Gratitude Revolution

Are these boots made for walking all over me?
For not the first time in my exploration of Buddhist philosophy I was presented with the phrase “This does not mean being a doormat”.

I’m not really sure what this means.

Buddhism calls for compassion and gratitude above all else. This seems a worthy goal.

But sometimes in practice it can lead to a feeling of self depreciation.

Can we cultivate compassion for a person or situation in which we are being treated badly? Is that even appropriate?

Sometimes don’t you need some fire, a bit of temper to ensure you are treated well?

Gloria Steinem once said “Gratitude does not breed revolution.”

She was responding to a comment about todays young women lacking gratitude for the fight of their forebears.

But it resonated with me in a different context. And it stuck like a thorn in my side, a constant niggle each time I attempted to create gratitude in a situation that perhaps rather called for a little revolution.

Buddhists define love as seeking happiness for the other.

Which is beautiful. And also scary.

Because it calls for you cease searching for your own happiness and rather work towards the happiness of others.

It also suggests that you entrust others to serve your happiness.

And what if they don’t? What if you work towards creating happiness for another but they don’t make that same commitment to you? Are you not then being a bit of a doormat?

The Dalai Lama doesn’t seem like a doormat. Not exactly a pushover.

He has maintained his cause and that of his people with vigilance and perseverance for over fifty years.

Resilience. Patience. Compassion. And gratitude.

He has often said he is grateful to the Chinese – for teaching him patience. That’s a pretty interesting perspective on Tibet/China relations.

Perhaps it comes down to relinquishing control. Taking responsibility for our own behaviour while letting others be responsible for theirs.

This does not mean accepting injustice. But it may mean developing increased resilience.

This does not mean tolerating acrimony. But it may mean reacting with greater patience.

This may mean cultivating compassion and gratitude in adversity.

But this does not mean being a doormat.

One Small Life. Reflections from my imperfect existence. My mistakes. My lessons. And my journey towards giving myself permission to do the things I love. Updated Sunday mornings. Enjoy.

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