Gratitude is one of the most important attributes of an opening our heart, but not always easy to sustain as it can only come out of unconditional love and compassion. We are so often grateful and thankful when we are happy and our life seems to be in ‘good terms’ as we have expected or perceived conditionally; but it is very hard to be grateful and thankful when we are struggling with hardships, difficulties and obstacles in our life. The tests and trials, especially the long-standing ones can often make us feel doomed, and cause us to suffer with bitterness, depression, anger, doubts and all sorts of ‘negative’ emotional reactions. Our fear and insecurities, which are deeply rooted in our animal survival instincts, kick in and start to control and dictate our mind and our emotional state of being. We often then fall into the trap of victimhood. The question of ‘why me? Poor me? Why am I being punished? We are so intensively charged with emotions that it clouds our mind and blinds our eyes so that we cannot think straight. In this state we cannot see clearly, and we are struggling with how to survive this situation as we are gripped in terror and abject fear. As a result, we are not feeling appreciation and gratitude as we are struggling with our existence and wandering through life with no meaning and purpose.

However, our human life on the Earth Plane is not meant to be a time of suffering for survival; this is not the purpose for each of us to be here. We are the students of life and we are here to attend the school of life for soul evolution. Everything we have experienced and are experiencing is all that we have chosen to go through for our own learning to assist us to attain soul growth. There is always a reason or a bigger picture behind every person whom we encounter or are involved with, every incident that we experience, and every situation that we are in. Our parents, siblings, family members, friends, classmates, colleagues, co-workers, bosses as well as our rivals, competitors, enemies, etc. are all the souls who have agreed to interact with us in our earthly life as a part of our life plan to assist us to work out our karma, past life issues and release past life energy, and learn our chosen life lessons. They are the teachers and mirrors for us regardless whether we consider them as dear ones, friends or enemies. Vice versa, we are also playing certain roles in their lives to assist their soul evolution also. Especially those who we hate or consider as our enemies, they are the ones who have chosen to play such difficult and hard roles in our life, because they love us so deeply, dearly and selflessly. Thus, only when we learn to detach from human emotions, can we start to see the purpose and reason behind every single experience. Once we can go beyond the illusion of life and conditioning, can we truly cultivate genuine gratitude towards life, people and experiences.

A few years ago, when I was in the early stage of learning about life metaphysically, I was going through a past life situation. With the intensive anger, pain and grudges coming to the surface, I was in a state that I wanted to get revenge and to make the person whom I blamed for causing my pain to suffer. I went to talk to Maitreya with the hope that he might sympathize with me and take my side. Surprisingly, he did not comfort me, instead, he said to me, “It is your issue. You should thank that person for helping you release this past life energy so that you can move on with your life.” Honestly, I could not believe what I heard from him. I thought he was too strict with me at that time. I really had a hard time understanding and grasping his words until much later when I let go of the emotions.

Our human life on the Earth plane is created or designed by us at the soul level before we are born. The only purpose for our existence on the Earth Plane is to attain soul growth and expand our consciousness through the life experiences we have chosen. At times, the lessons or the experiences seem to become very hard when the karma, past life issues and past life energy are all intertwined into everyday life. Often, it is at this stage, when we are easily wrapped in “negativity” – complaining, blaming, self-pity, fear and anger because the Self-part of us is in control. When the Self controls us, we can hardly see through the situation and see the positive side of life. It seems impossible for us to grasp or experience gratitude and appreciation due to our perceived circumstances. Unfortunately, when we are in such a state of emotional flux and negativity, we only make ourselves and our life more complicated, difficult, harder, and we are the ones who ultimately slow down the process or our learning. We are our own worst enemy, but we do not realize it while we are bitching and moaning about it. On the other hand, if we can face our fear and insecurity, and allow ourselves to go through the process of releasing the emotion without repressing it, and learn to detach from it, we will be able to go through it much faster and easier, and we will learn and grow enormously from it. At the end, we will be so genuinely grateful for what we have gone through.

A few years ago, while I was working at the Maitreya Seattle Learning and Healing Center, a man brought his girlfriend see me and asked me if I could help them. His girlfriend was suffering from kidney failure and the medical treatment didn’t have any effect on her. She was dying. She had so much anger and distrust towards him and he had so much guilt towards her. Not only her health, but also their relationship was greatly deteriorated despite the fact that he loved her very much. Based on the information they gave me, I suggested the lady have a past life regression and she agreed. During the regression, she found out where her kidney problem came from. It was from a past life where she and this man were lovers. They loved each other very much, but they were from different backgrounds. The man’s family threatened to cut him off from his family prestige and honor if he continued to have a relationship with her because she was from a lower social class. As a result, the man yielded to his family’s will and he left his girlfriend without saying goodbye and left her in total shock and darkness. When she realized that he abandoned her, she became very bitter and angry. She gave up hope, becoming homeless and wandering the streets with bitterness and resentment. She ended giving up her life, and died from kidney failure as all the emotion of anger, hatred, resentment and bitterness went into her kidney. They came back in this incarnation to deal with this karmic situation. The man came to assist her to heal herself. The lady came to forgive him and to let him go so that she could live her life for herself.

As they were together, the past life issue and energy was activated and the lady started to have an intense emotional reaction towards him, and he started to feel guilt. One month after the regression, the lady chose to end her relationship with him. She moved out to live alone. The man was worried about her and concerned if she was able to live alone due to her health problem, but he could not do anything about it because she was so determined. Three months later, the man met another woman and fell in love with her and they married. Six months later, he unexpectedly encountered his ex-girlfriend in a beautiful park. He was surprised to see her running in the park and was shocked to see her so healthy and vibrant! She told him that her health became better and better after the regression as the past life energy which was the cause of her kidney failure was released. She looked very happy and free. They both had a wonderful talk, filled with gratitude and appreciation: She was happy for him to find new love in his life. He was very happy that she did not die, but was alive and well.

The reason I illustrate this true story here is to say that no matter what has happened in our life and how hard our life might be, everyone and everything is where it needs to be. Maitreya would often say this to us as we were experiencing a difficult situation that we had not yet grasped. There are no accidents, and there is a reason for everything. We may not have the control over what is happening in our life, but we do have the power to control our choices as to how to react to it and how to handle it, for it is all about learning and attaining soul growth through experiencing it.

Therefore, instead of moaning and groaning, complaining and blaming, being angry and holding grudges, we should try to cultivate gratitude and appreciation as it is one of the key attributes of opening our heart to unconditional love and compassion. With gratitude, we are grateful for everything that we have, and everything that we do not have; we give thanks to everything that has happened and to everyone who is in our life. With gratitude, we are able to stop suffering and recognize the pain we are going through as a rich and valuable life experience, and a source of strength. With gratitude, we become grateful that we are able to learn from the experience. Gratitude and appreciation enable us to forgive, to let go of our ‘negative’ emotions and to appreciate that someone cares about us enough to help us work on our karma that we have chosen to deal with, the lessons that we have chosen to learn, the past life issues we have chosen to address, and the past life energy we have chosen to release. Thus, giving thanks to whatever happens in our life, and whoever is in our life, not only enables us to open our heart to love, but also to become a great soul.