I’ve been asked to write about gratitude and giving.
Sometimes we can be confused about the difference between receiving a “reward” and receiving a “gift”. A “reward” is usually something you get as payment for something you have done, whether it was work, action, self-development, or change, and the reward is therefore a consequence of something. Let us consider the social conditioning of giving gifts at Christmas time as an example. Even though we think of giving a gift, often people tell their children “Santa will reward you if you’ve been a good child” which reinforces the idea that the gift is actually a reward. So it is easy to see how the meaning of “gift” and “reward” can get confused. People say gift, to mean reward.
To further blur the distinction, gifts are often given because it is expected of the giver, who may have an obligation. An example of this would be when, on your birthday, someone gives you a birthday gift. They may well have genuinely given the present from their heart, however the timing of their gift giving was in response to or acknowledgement of an event connected with you, in this case, your birthday.
Of course it is nice to give and it is nice to receive, there is nothing wrong in rewarding people, but in reality, and at a very human level it is very rare that we actually “give”. Similarly it is also rare that we actually truly “receive” a gift.
The true meaning “giving”, when we really give from our heart, is to give without needing anything back. When we truly give then we do not even need recognition. It is only truly giving when there is no personal agenda. The purest expression of giving is when the giver does so simply to help the person to whom they are giving.
Obviously what is given can vary, and giving an object of value or giving your valuable time are of similar value. The ultimate gift any one of us can give someone else is our total attention. If we really give our attention to someone or something, then we are giving everything. We are giving our life in that moment. Because when we give our attention completely, we, as in our identity, ceases to exist in that moment.
When we step outside of our thoughts, outside of our feelings, outside of our awareness of ourself and give it to something else, then our ego and personality are no longer there, we are truly “selfless” in that moment.
But most of the time giving is partly a “selfish” action. We give to feel good, or we give to reward someone, or we give to appease our guilt.
In meditation we can practice and experience selfless giving of our attention to our inner world, beyond our thoughts. Becoming aware of the space between and around each thought, transcending our emotions, letting go of our body. In doing so we get closer to Love, which really is selfless awareness. And in a similar way once you have access to Light and Sound energy then you can give it your attention in meditation too. But how much do we approach meditation with a purely giving attitude? If we are looking to get something from the meditation, if we have expectations or needs then are we really giving 100% of ourselves?
And what of “receiving”? If someone else or something else is selflessly giving its attention to us, then we are receiving that attention. We can receive and yet not be aware, for example when a young baby receives the support, kindness, and attention that is given by the parent. They baby is not consciously aware of receiving, it just does. It is not the baby’s fault it is unaware, and it is not a criticism either. It is simply the nature of being a baby, to not be aware of what is being received. So being unaware means that the baby cannot show gratitude. But the parent continues to give out of Love.
To be “grateful” requires conscious awareness that a gift has been received. Gratitude means that we are conscious receivers of a gift. As we learn to give our attention, for example in meditation, then it brings us closer to Love, closer to neutrality, and closer to acceptance. The highest level of giving is the revelation of Love, when we are given spiritual initiation. Initiation really is a true gift because we do not earn it and it is not a reward. Initiation is the spiritual beings on higher dimensions giving us the opportunity to escape from our limited awareness of our lower vehicles. To escape into the spiritual dimensions, is the greatest gift because it is not just the gift of life, it is the gift beyond life! Lives come and lives go. Our soul returns to the soul essence and then incarnates again to have another life. Each life is but a breath of the soul coming in and letting go, being born and dying. Yet this gift of initiation, gives a person that is not perfect, that is flawed, the opportunity to discover that they are more and to ultimately discover that they are Love, which is perfect, which is flawless.
So the greatest gift is the gift of initiation, because without it there is no start to a spiritual journey. The journey to discover that you are that which has never been born and can never die. To discover that you are the cause of everything, and are beyond all things. To discover that you are Love, and are beyond belief, beyond idea, beyond comparison. This is real.
The Spiritual Hierarchy, the Lords of Light working with the Ascended Masters, make it possible for you to receive the gift of initiation, connecting you to spiritual Light and Sound which leads eventually to Enlightenment. We for our part must learn to give our attention back to the Light and Sound. What we have received is Grace, because we didn’t earn it and yet it is the ultimate gift of Love, beyond life. The person that has been initiated is conscious of the process, is consciously receiving the initiation, and in that awareness there is the opportunity for gratitude, for the person to be grateful.
But we each have an ego and the ego always wants to turn to look down, through the layers of the lower vehicles, through the mind, through the emotions and onto the body. Whatever is received the ego will turn and direct its attention inwards. But rather than inwards into an expansion, the ego turns its attention inwards into a contraction. In doing so the ego seeks to adorn the small with the great. To take the vast spiritual states of awareness revealed on first initiation, second initiation, and Enlightenment, and to try and use them to decorate the personality. As if to say “this personality is great” because it has access to these great states. That’s what the ego does. It is its nature. The ego keeps you small by turning your back on the truth. Instead of you being aware of the light that shines from absolute Love, your ego turns you around to notice the shadow that you cast in this light. Because in ego you don’t face towards the light, you only see the shadow of your ego. The edges of your shadow define you.
A grateful person, the person that is full of gratitude, full of grace, keeps their attention turned towards Love, the source of the light. Though their ego still casts a shadow, they are facing into the light and so they see less of their ego and more of their truth. Being grateful means that you do not take for granted what you have been given, but rather you remain in awe of the gift. Being grateful means that your heart stays open, because the ego is smaller.
Whatever you give your attention to you get more of and you nurture. So if you look at the shadow that your ego casts then you get more darkness and you get harder edges, as you notice the contrast between the edge of your shadow and the light around it. But if you turn and face the light, if you use being grateful to remain full of grace then you get more Love and the heart opens even more. Gratitude, gratefulness, these are just words, but what these words describe are an orientation of intent to stay focused on Love.
The grateful person doesn’t reject a gift they are given. They remain open to it. You cannot be initiated or Enlightened because you think you are ready or you think you are worthy. Spirituality is never earned, it remains always a gift. The Spiritual Hierarchy who give this gift, want you to receive it and to realise that you are the source of Love. It is the humble person who is grateful who is most ready. Similarly your teacher who is going to initiate you will also want you to be initiated, and if they are waiting then they are waiting for a reason. Sometimes it is practical considerations, and sometimes they are just giving you time to soften, to let go of expectations, to become more humble.
The person that demands initiation has not really tuned in to their own humility and it is their ego demanding and saying “I am special, therefore I am ready”. They have yet to understand that spirituality is not a reward but a gift.
The person that does not embrace the gift when offered saying “they are not ready” has equally not understood that spirituality is a gift. To reject the opportunity is to turn away the gift. So if your teacher wants to initiate you then trust you are ready and be grateful when the opportunity arrises. If you feel you are waiting then trust that your teacher does want you to progress. If you are not progressing then it is either that you are not practically ready in which case your teacher can give you advice and guidance towards getting you ready for initiation. Or it is because your teacher is waiting for you to be in the right place in terms of humility, kindness, and those love oriented qualities which are not found in the shadow that the ego casts.
Humility, kindness and an open heart are are nurtured in the person who is aligned with light and Love. So try not to judge yourself, because to judge yourself is not demonstrating unconditional Love. To say “I am not worthy” is to question the divine, so if you are or have received initiation then it is because they believed you were ready. Be grateful. If you have been Enlightened it is because you were given the opportunity and you gave your attention. Be grateful. In being grateful and showing gratitude you keep yourself aligned with Love. The “yourself” I speak of is not that which is Enlightened, and it is not that which recognises itself in the stillness. It is your personality, those lower vehicles that were there before you took the first steps on your spiritual journey towards Enlightenment. The part that shows gratitude is that part of you which is host to your ego, which is not Enlightened, that is able to remain in duality. Gratitude is what orientates that self, your lower self towards Love, towards unity. Gratitude is a way of being, it is a choice, and it keeps your heart open, it keeps you present, helping you stay out of your ego by remembering that you were given a gift, that you were never ready for, but it was given anyway.
We are all the same. Everyone that walks this planet has a personality and an ego. The ego is not an evil thing, there to be punished or to be ashamed of. It is just the shadow that is cast when you look through your lower vehicles and identify with them. On a spiritual journey you are lucky since you have the opportunity to know that there is so much more, but the opportunity does not guarantee that you turn your attention towards Love, it just creates the potential.
To stay attuned with Love, practice being grateful towards the Spiritual Hierarchy who gave this gift. Remember that even after Enlightenment it is Divine Intelligence which guides you. It is your guide which continues to provide you with opportunities to continue your soul journey, to give that part of you that remains in duality, but on the higher spiritual dimensions, the chance to evolve. Remember what you are, remember where you have come from, and remain grateful. Being grateful makes you both a channel for and a witness to Love. It makes you present in the moment and softens the ego.
It is ego which spoils the journey, which judges and has expectations, which demands and refuses.
It is the ego which blinds a person to the miracle that is in front of them.
Gratitude is how you can free yourself from your ego.
Gratitude is a shift in orientation, a change in attitude which when fostered will help you reconnect with your heart and allow you to witness and channel Love.MARK ZARETTI
You have a choice, you always have a choice, and when you are awake you can change. You are love, you are loved, you can Love. Start with yourself and change the world.