A Guide To Buddhist Gratitude
Recently I was reading through some of my Buddhist books when I came across the word Kansha, meaning “appreciation and gratitude for the complete human experience”.
It’s a wonderful philosophy. So let me share everything you need to kmow.
What Is Kansha (Buddhist Gratitude)?
Kansha is a Japanese word and a very important part of Buddhist philosophy. It is all about appreciating both the good and the bad of our experience. And I really appreciate the idea of being grateful for what we normally consider bad experiences, because in reality, all experiences, whether they be good or bad, are a part of our existence and make us who we are.
Traditionally, people would offer “kansha” to Buddha or to gods when they sipped their tea or ate their sweets after dinner.
To accomplish true kansha we have to change our perspective on things. We have to overcome the idea of good and bad and move past our ego in order to experience the fullness of life.
What we want is to recognise, and appreciate, the miracle that is the present moment. As I sit here, comfortable in my lounge, watching snow falling from the heavens, and trees and flowers growing in the garden, I am aware of how magical this moment is, and how grateful I am to be a part of it. And that is kansha, that is sublime gratitude. And we feel that gratitude as a sensation inside of us. Indeed, the word itself has two parts which mean “Sensation” and “Appreciation”. So it is about having that appreciation and feeling it as a sensation in the present moment.
And indeed we should be grateful, for as Buddha taught in The Blind Sea Turtle Story (in the Dhammapadda) the odds on us even having a human birth are infinitesimally small. And so, how fortunate we are.
Benefits of Kansha
Because there is no research on Kansha exactly, we instead have to look at the research on gratitude in general. And thankfully, there is a lot of that.
Indeed, gratitude is one of the 24 “character strengths” of positive psychology, which states that we need gratitude in order to live a healthy, happy life.
Beyond this, research shows that there are many health benefits of gratitude. Not only does it help with mental health according to Harvard, which you would expect, but it also helps with physical health, such as by reducing cortisol, and even increases longevity.
How To Develop Kansha (Gratitude) With Meditation
There are many ways of generating Kansha. For instance, keeping a gratitude journal and practicing mindful moments of gratitude. I also highly recommend Tonglen meditation and this gratitude meditation script.
But for me, the following is the best meditation for Kansha.
- Sit with good posture. Place your hands in Anjali mudra (prayer hands).
- Tell yourself that you are going to spend ten minutes observing and investigating the miracle of this moment.
- Close your eyes. Take ten mindful breaths to relax. Then open your eyes again.
- Now begin to recite the mantra, “This moment is a miracle”. And as you recite this mantra, truly aim to observe the miracle of this moment. For instance, consider the trillions of cells that must form together to create your body. Consider nature and the magic of creation. Consider the cosmos. Realise that this moment truly is a miracle, and aim to see that miracle in its entirety.
- Finish bu bowing and saying, “Thank you for this moment”.
The more we recognise the brilliance of the present moment, the more grateful we will be to be alive. With Kansha, or gratitude, we come to appreciate our existence on a deeper level, and that can only lead to a richer, more fulfilling life.
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison