It is one of my favorite holidays; it is a day to express gratitude to all those who have helped shaped our lives. It is also a day to express friendship and kindness to those who are struggling with the difficulties of life, thanksgiving is a day of sharing. Thank you for reading this note and forwarding it to your friends.
Why should we do that?
Well, let’s start with the concept of balance in life. Our happiness is directly dependent on fulfillment of our desires; the greater the desires, the lesser the fulfillment. The more we want, bigger the discontentment. Buddha said, No desire no sorrow!
That was my first philosophical debate with an American traveling in the train to Bombay in the early 70’s. He said, well the animals don’t desire much then what’s the difference between them and us?
Walk the Middle path, said the Prophet, just have enough desires that you can fulfill them, happiness will follow. My mother used to say “don't stretch your feet beyond your sheet”, meaning stay within your means. Every faith and every family is enriched with such an advice.
It's just not you, ask Bill Gates, whom God has blessed proportionately for his intelligence, he would answer, not enough! Ask the Homeless; the answer is still the same, not enough. Who has enough then?
Life is a self-balancing act;
For every good we receive, we have to offer our gratitude to the giver, absence of a simple thank you creates an imbalance in the relationship and the spiritual energy. A simple thank you will tie the loose ends and brings the balance back.
For every hurt we hurl on others, an equal amount of burden gets dumped on us, and until we say sorry and repent genuinely, the energy balance within us deteriorates. The transaction remains incomplete.
Just as the accountant recites his mantra, for every debit there is a credit; the physicist says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; heat lost equals heat gained; and as a spiritualist I feel that for every wrong we do, an equal amount of energy is drained from us and for every good we do, energy is recouped.
Life is a continual act of balancing between pain and pleasure, and to lead a normal life we have to maintain that equilibrium. We are constantly receiving and giving energy, intake and output must be equal to have a healthy mindset, else we are thrown off balance.
What is life, what is hope?
Let me share a story from my teen years. It was a Sunday ritual for me to sit and take care of the poor. A line of the needy people would pass in front of my house and being the oldest in the family, my Dad had assigned me the task of doling out the cash and food items to the individuals as they pass our door. I have seen lepers, people who cannot see, hear or talk, and certainly people with missing body parts.
I was fascinated by one such person, he did not have arms and limbs from the base of the body, he was just the torso and the head. He wrapped his body with a tube (those days car tires were inlaid with an air tight rubber tube to hold the air) of a car tire, and would slide inch by inch on his back from door to door... his shoulder and rear part would move in tandem similar to a snake. He would always made me think about life and hope. I was about 14 years old then and was hesitant to speak with him.
Appaiah turned around and asked me instead “Isn’t there so much to thank the lord?” I was rendered speechless. Here is a man with nothing to hope for, yet he is not complaining, that is gratitude. Just that morning, I heard my Dad’s favorite verse from Qur’aan- 55:16 “Then which of the favors of your Lord will ye deny? To this day, if I am down, I to go to the scriptures, I have found solace in opening Bhagvad Gita, Bible, Dale Carnegie’s book, the book of Mormon or Kitáb-i-Aqdas or simply read Sura Rahman, chapter 55 in Qur’aan, to uplift my spirits. We have to be grateful for whatever we have and express it to the unknown giver, a true thanksgiving.
One day, I asked him what made him want to live. He did not have relatives, could not do anything, could not have a family, could not have a place to live, and could not wear clothes.... what made him want to live?
He took a deep breath and looked at me and said, “Son, I look forward to every morning to see the blue sky or see the rain and smell the earth, I smell and taste the good food people give me, I am thankful to God for giving me these eyes to see the beauty of his creation.. he was quite poetic.
Today or tomorrow, please carry a small piece of paper with you anywhere you go, and whenever you find a quiet moment, make a list of all the people you want to thank, you will find a sense of relief in it. Even if you don’t call every one on the list, you have already said your thanks by thinking about the individual and reciting his or her name in your mind. When you express your gratitude to the persons who have made a difference in your life, it brings a ton of relief to you. The tension of the action (good done to you) is released with your re-action of thinking about them or writing their name down and possibly calling them.
Ponder over all the good things people have done to you, the good words they have said to you. Even if you don’t like some of them now, separate the good they have done and say thanks for it. Reign in on your ego and see the victory you feel within you.
My Gratitude, what is yours?
This year, as always my gratitude goes to the causer of life, my family, friends and well wishers.
My Dad and Mom who opened the doors of knowledge for me. I am grateful to them for inculcating the values of pluralism and co-existence, right from the beginning.
My Sister and Brothers who were always there for me and a happy bunch of Pluralists.
Jeff and Fern, my son and daughter in law, are a source of joy to me. Both of them have an open mind and a heart towards God's creation. They have removed the cultural and religious barriers between them and God's creation. He is going to be a great Attorney and Fern will be a great Engineer.
Jasmina my daughter and I connect like my Mom and her Dad connected. If there were to be reincarantion, she and I have been dad and daughter for several lives. Some of the deffinitions of Pluralism have come from my daughter when she was five years old, "Gee Dad, it's cool that God can be worshipped in so many different ways" got that written down as " If we can learn to respect the devotion of each faith towards its creator, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge". Silently, Jazzie has contributed a whole lot in my thinking. She is going to be a Psychologist and would be a great one.
Saleh Shariff and I have been life time friends, we have been a mirror to each other and thank God, both of us have done our share of contribution towards the well being of humanity.
My friend Mr. Everett Blauvelt, whom I affectionately call Dadsky, is the reason for me to be here in America, he encouraged, enticed and sponsored me. Lily Blauvelt, Becky and Mary and Mike are part of my family and am grateful to them.
Mr. DD Maini who has been a friend and a Dad like figure to me. We go to Dinners and Lunches together often and share the life experiences.
Najma, my late wife, who and I shared a range of life experience. We have lived our life experiencing the full spectrum of emotions ranging from Khatta (sour), Meetha (sweet), Pheeka (tasteless), Teekha (off), Khara (spicy) and Kadva (bitter) brim with caring and lots of loving. Najma's father and mother and her family members as well.
Yasmeen, my fiancee is a true blessing in my life. As my former company Drees Homes' slogan said "Be yourselves" she is herself and I am myself, together we are looking forward to a life of nurturing, caring and being a catalyst to each other's joy and existence.
Adil Khan, my friend is an inspiration to me. He will take his shirt off and give it to a friend if that friend is in need. He is the one who goaded me into working for the PhD.
Ella, my ex-wife, has done a fabulous job in raising our kids Jeff and Mina, the joys of my life; I could not have asked for more from God. She has done what great mom's do to their kids. I am always greatful to her.
My bosses Harbans Lal (India), Gerry Morris, DW Lewis, Kathy Bounds and Mike Davis have taught me some of the most beautiful lessons of life.
My grade school teacher, Mr. Abdul Hakim is unforgettable, his name comes up at least once a week in my words. He went out of his way to see kids learn and go with higher education. He was and will continue to be part of my life.
My friends in Pluralism and interfaith work from Thanksgiving Square, the Universal Peace Federation, Dallas Peace Center and other organizations.
MaryAnn Thompson-Frenk and Joshua Frenk particularly, as my own dream of interfaith co-existence is fulfilled through their dream work at Memnyosyne Foundation.
Bernie Mayoff has been a good friend and helps me realign my thoughts every now and then. I appreciate that.
I want to thank all my friends for being there for me; Surendar Mittal, Kundan Sharma, Jamil Ahmed, Adil & Nosheen Khan, Kathy Bounds, AK Mago, Nadir & Maliha Durrani, Vina & Ghanshyam Dave, Tamim & Farida Shipchandler, Bala Reddy, Akram Syed, Dewey Lewis, Mike Davis, Coke Buchanan, DJ Sharma, Sibghat Ulla Khan, Lu Rahman, Mohamed Afsar, Syed Naseeruddin, Suhas Naik, Farooque Hemani, M. Krishna, Javed Iqbal, Francis Thomas, Su Kumar, Shiv Kumar, Maad Abu Ghazalah, Esther Vasquez, Bernie & Denise Mayoff, Surendra Mittal, Arun Vittala, Doug Edwards, Rizwan Shaikh, Farrukh Hamid, Sandhya Sarma, Basheer Ahmed, Amer Shakil, Ruben Carlos, Shiraz Mithani, Len Ellis, Lon Burnam, Rita Clarke, Dr. Basheer Ahmed, Ambassador Ahsani and several others.
I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Harbans Lal of Sheshadri Puram, Bangalore, my first boss, who encouraged me to write. That was in 1971 and since then I have written quite a lot. His voice still echoes “you will become a writer” and it's been music to me ever since. Please become that voice to some one. We are a product of what others want us to be, most of the times. If you want a better society, invoke the best in others. It is indeed rewarding.
I express my gratitude to many of my religious friends, but certainly the friendship of these; Rev Frederick Masih, Bishop Hernandes, Bishop McGriff, Swami Nityanand Prabhu, Dr. Karen Hollie, Dr. Pradeep Shah, Angie Buchanan, Gregory Gomez, Dr. Poras Balsara, Firdosh Mehta, Regina Rafraf, Kevin Rafraf, Ben Boothe, Rev. Bill Matthews, Rabbi Robert Haas, Len Ellis, Dr. Harbans Lal, Gregory Gomez, Rev. Marylou Ghyst, Deva Ramsaroop, Tatiana Androsov, Javed Jamil, Howard Cohen, Meera Jain, Muriel Pinkus, Damini Singh, Phyllis Curott, Rabbi Micha’el Akiba, Judi Arkow, Robert Hunt, Ed Sylvest, Hind Jarrah, Mohammad Irtaza, Rizwan Shaikh, Aurn Vittala, Shamim Siddiqi, Asif Effendi, Farrukh Hamid, Suleman Hemani, Farooq Hemani, Shawn Bhagat, David Copeland, Rev. Todd Collier, Bryan Langford, Tona Cervantes, Ricardo cervantes, Aniceto, Dr. Columba Marin, Imam Zia Shaikh, Constance Hargis, Phillip Collins, Phillip Shinoda, Julie Ann Turner, Imam Kavakci, Dr. Ramachandran, Elliott Dlin, Mr. G. Ramkrishna, Imam Zia Kavakci, Imam Abdul Rauf Feisal and Daisy Khan.
Dr. Mohammed Omar Farooq, Hassan Mahmud, Asra Nomani, Zafar Iqbal, Mr. Sher Suleman, Tariq Ramadan, Louay Safi, Dr. Shahnawaz Khan, Reem Alghonimi ...and I will write every name of my friend again in a few days...
Mayors Pat Evans, Mike Simpson, Joe Chow, Bob Townsend, Morris Parrish, Becky Miller, Laura Miller, Ron Kirk, Gary Slagle, Congress persons Pete Sessions and Eddie Bernie Johnson who have been gracious in participating in community building.
My eternal gratitude goes to my teachers Abdul Hakim (grade school), A. Ramachandra (Pre-University), Shabbir Ahmed (Math), NB Hanumanthaiah (College) and MV Chayapathy (College).
I thank all my friends, and friends’ friends who have been a source of inspiration to me. I continue to thank my Radio fans, my Blog and many who occasionally and silently share their goodwill.
When you step out of your home today, and when you run into some one who is down, be kind to them. A genuine smile is the most beautiful thing you can give, nothing compares to it and see the difference you make in their life, and your own.
There is so much goodness around us, if we just look for it instead of what we don't have.
I further express my gratitude to our men and women who are doing their duty to protect our freedom. Please watch the following video about honoring our soldiers. http://www.youtube.com/v/ervaMPt4Ha0&autoplay=1
This year again we missed out the Celebration of thanksgiving for the community at large, I have been doing this for the last fourteen years. I particularly want to thank our indigenous American (also known as Native Americans) brothers and sisters for sustaining this land and giving us all an opportunity to live. We, the inhabitants of Americas owe them our gratitude. We thank them every time and formally every year in the Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations.
Yes, your name is on my mind, I am greatful to every one of you who has been kind, good, critical to me. I found myself unable to write all the names, thousands of good people out there... I assure you, you are on my list and am unable to type any more at this moment, my wrist gives up on me. Yasmeen and Jeff think that I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and may be that is good, it keeps me out of writing all the time.
If you start thinking about all those people who have been good to you, you will start feeling the sense of joy in you, that which comes from gratitude. But I will be reflecting upon all those have been a source of joy to me in the next few days. I have always received goodness from every one I am in contact and want to simply say thank you.
You are welcome to write your comments by clicking - http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/11/thanksgiving-expression-of-gratitude.html#comments
Every one of the nearly five thousand people has touched my life one way or the other and I am grateul to them eternally and will add their name, as my hand permits me to type:
Ann Mary Weiss, Jim Falk, Kim Rice, Sylvia Komatsu, Carol Donavan, Santosh Mittal, Bhupendra Ganatra, Amir Rupani, Dr. Amanullah Khan, Dr. Mohammaed Khalid, David Dixon, Syed Talib, Rich Park, Shabnam Modgil, AG Chini, Monicca Sharma, Sridhar, Rekha, Rehan Siddiqi, Jaipal Reddy, Dr. Sheshagiri Rao, Fakhru Bhai, Shehzad Roy, Rashid Samnakay...
God Bless America