In my book “The Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit – How to Bounce Back from Life’s Hardest Hits”
(BPS) there is a chapter titled, “Bring in the Troops.” The one thing that helped me the most when I lost Tariq is that I knew clearly that I could not navigate this devastating blow by myself. I needed serious help and sought that out initially from my family, spiritual community, friends, and later from others that I had not yet met. The blow was of such magnitude that I understood that I did not have the wherewithal, the strength, and skills needed to move forward in the absence of my only son who brought me joy for a short 20 years. I surrendered to the Universe and initially my family, friends, and to my Sufi Ismaili family.
I relied heavily on this support – in my faith we have a 40-day grieving period after the passing of a loved one. During this period, my tradition taught me that the soul of my son would stay in close proximity to family and loved ones during this period where the important mission was to grieve. I had tremendous support from my community who brought food and offered to clean my home and assist with my errands and whatever I needed to continue my grieving journey.
We prayed together and I was able to share my naked emotions and pain with people who cared and often had more wisdom to navigate my loss than I had. There was no way that I could have navigated those early days without family, friends, and my spiritual community.
While I have previously (and successfully) navigated through many adversities in my life such as immigrating to a foreign country with a different language, carving out a new livelihood, surviving a divorce, and the ups and downs of life – I knew I could not come through this challenge by myself. I was gratified to see that my community was extremely helpful and gracefully willing to come to my rescue.
This is an important lesson that often we are either too proud or nervous to show our vulnerabilities to others or feel that our burden does not need to be shared with others. This is where it is important to recognize that in life, we are going to encounter some serious challenges and learn that we are not invincible and need the humility to seek help. Seeking help is not weak–it is strong! I often share that with my audiences, especially youth.
“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow. ”
I clearly remember that my spiritual teacher at the end of the 40-day grieving period told me “Azim, the way you RESPOND to this tragedy is going to DETERMINE the rest of your life. (A sage wisdom.)” According to our tradition, the 40 days end the grieving period and I was counseled that “after that, your son will move to a different consciousness in preparation for his journey in the next world. Excessive grieving by friends and loved ones after the 40 days will impede his journey in the next world. My recommendation is to do good deeds in his name which is spiritual currency and will transfer to provide him with high-octane fuel.”
It was this perspective that inspired me 9 months later to found the nonprofit organization in his name, the Tariq Khamisa Foundation
as a way to honor him and save the lives of children by teaching nonviolence and peacemaking. With his name on the marquis, my motivation was that TKF,
by its nonprofit mandate, would help children and youth to choose a violence-free life and to become nonviolent leaders committed to creating peace in their homes, schools, and communities. In this way, we will create millions of dollars of spiritual currency so Tariq could navigate his journey in the next world in a rocket. Now in its 25th year, TKF reaches tens of thousands of kids each year and with the grace of the Universe has gifted me with a purpose. It is a win for Tariq, a win for me, and a win for society.
I had no skills or clue on how to build a nonprofit in the area of social justice as my education was in international business. But I sought help initially from my family, friends, and community, but most of the help that has come my way is from people that I had not met who now support TKF with their talent, time, and treasure. I am so moved that there are so many caring people that want to help and support you to not only navigate through life’s toughest challenges but to thrive.
Look at how many millions of people Alcoholics Anonymous has helped deal healthily with their addictions. We are fortunate that in our robust nonprofit sector there are many support groups that want to help. Many support group members wind up feeling better understood and more deeply supported by relative strangers than maybe with family and friends. There are certain kinds of pain and experiences that can only be understood by someone else who has also gone through them.
Having gone through this impossible challenge, today my life’s purpose is to help others navigate the hard hits. I do this through my worldwide speaking, in my workshops, through my books, and my teachings. One of my signature workshops is “Strengthen Your Spiritual Resiliency”
. This master class is a deep-dive into learning the power of forgiveness of others and self. Having done this work over the last 25 years, it has helped many make breakthroughs and thrive.
I used to do an in-person two-day master class to teach this work but now as a result of COVID, I am offering it over 4 days, connecting 4 hours a day for a total of 16 hours in an online workshop. My 2nd online workshop is being held from September 29th to October 2nd. If you are facing challenges or living in anger, resentment, hatred, or guilt – this workshop will cure you of these debilitating emotions so you can perform your life’s mission at your full potential and capability. Here is the link to the landing page of the upcoming master class.
I promise it will be a life-changing experience as most participants over the last 20-plus years have experienced breakthroughs.
Peace and many blessings on your journey forward,