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A Birthday Gift
February 6th, 2013

Today was my birthday and was filled with such love from friends and family. As this strange world would have it, it has also been six months to the day since my dad passed away, so naturally it has also been a tender time of remembrance.

My mind drifted back to this day last year. Dad had been in severe pain for several months already, but through a misdiagnoses we didn’t yet know it was cancer. I had just come up for a visit from LA and because of the circumstances we spent my birthday alone, just mom, dad and myself. I had been leading kirtans in LA, so I thought maybe one way I could help would be by playing some chants on the harmonium to create a devotional vibration. I played some favorites of mine and some new ones I had been learning. I enjoyed giving in this way and dad sang along, his voice full and strong. He mentioned one that he had found particularly meaningful recently. It was one I knew, so I began chanting it: “How shall I love thee, Lord my God? With every breath I breathe! Just as a fire can burn a whole forest, burn to the root my desires!” It had always been one that I loved for its powerful call to love God in every moment. When thinking of it from my dad’s perspective though I saw it in a new light. My dad was in intense pain and could hardly move. The doctors didn’t seem to be able to do anything to help. He was basically confined to lying on the couch. Everything outward had been taken away. His body wasn’t working as it should and was causing great him great pain. What do you do when there’s nothing left? Where do you turn? For my dad it was clear in that chant. He would offer every breath with love to God. I could scarcely continue singing as I thought of dad lying there in pain offering even his breath up in service to God. He wouldn’t delay his life-long search for God because of his body. His search would simply have to change form. Instead of meditating and joyfully serving, he would simply offer every breath with devotion to God. Every breath became a prayer. Dad sang on, louder still “…with every breath I breathe.”

The chant ended and we sat in silence for some time. I was quietly trying to absorb the example I was being shown. Some time passed in silent meditation, dad lying on the couch and me sitting nearby. Dad’s pain level soon began to increase until it was becoming more than he could bear. I suggested that he might be more comfortable if he were lying flat on the carpet. He crawled down to the floor, but it clearly didn’t help. The pain was clearly still increasing as he lay there flat on his back, his arms outstretched. He then told me “Peter, this is a mantra to Lord Ram.” His voice was shaking with the pain. I knew that Ram was the ancient saint-king of India who is still revered to this day as a divine incarnation. In that moment though, no other explanation was given. Dad had never mentioned Ram much before, but I listened intently as he started reciting the mantra.

“Ram, Ram…” he started, his voice was weak and still trembling from the pain. The Sanskrit syllables were unfamiliar to me as he spoke them, but immediately I felt an immense power and love enter the room. It felt as if Lord Ram himself was standing there in our home. I visualized him there, in his golden armor, answering the call of a sincere devotee. His incredible light and power radiated outward far beyond the limits of the four walls around us. Dad’s voice grew stronger as he continued reciting those ancient Sanskrit words. It seemed that dad was permeated and lifted by that powerful vibration.

The mantra continued on for some time until dad began speaking softer. His voice again began to tremble slightly, but this time it was due to the gratitude and devotion he felt. Finishing the mantra we returned to silence for some time. The power had been replaced by a vibration of deep peace. Dad let out a long, quiet sigh of gratitude.

As he crawled back up on to the couch, dad said to me “When you’re little, pain can be overwhelming, but when you’re big, it’s nothing.” He settled in on the couch and we again returned to silence. I sat there for some time in grateful silence for what I had just witnessed. I then quietly said goodnight, and made my way upstairs.

I believe in that evening, dad gave me the greatest birthday gift I have ever received.

 

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31 Responses

  1. Bhagavati says:

    Dear Peter,
    Thank you for sharing this inspiring and deeply moving experience. The gift your father gave you is truly a gift that keeps on giving–through you, his son.
    Much love,
    Bhagavati

  2. Elana says:

    Pete,

    So truly moving. Thank you for sharing I had a moment reading. I’d imagine it’s not easy opening up like that. Hope you had a wonderful birthday friend.

    Lots of love,
    Elana

  3. Steven says:

    Wonderful Peter! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Dana says:

    Peter this is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this precious experience

  5. Beena Puthalat says:

    THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR PROFOUND MOMENT.
    GOD BLESS.
    BEENA

  6. Pamela Chatis says:

    Thank you Peter for expressing your heart to us. The lightness of being is ours no matter the circumstances. Your father clearly showed you this. Thank you also for reminding us that life can be buoyant even at the most challenging times!

  7. Premdas says:

    God & Guru blessings in your account with your Dad and in you all. Thank you for sharing this with us. Aum, P

  8. Trish says:

    Thank you, Peter, for sharing such a profoundly personal moment with us. I am more touched than I can put into words. This is wisdom for us all.
    Trish

  9. Lajjana says:

    That was so beautiful, Peter. Thank you for sharing these tender moments.

  10. Amarjeet Kaur says:

    Such is the glory of the Lord! He gives us strength even in our moments of worst pain…..His Grace is always upon us. We as His children as always blessed.
    This is a very touching and personal moment that you shared with us. Thanks Peter, you have inspired me even more to believe in His immortal Grace.

  11. Sanjan says:

    Sanjaya (Peter),

    This is truly a beautiful and intimate example of the power of devotion and the divine. What a blessings and thank you for sharing with us. Uplifting and heartfelt!

    Blessings to you and dad! – Great Souls!
    Sanjan

  12. Dakshina says:

    Wow, Peter. Thank you for sharing this. What an amazing gift.

  13. Nayaswami Devarshi says:

    Thank You!

  14. Sylvia Lopez says:

    Dearest Sanjaya,
    So sweet and touching are your words which give me comfort
    knowing your father transitioned so beautifully! I often think about our loved ones who pass however they leave us with such grace and pearls of wisdom. Thank you for reminding me of these gifts today!

    Boundless Blessings and Joy dear one! Sylvia

  15. Alfreda Weiss says:

    Recently I had severe pain and did what your Father did by chanting a name for God. Didn’t help the pain, but helped me not to focus on it. I did heal. Thank you for this touching story about your Father. It brought a tear.

  16. kalidas says:

    so beautiful and inspiring…thank you for sharing this peter :o)

  17. Paalaka says:

    Birthday Blessings to you great soul. I am glad you had & shared such a gift on your birthday last year.

    Paalaka

  18. David K says:

    So wonderful and powerful.

  19. Sheila Nichols says:

    Dear Peter,
    What a beautiful soul your father is and what a lot of non-attachment was demanded of you.

  20. Kristy says:

    Happy blessed Birthday Peter. I hope to remember pain is nothing when we are expansive. Thanks so much for sharing your birthday gift from your father with all of us.

  21. Amber says:

    Thank you, Peter, for sharing this beautiful story about your father. You have such a beautiful family! I think I will grab my Sanskrit mantra book and find the right one for our family’s current growth phase. Master’s Blessings to you and yours.

  22. Brindey says:

    Dearest Peter, thank you for this profound experience and sharing it so beautifully! Bless you d
    ear one today, and always….Brahmacharini Brindey

  23. Kailash says:

    I’m deeply humbled within. What a divine warrior your father was!

  24. karl says:

    Thank you God for working through these words. I am so grateful for this example. Thank you sir, for sharing this deeply personal, deeply transformative experience.

  25. Gitabai says:

    Beautiful story Peter! Thank you for sharing such a tender & special moment with your father.

  26. Dambara says:

    Wow, Peter, thanks for sharing this. What divine, powerful inspiration. Jai, and joy!

  27. Premi says:

    thank you for this touching and personal account. i shared it with a friend who has been in intense physical pain daily for several years.

  28. Maggie says:

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring story.

  29. Manoo says:

    Dear Peter, I deeply loved this article. And you know what, my birthday (March 23) is also about to start in an hour. So, this came as a gift to me too while I was going through my emails & found this one (I had missed reading this one).

    This is very inspirational. And thank you for sharing this beautiful, divine story.

    Blessings & joy to you!

    In Him,
    Manoo