Come to Bali with Mastin! → Check it out!

An Image Of My Father

Yogi Cameron Alborzian book headshotI grew up with my family in Iran. My image of my father when I was a child was that of a healthy, strong man. After meeting my English mother in the United Kingdom, he moved with her back to his native country of Iran to build a life together. He worked his way up to be head of fire and safety for the Iranian national refineries, so we lived an upper-middle class lifestyle with a nice house among comparably affluent neighbors.

And he treated me with kindness—mostly.  As a young boy I of course had my naughty moments, for I would go exploring behind our house in fields that had many varieties of venomous snakes and would play soccer in the streets with the local kids—two things he specifically told me not to do.  So the punishments I endured from time to time created a few intimidating images of him as well.

With the coming of the Iranian Revolution came some changes.  At the end of 1978, right before the Shah was overthrown, I was eleven years old.  There were armed military personnel, planes flying overhead, and other indications of the fact that Iran had come under martial law.  My parents decided that this was no place for me to be, so they sent me to boarding school in England about an hour from where my mother’s parents lived.  I had to leave behind friends, learn how to be literate in a whole other language, and had to adapt to a very different culture.

And yet this transition didn’t have nearly the devastating impact that it had on my father.

My father left Iran a few years after I did, in the early 80’s.  This was after my mother and sister had already been in the country for a number of years as well.  But instead of it being a measured, grounded transition based on the pursuit of new and enriching opportunities, it was an act of desperation.  Iran under the Ayatollah Khomeini had become an oppressive, intolerable situation.  It drove my father away from the only home he ever had.

The effect it had on him could have been predicted.  Rather than retire as a healthy, strong man in a moderately affluent home, he scraped by with my mother in England as they struggled to keep me in school.  He became depressed.  His well-being gradually deteriorated more and more until the only images I or anyone else would have of him would be that of a broken man seemingly robbed of health and home.

Of course, none of this would have been likely to happen had the Iranian government not been overturned in the late 70’s.  The previous model had been good to our family, and had we stayed put my father may have aged with far more grace and balance.  It would be easy to cast blame on the Ayatollah’s regime and feel resentment toward him and everyone who supported the hard line of his fundamentalist rule. It would be just as easy to blame the Western governments who helped the Shah into power in the first place. It would also be a completely detrimental way to live.

My contributions to The Daily Love often center on the exploration of unconditional love.  This is a state of being that is the natural result of having alleviated one’s personal suffering so as to no longer feel a sense of separation from other living beings.  Often, people act violently toward others, as was the case under the Ayatollah’s regime.  When we respond to these types of actions from a state of fear, anger, resentment, despair or other conditions of emotional turmoil, we place emphasis in our minds on how we are being negatively affected by the other person rather than seeing them as victims of their own personal suffering.

If one were to persecute others in the name of religious fundamentalism, then they are undermining the natural order of life and prosperity.  They are acting from a place of fear, and our work on the Yogic path is to see that fear as simply a more extreme version of the fears we face in our own day-to-day lives.  Rather than allow ourselves to feel hostile toward them, or to feel a sense of outrage, we develop a sense of compassion.  To love others unconditionally is just that: no matter how much they allow their suffering to dictate their actions, we offer them our love.  We love them wholly and completely, for they suffer just as we do ourselves.

My father recently passed away.  It was the final step of his body surrendering to the imbalance that started all of those years ago.  It would be typical for me or anyone else to consider it sad or even tragic that so much of his vitality left him as the result of his response to circumstance.  But in a state of love, we see no tragedy.  We only see the interconnectedness that we are all blessed with through the gift we know as life.  That I have an image of my father living as a less healthy man in his latter years is not nearly as important as the fact that I have an image of him living, period.  Through knowing him, I had an opportunity to love and be loved.

And it is because this feeling happens unconditionally that I love him still.

Have questions for me? Comments? Please feel free to leave them below.

Love,

Yogi Cameron

###

Yogi Cameron is an Ayurvedic therapist and yoga master. Visit him via Facebook or Twitter page if you’d like to know more.  To download a FREE sample of his book The One Plan, visit yogicameron.com.

  • O

    Your story was very inspirational and hit close to home for me as well. My best friend and his family were also affected by the situations in Iran, having to leave their homeland has caused them many hardships and changed them forever. My family had a similar experience but in my our case it was in Cuba. I have lived your story. My father was never the same when he left his birth country and moved to the US. He changed from a strong and confident professional to someone broken in many ways. In fact my father in some ways never left, always dreaming of the land that was lost. I take your message and story to heart. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Yogi Cameron

      And while it can seem like tremendous hardship to become physically broken in this way, it can also lead to an emergence of our spirit–which won’t ever break. Thank you for sharing.

  • Elly

    Deja Vous! We share many life experiences……..I was born and raised in Tehran and was forced to leave all my friends and family behind to come to Los Angeles to
    my grandparents. At the tender age of 11, this was a very drastic move for me, let alone for my father who had built a dignified life and was a prominent businessman in his hometown. My mom was the only happy camper since she was coming to her beloved family in LA. Despite my rebelious effort to stay back in Iran with my dad, I was literally shipped to LA and was miserable for a long time until I found new friends and adapted. It took my day 4 years to come and join us in the hopes of everything going back to normal and we moving back to him. As we all know now things NEVER went back to normal and he also was forced to come to LA. Unfortunately he never adapted to his new habitat and gradually deteriated and passed away 7 years ago, not as a peaceful man who he was an embodiment of , but as a broken down man whose dignity, life and empire was violently robbed away from him, and which he never recovered from.
    I would love to do an event with you. Please contact me [email protected]

    • Yogi Cameron

      Many thanks for your support and interest. I’m currently overseas but have taken note of your contact information. I hope your life continues to take shape in meaningful ways.

  • Elly

    Dear Yogi Cameron, I would like to thank you for all your inspirational contributions to humanity and as a token of my appreciation, offer to have a book signing at my house in Beverly Hills for your book, to raise spiritual awareness, especially within our Iranian community. I admire all your work and have been a fan for a long time.
    I take this as an opportunity to reciprocate your unconditional love.
    Let me know if you are interested. You can contact me at [email protected]

  • Lisa Besaw

    Dear Yogi C.
    Your message today explaining that unconditional love is the “natural result of someone having alleviated their own personal suffering and therefore no longer feel separate from other living beings” really touched me. Just yesterday my parents, my sisters, and my daughter were discussing the tragic bombings during the Boston Marathon this spring, and about the details of the capture of the younger brother suspect. When I said that I felt very sad for him that people were cheering as the ambulance carried his very injured body & soul through the crowded streets on the way to the hospital; most of my family expressed surprise that I had compassion for him at all. That feeling felt normal to me yesterday; and now after reading your post, I’m even prouder that I expressed to my family my true feeling. I am an RN, so I’m not certain if I’ve always been compassionate; but I think I’m at least in the right arena! Thank you.

    • Yogi Cameron

      And as you practice more, that arena will become bigger and bigger.

  • Sarah

    I like your article the part about loving people as they are is so true. I wish as humans we could follow this. So often there is so much hate over just ones religion or way of life. I miss seeing compassion and heart. I feel I am a lover of all my fellow people and It is such a heaviness on my heart to see people treated so poorly.If I could bottle up my compassion and heart and how I feel and give it away, I would. For people to see things as I do, maybe there wouldn’t be as much hurt. Thank you for sharing of your childhood and how parents give to there kids. The lessons we could learn of we would only pay attention to the smaller things and things that are not worldly all the time.

    • Yogi Cameron

      Giving your compassion to others may be a more attainable goal than you might think. Just keep practicing.

  • Msims

    How ironic my story is quite similar. I was born in Uganda my mother is Ugandan (Toro) and my father is Scottish. My fathers family are aristocrats and were traders, doctors, writers; artists. I believe my Scottish Grandfather whom I never met as he died before I was born owned a number of tea factories in India and Africa. After the death of my Grandfather my Uncle and my father started a tea company in Fort Portal Uganda called Kijura Tea Estate. In around 1972 or 73 Idi Amin started his regime and kicked out all non Africans. My father lost everything and I think it was then that he may have lost his way. We moved to Australia and I also was sent to boarding school. Without all the details I had a traumatic childhood one I overcame by playing a lot of sport and pretty much creating my own beautiful world in my own mind. That was how I survived. I would read books and always imagine my life being much better than it really was. My story is one of many sad stories I am sure. I understand that from all of my pain the biggest gift is knowledge, not seeing the world anymore as place of suffering and pain but as a big school where we are given the opportunity to evolve and move beyond being dense and stuck in the “victim” state. Such a dark dark place to be and extremely unhappy. I see the world with different eyes and a different heart. I would not be as enlightened had I not been in the dark. The journey back to the light is what makes me beautiful and has transformed me into being.

    • Yogi Cameron

      Glad that you have recognized the value of such a journey. I hope you continue to live in light.

      • guest

        Yes me too. Can you please kindly remove my post. I tried to do it myself but it’s not possible. Thanks so much.

  • Maria Jones

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are such an inspiration in the life of many, including mine. Namaste and thank you for your selfless service <3

  • Nasrin Sasanpour

    Cameron, what a beautiful harmonious story of life and living, depicting your beloved father’s circle of time. Thank you for sharing. Love Always, Nasrin

  • Estella Tahir

    It’s hard to watch your father cry. Can never forget that day. Love Estella.

  • Pam

    Yogi I just recently found you on cable and very much enjoy your show. Your story reminds me how important it is to change my life. As I have aged I have become hard and cynical and struggle to be the kind loving soul I once was. My mind doesn’t seem to belong to me anymore but I know in my heart what is right. I will continue to search for the path back to unconditional love and kindness. Your input would be so appreciated. Thank you for your time.
    Pam