Joy and appreciation. My root teacher used these two words many, many times. The qualities of joy and appreciation help us overcome nearly all the challenges of living a compassionate life. When all else fails we can simply smile with appreciation that we are breathing, our heart is beating, and we are surrounded by a world that is permeated by the light of joy amidst the darkest of times.
But flowery words do not help when the storms of emotional reactions overwhelm us. That is why we practice generating bodhicitta, the heart/mind of compassion. If we infuse our awareness with loving kindness, we remember that quality in every circumstance. It flows out of our heart to all beings and purifies us like a showering of grace.
When our bodhicitta becomes stable, we can meet all sorts of challenges with equanimity. This does not mean that we never suffer, but we know how make an offering of our suffering. We link our experience to all beings who have ever suffered. We offer light and activities to ease the burden for everyone. In return, we ourselves are bathed in light.
So, in this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving, maybe we will experience joy and appreciation for everything in life. Maybe we will offer the same into the world. ‘Maybe’—that word will transform into motivation to become the compassionate person we all may be.