht in gemeinen und selbstsüchtigen Weisen handeln. Und selbst, wenn wir manchmal unachtsam in diesen Weisen handeln, werden wir schnell darin sein, um Vergebung zu bitten und zu vergeben.

An Eltern und Lehrer zu denken, die dahin geschieden sind, bringt Gedanken von Respekt in uns hervor, und so kümmern wir uns und verhalten uns mitfühlend gegenüber unseren Mitmenschen.

Kataññu, der Geist von Dankbarkeit, hat die Macht, einen Dämon in einen wahren Menschen zu verwandeln. Der Geist von Dankbarkeit wird der Welt so sehr dienen und sie für immer kühl halten. Daher sollten wir diese höchste der Qualitäten werthalten, danach streben und dafür Opfer bringen, sie in unseren Herzen am Leben zu erhalten, als die sicherste Zuflucht für uns alle.

The entire world and everyone in it needs the Dhamma as a protection. We all survive and find comfort in life with the support of the knowledge and skills, mindfulness and wisdom, of countless others. Without their help we would all perish as soon as we leave our mother’s womb. We’d have no food to eat, clothes to wear or house to live in. Our parents (who are initially total strangers to us) give us life and all the things we need to make us healthy and strong. For our clothes and living places, and all the various skills we learn, we are entirely indebted to others. From the first moments in our mother’s wombs, all of us have a debt of gratitude owed to innumerable others – let alone our parents and all our teachers, to whom the sense of gratitude we should feel is incalculable.

Even people of one nation have much to be grateful for to those living in another. This is something which, if you think about it, is not too hard to see. Knowing and acknowledging with gratitude the debt we have to others, and placing them above ourselves, is called kataññuta. The effort to repay the debt is called katavedita. The ones who know what has been done for them are call kataññu. And those who return the favour gratefully are called katavedi.

Kataññu-kataveditã: acknowledging the debt we owe to others and paying it back with acts of gratitude are spiritual qualities which protect the world from harm, help society to function, and lead to peace and happiness. People, however, are less and less able to see that we all have this mutual debt of gratitude which must be repaid, and failing to understand this is the reason for the increase in heated fighting and quarrelling. So taking an interest in the qualities of kataññu-katavedi is something which is of vital importance to us all.

All the beautiful customs and traditions of old have in part been grounded in the principles of kataññu-katavedi. These qualities were firmly established, nurtured over time and deeply understood by all societies. Anyone who fails to accept that our lives are inextricably linked with one another, and who does not see our mutual indebtedness, will surely live a life of selfish ingratitude.

The people who manifest most gratitude are the ones who acknowledge that even cows, water buffaloes and other animals, have helped us along the way, all the more so our parents and our teachers. If more people could develop gratitude to the cows and water buffaloes of our world, then society would always be happy and peaceful on account of such a broad vision and lofty thoughts. Feeling grateful even to the animals, how could we harm our fellow human beings to whom we owe so much more?

Any society prospers and flourishes when its members cultivate spiritual qualities.
Having fully developed the human potential, the capacity for profound thoughts, people will be diligent and skilled in earning their livelihood without intending even the slightest harm to one another. If we wish to so prosper, again, it goes without saying how much we have to be grateful for to our parents and teachers, since these are the true devas illuminating our lives, the pujaniya-puggalã: the people worthy to be held up, high above our own little heads, and truly venerated.

Anyone who develops a more refined sense of gratitude in life will gradually feel a deep appreciation towards the forests, fields, streams, rivers and swamps, the paths and roads and everything in the world, the flowers and the unknown birds flying here and there all around us. Not knowing the value of forests, there are those who have destroyed them with their selfishness, so our children and grandchildren will have no wood for their houses. In addition, the streams and marshes dry up, because the forests, where the water reserves naturally gather, have all gone. Without the forests and the flowing streams, the clouds can no longer form and build up to release their abundant rains. Fruit trees are cut down whole, so their entire worth is reduced to what can be harvested that one time.

If people simply had gratitude in their hearts, then these things couldn’t happen. The things which gladden the mind would be plentiful all over the earth, and everywhere we would live at ease. Being grateful for all the things our planet provides us with, we would
cherish, nurture and foster its welfare.

On a deeper and more subtle level still, we can also acknowledge even the debt we owe to our enemies, and feel grateful for life’s obstacles. Viewed from this angle, such opponents help us to grow in wisdom, patient endurance, and a spirit of sacrifice. People who are envious and jealous, only serve to strengthen our own hearts and bring out the best of our mettã and karunã, which we might ordinarily lack.
All the difficulties we face allow us to see the world in its true nature. And through learning how to overcome life’s challenges, we find the way to a life of ease. All our illnesses and problems can thus give rise to insight in us. We are forced to let go until we really see the truth of anicca, dukkha and anattã, and eventually realise the path and fruit of Nibbana. People without kataññu do not know the value of these adversities, and they heap disaster and peril on to their lives while digging their own graves with anger and negativity. Their minds know no ease and their lack of self-control, with the frustration it brings, means that they are filled with fear and trembling as life seems to go ever more wrong. They are on a fixed course for self-destruction.

However, those who appreciate life’s challenges, who gratefully rise up to meet them, bring an immeasurable coolness and beauty to the world. If all people felt this way, how could our world fail to become a heavenly realm?

Knowing the value of adversity, nothing in life is perceived as bothersome or difficult. With lofty thoughts such as these, as people develop this most subtle sense of gratitude, this very capacity to appreciate those who oppose us and those things which obstruct us, cools the heat from the frictions of the world.

Considering how even our enemies have been of so much help to us, try then to imagine the value of our mothers and fathers, and the highest of all objects of veneration, the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.

Spiritual teachers undertake the task of training their disciples’ minds, picking up from where their parents left off and taking them to yet even higher levels. For this purpose, teachers have to develop extraordinary patient endurance, and painstakingly put their hearts into their work, if they are to plant and cultivate deeper and deeper levels of spiritual awareness in their disciples’ minds. This is the sign of true mettã in a teacher – they must constantly study and train themselves to a very high level, thereby having the wherewithal to instill the truth in their disciples’ hearts. This is the sign of true wisdom in a teacher.

Teachers must be constantly selfless and, in this way, remain the reliable objects of their disciples’ deep veneration – not just spiritual workers to be hired and fired. Any disciples, having cultivated a wholesome mind and knowing what is proper, will feel much kataññu towards their teachers, those who bring coolness to the world with their enduring patience and wisdom.

Acknowledging the debt we have to our parents and teachers simply makes one want to give in return; this is achieved by doing only that which will be of benefit to future generations. Disciples will do anything to honour the good name of their spiritual home and they constantly share the merit of their wholesome actions with their mother, father and teachers.

This chance we have to receive these highest gifts is as wonderful as if the Blessed One himself were offering them to us directly. The Noble Disciples endured all manner of hardships in order to faithfully maintain the Buddha’s dispensation, all of this having been done with a heart of deep devotion and gratitude to the Teacher.

If the hearts of everyone on Earth were truly filled with ka taññu-katavedi, then doubtless our world would be more beautiful and alluri ng than a heavenly realm, safer and more praiseworthy than a heavenly realm, more desirable than any heavenly realm. If we consider this well, we will be able to main tain restraint towards one another, not acting impulsively or out of anger. When we think of people who have helped us in the past, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, then we won’t act in mean or selfish ways. And even if we sometimes do act unmindfully in these wa ys, we will be quick to ask for and to give forgiveness.

Thinking of parents and teachers who have passed away brings up thoughts of respect in us, and so we care for, and behave compassionately towards, our fellow human beings.

Kataññu, the spirit of gratitude, has the power to change a demon into a true human being. The spirit of gratitude will benefit the world so much, and keep it cool forever. Thus we should cherish this high est of qualities, striving and sacrificing to keep it alive in our hearts, as the safest shelter for us all.


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