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A long time ago, it was taught in Japan that a person´s value shall not be defined by what he/she wears or says. Neither by the money and assets he/she has, nor by the knowledge he/she acquired so far.  

A human being actual value shall be defined by the gratitude he/she feels and endeavours to repay. However, to feel and repay gratitude, it is required, beforehand, to know (or acknowledge) that we have been helped and assisted by various people that are close to us. 

Professor Kentetsu Takamori, author of the book ‘Why do we live?’, wrote in one of his books: 

‘Everyone considers him/herself as the most diligent person. Whoever thinks like that becomes furious, as he/she is incapable of seeing reality and reflecting. << I am the laziest of them all. The others are the most diligent ones.>> If one is capable of thinking like that, he/she would feel grateful and would say honestly: <<THANK YOU.>>’ 

Thus, the world´s unhappiest person is the one that is not grateful. But is that actually true? Let us reflect based on the Japanese ideogram that means gratitude. 

恩 (ON) = gratitude

In Japanese language, the word gratitude is written with a single character, which is read as ‘ON’. This ideogram is formed by two parts: the upper one, which means ‘cause’, and the lower one, which refers, in this case, to ‘mind’ or ‘conscience’. 


恩 (ON, gratitude) = 因 (IN, cause) + 心 (KOKORO, mind or conscience)

There is a cause for everything in life, with no exceptions. If we were born on day and we are alive today, that surely is not by chance, and several factors enabled that to be possible. That is, there was a cause.

Such factors can be people or even nature itself. To start with, without air, we would not be able to live. What is more, the lack of sun, water, earth, plants and vegetables would prevent our growth and survival. The Buddhist philosophy teaches us that we shall be grateful for everything. 

We tend to think we grow, develop and that our achievements are due only to our own merits, however, as we open our horizon a little further and look around, we shall realize that is not really like that. Many people have enabled and enable us to become what we are today. 

Gratitude can be performed daily in three was, in the following sequence:

(1)       Knowing (acknowledging) gratitude

(2)       Feeling gratitude

(3)       Repaying gratitude

Without acknowledgment, one shall not feel gratitude. Without feeling gratitude, there shall never be any effort or action to repay. Without repaying gratitude, there shall not arise within us the honest feeling, which is the base for a full and actual happiness. 

Let us practice gratitude every day!

Learn more about Buddhist philosophy on book Why do we live?

Buddhist philosophy professor, author, content editor and president of ITIMAN. International director of Ichimannendo Publishing Co. Ltd. - Tokyo, Japan.

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