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Gratitude Meditation

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:56 pm
by jackson
Hi everyone,
I'm wondering if there is a systematized meditation akin to metta meditation but for cultivating gratitude, and if so could someone give me a link to it?
Metta,
Jackson

Re: Gratitude Meditation

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:02 pm
by retrofuturist
Greetings Jackson,

Here's some old school instructions...

The Meditative Development of Unselfish Joy
by Ven. Buddhaghosa (fifth-century)
Excerpted from The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga).
One who begins the development of unselfish joy should not start with dearly beloved person, a neutral person or hostile person. For it is not the mere fact that a person is dearly beloved, which makes him an immediate cause of developing unselfish joy, and still less so neutral or hostile person. Persons of the opposite sex and those who are dead are not suitable subjects for this meditation.

A very close friend, however, can be a suitable subject. One who is called in the commentaries an affectionate companion; for he is always in a joyous mood: he laughs first and speaks afterwards. He should be the first to be pervaded with unselfish joy. Or on seeing or hearing about a dear person being happy, cheerful, and joyous, unselfish joy can be aroused thus: "This being, verily, is happy! How good, how excellent!" For this is what is referred to in the Vibhanga: "And how does a bhikkhu dwell pervading one direction with his heart imbued with unselfish joy? Just as he would be joyful on seeing a dear and beloved person, so he pervades all being with unselfish joy" (Vibhanga 274).

But if his affectionate friend or the dear person was happy in the past but is now unlucky and unfortunate, then unselfish joy can still be aroused by remembering his past happiness; or by anticipating that he will be happy and successful again in the future.

Having thus aroused unselfish joy with respect to a dear person, the meditator can then direct it towards a neutral one, and after that towards a hostile one.

But if resentment towards the hostile one arises in him, he should make it subside in the same way as described under the exposition of loving-kindness.

He should then break down the barriers by means of impartiality towards the four, that is, towards these three and himself. And by cultivating the sign (or after-image, obtained in concentration), developing and repeatedly practicing it, he should increase the absorption to triple or (according to the Abhidhamma division) quadruple jhana.

Next, the versatility (in this meditation) should be understood in the same way as stated under loving-kindness. It consists in:

(a) Unspecified pervasion in these five ways:
"May all beings... all breathing things... all creatures... all persons... all those who have a personality be free from enmity, affliction, and anxiety, and live happily!"
(b) Specified pervasion in these seven ways:
"May all women... all men... all Noble Ones... all not Noble Ones... all deities... all human beings... all in states of misery (in lower worlds) be free from enmity, etc."
(c) Directional pervasion in these ten ways:
"May all beings (all breathing things, etc.; all women, etc.) in the eastern direction... in the western direction... northern... southern direction... in the intermediate eastern, western, northern, and southern direction... in the downward direction... in the upward direction be free from enmity, etc."
This versatility is successful only in one whose mind has reached absorption (jhana).

When this meditator develops the mind-deliverance of unselfish joy through any of these kinds of absorption he obtains these eleven advantages: he sleeps in comfort, wakes in comfort, and dreams no evil dreams, he is dear to human beings, dear to non-human beings, deities guard him, fire and poison and weapons do not affect him, his mind is easily concentrated, the expression of his face is serene, he dies unconfused, if he penetrates no higher he will be reborn in the Brahma World (A v 342).
More on mudita at...

Mudita: The Buddha's Teaching on Unselfish Joy
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el170.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta,
Retro. :)

Re: Gratitude Meditation

Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:14 am
by mikenz66
Here are some instruction that used to be on Patrick Kearney's web site. They are based on the Visuddhimagga approach, but are structured in a way that might be more straight-forward to apply. It follows the usual Metta pattern of wishing yourself well, then directing metta to someone else.
Muditā

Self: Return your attention to your own body, re-establishing your sense of
being grounded in the body. Bring your attention to your heart. Open to the
joy that you feel in your life, the ways in which you are fortunate and blessed,
and then begin a flow of aspiration directed towards your heart that you may
fully enjoy your good fortune. “May I enjoy my happiness, and may it last a
long time.” Or you might shorten your aspiration to simply, “Enjoy!” Joy feels
and responds to the happiness of the person. It is love directed towards
happiness, and so always involves an awareness of happiness. Again, be
creative in your aspiration, as you imagine or reflect on the various ways in
which you enjoy good fortune.

Fortunate person:
Now bring to mind someone you know who is very happy,
who is particularly fortunate and prosperous at present. Reflect, “Just as I
rejoice in my good fortune, so does s/he; just as s/he rejoices in her good
fortune, so do I. We are exactly the same in this respect.” Then imagine or
visualise the person in front of you and send a stream of joy towards him or
her, using suitable words. Again, if a feeling of joy arises, absorb into that
feeling. Otherwise focus on the stream of intentions you are generating.
I posted the Equanimity (Upekkhā) instructions here:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 159#p29212" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta
Mike

Re: Gratitude Meditation

Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:19 am
by rowyourboat
Isn't gratitude a bit different from mudita (being happy in another's happiness)? :smile:

I think it is a slightly overlooked quality even though the Buddha has said that it is a rare person in this world who is grateful. If you cant find one, you should make your own one up and let us know as well!

Re: Gratitude Meditation

Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:48 am
by PeterB
It is rowyourboat, but its hard to imagine some who developes metta and mudita , not as a by- product rejoicing in their own blessings.

Re: Gratitude Meditation

Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:13 pm
by jackson
Thankyou for you replies!
I never really associated gratitude with mudita before, but now that I think about it they are closely related, and I never thought of directing mudita towards oneself, which sounds like a good idea. The way I was thinking of gratitude was more along the lines of reflecting on the four requisites and gratitude towards ones parents, but I'm wondering, would being grateful for someone elses' fortune be a highly developed form of mudita? I always saw sympathetic joy as rejoicing in others successes, but being grateful for others successes seems like it would be quite a lofty aspiration, or perhaps I'm taking it to extremes beyond what the Buddha taught? I'm interested to know.
Metta, :smile:
Jackson

Re: Gratitude Meditation

Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:33 pm
by Khalil Bodhi
mikenz66 wrote:Here are some instruction that used to be on Patrick Kearney's web site. They are based on the Visuddhimagga approach, but are structured in a way that might be more straight-forward to apply. It follows the usual Metta pattern of wishing yourself well, then directing metta to someone else.
Muditā

Self: Return your attention to your own body, re-establishing your sense of
being grounded in the body. Bring your attention to your heart. Open to the
joy that you feel in your life, the ways in which you are fortunate and blessed,
and then begin a flow of aspiration directed towards your heart that you may
fully enjoy your good fortune. “May I enjoy my happiness, and may it last a
long time.” Or you might shorten your aspiration to simply, “Enjoy!” Joy feels
and responds to the happiness of the person. It is love directed towards
happiness, and so always involves an awareness of happiness. Again, be
creative in your aspiration, as you imagine or reflect on the various ways in
which you enjoy good fortune.

Fortunate person:
Now bring to mind someone you know who is very happy,
who is particularly fortunate and prosperous at present. Reflect, “Just as I
rejoice in my good fortune, so does s/he; just as s/he rejoices in her good
fortune, so do I. We are exactly the same in this respect.” Then imagine or
visualise the person in front of you and send a stream of joy towards him or
her, using suitable words. Again, if a feeling of joy arises, absorb into that
feeling. Otherwise focus on the stream of intentions you are generating.
I posted the Equanimity (Upekkhā) instructions here:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 159#p29212" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta
Mike
Mike,

Would you happen to have a link to the site as the guy seems to have some good pointers. Metta.

Re: Gratitude Meditation

Posted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 4:18 am
by mikenz66
Khalil Bodhi wrote: Would you happen to have a link to the site as the guy seems to have some good pointers. Metta.
Sure: http://dharmasalon.net/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Unfortunately, that particular file is not there anymore. I could ask him if he minds me posting his PDF.

Metta
Mike

Re: Gratitude Meditation

Posted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 10:15 am
by Khalil Bodhi
Thanks Mike. I appreciate the link nonetheless. Metta.