“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” - Epictetus
Epictetus was a Greek-speaking Stoic philosopher. He was born c. AD 55 as a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey), and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in north-western Greece for the rest of his life. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion. Epictetus taught that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.
“Everyday, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.” – the 14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso. He is a monk of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa. Despite his humble beginnings, being born on a straw mat in a cowshed to a farmer's family in a remote part of Tibet, the 14th Dalai Lama had become the joint most popular world leader. During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he currently lives as a refugee. The 14th Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. He has traveled the world and has spoken about the welfare of Tibetans, environment, economics, women's rights, non-violence, interfaith dialogue, physics, astronomy, Buddhism and science, cognitive neuroscience, reproductive health, and sexuality, along with various Mahayana and Vajrayana topics.
Woodland walk, Fish Creek Park, Alberta - Canada is a provincial park located in the southern part of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is one of the largest urban parks in North America, stretching 19 km from east to west.. Photo by Bernard Spragg. NZ, licensed under Public Domain Dedication
"I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet." - Jewish proverb on compassion.
There has been a continuous debate whether it is acceptable for American Jews to celebrate Thanksgiving. Unlike other celebrations, such as Halloween, halakha, Jewish religious laws derived from the Written and Oral Torah, does not prohibit Jewish participation in Thanksgiving because the holiday has secular, not religious origins and undertones. Jews are forbidden by the Torah to partake in "gentile customs," a prohibition derived from Leviticus 18:3, but most do not consider Thanksgiving to fall in this category.
Photo by Noah Silliman
"A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the full measure I have received and am still receiving." - Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist. He developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. When he was a professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences, he was visiting the United States when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and, being Jewish, did not go back to Germany. He settled in the U.S., becoming an American citizen in 1940. During the World War II, he alerted President Franklin D. Roosevelt the potential development of "extremely powerful bombs of a new type" and recommending that the U.S. begin similar research which led to the Manhattan Project. Einstein supported defending the Allied forces, but largely denounced the idea of using the newly discovered nuclear fission as a weapon because of the danger of nuclear weapons. Einstein was affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” - John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963) was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He was the second youngest president of the United States, after Theodore Roosevelt, who was 42 when he was elected. Kennedy's time in office was marked by high tensions with Communist states. He increased the number of American military advisers in South Vietnam by a factor of 18 over Eisenhower. In Cuba, a failed attempt was made at the Bay of Pigs to overthrow the country's dictator Fidel Castro in April 1961. Kennedy was the only Roman Catholic president and the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography “Profiles in Courage”.
"In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich." - Deitrich Bonhoeffer
Deitrich Bonhoeffer (4 February 1906 – 9 April 1945) was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confessing Church. His writings on Christianity's role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book The Cost of Discipleship became a modern classic. Bonhoeffer was known for his strong resistance to the Nazi dictatorship. He was arrested in April 1943, later was transferred to a Nazi concentration camp. After being associated with the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was quickly tried, along with other accused plotters and then executed by hanging on 9 April 1945 at the end of the Nazi regime.
Photo by Rula Sibai
"When I count my blessings, I count you twice." - an Irish proverb
Even though there is no official Thanksgiving holiday in Ireland because Thanksgiving is mostly a North American holiday, not native to Europe. Irish is known for their traditional harvesting celebrations. In Ireland, there are 3 harvest festivals celebrated at the end of the growing season:
Bad Pyrmont, Deutschland - Germany. Photo by Sebastian Unrau
"Be thankful for small things; it is in them that your strength lies." - Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa ( 26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997) was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. In 1950, Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and was active in 133 countries. They run homes for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children's and family counselling programs; orphanages and schools. Members must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, as well as a fourth vow, to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor". Teresa was the recipient of numerous honors, including the 1962 Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize and 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She was recognized by the church as a saint on 4 September 2016, and the anniversary of her death, 5 September, was made her feast day.
"When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator." - Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. He was born and raised in a Hindu merchant caste family in coastal Gujarat, western India, and trained in law at the Inner Temple, London. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn hand-spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as a means of both self-purification and social protest. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
Bretton, United Kingdom in the fall. Photo by michael podger
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” - "Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life" by Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh born as Nguyen Xuan Bao on October 11, 1926 is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist. He lives in Plum Village in the Dordogne region in the south of France, travelling internationally to give retreats and talks. He coined the term "Engaged Buddhism" in his book Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire.
"Miracle of Mindfulness"
I like to walk alone on country paths,
rice plants and wild grasses on both sides,
putting each foot down on the earth
in mindfulness, knowing
that I walk on the wondrous earth.
In such moments, existence is a miraculous
and mysterious reality.
People usually consider walking on water
or in thin air a miracle.
But I think the real miracle
is not to walk either on water or in thin air,
but to walk on earth.
Every day we are engaged in a miracle
which we don't even recognize:
a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves,
the black, curious eyes of a child--
our own two eyes.
All is a miracle.
"Gratitude takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder." - by Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968) was an American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion. In 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood and given the name Father Louis. Merton wrote more than 70 books, mostly on spirituality, social justice and a quiet pacifism, as well as scores of essays and reviews. His bestselling autobiography “The Seven Storey Mountain” published in 1948, which sent scores of World War II veterans, students, and even teenagers flocking to monasteries across the US and was also featured in National Review's list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century. Merton was a keen proponent of interfaith understanding. He pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, the Japanese writer D.T. Suzuki, the Thai Buddhist monk Buddhadasa, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and authored books on Zen Buddhism and Taoism. In the years since his death, Merton has been the subject of several biographies.
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." - Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer (14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965) was a French-German theologian, organist, philosopher, and physician. He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy of "Reverence for Life", expressed in many ways, but most famously in founding and sustaining the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, now in Gabon, west central Africa (then French Equatorial Africa). Schweitzer considered his work as a medical missionary in Africa to be his response to Jesus' call to become "fishers of men" but also as a small recompense for the historic guilt of European colonizers. He thought that Western civilization was decaying because it had abandoned affirmation of life as its ethical foundation. His personal philosophy was the idea of Reverence for Life “I am life which wills to live, and I exist in the midst of life which wills to live.”
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” - Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. She was active in the Civil Rights movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" (1993) at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, making her the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961. She was respected as a spokesperson for black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of Black culture.