On Parents and Gratitude
March 19, 1971

Master, when parents or parents-in-law want to give large presents that could not possibly be repaid in the ordinary give and take, but it would only hurt them if the gift were refused, should we accept them or be strong and refuse them ?

    You have the hereditary right to accept from those who have been brought in contact with you by the flowing pen of God, because of past reactions. These things also come reciprocally. But you should also serve them to the best you are able, you see; that's the give and take.

If, for instance, they give you something in money, you can repay the give and take in love or something like that, not necessarily money, is that it?

    Parents want only to be served by their children when they are in need; lovingly, not as a matter of show. That's all they want, nothing more. This give and take goes on, you see. If you're grabbing money from your parents that's a sin, and should not be done. If they offer you anything out of love, you can also repay, there are hundreds of ways to repay--not by keeping an account on paper. There should be give and take, in any form. They give to you--why? Because they love you. Why should you serve them? They want at least love in return, nothing more. Sweet words, loving words, regard for their welfare. Do we not owe anything to our parents who have brought us up from this helpless state as little babies? This is what is called in Hindu terminology "love for the parents." You do celebrate Mother's Day, Father's Day in America, but what is the underlying reason? You should serve them, should you not? If they give you presents, that will come out only as a form of a returned love and respect from you. Everybody wants some stake in his old age when he is helpless, when he is in dire circumstances. So that's the duty of the children. You see how difficult it was for her when you were a small child besmeared with filth. Your mother took you to her breast, wiped you clean. Your mother did things for you that no nurse would do for payment. So these gifts are reciprocal, and you also help them. A friend in need is a friend indeed. When you're a helpless baby, not able to do anything, not even able to wash your face, or to drive away a small bee buzzing around your head, she is always alert to protect you, for no payment. So we also have an obligation to her. Our first duty is to our parents who love us; our love is reciprocal, is it not? And love knows service and sacrifice. It is first God who loves us and our love is but reciprocal. You see? And love knows service and sacrifice; no counting it. When you are sick, don't you appreciate anybody helping you without being business-like? It is also a duty, our duty, to care with some thankfulness. We should be thankful, grateful to everybody from whom we have received anything, is it not so? And for no return.
    By way of a parable--somebody asked Earth, "You have got mountains and oceans, trees, animals and men laden on you; you must be feeling a very great burden on you." Earth replied, "No, it is no burden to me." Then again Earth was asked, "Is there anything which causes you to feel very much burdened?" He said, "Yes. The one who is ungrateful to God for the gifts he has been given: this burden I cannot bear." You see? We should be thankful, grateful for all we receive. We have got a good body; thank God; we have got a house to live in, thank God. If God has helped you by giving you a good companion--be thankful. Compare yourself with those who are in a less fortunate position than you. Animals have got no home; some people are homeless. So we must be grateful. And most of us are ungrateful. We all get something. Suppose there are nine things we have gotten as a gift from God, but still we are not satisfied and will say, "There is one thing that has not been given to me." We forget all nine things that have been given. They say, "This one thing is not done." Suppose He does not give you the tenth one, and also takes away all nine gifts already received--then what can you do? When you are grateful, your mind is at rest; you feel satisfied. Your mind's angle of vision is changed. So ungratefulness is a heinous crime, a heinous crime.
    How would you feel if just for a month your eyesight were taken away? People say, "Oh, to have eyes is a very great gift of God." Now at the same time, have you ever felt what it would be like if your inner eye, eyesight were not there: you would be blind. Have you ever felt blind when your inner vision was all dark? Be thankful, you see. Just like Christ said, "You see what the old Prophets did not see. You hear what the old Prophets did not hear." Is it in the Bible? Then? Be thankful. Then Christ said, "All right, what you have got in secret, go and speak from the housetops." So everyone sees Light. There is life after death. God is Light. You are given that gift--why not develop it, the sooner the better. So all of us have to become ambassadors. Why do you feel reticent? I don't want one ambassador, I want many. Every father wants his children to grow up to become more than himself. No king would like his son to be a minister, would you? You would like to make him a king. So He would like you to become a Saint. And that will come up only if you obey His commandments. That's all. Don't get all mixed up by bringing your minds into it. What does He say? He does not want anything. What do the parents want? That children should be obedient and respectful of them. Is it not? So ungratefulness is a heinous crime, mind that. Be grateful to God for everything you get. These things are given in books but not so vividly. They are hard nuts to crack, I would say. The Scriptures are hard nuts to crack. You will get the kernel from these talks. Yes? What is it?

If a parent wishes you to follow in his footsteps, in his profession, would it be obedience to do so? Is this what you call obedience or love?

    You see, love knows service and sacrifice. Your spiritual way is of prime importance for everybody and quite independent. That is the Bread of your life. As for other things, you will take up some occupation which enables you to stand on your own legs. If you can help your parents in their profession so much the better. If that is not possible, for one reason or the other, then talk about it together, and start your own profession. Kind words don't cost anything. Do kind words cost anything? Then? Politely request what you want to do in a common sense way. We are headstrong in our own ways, and sometimes parents are strong in their own way. So what should one do? Just persuade them by loving words. This concerns everyday living. By your experience you will grow wise from day to day. So today's subject is not to be ungrateful, you see. Thank you so much.



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