Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving, an expression of gratitude.

The essence of Thanksgiving
Mike Ghouse

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?

Incredible gratitude.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving

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.

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 -

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
Mike Ghouse


  1. Dear Mike,

    Thank you for your wonderful message. We are moving to Austin on Sunday. We will always carry our friends from Dallas in our hearts, and hope to keep in touch and welcome them to visit us in Austin wherever we settle. This includes you and yours of course. We wish you continued happiness, and strength to continue in all your wonderful projects that promote peace and understanding among all peoples. We celebrate our cultural differences which emphasise the beautiful rainbow of ways to express the universal values of unity under God, each contributing to the healing and the enjoyment of our world. Feeling a great pleasure in knowing you,
    Bobbie Nehman

  2. There is no doubt - I always learn and am nurtured by your words, Mike. This time my usually noisy house is quiet and I have the free time to sit and read every sentence....this is a wonderful piece you have given your friends today. I wish everyone caught up in the often frantic activities of the day could be gifted with an opportunity to read and think about what you have written here. I especially like the parts about your personal experiences as a young person and as a family man. My best wishes to you and your loved ones on this perfect Thanksgiving Day. Thanks for taking the time and energy to write - it means a lot to me.

  3. Very nice Thanksgiving Message, Mike,

    When you grew up and were assigned the task of distributing to the poor by your Father, was it a religious ritual? In Thailand there is another Year-end Festival that I have come to think of as a kind of Thanksgiving and has become my favorite Thai feast. That festival that may also be practiced in other countries in Southeast Asia, ... and perhaps India.

    It also is not a religious feast, just as Thanksgiving is not of its nature in America. But it is a spiritual event. In Thailand it is called "Loy Kratong" which literally means "Floating a Kratong" ... traditionally a small float shaped like a lotus flower made of banana leaves and decorated with a candle, perhaps a flower and some coins. It is at the end of the Rainy Season so the water canals and rivers are full to the brim. So the Kratongs are reverently put in the water and all the transgressions one has committed in the past year are floated away along with it. Water, so important in Siamese tradition, is combined with the rice harvest which depends on water, and other bounties of Nature.

    It is not really the washing away of sin, like Baptism, nor atonement, like Confession and Penance. It is simply recognition of our transgressions and shedding them.

    Your concept of Buddhism is correct " Buddhist Wisdom"
    "They are happy indeed who own nothing at all; Those with highest knowledge own nothing at all. See how people who own things are afflicted, Bound to others by their obligations."

    - Udana 2.6

    And this is not isolated only to Buddhism. Detachment is also a Christian concept, as is charity to our fellow man. However Buddhism is more explicit ... ridding oneself of all desires frees one for Enlightenment, - freedom from not only wants, but excessive needs as well.

    It has always interested me how the Buddhist concept of CHARITY and that of Christianity ... perhaps Islam and Jewry too, differ. You elaborate on the need for gratitude. So thanking the giver is demanded by gratitude and ingratitude is a failing. So we are always saying "Thank you", and "I'm sorry, I apologise"

    As you know Buddhist monks go out every morning with their begging bowls and accept offerings. HOWEVER, the monk never indicates gratitude or even nods a Thank You. Conversely it is the giver who is grateful ... because the monk does him a favor by giving the opportunity to gain merit. This overflows into other charities and donations. For instance, when I first came to Thailand I saw how freely people put money in an envelope to build a temple somewhere. I would ask "How do you know it will be used honestly for the purpose you gave it?" They would say "I don't care. I gained my merit. If they use it fraudulently, that is their problem"

    Merit is not gained in order to get to heaven or to please a God. It is given for the sake of Goodness itself and to accrue Karma. In that sense it is unselfish ... To win heaven and please God can be interpreted as selfishness ... looking out for oneself.

    Tony Tersch

  4. Mike,
    Thank you for your Thanksgiving message. Yes, we all have so much for which to be grateful.

  5. Mike, I hope you and your family are having a pleasant Thanksgiving. We're in Austin with three of our children and two of our grandchildren. Looking forward to Thursday afternoon's feast and so many of us being together. We have much to be thankful for.

    Mike, I hope you and your family are having a pleasant Thanksgiving. We're in Austin with three of our children and two of our grandchildren. Looking forward to Thursday afternoon's feast and so many of us being together. We have much to be thankful for.


  6. Thank YOU for sharing, Mike. You are a pearl of a person. Your giving nature is contagious -- others want to emulate such an attitude. I am sorry I haven't done more to help you but I do think of you and pray for you.

    "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!" -- Those are words from an old Christian hymn I love. The thing I've learned is that our Creator, like a true Father, yearns for all His people to be united in harmony. Thank you for doing your part to create harmony among all people. It's not easy, and it doesn't happen quickly, but it WILL happen someday.

    Laura Hornbeck

  7. Elaine & Bruce CulverNovember 27, 2009 at 12:53 AM

    Thank you for a beautiful and thought provoking email, Mike.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,
    Elaine & Bruce Culver

  8. Thanks for the thoughtful words for all ----------- friends, families, faiths, et al. on this “thanksgiving,” and EID celebration.

  9. Thanks brother Mike! Happy Thanksgiving

    Kindest Regards,

    Mark Kukla

  10. Thank you, Mike, for everything you are doing to bring people of many Faiths together.

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Regina and Kambiz

  11. Happy Turkey Day to you Sir. What a great day to give thanks to God for all the wonderful gifts He gave us to be thankful for. Especially His Son, Christ Jesus, and His blood on the Old Dogwood tree that we may all be able to choose eternal Joy, Peace, Happiness and Salvation, escape from Satan.

    About your wrist. To make it short. DMSO. DMSO!! Yes. It is the Miracle Drug of the NW, by Dr. Jacobs, U.of Portland, Ore. Scientist. Multimillionaire ,Black Jocks and Race Horses get much better care for pain than the rest of humanity gets. DMSO is a natural product from trees. Your wrist hurt because they are inflamed with inflammation. DMSO is the best anti-biotic, anti inflammation and painkiller for all joint aches, cuts, burns, immediately starting to heal in seconds. It is a carrier. Goes through every secret part of your body and brain in minutes after it is applied. Can't be? Put a drop on your big toe and taste it in your mouth with in 10 seconds. Just type into the Computer, DMSO and Pain. Ignore the 2-3 Drs. with Eastern Euro names. They have working for the Pharma Industry for the 30 years I have read Dr. Jacobs Books and the Internet. Can you imagine the billions the Pharma. Industry would lose if you could but this on the shelf at Wal Mart? Go to Health Food Store and buy this ma Miracle Medicine for $15-$20 for 16 ounces. Or go to your local Feed Store and buy the exact bottle for $6-8.
    I bled for 20 years. No ulcer. I thought, shucks man, if you put on your toe and it circulates the whole body in 2-3 minutes, why not drink it? [tea spoon with half glass of water. Yucky, but a Miracle. I have give dozens of bottle to, mostly senior citizens who suffer with joint pain, arthritis, blood vein, etc pain over the years. Recently I met a 78 year old ladies who had surgery the year before , in her groin, and it would not heal. I told her about DMSO, went to the Feed store and give it to her after explaining to just sponge it on with cotton. She complained about the arthritis she had since 13 years of age. I left her, saw her again in 3 weeks. Ask how she was. Happy! She get 8 hours sleep each night instead of 3-4. I ask about the wound in the groin. Great !! Did you put the DMSO on I ask. Oh no. My Doc said it was dangerous, but it is healed. I apply DMSO to my Feet, ankles, knees, back, shoulders, elbows hands and neck every night. She had so much DMSO in her system, that it attacked to infected wound and healed it too.

    I take this much time to share this story because you find time for others also. Just remember. Some one loved us so much that He His life that we might all live in good health and Eternal Joy and Peace.
    Thank you, May the DMSO and God free you of your pain.

    Remove about 30% of the DMSO, refill with pure water, and sponge on and around the sore area. Sponge the whole wrist from knuckles to 3 inches above the wrist. It may only take one time or may , twice a day, several days.

  12. As always, you have written such a wonderful piece. I am so honored to forward it to my friends and relatives. You words have inspired me as pluralism and peaceful co-existence of human kind is also one of my missions in life. And InchAllah the Almighty will allow me to contribute more to this cause. From reading the thanks in your article, you mentionned yr "late wife" Najma. I used to go to the same masjid as her in carrollton and I recall her very well. Did she past? If so please accept all my condoleances (even if it might be long time ago)I moved away from Carrollton 2 years ago and I hadn't seen her since. Thanks for giving me some news. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    All the best to you Mike and Thank you for the great work that you are doing. I will stay in touch.


    Astou D.