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Cultivating a Gratitude Practice

In all my years of following the Buddhist path, there has been only one teaching that made me cringe. Whenever I heard it, my reaction was, “Are you kidding me?!” Here’s the story: Buddha is approached by a monk, who asks for advice regarding desire. It is distracting him from his spiritual practice, not to mention his life. What should he do? Buddha’s response is to tell him that it is important to remember that seeing our desires fulfilled always leads to suffering. Once we get what we want, we’re afraid we’ll lose it—which, when you think about it, we always will in the end. Better to know that the less we pursue our desires, the less we’ll suffer. So far, so good.The monk thanks him for his advice, then mentions that he will be heading out for the village of Sunaparanta. Buddha is taken aback. He asks the monk if he knows that the place is known for its “fierce roughness”—what will he do if they abuse and threaten him?The monk responds, “Then I shall think these people are truly kind in that they did not give me a blow with a fist.”But Buddha can’t leave this alone. What if they do punch you? The mo …

About the Author

Geri Larkin is the founder and former head teacher of Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple, a Zen meditation center in the heart of...

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