Sunday, November 16, 2008

FWBO websites 1: Gratitude Unlimited

This is the first of a a series of occasional articles which will be looking at websites - many less well-known than they should be - created by members of the Western Buddhist Order or FWBO. All have come out of that person's practice, or out of some aspect of their connecton to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha -

Gratitude Unlimited was created some five years ago by David Waterston (a mitra from the FWBO’s London Buddhist Centre) and Lokabandhu, with Dridhamati as their technical wizard. David had the idea after creating a ‘Gratitude Book’ for his father’s retirement. – it was a lot of work and he thought – why not do it on the internet? The story as he himself tells it goes like this -

"The Short Story of GU

"In 2003, Lokabandhu and I were traveling with a little band of brothers called 'buddhafield/Q' around Britain's festival circuit getting up to all sorts of antics (mostly teaching meditation - but all that is another Story).

"At that time I was collating a present for my father. He was retiring as a headmaster and I thought I would contact as many of his old pupils as possible using FriendsReunited and ask them to contribute to an album of gratitude and recollections and photos. I got an unexpectedly good response - about 50 or so. What struck me was that people clearly enjoyed writing and recollecting and having the opportunity to express their thanks. Naturally my father enjoyed reading the album as well.

"I had the idea that it might be possible to devise a website which give people the opportunity to express their gratitude. Almost everyone has someone they would like to thank. What is missing is not the desire to thank, but the means, the opportunity, or they don’t know where the person lives, or maybe they need some encouragement. All of these obstacles can be overcome by an online facility.

"Lokabandhu and I chatted the idea through as we toured around the stone circles of Devon and Cornwall and came up somehow with the idea of Gratitude Unlimited. The concept was to provide a facility which had the potential for creating online the sort of 'album' that I painstakingly glued together for my father..."

And so Gratitude Unlimited was born. Of course it also hopes to celebrate Gratitude in general – one of the great Buddhist virtues. Sangharakshita has spoken about gratitude in his talk “Looking at the Bodhi Tree”: he links gratitude to the Pali word ‘Katannuta’, which translates as ‘Knowledge of benefits received’.

The site itself is divided into categories, including Authors, Colleagues, Friends, Good Samaritans, Heroes, In Memoriam, Parents, Partners, Siblings, Spiritual teachers, Teachers – and of course the ever-present ‘other’. Which, FWBO News couldn’t help noticing, includes expressions of gratitude to “A Taxi Driver” and “Mother Earth”!

David ends by saying - “In particular you might like to use this site to thank someone with whom you are no longer in contact or whom you never knew personally. Who knows, one day they may come across this site and find your expression of gratitude”.

Enjoy! The site is of course open for new expressions of gratitude.

And by the way, it also comes in a French version...

Next Sunday we’ll feature ‘Visible Mantra’, a rich and wonderful resource for visualising and calligraphy of Buddhist mantras and seed syllables.



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