Thanksgiving, an expression of gratitudeby Mike Ghouse on Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 11:04am
The essence of thanksgiving by Mike Ghouse
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?
As always my gratitude goes to the causer of life, my family, friends, my clients and customers, well wishers and acquintances from around the world.
My balance was restored when I viisted my dear friend Everett Blauvelt today, who is a father figure to me and who was the reason for me to be here in the United States and the "Mike" part of my name comes from his blessings. It was Nirvana visiting my sister, brothers, and their kids and our relatives and my friends Shariff and his sisters.... and ofcourse, I am greatful to Jeff, Fern, Jasmina and their mother Ella and my wife Yasmeen and kids Maheen, Phillip and grand kids and my friend for making me who I am.
I will be compiling a list of family members, reltives, friends and the people I know and people I have done business with and those who have said a kind word and given me a world of encouragement. I will call as many as I can, email some and text messages some.
It took me over 16 hours to reach Yasmeen, though the traffic was heavy in Dallas, there was not any from Nashville to Louisville, perhaps I was the only one on the road with an exception of a few trucks and one or two cars. It was incredible to see none on the road... I took a few pics and videos.
While driving I watched my life film - I recall things since I was two and a half years old... all the way to today. That was quite a joy... I wish I could capture all of that in writing... may be some day. Along the way, I remembered every one who has been kind to me, said encouraging words, critiqued me, lifted me up with my job and the work... the friends who have been great to me... I thank each one of you. I beleive I was able to recall almost every one with gratitude.
Mike Ghouse runs the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other and has dedicated his life to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress. He is a regular commentator on the TV, Radio and Print media offering pluralistic solutions to the issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker, writer and a peace activist. Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/