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Lions Roar : Nov 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2007 49 precious gift of the present moment—to seize this chance to be alive right now on Planet Earth. EVEN IN THE DARK That our world is in crisis—to the point where survival of conscious life on Earth is in question—in no way dimin- ishes the value of this gift; on the contrary. To us is granted the privilege of being on hand: to take part, if we choose, in the Great Turning to a just and sustainable society. We can let life work through us, enlisting all our strength, wisdom, and courage, so that life itself can continue. There is so much to be done, and the time is so short. We can proceed, of course, out of grim and angry desperation. But the tasks proceed more easily and productively with a measure of thankfulness for life; it links us to our deeper powers and lets us rest in them. Many of us are braced, psy- chically and physically, against the signals of distress that continually barrage us in the news, on our streets, in our environment. As if to reduce their impact on us, we con- tract like a turtle into its shell. But we can choose to turn to the breath, the body, the senses—for they help us to relax and open to wider currents of knowing and feeling. The great open secret of gratitude is that it is not dependent on external circumstance. It’s like a setting or channel that we can switch to at any moment, no matter what’s going on around us. It helps us connect to our basic right to be here, like the breath does. It’s a stance of the soul. In systems theory, each part contains the whole. Gratitude is the kernel that can flower into everything we need to know. Thankfulness loosens the grip of the industrial growth society by contradicting its predominant message: that we are insuf- ficient and inadequate. The forces of late capitalism continu- ally tell us that we need more—more stuff, more money, more approval, more comfort, more entertainment. The dissatisfac- tion it breeds is profound. It infects people with a compul- sion to acquire that delivers them into the cruel, humiliating bondage of debt. So gratitude is liberating. It is subversive. It helps us realize that we are sufficient, and that realization frees us. Elders of indigenous cultures have retained this knowledge, and we can learn from their practices. PAINTINGBYTONYMATTHEWS NOV 48-51.indd 49 NOV 48-51.indd 49 8/29/07 2:12:12 PM 8/29/07 2:12:12 PM