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Natural Awakenings

Enough For All: In Pursuit of Grateful Living

Oct 31, 2019 09:30AM

Aaron Amat/Shutterstock.com

by Brother David Steindl-Rast

Grateful living is the awareness that we stand on holy ground—always—in touch with mystery. Jewish sages interpret the words of Exodus 3:5 in a way that is of great relevance to grateful living. “Take off your shoes; the ground on which you stand is holy ground.” The soles of your shoes are leather—dead animal skin. Take off the deadness of being-used-to-it and your live souls will feel that you are standing on holy ground, wherever you are.

It is pretty evident that greed, oppression and violence have led us to a point of self-destruction. Our survival depends on a radical change; if the gratitude movement grows strong and deep enough, it may bring about this necessary change. Grateful living brings in place of greed, sharing; in place of oppression, respect; and in place of violence, peace. Who does not long for a world of sharing, mutual respect and peace?

Exploitation springs from greed and a sense of scarcity. Grateful living makes us aware that there is enough for all. Thus, it leads to a sense of sufficiency and a joyful willingness to share with others.

Oppression is necessary if we want to exploit others. The more power you have, the more efficiently you can exploit those below you and protect yourself against those above you. But grateful people live with a sense of sufficiency—they need not exploit others—thus, oppression is replaced by mutual support and by equal respect for all.

Violence springs from the root of fear—fear that there may not be enough for all, fear of others as potential competitors, fear of foreigners and strangers. But the grateful person is fearless. Thereby, she cuts off the very root of violence. Out of a sense-of-enough, she is willing to share, and thereby tends to eliminate the unjust distribution of wealth that creates the climate for violence. Fearlessly, she welcomes the new and strange, is enriched by differences and celebrates variety.

Grateful eyes look at whatever is as if they had never seen it before and caress it as if they would never see it again. This is a most realistic attitude, for every moment is indeed unique.


Adapted from an interview, with Brother David Steindl-Rast that originally appeared in Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center.

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