The Heart of the Matter
August 05, 2008
Three Questions


Some years ago I attended a 5-day conference, in Miami, with Maharaji and 50 other people.

On the first morning, during his opening remarks, Maharaji explained that he wanted everyone at the conference to feel absolutely free to ask their questions whenever they had one. Made perfect sense. After all, we were there to learn.

The first morning passed in a questionless mode for me. Everything Maharaji said was absolutely clear and I was content simply to sit, listen, and enjoy the feeling of being in the room with him.

The afternoon was a different story.

About an hour after lunch, Maharaji said something that baffled me. No kapish. I had a question. But I also had something else -- and that was the fear of asking.

One part of me -- the respectful part -- thought I'd be interrupting him if I raised my hand. Another part -- the educated part -- thought I should already know the answer. Yet another part (hey! how many parts did I have?) didn't want to be the focus of attention.

My right hand twitched, but hung at my side like a slacker. Then I remembered what Maharaji said the day before: "If you have a question, ask."

I raised my hand and asked.

"That's the stupidest thing I ever heard," he replied.


Now it was official. I was a fool, a moron, a complete idiot -- something I'd always suspected, but now had all the proof I needed.

I could feel myself shrinking, slinking back into my chair.

Maharaji answered my question, but I barely heard a word. My mind was out to lunch, but had no idea where the restaurant was. A hundred over-caffeinated PR guys inside me, hell bent on damage control, did their best to save the day, but their efforts were a joke.

I didn't sleep well that night.

The next morning I took my seat with an extra dose of humility and some last-minute effort to gracefully manage my emotional meltdown from the day before.

Thirty minutes into Maharaji's presentation, he said something that made only partial sense to me. I kind of understood it. I mean, I sort of got what he said, but not really.

I had a question.

No way was I going to ask it. No way was I going to reveal yet another questionable side of my questionable self -- not only to Maharaji, but to 50 of my peers, some of whom, I knew, already had their doubts about me.

But then I remembered what Maharaji had said on Day One. "If you have a question, ask."

I raised my hand.

"That," he replied, "is a really good question."

Hallelujah! I was back in the game -- now hanging ten in my semi-comfortable hotel chair, waiting for Maharaji's response to my now, officially-declared, good question.

I barely heard a word he said -- consumed, as I was, by his acknowledgment of my question being "good." I could see he was talking, but I was suddenly deaf. My mind, once more, was out to lunch. OK, maybe not lunch, but out for a meal. Like... maybe breakfast.. or a light snack.

Day Three came quickly.

I woke, took a shower, practiced Knowledge, drank coffee, ate a bagel, and took my seat.

The morning session was smooth as silk. Maharaji spoke, told some jokes, showed some slides -- me enjoying my new found status as a question-free human being.

The afternoon?
Don't ask.

An hour into it, I felt an old familiar feeling coming over me. I wouldn't exactly call it cluelessness, but I was clearly in need of a clue.

I took a breath. I raised my hand. I asked.

Maharaji listened. Then he spoke. His response, this time, was neutral. My question wasn't good. My question wasn't stupid. It was just a question.

Three days. Three questions. Three different responses.

Looking back at this conference with Maharaji, the metaphor that comes to mind is one a friend shared with me some years ago.

"Imagine yourself," she said, "as a sword in a stone. It's stuck and won't come out. You pull to the left. You pull to the right. You pull to the left, again. Back and forth, back and forth you go between the extremes: good and bad, up and down, black and white, rich and poor, this and that. With each movement between the extremes, the sword gets looser and looser until it gets loose enough for you to pull from the stone. That's how it works some times -- all this going back and forth, until we're finally free!"

I'm glad I took Maharaji up on his word and asked my questions. In a curious way, I may have learned more from the act of asking than I did from the answers I received. That's one of the cool things about being in relationship with someone like Maharaji. Every interaction is amplified. Every conversation has the potential to reveal something extraordinary.

I'm glad I didn't play it safe with him. I'm glad I didn't hide behind my simulated mask of understanding. Yes, it's a risk to speak up. But a risk to what? Only that self-serving, legend-in-my-own-mind character more concerned with other's opinions of me than the experience of truth.

Did Maharaji know that the three different ways he answered my questions put me through some changes? I doubt it. But it doesn't really matter.

Maharaji is not a mind reader. He is not a psychic. He is not a therapist. He merely holds up a mirror. What we see -- and what we do after we see what we see -- is completely up to us.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at August 5, 2008 09:57 PM


That was a great read, thankyou for sharing. Well done that you still went for the second question!.. and I love that sword in stone analogy.. I thought I was the only who struggled with the sword.. Phew!

Posted by: innapeace [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 6, 2008 11:30 PM

Bravo for speaking up, well done,
enjoyed the reading myself.

Congratulations to keep coming back.

Posted by: lor [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 7, 2008 10:55 AM

I often notice that even "stupid/simple" questions (and I am not talking specifically of Maharajis events here) brings good answers that I guess benefit many of the listeners, but ofcourse there must be that one person that has the courage to ask them..

Posted by: Ian [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 22, 2008 05:00 AM

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