It was a cold and rainy day in Seattle in 1984, one of those days in which gloom looms in the air. I understood how Seattle was one of the highest suicide centers in the U.S. So I sucked it up and added focusing on my attitude to my other mental chores for the day. The Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan, and many others settled in at a coffee shop (they’re everywhere in Seattle) just off Public Market near downtown to get out of the rain. Public Market is a must-see destination for any Seattle tourist, and, believe me, we were often tourists.
The Siri Singh Sahib’s entourage, of which I was blessed to be a part, was accompanied by other students and guests totaling about fifteen or twenty of us. Accompanying us were many different kinds of people: students, new students, ex hippies, new hippies, East Indians, you name it. He used us to our capacity and slightly beyond. He had the guts to serve us when we didn’t deserve it. This is what I call a great blessing. Let me give you an example.
As usual, the Master was the host. The local teacher went the counter on behalf of the Master to get us de-cafe to warn us up. A person we didn’t know who had joined our party spoke up and asked the Master a question in the most innocent and humble way, “Yogi Ji, Why are we here?”
Now, this was the kind of elementary question the Master liked. It gave him the opportunity of possibly being understood more deeply. I could see a slight smile brush across the edge of his lips.
“Hum,” he said from his belly in his usual manner which displayed his delight at this kind of question, “You probably think I’m going to give you the kind of answer you can read about in all the great Teachings. Not at all. You are here because you’ve been blessed, that’s it. Most of you don’t know that you’ve been blessed, that’s the challenge of a blessing. Yes, blessings come with challenges. If you get a gift isn’t there a duty which comes with the gift? Don’t you have to properly thank the person who gave you the gift? Of course you do. Well, the duty which comes with a blessing is twofold. First, you have to be aware of the blessing or there will be no awareness that a thank you, gratitude, is required. And, second, a blessing requires gratitude.”
“I don’t understand,” the questioner responded. “Well, let’s see, the Master interjected. “If God blesses you with a Teacher who provokes you to give, to extend yourself more than normal, do you see the blessing or the pain it may cause? If I requested you to go to the counter and pay for all these drinks, would you see it as a blessing or a curse? The answer is it can be either, depending on your view point. And, if you take advantage of seeing something about yourself which you had never seen before and match up to the duty that comes with it, you’ve met half the challenge. And that’s good. When you also see it all as a blessing requiring gratitude to the Creator, then the challenge is complete and more blessings will come your way so long as you don’t judge when or how they come.”
Everyone who does Kundalini Yoga has been blessed. That doesn’t mean that everyone will be able to take advantage of it. As we’ve seen, many have fallen and that will continue. That’s their karma. We all have our own karma to overcome. My job as a Teacher is to provide the student with the awareness of the blessing and the tools to be grateful no matter what pain may be associated with it. This is a great secret in life. Gratitude is where more blessings lie. Eventually, your whole life becomes a blessing after blessing. This is called living in God’s grace. Whatever happens is seen as a blessing and that’s what it is.”
Hello, I thought to myself. Another day in my life with the Master filled with shortcuts to elevation and prosperity. Now, I understood why I should practice gratitude especially when I thought there was no reason for it. I had to practice defaulting to gratitude, surrender, love, no matter what the circumstance. What I think should no longer matter, just practice being grateful for everything.
We all have been blessed to be in the position to understand that we have a chance to lead a fearless life, one filled with fun and joy. The Master now acts as a true teacher in helping us through our ignorance. He continued, “If you don’t know you’re in the right place to receive the blessing of living this lifestyle, you may make the foolish mistake of looking elsewhere. It happens all the time. It’s part of the process. Nevertheless, you don’t want to be a statistic and become one of those who make this mistake. You are here to live this truth.” The person who asked the question nodded. To me, his acknowledgement seemed mostly out of respectful than of deep understanding. His facial expression told the story. He didn’t get up to pay the bill. But, I got it. I’m very grateful to this person who I didn’t know. I learned a great lesson: gratitude is the shortcut to more blessings.
Because of this innocent question from someone I’ve never seen again, my whole life has changed. The Master answered from his experience and, like all of his Teachings, it not only rung true, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I needed to practice being more grateful, more understanding and more compassionate. I needed to surrender my ignorance of not understanding to just being grateful for everything in my life. It was no longer a matter of what I wanted or what I liked. I now “know the way to San Jose,” The road leads through gratitude. This road leads to more blessings after more blessings. And, here’s the best part, we have a Teacher ready, willing, and able to help us be grateful when we don’t even know what to be grateful for. It’s like having the winning player on your side. The trick is for you to not believe that you’re the winning player; it’s good enough to just have the winning player on your team. We have such a Teacher. Don’t let it go to waste. No matter where you’re at, keep up practicing becoming more grateful, period.
Reprinted with permission from the author.