Gratitude: Recognizing, Appreciating and Repaying Kindness

Buddha says we should endeavor to repay the four types of kindness. Therefore, we must first recognize kindnesses, and then appreciate them, and only then, can we repay the kindnesses through our own actions. First we should recognize the many kindnesses of:

the Three Jewels,
our parents and teachers,
our society and country,
all sentient beings.

A threshold question to ask ourselves is; who is kind to us? If we think about it, it is both people we know, as well as those who we don’t know. If we contemplate this, we can come to realize a pure and tranquil state of mind. If, on the other hand, we do not acknowledge the many kindnesses experienced in our day-to-day lives, we will feel discontented and prone to complaints.

How can we repay the four types of kindness? One way is to contemplate with compassion that all people are kind and supportive. Everyone in the world, including our relatives, co-workers, teachers, parents and even people we don’t know, help us and care for us on a daily basis. We can think about how, when we are born, we relied on our parents to raise, take care of, and educate us. Then how teachers patiently instructed us and we learned knowledge and skills from them. Our society and nation provide the conditions necessary for us seek jobs and lead constructive lives. Without this network of support, we can’t survive; we can’t achieve success in our career or our home life. In addition to this support, we also benefit from the guidance of the Three Jewels that gives us the inspiration to develop wisdom, helps us to overcome delusions and transcend the suffering of samsara. All sentient beings, all things and surroundings sustain us directly or indirectly. By contemplating this way, we can become sincerely grateful.

When we are able to acknowledge that our parents, teachers, countries, all sentient beings and we, ourselves, are all interdependent in this world, it’s called, “recognition.” When we can truly recognize this fact, we will give rise to a grateful mind. Moreover, we will sincerely want to take positive actions to repay these many kindnesses.


How can we repay these kindnesses?

By practice and making positive achievements in our studies and careers.
By cultivating good deeds, virtues, merits and meditation.
By working hard in our daily lives with a grateful mind.

A contented mind is the fountainhead of happiness. If we can recognize, appreciate, and repay the four types of kindness, we will generate a contented mind.

In this modern world, filled with its emphasis on efficiency and competition, a contented mind may sound unusual. However, as the saying goes, “A contented mind is a perpetual feast.” It’s optimistic, flexible, and infinitely useful.

One of the causes for unhappiness and worry is discontent. For example, when you get a job, you may not feel satisfied. You might find yourself thinking of the job’s disadvantages. Your work day is too long. Your employer is too bossy. Your co-workers are selfish. You feel annoyed by the type of work and you feel your talent is buried. When you have all these negative thoughts, you are, in fact, deluded. Alternatively, if you contemplate with a grateful mind, “It’s not easy to get a job. This job is created by various conditions from the support of our society, I am so fortunate to get such a job,” you can then cherish and respect the job. Gratitude is generated from your own mind and your own attitude. You can feel joyful and contented with your work and co-workers with such a “right attitude”.

In our world so full of material desires, our worries and vexations tend to increase. There is often corruption of ethical and moral concepts and the living environment has become more chaotic. People don’t know where their mind should dwell. Nevertheless, if we know the truths of: recognizing, appreciating, and repaying the kindnesses, and practice these in our daily life, we will eradicate our delusions, harmonize interrelationships with all sentient beings and create a promising future life.