Gratitude is this moment. Or as my Buddhist teacher Shunyu Suzuki liked to say, “That you are here is the ultimate fact.” But wait. What do we mean, Gratitude is this moment? We might more naturally want to say something like, “Gratitude is to appreciate this moment.” But somehow when I started writing this post, “Gratitude is this moment” is what came out. Just that we are here is something to be grateful for, even before we are grateful for anything else.
A few posts ago, I talked about Horizontal and Vertical Time. Horizontal time is how we usually think of time, with the past stretching behind us, and the future stretching before us. Vertical time is just this moment, which is always here. So I think what I am saying is that gratitude happens in vertical time. Vertical time is more than just now; it is wonderment at now. Just to stop the mind, and stop our activity, and appreciate the fact that everything just is, and we are here in the midst of it all, whatever our age—that is a kind of essential gratitude which we can extend to all those we care about, and even, as we Buddhists would say, to “all beings and things.” There’s no way I can be here unless everything is also here. This is something we so often forget as we struggle to survive and prosper in a complex, competitive and often unfair world. Yet we are not the only beings struggling. I read an article today about the disappearance of the King or Chinook Salmon. Out here in California, where I live, this is a big deal. There has been no salmon fishing season this year, and probably won’t be next year. A whole industry has been put out of work. This has never happened before. I found myself feeling sorry for the salmon, and the fishermen and their families, and also grateful for all of them. And like a lot of people, I wonder why.
Biologists think that maybe Shasta Dam, the second biggest in the United States, is killing the Chinook Salmon. But Shasta Dam also irrigates the whole California central valley, which produces a lot of the country’s food. There is drought in California this year. Shasta lake is lower than it has ever been. Somehow all of that engineering puts avocados on my dinner table. I am grateful for that. Salmons, avocados, fishermen, farmers—all part of the wonderment. Yes, we have a lot to be grateful for, right now. Gratitude is this moment.
Incidentally, our blog has been listed in the popular blog listing site AllTop. Find us in the Midlife and Seniors Sections. For lots of good resources about aging and related topics, check out those links!
Also, check this link to Suzuki Roshi Archives. This site, created and managed by my dharma brother and fellow Suzuki Roshi disciple David Chadwick, is the best resource for lore and stories about Suzuki Roshi and his disciples, as well as about David Chadwick’s excellent biography of Suzuki Roshi, Crooked Cucumber.