As I reflect upon my life’s journey, I am gratified by the realization that I may have actually lived many lifetimes in my short tenure on this planet. I recall my childhood with great fondness, growing up on our little family farm outside of Mombasa in Kenya, surrounded by nature and its impeccable perfection, except for the safari ants and poisonous snakes! My parents had invested their life savings in this farm and so, we all performed the little and large tasks together as a family, without the luxury of teams of helpers. My weekends started at 6 a.m. on Saturdays, as I hopped onto the tractor and went off to plough the fields, stopping periodically through the day to escape the blazing heat and dig out fresh cassava (yucca) roots, enjoying their raw, crunchy, sweet milky flavor as their sap oozed over my face. On Sundays, I took my turn tending to the poultry sheds, collecting eggs and nursing sick birds in our little make-shift clinic, which inculcated my interest in medical science. What a wonderful way to grow up…simple and happy, with scanty material comforts.
I entered the world of business at the age of eleven, leaving home in our pick-up truck at the crack of dawn, to deliver fresh eggs and vegetables to the tourist hotels along the Mombasa coastline, en route to school. On my way back in the evenings, I stopped at each hotel to collect the empty packaging and payments for our produce. Arguing over pricing and payment terms with the catering managers was a regular saga, which introduced me to the art of earnest negotiation.
I left our family home in the early 1970’s and travelled to the United Kingdom for further education, graduating from university with distinctions in Chemical Engineering. My working career took me to Canada, where I met my soul mate, Karima, with whom we were blessed with three lovely children plus an adopted family child. Raising these highly intelligent little beings, with such diverse personalities and intellects, was an education in itself. Being young parents, we actually grew up with our children, as their friends and mentors, helping motivate them in every manner we knew how, in order to bring out their finest qualities. They grew up experiencing the rich cultural diversity of peoples across the globe, as my career as an engineer and environmental specialist took us from the industrialized centers to the most rural corners of the planet.
“Arguing over pricing and payment terms with the catering managers was a regular saga, which introduced me to the art of earnest negotiation.”
My life has been defined by a series of turning points, transforming and redefining me in often dramatic ways. In 1987, during a visit to Kashmir in the Himalayan mountains, I had a near-death experience in a motorbike accident, where I was flung into the air at eighty kilometers per hour. I witnessed the bike burst into flames below me, and then, for a moment, time stood still. I felt a beautiful energy, like that of a loving parent, gently place me on the side of the road without suffering a single scratch. The stillness and peace of this experience was in sharp contrast to the violent nature of the accident I had just survived. Over the subsequent years, I went through an intense mental and spiritual transformation from which I derived inner peace and an ever-growing understanding of the oneness of nature, humanity and our Creator. I began to write down all the inspired thoughts, which in my understanding, were synonymous with the river of knowledge that had to be shared freely in order to maintain its flow. Thankfully, I have been able to achieve this to date through my books, lectures and workshops, which are offered globally to a universal audience of all ages, cultures, religions and schools of thought. This work continues to remain a cornerstone of my life, for which I am eternally grateful.
One of the earliest pivotal points of my life was exposure to the impact of cholera in Kenya, where I witnessed young, healthy children shrivel to skeletons within a matter of days. I remember thinking to myself, “One day in my life, I am going to help end water carried diseases”. Like any typical sixteen-year-old, my life was fully occupied at the time with education, sports, girlfriends and having as much fun as I could; in the midst of which, this thought totally faded into the background. Over twenty years later, I attended the opening ceremony of a state-of-the-art water purification system our company had built along a river in Vietnam, which converted heavily contaminated water to pure drinking water. The problem in those days was that communities consumed untreated river water for drinking and simultaneously discharged their sewage into the same river a little further away. Unfortunately, the downstream communities ended up drinking this contaminated water, resulting in diseases and infant mortality. During the inauguration, as I watched people dancing before us with containers full of pure water, the Mayor said to me, “For years, we have prayed that someone would bring us clean water, so we would not have to drink and bathe in water the colour of your coffee.” I completely froze in that instant. Goosebumps covered my body and tears filled my eyes, as my mind flashed back to the moment at age sixteen, when I decided I was going to help eliminate water carried diseases. “Oh my God, it has happened!” My life had actually been shaped by that powerful thought, which had now manifested before me so many years later! I realized that I had become a technical specialist in water treatment and environmental preservation, without ever planning for it. This was my first exposure to the true power of thought…
"One day in my life, I am going to help end water carried diseases"
Towards the end of the 1990’s, my life went through another dramatic turn after I lost my business and everything I had worked so hard to build. Up to this point in my life, I had enjoyed the elation and friendships that come with success. The experience of losing everything before my eyes and hitting rock bottom, while dealing with the hurts of abandonment, humiliation, turmoil and endless conflict, ended up being one of my life’s greatest learning experiences that completely redefined my view of the world.
My wife, children and I started again from scratch to rebuild our lives, fortified by wisdom that had been earned through baptism by fire! Our greatest source of strength through all this was our faith in God and the strength, love and unity of our family. The road ahead was filled with numerous challenges, but like the phoenix that rises from the ashes, I was convinced that our setbacks were actually the beginning of a truly empowered journey of learning and sharing of the formidable lessons that had come to us at such a high price. Gratefully, over the years, I have been able to contribute positively towards developing strategic technologies and solutions that clean toxic waters and nurture sustainability of the environment. Equally importantly, I also feel blessed to have been able to share my knowledge and inspirations widely, in my pursuit of fostering a positive human consciousness amidst an ever-spiraling world of conflict and negativity.
In conclusion, I submit that the best teacher of life is the school of hard knocks. No textbook can teach you what life’s journey of chaos, turmoil, loss and conflict can. It will raise you to a hero and then drop you to zero, or sometimes sub-zero, but these cycles are nothing more than life at play. Its beauty lies in experiencing and learning from the journey, because let us not forget, we came into this world with nothing and will leave with nothing. This is an absolute fact. Thank God, life also serves up love, motivation, inspiration, and happiness as a real, but often elusive balance…”
If you were to ask me what my most significant outcomes of learning have been, I would say without hesitation, ‘hope, humility and gratitude…’