A thought provoking article on the spirituality of the practice of gratitude.
Gratitude Ritual: The Role of Benefactors
“Travelers, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.” - Antonio Machado
Gratitude is an essential practice to those looking to truly trail a spiritual path. But unlike most of our customary mannerism, genuine gratitude does not come from a spill of flattery words or meaningless gestures, but it originates from a heart trained to receive and to recognize the receiving. Gratitude is a complex subject to be discussed because it involves the direct knowledge of the art of receiving. Many of us, believe receiving means we are not in control, that we are needy, vulnerable and weak. In reality, nothing can be further than the truth. Gratitude is an antidote to humiliation, helplessness and also a powerful tamer of the Ego. To be grateful is a valuable skill to be acquired.
"Does not the gratitude of the dog put to shame any man who is ungrateful to his benefactors?" ~Saint Basil
It is a challenge even to determine who are those that perform the role of our benefactors during a lifetime. But like any other spiritual exercise, it demands resilience and continuous work.
Who is a Benefactor/Benefactress (Benefactrix)
By definition, a benefactor is a person that confers benefit; the one that kindly offers to help someone else other than himself. But they can be more than just mere helpers, as they can bestow more than just material assistance, they can be bringers of light, support, teachings, initiations, or even, in some cases, they can be custodians of bad news. There are many types of benefactors with the physical benefactor being the most easily recognizable. The emotional benefactor can be identified as someone that has provided us with moral support during our life transitions and rites of passage.
The Mystical Benefactor
The last category of benevolence and the less recognizable is the mystical benefactor. The role these individuals perform can be easily ignored. Sometimes, their presence is not noticed, as they can show in our lives for just a brief moment, to give us advice, inspiration, courage and sometimes, a piece of information; just time enough to change or add an element that may be out of alignment with our personal story. They enter our lives for a reason.
“No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent.” ~ John Donne
There is an interesting point that may be clarified: As Angelical beings can be considered as benefactors, not all benefactors can be regarded as angels. Most are merely human. No man is an island or isolated from the great plan of evolution. Everyone plays a role, like note in a symphony: all are necessary to keep the harmony and rhythm. Each one of us is made of a succession of small stories, life teaching and examples of others.
The Mystical Benefactor
A real spiritual benefactor may not seem as such when he comes into our lives as someone that actively restrains one or more of our initiatives, depriving us of our desires, and sometimes of our sense of purpose. Independent of the time, the truth of their actions and their effects in our personal lives come to prove their valuable presence in shaping our tracks and, many times, leading us back to our main soul path. There is an old saying that speaks of how some bad situations in our lives may turn out to be real blessings. If you have this happen to you, and you recognize it, try to identify who was your benefactor.
No matter how hard one may try, the natural egotistical feeling of entitlement can pervade anyone’s soul as a fast as the wind blows. It is imperative to develop a sense of gratitude towards these beings and include them in your daily prayers, even if anonymously.
"As long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters." ~ Edward Gibbon
When you open your heart to recognize the blessings received through a multitude of invisible hands throughout your life, you start to understand how much each life is weaved into another. The release of the energy of pure gratitude brings hidden blessings into one’s life, and the mystical power of such liberation can clean up lower astral energies attached to one’s emotional body.
Like the consecration of food that one does every day, where blessings are bestowed upon all the invisible hands that contributed to feeding you, one must never forget the benediction of your benefactors, as an act of reverence, respect and as an important step in teaching your heart to be a grateful one.