[Buddha-l] the 4 ages: age of alone

JKirkpatrick jkirk at spro.net
Mon Jun 21 17:17:38 MDT 2010

Stan--truth is, I need to cultivate more gratitude---these days I
find myself frowning most of the time. Maybe the gratitude
attitude might be analogous to the mudita brahma vihara?  The
idea being, in my example, that one can assume that beautiful
landscapes of nature arouse peaceful joy in other people as well
as in oneself......so enjoy their (putative) joy as well as one's

Thankfulness didn't used to be found in the everyday culture of
S. Asia. (I wonder if it exists in the Pali texts. Is there a
term for thanks? Looking in the Pali dictionary, I got no hits
for gratitude or for thankfulness. For 'thanks', one finds a few
usages that reflect satisfaction, or some kind of reciprocity
rather than gratitude in the abstract sense:

The idea was, as many Indians and Pakistanis told me, that if you
were acting ethically, you were doing your duty, a normal
expectation of your rank and resources. If a patron, or pandit,
you expected deference and often payment (usually in kind, or by
performing labor for the teacher). This reciprocity hewed to the
hierarchy of social strata, so the higher the patron, jajman, or
teacher, the greater the return dana of some kind.  Back in the
day, some traveled south Asians used to take one to task for
uttering English "thank you," although they no doubt stopped
doing that as more people learned English and became somewhat
bi-cultural. Eventually one could learn the Urdu, Hindi or
Bengali terms (and I guess the other south Asian languages) for
"thanks"-- In Hindi dhannyabaad, Bengali dhonnobaad, Urdu
shukria, maybe qualifying it by a term meaning many or much, as
in Urdu 'bahut shukria, sahab', or Bengali 'onek dhonnobaad, ji'.
They coined certain word usages under the pressure of the English
idiom of thanking and saying please. I suspect that these terms
are mainly used by expats, not native speakers.

Did the Buddha ever teach about gratitude for intangibles, like
beauty? (As we already discussed some time ago, the beauty of
nature is rarely noticed in the Pali texts but it does appear in
certain avadaanas and a few of the theragathas.)
Appreciating and feeling gratitude for beautiful natural
scenes--landscapes--perhaps didn't really appear among our
ancestors until the Renaissance (where these are found as
backgrounds), and perhaps not until the Romantic period when
landscape per se became an object for cultured enjoyment, and was
even assigned redemptive or other moral qualities.


This is interesting, Joanna.  Thank you for the further
clarification.  Perhaps it is just an idiosyncracy on my part,
but such ruminations leave me with a sense of gratitude, and I
simply suppose this is the case for others.


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