“Gratitude: A humble recognition of all that the divine has done and is doing for you.”~ The Mother, CWM, Vol. 14, p. 154
The first time I planted this creeper, I was in awe of its beauty. The flowers of Ipomea aka pink morning glory cannot be missed. They bloom profusely throughout the year and have a centre that almost draws you in. If you stare at it long enough, you will be mesmerized by its beauty. It’s almost as if you step into the flow of universal energy, a dance of gratitude that makes us experience heaven on earth.
When I first heard about the spiritual significance of flowers as given by the Mother and that the spiritual significance of this Ipomea flower is Gratitude, I was almost in tears. It reminded me of that day from decades ago. Back then as a budding teacher of yogasana, I was always looking for themes and ideas for my classes. That particular day I picked a basket full of morning glory and placed a flower in front of every mat. You see, the theme I had chosen was gratitude! What a coincidence and how did I even know!
Perhaps intuitively we do sense a language that exists within nature and that goes beyond our ordinary mental or rational understanding. The Mother wants us to “be like a flower,” which also means to be open and frank: “it hides nothing of its beauty. It lets it emerge freely, openly, frankly. What is within, what is in its depths, it brings out so that all can see it” (source). Perhaps that day I was open enough to see gratitude flow out from within the depths of Morning Glory flowers.
For me, the very understanding of the word gratitude has evolved over the years. The journey of life allows our soul to ascend and access higher levels of inner organisation and complexity. And with each new realisation, a shift in perception occurs which in turn transforms the way we define gratitude.
There was a time when I used to define gratitude in terms of material possessions, the comfort of luxury, having a healthy body, job security, and such things. While these are wonderful reasons to be grateful for, as we grow and inwardly evolve in our life-journey newer vistas of understanding and knowledge open for us, and with a shift in priorities our sense of gratitude also deepens with the expansion of consciousness. In brief, we begin to realise that gratitude is not a response or reaction but a state of mind.
Gratitude is the most magical of all attitudes, because it has the capacity to make us feel positive and hopeful under any circumstance. With a heart full of gratitude every moment of our life becomes a song full of praise – this feeling can be truly life changing.
Sometimes we think that happiness is what makes us feel grateful, on the contrary it is gratefulness that makes us happy. When we are grateful, we get a clear sense of our past, our today becomes peaceful and we create a positive vision for our future.
I have heard many stories about gratitude. But the one that truly touched my heart is a small incident involving the Mother and her handkerchief. Once a sādhika at Sri Aurobindo Ashram who used to stitch clothes for the Mother was given a small handkerchief to darn. The disciple came back and told Datta (Mother’s companion at the time) that though she had somehow managed to darn the handkerchief it was getting seriously hard to repair as it had become quite old. That evening, Datta while placing the handkerchief near the Mother’s bedside said that it was perhaps time to throw it away. Hearing this, the Mother jumped out of her bed and took the handkerchief and said – how can you throw something that has served you for so long?
This act of gratitude may sound trivial for many in our modern world. We throw away clothes even before they are worn a few times, leave alone getting torn. For many in today’s world of consumerism, this may even sound horrendous. But a part of me feels that if we give gratitude a serious thought and reflect upon it, we may find a sincere solution to many of our problems.
When we are truly grateful, we turn a meal into a feast and a stranger into a friend, and with that positive outlook we create more abundance in life. Gratitude is a state of mind – one for which we should always strive.
Gratitude is a dance we experience that makes our life rich and colourful just like a rainbow. The colours of gratitude usually play out in so many different ways. When my neighbour explains how she got back to her feet after she lost her only son in a motorbike accident, that’s gratitude which fills her eyes with tears. She runs a small organization today that helps other women who lost their children, bounce back and carry on with their lives.
Another colour of gratitude is seen in my uncle’s animated version of his story from the war zone in Iran. The captain of the ship was hit by a splinter from a bomb which cut his throat, and he took his last breath in my uncle’s arms. As the ship’s vice-captain my uncle had the honour of giving the last sip of water to the man he adored, and he remains ever so grateful for that.
I see another colour when I think of my student whose husband lay in the hospital with a brain tumour, and not knowing what to do, she completely surrendered to some higher power. Her surrender itself became an expression of her gratitude for all that the Divine was doing. It was that gratitude which helped her become a strong, mature entrepreneur that she is today.
Not all stories are sad. When I last met an old friend over a cup of coffee, she told me about how grateful she was for winning a lottery. And last year during the pandemic when she and her husband had both lost their jobs in Dubai, it was the lottery money that helped them bounce back.
How colourful gratitude can be! The Mother’s voice does ring a bell – “Be grateful for all ordeals, they are the shortest way to the divine.” (CWM, Vol. 14, p. 225)
The day I had plucked morning glories for my class, a small poem was also born within, perhaps inspired by the divine vision of the blooms. I close this piece with those lines:
Sun Shines, a new dawn
With a cup of tea, my feet on the lawn
Zen time, a final yawn
Before my day begins, my mind is drawn
A wave of calm, like a soothing balm
Warmth of the cup, in my palm
At that moment, do my eyes fall upon
Pink morning glories, in burgeon
A sense of gratitude, cascades my horizon
Can I just freeze this enchanting dawn?
But then, Life has to move on
Life has to move on;
So, I thank the Morning Glory to bloom again
As an orison
As a benison
So that I can be Grateful every single day!
~ Design: Shahala Sayeed