A life dedicated to service...

Week 39: Words of encouragement

Careful what you wish for, or, Beware of advice you give to others! A couple of posts ago I inserted an exchange between student and teacher. “I feel discouraged. What should I do?” laments the one. “Go and encourage others,” replies the other.

For most of today, and a couple of days before, I’ve felt discouraged. “What should I do?” One reaction is to sleep more, in the morning and at mid-day. Fine escape but no relief, only more of what ails me. I used to name this state ‘depressed,’ because that’s what everyone calls it, but labelling merely feeds the notion of illness. And of suffering: poor helpless me. Little white pills, taken daily for ages, numb my senses and lead to weight gain and listlessness.

I imagine you know what I’m talking about.

So, what to say to someone who asks what should I do? Duhh! “Stop thinking so much. Go and sit. Notice the breath. Feel your body. Explore within. Listen!”

Later that day, an email arives from a Thai monastery. I’ve never been there but a friend lives there now and I’ve sent a donation. The treasurer thanks me and writes, “Anumodana.” What does that mean?

Anumodana is a difficult word to translate into English [from Pali.] Literally, it means “rejoicing together,” but it can also mean approval and encouragement. The tradition of Buddhist monks giving anumodana to donors of food and other requisites goes back to the time of the Buddha. After a meal or when presented with a gift, he would often “instruct, urge, rouse, and encourage” the donor. . . . [to] express approval for the donor’s wisdom in being generous, explain the rewards of generosity, and give encouragement to continue being generous.

Here’s a sample stanza from a anumodana chant —

May all distresses be averted,
may every disease be destroyed,
May there be no dangers for you,
May you be happy & live long.
For one of respectful nature who
constantly honors the worthy,
Four qualities increase:
long life, beauty, happiness, strength.

Such wonderful words — they go straight to the heart, shifting whatever weight has kept me from breathing freely. Anumodana! Welcome home, the heart rejoices. 

Source of anumodana details

About the Author
Peter lives in Victoria, BC, where he volunteers in health-care. teaches mindfulness meditation, and offers end-of-life care.
  1. Elanna Reply

    What a great story Peyer. Thank you for sharing your experience. Anumodana!

  2. Kate Reply

    Lovely, Peter! I remember that post. In fact, I took it to heart. I tried to encourage others as much as I could after reading your words. Keep them coming!

  3. Penny Reply

    Pilgrims rejoicing together! Anumodana!
    Thank you Peter.

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