“Gratitude is a lesson hard to learn for those who look upon the world amiss...” ACIM, Workbook page 372, Lesson 195.
We have so much to be grateful for and so much to thank God for. Gratitude comes naturally to those who are on their way back Home. A Course in Miracles equates gratitude with love, as we can see from Lesson 195. Yet, Jesus points out that the ego feels grateful when it thinks it is better off than someone else, which he describes as pitiful. “How pitiful and deprecating are such thoughts! For who has cause for thanks while others have less cause? And who could suffer less because he sees another suffer more?”
The problem stems from the ego’s sense of lack—a basic ego characteristic. This results in others being considered to be our rivals instead of our brothers; we feel glad and grateful because we have more than they have because we don’t believe we are living in a world of abundance, where there is enough of everything for everyone. But when we walk the path of love and forgiveness we will learn that, “love makes no comparisons.”
Gratitude is due to God for having created us as His Son and endowing us with His power. We also owe Him gratitude for the fact that we are at Home with Him, even though this is not apparent to us. In Chapter 6 of the Text, page 95, Jesus tells us: “I do not need gratitude, but you need to develop your weakened ability to be grateful, or you cannot appreciate God. He does not need your appreciation, but you do. You cannot love what you do not appreciate, for fear makes appreciation impossible.” Remember that the ego lives in fear of the wrath of God and that is why, if we listen to the ego, we will not be grateful to God or to Jesus.
Lesson 195 states that the reason that we should be grateful to God is that we are one with Him. “We thank our Father for one thing alone; that we are separate from no living thing, and therefore one with Him...We give thanks for every living thing, for otherwise we offer thanks for nothing, and we fail to recognize the gifts of God to us.” Not only do we need to be grateful because of our oneness with God but we also need to be grateful for the fact that we are one with the rest of humanity, and in helping others to awaken to the truth we are, in fact, helping ourselves too: “Then let our brothers lean their tired heads against our shoulders as they rest a while. We offer thanks for them. For if we can direct them to the peace that we would find, the way is opening at last to us.” We can see from the last sentence that our freedom is directly linked to the freedom of others.
Students of A Course in Miracles are also very grateful to Jesus for having sent us this relatively new spiritual teaching which, if we are good students, can save us thousands of years of searching and study. We read in the Manual, “Jesus has led the way. Why would you not be grateful for him? He has asked for love, but only that he might give it to you...In his eyes Christ’s vision shines in perfect constancy. He has remained with you. Would you not learn the lesson of salvation through his learning?”
We should be grateful to Jesus for being such a steadfast teacher. It is because of his dedication to our awakening that he sent us A Course in Miracles—a direct path back Home, provided we can learn the lessons and practise forgiveness. So, the Course is yet another reason to be thankful for.
Thanks are also due to the Holy Spirit Who has remained in our right minds ever since the mind split in two, and Who is there to guide us when we call upon Him. Each time we listen to His guidance and each time we experience a Holy Instant we should feel grateful to Him. By following the guidance of the Holy Spirit (our Higher Self) we will, eventually, overcome the ego. That is definitely something to be thankful for.
We also owe thanks to all the people who irritate us, make us angry or otherwise upset us in some way, because they are our teachers. They are simply reflecting back to us the contents of our minds and, in doing so, they are showing us that we are still in need of healing. If someone makes me angry it means there is still anger in my mind. If someone acts selfishly towards me, then I still have selfish tendencies. Such people are also giving us the opportunity to practise forgiveness. It is, therefore, important to remember that these people are our teachers, and for that we owe them gratitude (even though this is not the way we would normally react to those who push our buttons.)
In Lesson 195 gratitude is referred to as, “the way of love,” and Jesus tells us that it speeds up our learning. “Our gratitude will pave the way to Him, and shorten our learning time by more than you could ever dream of. Gratitude goes hand in hand with love, and where one is the other must be found. For gratitude is but an aspect of the Love which is the Source of all creation...” For those who have been on spiritual paths for many years and possibly for many lifetimes, it is heartening to learn that gratitude will, “shorten our learning time.” If we remember that our goal is God, then anything that hastens us on our journey is, indeed, most welcome. We can smile and say, “I thank my Father for His gifts to me,” Lesson 123.
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