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Arkady Grudzinsky

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Should we feel gratitude for our life? To whom?

Gratitude is important feeling in interpersonal relationships. Gratitude encourages giving and giving encourages more gratitude, etc. On the other side, lack of gratitude comes with a sense of "entitlement" - they mutually create each other as well. Lack of gratitude discourages giving and creates a sense that the world "owes us" a living. "We are programmed to receive." Gratitude, in my opinion, offers an exit from that proverbial Hotel California and "programs us to give".

How about our life and other things shown in this video? Religious people usually thank God for these things. The camera shows a standing round of applause at the end of the video. I very much doubt that most people attending TED talks are religious, so the video must have stirred some emotion in believers and non-believers alike.

Do non-believers feel gratitude for these things? If yes, to whom?

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  • Dec 3 2012: Well, it seems we are actually in full agreement on most points. I might just not be
    communicating that very well.

    I do believe that we are 'selfish', but I don't think that is bad in any way, especially if we
    consider ourselves part of a whole. Think of why we are here: nature/God has given
    us the sun which gives us energy which is how we are here existing today. So what
    is 'ours' to give in the first place when we have been given everything?

    *I'm not judging anyone, i don't believe in that. I'm judging actions that people commit, which
    I do believe in.
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      Dec 6 2012: I read all of your comments in this debate and I agree with most of what you say. You mention selfishness and it’s difficult for people to accept that there’s selfishness also in good deeds. Selfishness is an inherent part of the ego. If someone says he can act even for a moment, without being selfish, it means that for that specific moment he was absolutely without any ego and for me it’s very hard to accept as a true thing. Ego can be strong or weak, depending on the person or the situation, but it is always there, except maybe very, very rare people whom we call True Saints. But the Saints, if they are truly egoless, have no need to discuss their good deeds or their feeling of gratitude, to explain their deeds or feelings, to justify them, to theorize about them, or whatever, in contrast to what we are doing in this forum

      To make it easier to accept our selfishness (which occasionally makes us also to do good deeds) I suggest to replace it with the term “Ego’s NEED”. So it will like saying, we do even the good things as a result of our ego’s need. Need of what ?? A need to feel good that we helped somebody. A need to feel that we are not less good than others who make good things. Sometimes a need to relax our aching conscience. Sometimes a need to be appreciated for our good deeds. Sometimes with the believers in god, a need to obey god’s commands, or a fear of god’s punishment if they do not make good deeds.... and so on.

      I slightly disagree with you that ego is (only) the root of evil. True, ego is indeed the root of evil, but it’s only half picture. Because I think ego is also the root for feeling of gratitude and good deeds. As I wrote in my first comment hereby few days ago: It depends which outlook our consciousness (ego) develops. If our outlook is positive – inwardly & outwardly – the feeling of gratitude starts building inside us. The trick is not to avoid the ego, but to become aware of its nature, functioning and influence.
      • Dec 7 2012: Yea, I agree. Theoretically, the ego (the self-importance version, not the conscious/subconscious mediator) can and should be eliminated, but realistically that is not likely to happen...hence the reason gratitude is necessary.
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        Dec 7 2012: Re: " But the Saints, if they are truly egoless, have no need to discuss their good deeds or their feeling of gratitude, to explain their deeds or feelings, to justify them, to theorize about them, or whatever, in contrast to what we are doing in this forum."

        You just explained how I understand the Zen proverb "Those who tell don't know, and those who know don't tell." It is unfortunate, but the truly wise do not have the urge to show their wisdom. "A prudent man conceals knowledge." -- Proverbs.

        It seems to me that what people refer to by "pleasing ego", "pleasing consciousness", "pleasing self" (where "self" means something other than the physical body), and "pleasing god" are exactly the same things.

        Re: "True, ego is indeed the root of evil, but it’s only half picture. Because I think ego is also the root for feeling of gratitude and good deeds." -- Exactly. This is why the Bible is full of atrocities as well as most inspiring things.

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