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Gratitude (kataññu) in the EBTs


#1

Does ‘gratitude’ play a part in the Dhamma of the EBT’s?

I personally think of gratitude as the other side of generosity. Generosity as a practice of selflessness in giving; gratitude as a practice of selflessness in receiving.

I think there’s something in the Vinaya about how mendicants should receive offerings with a heart/mind filled with and projecting metta. If so, is this gratitude? Kind of?

There’s been a lot of scientific studies showing that practicing gratitude in “everyday life” leads to an increase in wellbeing.

So the question is: are there any suttas describing gratitude practices?


#2

The Kataññu Suttas: Gratitude presents gratitude as a mark of the simple integrity due one another as human beings. I.e., it’s in the Dhamma, but as something for ALL people to articulate regardless of faith or non-faith.

A person of integrity is grateful & thankful. This gratitude, this thankfulness, is advocated by civil people. It is entirely on the level of people of integrity.


#3

The key word is kataññu

As per AN5.264 it is one of the qualities required for first jhana to take place :

"After giving up these five qualities you can enter and remain in the first absorption.
What five?
Stinginess with dwellings, families, material possessions, praise, and lack of gratitude and thankfulness.
After giving up these five qualities you can enter and remain in the first absorption.”

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#4

Great sutta gnlaera! I guess then you can infer anyone who exhibits the quality of ingratitude is far from any samādhi much less jhāna!


#5

“Monks, these two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful for a kindness done and feels obligated to repay it. These two people are hard to find in the world.” AN2.119


#6

Thanks, Mat. @Aminah, I’ve changed “hard to find joy” in SCV examples to “hard to find” so that Mat’s posted sutta will show up as well in the 21 results.


#7

In MN117, there is the description of mundane right view…
"There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed; there is fruit and result of good and bad actions; there is this world and the other world; there are mother and father; there are beings who are reborn spontaneously; there are in the world good and virtuous recluses and brahmins who have realised for themselves by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.’ "

A person who has this mundane right view can be said to be truly grateful. How so?
Gratitude is the taking up of the responsibility for what has been given.

An authentic responsible person who is given a gift recognises his duties in regards it/katannu. He uses the gift responsibly and carefully. This is how he honours the giver or gives thanks/katavedi.

Even though it may be quite rude, If a person does not say ‘thank you’ or show any sign of appreciation when receiving the gift, it is not wise to judge him too quickly, because it is by seeing how that person uses the gift which will reveal his gratitude or not.

When having been given a gift does one use it with care or does one disregard ones duties of having received it?

Does one recognise or disregard ones responsibility in the ability of intentionally acting or the ability to create wholesome and unwholesome consequences?

One has received the knowledge that there is ‘the possibility of rebirth’, what will you do with that knowledge? Can you appreciate the knowledge and act responsibly just in case there is rebirth?

Do you recognise your responsibility towards receiving life from your parents? How do you live your life?..heedfully?..responsibly? How do you use this opportunity?
And as the Buddha says 'that it is difficult to repay our parents and the only way is to…AN2.33
"you have done enough, more than enough, to repay them if you encourage, settle, and ground unfaithful parents in faith, unethical parents in ethical conduct, stingy parents in generosity, or ignorant parents in wisdom.”
…and how else can you do that other than by being accomplished in those things yourself.

One has also searched and received the knowledge that ‘there is freedom from suffering and a way to get there’…what will you do with that knowledge that there is a possibility of freedom from suffering?
You could choose to not really believe it, or deny it, but then whatever happens next will be your responsibility i.e you will be responsible for your not being free and your choosing to stay in samsara.
You could choose to have confidence in the Buddha’s teaching and completely give yourself to the practice or not?
The Buddha has given teachings which apparently lead to freedom, what will you do with those teachings? Will you be grateful and thankful towards the Buddha by doing what he says? Or will you just say ‘thank you’ Buddha, light some incense, bow down to the shrine and sing a song…and then go do the things which the Buddha said you shouldn’t do?

Is the expression of gratitude or being grateful in saying thank you? Or is it the acknowledgement and taking up of one’s duties and responsibilities in regards to what has been received i.e using all given opportunities and possibilities for developing wholesomeness and not doing anything unwholesome?

Gratitude, the acknowledgement of responsibilty, is the using Wisely what has been given.

If a person refuses to acknowledge one’s responsibilities, then that person will be one who goes about reckless, doing whatever they feel is right i.e whatever makes them happy or gives them pleasure, disregarding wise counsel in every corner. They will feel that they deserve everything and owe nothing in return.


#8

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: “Living with Brahma are those families where, in the home, mother & father are revered by the children. Living with the first devas are those families where, in the home, mother & father are revered by the children. Living with the first teachers are those families where, in the home, mother & father are revered by the children. Living with those worthy of gifts are those families where, in the home, mother & father are revered by the children. ‘Brahma’ is a designation for mother & father. ‘The first devas’ is a designation for mother & father. ‘The first teachers’ is a designation for mother & father. ‘Those worthy of gifts’ is a designation for mother & father. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, nourish them, introduce them to this world.” Itivuttaka: The Group of Fours

“Just now, Master Gotama, my four sons — at their wives instigation — threw me out of the house.”
"In that case, brahman, memorize these verses and then recite them when a large assembly of people have gathered in the town hall and your sons are sitting there, too.

“Those whose birth I delighted in — whose growth I desired — at their wives instigation have chased me away, as dogs would swine. Wicked & vile, though they call me ‘Dad’: demons in the disguise of sons who abandon me in old age. As an old horse of no more use is deprived of fodder, so the elderly father of those foolish boys begs at other people’s homes. My staff serves me better than those disobedient sons. It fends off ferocious bulls & ferocious curs. In the dark it goes before me; down steep slopes, it gives support. Through the power of my staff, when I stumble I still stand firm.”

Then the very rich brahman, having memorized these verses in the presence of the Blessed One, recited them when a large assembly of people had gathered in the town hall and his sons were sitting there… Maha-sala Sutta: Very Rich


#9

Thanks for digging up that connection between jhana and gratitude @gnlaera! It seems to explain “overcoming covetousness and grief about the world” (vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ) quite clearly. Do you see it as an exposition of this phrase (from the Satipaṭṭhānasutta)?


#10

Stinginess with dwellings, families, material possessions, praise, and lack of gratitude and thankfulness.

I’ve wondered if being able to accept a gift/help from another and not hoarding gifts just to oneself was an antidote for narcisstic and other overly conceited thoughts.


#11

How is ingratitude an obstacle for samadhi or jhana?


#12

By inference from AN4.223:

“When a foolish, incompetent bad person has four qualities they keep themselves broken and damaged. They deserve to be blamed and criticized by sensible people, and they make much bad karma. What four? Bad conduct by way of body, speech, and mind, and being ungrateful and thankless.

And SN53.1-12:

It’s when a mendicant, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected.

I suppose Wrong Immersion could be achieved by an ungrateful person, but that seems counter-productive and goes well beyond Wrong View.


#13

Yes,seclusion from the unwholesome is only an option when there is…

Ingratitude is an obstacle to samadhi because one refuses to acknowledge the results of good and bad actions/intentions and which means that one cannot even see ones own mind, and instead one is immersed in selfish immediate gratification of sense desires.

Absorption into the world of senses is for one who is irresponsible/ungrateful, they do not possess reflection so as to understand that there is actually results of good and bad actions, let alone the ability to step back from their senses. The grateful person has the reflective capability of knowing wholesome and unwholesome, the ability to step back away from his senses, so restraint and jhana is possible.

In general, even a dog, who is immersed into the senses, recognises who he gets his food from, and does not bite his provider and even in return becomes loyal and friendly.
I witness it every day, that after I feed my dog, after eating he approaches me in such a way that very much resembles a ‘thank you’. He is more in the direction of jhana than even an ungrateful person.

Ungrateful attitude is a non-reflective attitude, and that’s why it’s an obstacle.


#14

How is ingratitude an obstacle for samadhi or jhana?

Monks, there are these seven treasures. Which seven? The treasure of conviction, the treasure of virtue, the treasure of conscience, the treasure of concern, the treasure of listening, the treasure of generosity, the treasure of discernment…

And what is the treasure of generosity? There is the case of a disciple of the noble ones, his awareness cleansed of the stain of stinginess, living at home, freely generous, openhanded, delighting in being magnanimous, responsive to requests, delighting in the distribution of alms. This is called the treasure of generosity.
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I think generosity, virtue and thankfulness all fall under the practice of virtue. Virtue leads to samadhi. The development of samadhi leads to jhana.

Anathapindika was had perfect virtue as a streamentrant.

Then Anathapindika the householder, surrounded by about …lay followers, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. So the Blessed One said to Ven. Sariputta: "Sariputta, when you know of a householder clothed in white, that he is restrained in terms of the five training rules and that he obtains at will, without difficulty, without hardship, four pleasant mental abidings in the here & now, then if he wants he may state about himself: ‘Hell is ended; animal wombs are ended; the state of the hungry shades is ended; states of deprivation, destitution, the bad bourns are ended! I am a stream-winner, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening!’

"Furthermore, he is endowed with virtues that are appealing to the noble ones: untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, leading to concentration. Gihi Sutta: The Householder


#15

It’s funny how D&D has mis-attributed Noahsark’s quote to me and now to you. :rofl:

I think Noahsark was just trying to point out that there is indeed something called Wrong Immersion and that we should not assume that all samadhi is Right Immersion. This is detailed in AN10.119.

‘Wrong immersion has a bad result in both this life and the next.’ Reflecting like this, they give up wrong immersion, they descend from wrong immersion.


#16

See here also:

The Blessed One, brahmin, did not praise every type of meditation, nor did he condemn every type of meditation. What kind of meditation did the Blessed One not praise? Here, brahmin, someone abides with his mind obsessed by sensual lust, a prey to sensual lust, and he does not understand as it actually is the escape from arisen sensual lust. While he harbours sensual lust within, he meditates, premeditates, out-meditates, and mismeditates. He abides with his mind obsessed by ill will, a prey to ill will…with his mind obsessed by sloth and torpor, a prey to sloth and torpor…with his mind obsessed by restlessness and remorse, a prey to restlessness and remorse…with his mind obsessed by doubt, a prey to doubt, and he does not understand as it actually is the escape from arisen doubt. While he harbours doubt within, he meditates, premeditates, out-meditates, and mismeditates. The Blessed One did not praise that kind of meditation.

“And what kind of meditation did the Blessed One praise? Here, brahmin, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna…With the stilling of applied and sustained thought, he enters upon and abides in the second jhāna…With the fading away as well of rapture…he enters upon and abides in the third jhāna…With the abandoning of pleasure and pain…he enters upon and abides in the fourth jhāna…The Blessed One praised that kind of meditation.”

“It seems, Master Ānanda, that Master Gotama censured that kind of meditation that should be censured and praised that kind of meditation that should be praised. And now, Master Ānanda, we depart. MN108


#17

Ah yes! That is a much better sutta for Wrong Immersion. I have added “meditation did he not praise” to the Voice examples.

Thank you. :pray: