Next week it’s Thanksgiving in the USA. The origins of this day and its historical context are not important for our purposes here. What’s important is that it’s a day focused on thankfulness.
Many people say, “I give thanks everyday.” Of course! Or when it’s Earth Day in April, they will say, “Everyday is Earth Day.” Well, yes!
Having a day to commemorate whatever it may be is important, it has meaning. Otherwise, why celebrate birthdays for instance? We already know that person has been born!
Which brings us to the idea of precepts as practice. Thankfulness as a precept that’s practiced everyday is to be encouraged and applauded. A precept having its own day has its own value too.
A precept is a guideline and principle. It helps guide one’s thoughts and behavior. Gratitude is a precept that’s built into the teachings and practice of Reiki.
Here’s how gratitude is keenly included in Reiki:
- Gassho : In Japanese this word simply means, “To place the two palms together.” It’s in fact a mudra (symbolic hand-gesture or position) with a lot of significance. Initially it represents a reverential state of mind, together with gratitude. It has further significance as a gesture of Oneness by uniting all polarities and allowing a consciousness of nonduality to emerge.
- All Reiki methods begin and end in Gassho. After sitting and settling in for one of the Reiki meditations, each specific Reiki meditation method begins with the palms together at the Heart, and ends in exactly the same way. Before giving Reiki to someone, Gassho is used to acknowledge oneness with the recipient and to honor them. At the end of the session, Gassho is used as a gesture of closure and to give thanks. These are just a few examples.
- Depending on the translation, gratitude is one of the 5 Reiki Precepts, or Gokai Sansho.
Gratitude is the optimal way to live to continuously attract good. On certain days it can be challenging to be grateful! That’s why it’s a practice and a precept.
Often practitioners fall into the trap that Reiki practice is only the time spent in Reiki meditation, or time spent with Reiki hands on oneself or another person, or the time spent with one of the many other Reiki methods. When that time is done, Reiki is done. It isn’t. It mustn’t be.
Guidelines are there to be informed by, to help transform our less desirable qualities. Precepts are to be lived. Practice methods make precepts attainable so we can be what the precepts instruct. Living precepts is in every moment.
The founder of Reiki, Mikao Usui (Usui Sensei—teacher), left behind these guidelines:
For today only:
Do not anger
Do not worry
Be honest in your work
Be compassionate to yourself and others
Where it says “Be humble,” Kansha shite in Japanese, is sometimes interpreted as “Be grateful.”
Humility and thankfulness are interchangeable; one implies the other. When we’re thankful, we’re also humble and vice versa. Both suggest acceptance of what is. Both are antidotes to ego. Ego says: Mine! Now! Give me! I don’t like this!
Thankfulness accepts humbly. It isn’t defeat, however! Humble gratitude is a way to surrender, to let go so there’s peace and in that letting go finding the spaciousness and creativity to improve the situation.
Oftentimes gratitude is a spontaneous outflow from the Heart. We don’t need to think or remember it. That’s the sweetest kind of giving thanks. It arises of its own. This can be our regular state if we cultivate grateful living.
When we Gassho in Reiki, the hands are at the Heart. When we say thanks at the end of a practice set, the hands are at the Heart in Gassho. When we recite Usui’s Reiki Precepts, the hands are in the same location in the same mudra.
As already mentioned, the Gassho mudra is a gesture of reverence and gratitude.
It’s also a gesture of humility and honor. There’s sometimes a graceful bow that goes along with it. The bow is used when greeting another person or teacher, or can be used when ending a practice set and one is facing an altar or some iconography one wants to acknowledge.
Finally, nothing inspires more thanks giving than experiencing our essential unity with life and the cosmos.
Oneness is the truth underlying all phenomena. All of Reiki is designed to reveal this truth in an accessible way, so the practitioner can realize and embody it. Oneness is a truth that highlights the original nature of all the elements of life and our own human beingness. In a unity state we cause no harm and are not harmed.
Gratitude in the Heart is an expression of our true or original nature or self.
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