"It is also said that in bowing down before Buddhas, there is actually nobody to bow down to and no one bowing. Who bows to what? In truth nobody bows to anyone, and yet there is this wonderful, free, gratitude-filled bowing down. In this subjectless, objectless wholehearted bowing, nothing is excluded. The whole world bows. All creatures — men, women, animals, insects — bow to one another in mutual greeting. Is this not true thanksgiving?

"A less strenuous way to express thanks is to put the hands together palm to palm in what is called gassho. Do it often enough and you find the rigid outlines of a self-absorbed ego softened. Feelings of humility, respect, and gratitude emerge. In this lowering of the mast of ego it is impossible to have an egotistical thought or to speak an unkind word.

"Thanksgiving is a deep sentiment and, for Buddhists, is not celebrated one day a year. For the spiritual-minded person, it is a way of life, embracing every day, every hour, every minute, a way of living that is truly life-affirming, filled with thanks for everything."

To Practice: Use a physical gesture — a bow or a gassho — to express your gratitude.

Roshi Philip Kapleau in Awakening to Zen by Polly Young-Eisendrath, Rafe Martin