In Gratitude this Thanksgiving

Dear Sangha ~
        Extending gratitude to you all for your honest and courageous exploration of the practice of Zen together. For the banquet of warmth extended to one another, the cornucopia of creativity, and the generosity in bringing the teachings of awakening to life. My deepest gratitude goes to the simple yet extraordinary fact we effort to create a sacred space to investigate directly the meaning of this one precious life. I cannot imagine for myself a better path.
        While today in our culture we express gratitude for that which sustains us, the meaning of gratitude in Buddhism is beyond thankfulness “for” something, but instead is a state of mind that meets the world as it is. Gratitude is the key that unlocks the door to one’s koan. Whenever I recognize genuine gratitude in myself or another, I know some truth has been realized. Gratitude emerges on its own after the sorrow, after we wake up to the truth of oneness, after the attachment drops away. It is the opposite of resistance — rather than something added, it is simply what remains when we surrender. While it is vital practice to extend gratitude toward what brings us and others goodness and joy, gratitude in Buddhism is a profound “yes” to life.

        May gratitude today, whatever unfolds, be your guide.  Saying thank you to the universe, I offer (beloved among the Zennies) poet W.S. Merwin’s words below on this inexplicable thank you beyond reason and conditions.

With palms together,


with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

W.S. Merwin

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