Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cultivating Gratitude

I get up early each morning—at 5:00 AM usually—so that I have time to contemplate some passages to uplift my spirits and get ready for the day.

I have a collection of many beautiful and inspiring texts. This is one of them and it helps me feel grateful to all our ancestors. It goes like this:

All our knowledge is bequeathed knowledge.
The dead have left us record of all they were able to learn about themselves and the world,
About the laws of death and life,
About things to be acquired and things to be avoided
About ways of making existence less painful than nature willed it
About right and wrong and sorrow and happiness
About the error of selfishness, the wisdom of kindness, the obligation of sacrifice.

They left us information of everything they could find out concerning climates and seasons and place
The sun and moon and stars
The motions and the composition of the universe.

They bequeathed us also their delusions which long served the good purpose of saving us from falling into greater ones.
They left us the story of their errors and efforts, their triumphs and failures
Their pains and joys, their loves and hates
For warning or example.
The expected our sympathy
Because they toiled with the kindest wishes and hopes for us
And because they made our world.
They cleared the land
They extirpated monsters
They tamed and taught the animals most useful to us.
They domesticated likewise the useful trees and plants
And they discovered the places and powers of the metals.
Later they created all that we call civilization
Trusting us to correct such mistakes as they could not help making.
The sum of their toil is incalculable
And all that they have given us ought surely to be very sacred
Very precious
If only by reason of the infinite pain and thought which it cost.

And so I pause and take this moment to offer my gratitude and thanks to the dead, to those who have passed on. May you all be at peace.

(I invite my readers Dharmajim? to make a comment about the source of this passage. He told me where this came from, but I don't trust my memory of what he told me.)

1 comment:

Dewey said...

Thanks for a great thoughtful and inspiring post.

The quote is attributed to Nishioka Tsunekazu, Master Carpenter from Japan. One version can be found in the book "The Aesthetics of Human Environments" pgs. 154-156. Link:,M1