Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mr. Miyagi: Wash on, Wash off

Have you ever seen The Karate Kid?  I know Mr. Miyagi.  That’s my father.  When I came back home from college and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, he made me pull weeds and plant flowers. 

Pull weeds and plant flowers.

That’s his way.

There are really only two things in my religion which my dad taught me about:  Seva and Simran. 

Seva is service.  It’s not just service to the poor; it is service to anyone in your life.

Simran means to REMEMBER god.  What does that mean?  It means I think to remember that everything around you including yourself is a manifestation of god.  A creation of god.  To remember that means to honor the world and life and the self.  Oh and also god. 

Pull weeds, plant flowers, seva, simran.

I say these things over and over again to remind myself of what and who I am.  What I should be doing in this life. 

Once we had to remove the scriptures from our prayer room because we were selling our house and we didn’t want people to disrespect the room with their shoes etc.  I went into the room that we call the Baba Ji room.  I went in that room when the scriptures were removed and just sat there.  My dad came in and said to me, “You know you can still pray in here.  This is still the Baba Ji room, the Granth (the scriptures) is still here.”  I looked at him and started to cry, about something unrelated.  But he knew. 

He knows how to tell a tale too.  Probably where I learned it.  I asked him once what the scars on his face were from when I was very young; he has some indents on his face.  He told me he was in a bullfight.  He told me he won. 

He thought it was hilarious that I would mix up the words, chicken and kitchen.  He would purposely let me get it wrong. 

Pull weeds, plant flowers, seva, simran, humor

Regarding my writing:  If my father says to me one more time: “You know the girl who wrote Harry Potter was on welfare.  Can’t you write a bestseller?  Just one.” 

Pull weeds, plant flowers, seva simran, humor, success 

Before I went to college he sat me down:  "If you get involved in drugs, alcohol or sex I will not pay for your education.  Do you understand?”

He always says about everything:  “It’s the principal.”

Once he told me his boss said, “Everyone is a prostitute, it’s just a matter of price.”

Everyone except my dad.  He never sold out. 

Pull weeds, plant flowers, seva, simran, humor, success, morals

He loved when I sang to him, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.” 

People he appreciated my singing at a young age.  He adored me when I was a kid.  Apparently I was a fun baby and would say “Hi” to everyone and make friends at grocery stores and everywhere we went.  My father was proud of me and still is.

“You will go to Columbia,” he said to me the day I got in.  That day his father died.  He was so happy when he found out I got in, and when he found out his 98 year old father died he was sad but taught me how to take the good and bad. 

He is a humble man, not with too much pride.   “You have to tell them at work that you have done something or they won’t notice.”  They noticed him, when he was blind he won awards.  He was the best manager: he won the respect of his employees.  But he never tooted his own horn.

He does not usually argue, he converses, engages in conversations. 

When I told him I wasn’t really into our religion but I was into spirituality he was upset but he said to me, “As long as you are on a path, stay on that path.”  I told him my path was where all the paths intersect. 

He used to tell me, “Organized religion and organized crime are two sides of the same coin.”  Our religion, Sikhism, is small, “Don’t worry it’s not organized.”

When discussing health:  “Every white powder is bad for you…whether it be sugar, salt or cocaine.”

About my relationships:  I talk to my father about dating.  His general guidelines:  "He should be educated and make at least $100,000."  

He stopped drinking so we would not drink.  He had a beer though on Mackinaw Island after he accepted that both his daughters drink and there is nothing he can do about it.  He toasted us. 

About my depression:  Every morning he would wake me up.  “Regulize your life.  Discipline.”  The word Sikh means disciple.  He is a Sikh.

He doesn’t wear a turban, but I don’t wear one either, but that is another conversation for another blog. 

He is the most spiritual man I know.  He does what we call Ardaas at the end of his reading of the scriptures, (he listens to tapes) and then he makes an Ardaas or request for his family.  He prays that his family live in peace.  That’s it.  Nothing More.  “I don’t want to do selfish prayers.”

Every time he eats a meal, he closes his eyes and silently prays this prayer:  “Jai parsaad chaatey amrit kaaye, tis Thakur ko rukh man maayaa.”  The one who gave you this 36 kinds of food, keep him in your mind. 

The list of things he taught me goes on and on.  But what will really stay with me is this:  Pull Weeds, Plant Flowers. 

Mr. Miyagi is my old man.  In many ways he taught me to fight the good fight. 

I am his oldest son.

I was never good at math and he was very upset with that, “Calculus can solve the meaning of life, everything is calculus.”

That’s cool, I don’t know for a second what it means since I literally fell asleep during my A.P. Calculus exam in high school.   But my father is so passionate about math, he would sit for hours and help me solve problems in school. 

He has solved a lot of my problems. 

I love him deeply, but still don’t know how to tell him that. 

But he knows.


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