Wednesday, November 20, 2019

What does a life of gratitude look like?

Jesus said that in order to pursue and bring about the reign of God one had to be in the world but not of the world. It is an interesting idea.

We are captured by a political discourse, an economic discourse, a religious discourse, a legal discourse and others. I am using "discourse" to mean system. We all are captured by and participate to various extents in these various systems. We, unfortunately, from a spiritual perspective, give value to our standing in these systems. Jesus reminds us, as does the Buddha, that this is all nonsense. Our standing in these systems will all pass away. These systems have very little to do with what Jesus called the Kingdom of God.

What is the Kingdom of God and how do we bring it about? The Kingdom of God, I believe, is very similar to what the Buddha called enlightenment. The Kingdom of God and enlightenment involves our becoming fully realized, fully conscious human beings and that we participate in life in a peaceful, compassionate, and generous way.

To what extent does Unitarian Universalism inform its members ability to achieve the "Kingdom of God" or enlightenment in their lives? Jesus says that the way to the kingdom is to "love as I have loved". As Galen Guengerich says in his sermon on Gratitude, the Jewish answer to the question of how to get to the Kingdom is through obedience to the law. The Muslim answer is through submission to the will of Allah. Rev. Guengerich suggests that the Unitarian Universalist answer might well be "gratitude."

The way to the kingdom in Unitarian Universalism is to cultivate and practice a life of gratitude. Interesting idea. What would a life of gratitude look like? Is that an attractive way of life for people to pursue? What obligation and discipline does it require of us? How does one build a life on gratitude? What are the implications for each of us in terms of our personal development and in terms of the health and quality of the communities and world we live in? Would the practice of a way of life based on gratitude bring about the fulfillment of human kind?

Of course, gratitude cannot arise without forgiveness and forgiveness in the spiritual sense means giving up making other people and situations responsible for our unhappiness. Once we forgive others and situations then we open the path to gratitude.

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