Archive for June 17, 2012

Victor Hugo once said, “The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved — loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” In truth, when Aung San Suu Kyi delivered her Nobel lecture we were similarly reminded march to a greater good, a higher level of love.

Certainly, any of us can march onward to hate. Sadly, many of us do. Still, as I travel around the world, the vast majority of people live with a certain gift of humanity, an inexplicable desire to reach out, help those in need and believe in something more powerful than the intrinsic self. These minutiae of moments drift past, almost unnoticed by those hurriedly on their way in life. But to the Buddha, to Christ, they are the footprints of love left by the Father himself.

These moments can be seismic life altering events.  As I have said before, my former love still changes my life each and every day.  Many of my coworkers, who have suffered terrible loss over the past year, remind me to continually reach out and out touch someone less fortunate.

Others similar profound experiences. For instance, Nazi leader Herman Goering offered to free German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky from his captivity if he abandoned his pacifism. Ossietzky declined and perished. Nelson Mandela reached beyond his captor’s thoughts and into their hearts. Thus, the fate of a nation was forever altered and apartheid died because one man, in his most frail moment, learned that the capacity to love was deeper than the capacity to hate. Christ was crucified, so we could live forever. Thích Quảng Đức was burned protesting the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam’s Roman Catholic government led by Ngô Đình Diệm.These are just a few of those who gave their all.

When I think of Aung San Suu Kyi, I am reminded of a speech by then Indian University Coach Bobby Knight during my company’s new product show.  Mr. Knight said in effect that the hard part was not in winning the biggest prize. Rather, the challenge which eludes many of us is finding a way to stay at the pinnacle of success each and every day. Aung San Suu Kyi’s noble acceptance is no small feat. Many people gave much of their life to support her and her values. The trick for all us is remember those sacrifices and to live those ideals each and every day.

Thus, as a Buddhist, I urge everyone not to wait for some overpowering moment to change you. Rather, start today and change the way you think and how you think of others. We do not have problems, we only think we do.

After traveling extensively this past week, I return to the blog; just in time in for Father’s Day.

Many of us can recognize the father in our life. As such fathers comprised of fathers, father-in-laws, step-fathers, honorary fathers and fathers forgotten or lost.  I myself can personally recognize two fathers: my own father and a father I’ve never met.

My own father brought me into this world during the early sixties.  And while he does not actively participate in church, he is not unlike Christ.  Looking back, my father personally walked at my side during some of my greatest moments: college graduation, military service, marriage, job promotions, job demotions, divorce, ethical failures, redemption and simply being reminded how humble I am.

Suffice it to say that I have been poor and I have been beautiful. At my worst, my father continued to claim me as his son. While not without words of support, he challenged my thoughts and criticized behavior, but never criticized me. Like the poem ‘Footsteps in the Sand,’ the wiser, older me can see where he carried me.  And this is the father I love.

The other father I have never met is Harold.  It’s true; I’ve never met Harold or his wife. But they have to be two of the most beautiful people God ever created.

How do I know them? Well, I know them through their daughter.  When I think of her, I can only remember John Calvin’s quote, “…the invisible kingdom of God becomes visible to the world.”  For me, she made the invisible visible.  She made me understand my faith and love of all.

And while many of her friends, family and church members have casted off me, like the dust of their feet; I remain true to becoming a better man. Not a day goes by when I do not remember her. Not a day goes by when I think of her love of how I still continually draw upon her words and strength to guide me.

To all who have rejected me, I can say unequivocally I was a jerk and I deserved to be shunned. But to all who claim I could not be redeemed, I am sorry for your impression. Thus, I close with this well read story of the Buddha:

A widower, who went away in a business trip and left his little boy at home. While he was away, bandits came and burned down the whole village. When the merchant returned, he didn’t find his house, it was just a heap of ash. There was the charred body of a child close by. He threw himself on the ground and cried and cried. He beat his chest and pulled his hair. The next day, he had the little body cremated. Because his beloved son was his only reason for existence, he sewed a beautiful velvet bag and put the ashes inside. Wherever he went, he took that bag of ashes with him. Eating, sleeping, working, he always carried it with him.

In fact, his son had been kidnapped by the bandits. Three months later, the boy escaped and returned home. When he arrived, it was two o’clock in the morning. He knocked on the door of the new hose his father had built. The poor father was lying on his bed crying, holding the bag of ashes, and he asked, ‘Who is there?’ ‘It’s me, Daddy, your son.’ The father answered, ‘That’s not possible. My son is dead. I’ve cremated his body and I carry his ashes with me. You must be some naughty boy who’s trying to fool me. Go away, don’t disturb me!’ He refused to open the door, and there was no way for the little boy to come in. The boy had to go away, and the father lost his son forever.

After telling the story, the Buddha said, ‘If at some point in your life you adopt an idea or a perception as the absolute truth, you close the door of your mind. This is the end of seeking the truth. And not only do you no longer seek the truth, but even if the truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you refuse to open it. Attachment to views, attachment to ideas, attachment to perceptions are the biggest obstacle to the truth.’

Thus, I kindly thank and honor all fathers. As Clarence so wonderfully quoted in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” ‘Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” For without Harold, there would have been no daughter.  And without his daughter, I would have been truly and completely lost.

Happy Father’s Day to all Fathers.

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