The Happiness of Being Able to Express Gratitude
The Mind of Rejoicing
Chapter 18 of the Lotus Sutra, "The Merits of Rejoicing," describes the merits attained when someone rejoices in hearing the teaching and shares that joy with someone else. If you hear the teaching and your mind receives it gratefully, you want to tell someone about it. Then, that inspiration and joy are transmitted from one person to the next, so that the merits attained by the fiftieth person are still very great, to say nothing of the immeasurable merits attained by the person who first experienced the mind of rejoicing. As you well know, this teaching is called "the fiftieth person who in turn hears the Dharma Flower Sutra."
Incidentally, the Chinese characters that form the word "rejoice" (Jpn., zuiki) mean "upon seeing the good deeds of other people, joy arises in the mind."
I think that when you see or hear about someone doing good deeds, you feel inspired by them.
Many people are impressed and inspired when they see media reports about volunteers cooperating in the reconstruction of a disaster-stricken area, or healthcare professionals making a tremendous effort against the coronavirus pandemic, aren't they?
Another possibility is that a casual snapshot of something in your daily life brings you a refreshing feeling of joy that lingers in your mind.
I read a newspaper story about a two-year-old girl who walked up and down a train car greeting each passenger with a bob of her head. No eyebrows were raised about letting her walk around the moving train car, and as more and more passengers were impressed by her innocent gesture, a heartwarming atmosphere filled the car.
Whether it's the healthcare professionals or the little girl on the train, why do we feel impressed, soothed, and joyful when we see such a scene?
Because we have the same innocent heart as the little girl and the same desire to help those who are suffering as the healthcare professionals. Even if we aren't taking action ourselves, when we're touched by others' good deeds, we're there taking part in them. The rest may be a matter of how we embody these feelings.
We Are Capable of Gratitude
We all have different personalities, energy levels, physical abilities, and social positions, so what we're each capable of doing differs. For example, it isn't possible for everyone to imitate the man the Japanese media dubbed a "super volunteer" for his incredibly selfless efforts to help survivors of recent natural disasters. However, human beings are said to have a unique capability to turn inspiration and joy into the power to live and be grateful.
When you think about it, even though plants and non-human animals are incapable of expressing gratitude, they live in great harmony while fulfilling their respective roles. Only we human beings, with our human minds, suffer from jealousy, anger, greed, and, sometimes, disharmony. Perhaps human beings are capable of being grateful because it's the only way we can harmonize with nature. In order for us to maintain harmony in our own minds and get along with everyone else at home and in society, it's important that we're the kind of human being who can always be grateful.
Fortunately, we know that by gladly accepting whatever happens with gratitude and happiness, we can have real peace of mind. Regardless of whether we have money or status, we devote ourselves to becoming human beings who can truly feel happy at all times.
This line from the Dhammapada sums up our inspiration and gratitude: "It is difficult to receive life as a human being and for we who will someday die, it is difficult to keep the life we now have." Honestly sharing with others the intrinsic human joy of receiving life and living here and now--which we see in the teaching of the fiftieth person who in turn hears the Dharma Flower Sutra--will spread true happiness.