HEAVEN IS A GRATEFUL MIND
“One person told me—and I will never forget this—that heaven is a grateful mind. I was diagnosed in 1995 with hepatitis C. When the question was asked, ‘How long do I have to live?’ the answer was six months to 30 years. I thought it was a stamp on my forehead—I am a mortal and everything I had done to that point was basically in preparation for the graphic reality of me leaving this body. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have associated with Srila Prabhupada, to see his life, and to be there at his passing. I saw how a person can live a life, a satisfying life, without any real material amenities. I also saw how he left, how he died… and in the same mood. So I’m grateful for that.”
I once had a psychiatrist describe me as “a young man who wasn’t happy about much.” Being ungrateful was a horrible way to live, yet I lived that life for many years. Little did I know that I was suffering from a disease of the mind that kept me locked into a negative life. Little did I know that most of my problems were of my own making. At age 36, I started hanging around a group of friends who loved me unconditionally and who saw the very best parts of me. I, in turn, became more loving and grateful. Over time, I realized I was indeed loveable and imperfectly perfect.
This is what Laksmi’s portrait and story remind me of today—that “heaven is a grateful mind.” We all experience difficulty and hardship. We all experience joy. But if I limit my gratitude to times of joy, it will be a very tenuous life. Certainly a very fragile one. Laksmi’s experience of being diagnosed with hepatitis C reminds me that gratitude is really all that is ever in my control. Every other kind of control is a fantasy. Thank you, Larry Pugliese, for sharing this blessing with me.