Humility and gratitude

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Humility and gratitude

Post by zavk » Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:41 pm

Dear friends,

The issue of pride/humility came up in several posts recently. It reminds me of a conversation I had recently with my partner. We were watching the US version of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen NIghtmares. As usual, it featured an arrogant self-appointed 'chef' who refused to see how he was failing in all aspects of restauranteering, even as he insists, 'I know I'm good!' Because of his stubborn, arrogant ways the restaurant was facing collapse. The failing restaurant was affecting not just the chef but his girlfriend and her family who had been doing what they can to support him and the business. In fact, it was his girlfriend's parents who provided the money for the restaurant. Ramsay confronted the chef and told him that he was being selfish, that he was taking his loved ones for granted. The chef obviously failed to see how he was taking them for granted. If anything, he seemed to think that they were being overly critical of him. It then struck me that the chef was not in the least bit grateful for the support he had from his loved ones. Or at least, he was unable to see how there was much to be grateful for. And this lack of gratitude fed his arrogance, his pride, his refusal to listen to advice.

So I remarked to my partner, 'Can one truly be humble if one doesn't know how to be grateful?' In other words, I wonder if gratitude and humility are really co-dependent, one providing the conditions for the other. This then led me to wonder just how often I've overlooked the simplest things that I ought to be grateful for.

What are your thoughts?

Best wishes,
With metta,

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Humility and gratitude

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:17 am

“Dveme, bhikkhave, puggalā dullabhā lokasmiṃ. Katame dve? Yo ca pubbakārī, yo ca kataññū katavedī. Ime kho, bhikkhave, dve puggalā dullabhā lokasmi”nti.

These two individuals, monks, are rare in the world. Which two? One who is the first to do something for others, and one who is appreciative and grateful. These two individuals, monks, are rare in the world. (Book of Twos)
The etymology of kataññū is interesting. It means one who knows (aññū) what has been done (kata) for one's own benefit.
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Re: Humility and gratitude

Post by Jechbi » Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:13 am

I think you're right, and moreover, I think humility and gratitude are part of an interrelated bunch of conditions that all come into play in varying degrees in each circumstance. Strikes me that gratitude is a state of mind that doesn't necessarily need an object. But sometimes the actions of others awaken gratitude in us, and in order for that to happen, some degree of humility probably also is needed. Good stuff. :anjali:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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