One day Mulla Nasiruddin discovered that his donkey-his helper, companion and source of livelihood-had disappeared. The entire village searched far and wide, but to no avail. The donkey has simply gone. In the evening, the villagers found the Mulla on his knees in the down square, raising his hands towards Heaven and exclaiming, “Thank you, Allah! Thank you, Allah!!” “Mulla”, they asked, “don't you realize that your donkey is lost forever?” “I know, I know,” replied the Mulla. “But I have so much to be grateful for. Imagine what could have happened to me if I had been on the donkey!”
Despite our attempts to live as consciously as possible, we take countless things for granted and don't even think to be grateful for them. 'Which of your Lord's blessings will you deny' (Fabe-ayya'laan-e-Rabbe-Quma tu kazzebaan) asks the Qur'an repeatedly in chapter fifty-five (Sura-e-Rahman). We don't really deny the blessings; we just don't notice them until something makes us aware. We don't realize that life is full of non-toothache moments or non-mosquito-bite moments until we break a tooth or experience itching that keeps us awake at night.
The ninth-century Sufi sage Rabia once met a young man who was walking around with his head bound in a towel and bemoaning his terrible headache to anyone who would listen. After expressing appropriate concern, she asked if he had ever experienced moments of good health.”Oh yes, for most of my life,” replied the man. “And in those moments, “Rabia asked pointedly, “did you ever wear a coloured turban and jump up and down in celebration?”
When we practise gratitude in happy times, we create a sacred vibration that can sustain in difficult moments. If we are truly resilient, we may even find blessings embedded in our misfortunes because nothing in life happens without a reason. Great British mathematician and Ramanujan's mentor at Cambridge, Professor Hardy, put it succinctly, 'Cosmos is meticulously reasonable.' The Sufis have a saying, 'Beneath every ruin there is a treasure.' Every event-good or bad-is part of a larger story and plays a part in making us who we are. It's critical to remember, however, that hidden pearls become real only when they emerge from our personal experience and realization. It would be a serious injustice and disservice to tell others to find hidden blessings in the midst of their sufferings. That will be sadistic on our part.
Thankfulness to life's all kinds of circumstances, good or bad, hones our purusharth and gives us a sense of blissful contentment, which's the key to a beauteous existence. The cliche that 'Duniya mein kitna gham hai/Mera gham kitna kam hai' (There's excessive sorrow in the world, mine is too little in comparison) widens our horizons and makes us accept the bricks and bouquets with equanimity. We realise that we are comfortably placed and not much misfortune has befallen us. This very satisfaction sans gloating over others' misfortunes makes us human beings.
'Har haal mein ada kar shukra Khuda ka/Tu apni nematon ko gin, naakamiyon ko bhool ja' (Be thankful to the Cosmos in all situations/Count your blessings and discount your losses). Gratitude is life's mantra to forge ahead with no grievances. Nurture it for a fulfilling future and a happy present. Paradise will descend on earth and seep into your whole entity.