Cultivate gratitude for your very existence…


Part of the the Heart & the Law collection

What within us can we call our own? Conceived through the union of our father’s sperm and our mother’s egg, the matter from which we grow in the womb is from our mother, who receives it from the world around her. After birth, we grow taller and heavier not through spontaneous creation of something inside us, but through eating, drinking, breathing. All of these things which we take inside, which continue this life, arise from the earth – and all settle back to the earth.


If we believe in a soul, where is it? Where did it come from? Christians believe that the soul, life-force, is given by God as breath into dirt. Buddhists believe in the accumulation of karma, the dirt of our actions rising into forms over eons.

And if our physical form arises from outside us, and our psychic form arises from beyond us, and our spirit arises out of the union of physical and psychic form, what, truly, can we call our own? Our bodies, borrowed stuff of universes, our souls, accumulated or donated, our spirits, dependent entirely on the kindness of the cosmos?

The ‘I’ with which we refer to ourselves exists out of great kindness and beneficence. Without the elements that comprise us, we would not even have the opportunity to be ignorant; how fortunate are we to receive the gifts of form and spirit, to hear the Dharma and to breathe?

Self-cherishing doesn’t open us to more goodness; rather, it blinds us to the incredible gifts we receive daily. We take for granted that we live, that we live here, that we live now. We expect so much of life and forget all that we already possess.

Cultivate gratitude for your very existence, for without the kindness of the cosmos, without the kindness of all the beings who have been your mother, without the million kindnesses of friends, enemies and strangers alike, you would not right now hear this teaching.

Mila (Jacob Stetser)

Mila is a writer, photographer, poet & technologist.

He shares here his thoughts on Buddhism, living compassionately, social media, building community,
& anything else that interests him.

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