When I move beyond being entitled, I look deeper into how the world works and I am left with a humble realization that I am but a medium to unfold the divine plan. And when the realization extends to knowing that the divine plan is but to allow me to raise my consciousness and live my best life, I am graced with gratitude.
A word of caution. I am going to share the story of a 93-year-old man in my neighbourhood who has no family of his own. Yes, it is a painful story but it is true, and thus important to share. Let’s call this man ‘mama’ because that is what everyone calls him. ‘Mama’, read maamaa, is what you call your mother’s brother in the Indian culture.
It was pouring and the streets were empty – a rarity in Mumbai where even if the clouds decide to show their wrath, there will still be a few people who think themselves strong enough to face the heavenly outburst. Perhaps it is the on-going COVID-19 pandemic that has successfully managed to keep the people indoors. On that fateful night, mama lay alone in a small office with one of his legs dangling from his bed. Shyam, a resident nearby, was returning from his evening walks and knew that something was wrong when mama did not respond to his call from across the grilled door. He only got a small whimper. He saw one of mama’s slippers lying abandoned on the foot of his bed and realized that mama needed help. But the door was locked. Luckily, Shyam knew the owners of the office so he called them up and immediately, some of the colleagues decided to come in and help.
Mama essentially lived as an office man in that office but it was more out of kindness that the staff let him live there than out of any expectation of him to work. He had a chai stall a few years ago and would cater to the staff. But he was not born in Mumbai. At a young age, he decided to leave his rich home and family in Kolkata in the east of India to make it big in Mumbai. That was the beginning of his downfall. Not only did he leave his family and wealth behind, but he also refused any regular jobs that would allow him to sustain himself while he tried to make it big in the city.
In spite of some very obvious mis-steps that he took in life, possibly driven by a sense of being invincible at a young age, every time I see mama, his face is calm and he still has a sparkle in his eyes, even after the dreadful night where he lay on his bed in pain with a minor stroke, unable to move or speak and all by himself. It is almost as though any form of regret is overshadowed by a deep acknowledgement and acceptance that comes from wisdom gathered by hard lessons.
This story is not for us to feel sorry for mama. He doesn’t need that because I can see that he is in a place so calm that so many of us with all the riches and family support in the world have not experienced. Everytime Shyam offers to support him, monetarily or otherwise, mama refuses with a smile, saying that he doesn’t need anything.
If reading about his plight makes you feel grateful for all that you have, then that is definitely a step in the right direction. But this kind of gratitude is still at the level of material comfort – that which we usually account for in our gratitude journals. It feels almost superficial, like a ripple in a vast ocean that has so much more to offer. The deeper truth is that humility and awareness of how the world works has infused mama with a sense of resolute calm and gratitude that conventional gratitude journaling only has a slight chance of igniting. When I think about mama’s plight logically, I am left feeling disturbed but when I find myself in the presence of his calm acceptance and humility, I am reminded of just how much I need to shed to be able to feel that level of humility, acceptance and true gratitude.
The awareness comes with a realization that our entire being, including the hard lessons are opportunities for us to raise our consciousness and live our best life that is fully aligned with our heart and soul. This realization is accompanied by acknowledging patterns in the universe that have played a major role in our growth and protection. Recognising this constant and unconditional presence, care and nurture from the divine leaves us feeling humble and grateful. Like a pearl in the ocean, this level of pure gratitude is often elusive because in this case, we are grateful for all that comes our way and not just for the happy times and comforts of daily life. When you are graced with this unadulterated gratitude, you will be so overwhelmed that it will be the source of your every attention, intention and action, henceforth.
To experience this gratitude, do as the monk was told by his master when he was about to leave the monastery and live in the ‘real’ world – feel thanks for everything, the good and bad, the easy and difficult, the comfortable and the tedious.
I write about living from your true self in my blog called Source-Driven. Do give it a read and subscribe for a weekly dose of spiritual pick-me-up.