The Heart of the Matter
December 31, 2008
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Best Videos of 2008

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Celebrating New Year's Eve? Letting go of the old and ushering in the new? Raising a glass of champagne to love? Then take a look at Heart of the Matter's Best Videos of 2008.

Some of them will make you laugh. Some of them will make you cry. But all of them will inspire you to go beyond your seeming limitations and dive more deeply into life.

If you're hosting a party, you may want to show a few of these to your guests.

Happy New Year! And a Happy Next Breath...

Stand By Me

It's a Wonderful World

Puppet-Ji: On Non-Attachment

The Laughing Baby

Give Peace a Chance

The Wisdom of the Elders

Dance, Dance, Dance

This Man Has Practiced

A Bowl of Peas

Puppet-Ji: On Seeing

Make Each Day Count

Doing the Seeming Impossible

The Four Prophets

Inviting Gratitude

Puppet-ji Speaks!

The Whole World is Dancing!

Go Within

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:56 AM | Comments (3)

December 25, 2008
MERRY CHRISTMAS! What Is Life?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:57 AM | Comments (1)

December 22, 2008
The Whole World Is Dancing!

Take a look at what one person, with a good idea and a lot of chutzpah, can do. It's MATT, a self-described "32 year old deadbeat from Connecticut" who travelled to 42 countries on 7 continents in 6 months and got thousands of people dancing and laughing with him. What seemingly outlandish idea of YOURS is it time to unleash?

About Matt

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2008
The Story Behind the Story

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Ahhh...the Holidays are coming -- that delightful time of year when we finally unplug from work, eat large amounts of pie, and open lots of presents. Yahoo!

And so, in that spirit, I thought it would be timely -- not to mention fun, bold, and highly subjective -- to bundle together some of my "moments with Maharaji" stories and present them to you, here.

Why in the world would you take the time to read about my experiences when you're busy having your own?

Because at the root of all our experiences, there is an invisible thread of humanity, devotion, longing, craziness, and love that links us all together. And though the details of my life are different from the details of your life, the fact remains that STORIES are a great way to access the heart and soul of who we are.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to all of you out there! (And thanks for all your support...)

Looking for the Real

Waiting for Maharaji

Three Questions

The Reception

A Timeless Moment in Amaroo

Selma Speaks

The Joy of Heckling

The Whisper

Sweeping the Path

So Far Beyond the Blues

50 Reasons Why People Like Being with Maharaji

What's in a Name?


If you have a story to tell, click here.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:50 AM | Comments (3)

December 19, 2008
FABLE: The Four Prophets

This is a sweet, five-minute fable with a powerful message for all people, including kids.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:27 PM | Comments (1)

December 16, 2008
The Letter

I found this very touching -- a letter from Maharaji, in 1992, to someone whose wife had just passed away. Timeless wisdom. Deep compassion. So much love and caring...

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:41 AM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2008
VIDEO: Light the Lamp

Maharaji in Madras, India (10 minutes)

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2008
A Note to Subscribers

If you subscribe to The Heart of the Matter via email alerts, please know that the best way to view each posting is to click on the TITLE of each email alert you receive. This will take you to the blog, itself, where the layout of the text is easiest to read and most complete. Once you're on the blog, you'll have total access to the archives, useful links, and the most recent 30 blog postings (viewable by scrolling). The URL for The Heart of the Matter is www.ideachampions.com/heart. Enjoy!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2008
The Shortest Posts of 2008

In keeping with my height (5'8"), today's posting will be short. More to the point, it will be a hyperlinked list of Heart of the Matter's TOP TEN shortest postings of 2008 -- kind of like an early Christmas present for people with ADD. Each one will take you less time to read than it's taken you, so far, to get through this introduction.


Maharaji: Albany, NY

The Paradox Supreme

Woody Allen Speaks

God Does Not Have a Religion

This Kid...

This Longing, This Ache

The World is an Illusion

Seeding is Believing

Remember This Feeling?


A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2008
VIDEO: Stand By Me

Some people say that laughter is the universal language. Others say love. The producers of the video below say music. Whatever language you speak, one thing is clear: at the core of our being, beyond our differences, we all speak the same language.

And thanks to Noel Philpot, poet extraordinaire, for forwarding this inspiring video.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:28 PM | Comments (3)

December 11, 2008
A Real Tour de Force

Well, there you have it. Maharaji's most recent world tour is now, it seems, completed (though one never really knows). Time now for Maharaji, I'm guessing, to get some much needed rest. How he travels so far and so often is a total mystery to me. It would be one thing if he was sitting back and napping in First Class between countries, but he's piloting his own plane!

I get tired just riding the stationary bike at my health club.

In any case, if you want to read highlights from selected tour events, click the link below. If you want to watch video or listen to CD excerpts from Mauritius, North America, Gwalior, Kurukshestra, Montreal, Toronto, or Asheville, log onto www.mspeaks.com

Taiwan, 11/30

Malaysia, 11/27

Kotputli, 11/17

Jaipur, 11/14

Somewhere in India

Kurukshestra and Gwailor slideshow

Jaipur, Part 2

New Delhi, Part 3

New Delhi, Part 2, 11/10

New Delhi, Part 1, 11/08

Johannesburg, 10/31

Montreal, Part 2, 10/07

Montreal, Part 1, 10/06

Toronto, 10/04

Gainesville, 9/21

Reflections on Florida events

Miami, 9/20

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:09 PM | Comments (1)

December 10, 2008
So Far Beyond the Blues (revisited)

In honor of Maharaji's birthday, what follows is a previously posted story about his 50th birthday event in San Diego last year -- or at least an aspect of it, seen through the eyes of yours truly. Happy 51st birthday, Maharaji! You have taught my heart to sing a song so far beyond the blues.


OK. Here's the scene...

It's December 3rd, five days before Maharaji's 50th birthday event in San Diego, when the phone rings in my kitchen. Its Kate, one of the program coordinators, wondering if I'm available to be the "back up MC."

"Back up, MC?" I ask. Kate laughs and deftly explains that Maharaji has already selected the MC for the event, but they always like to have a back up, "just in case."

"In case of what?" I'm thinking. "A heart attack?"

Two thoughts race through my mind...

One is the wow-amazed-humbled-what-a-beautiful-opportunity thought that spontaneously arises from deep within the heart of someone who loves Maharaji and wants to be of service in any way possible.

The other?

"Oops! I'm in big trouble now. I'm not exactly who you think I am. I'm in way over my head and will surely screw up Maharaji's event for thousands of people, proving, once and for all, that I am a complete idiot impostor.

I think you get the picture.

So there I am on the phone, metaphorically breaking out in hives and maintaining the last remnants of my rapidly disappearing persona, when Kate -- picking up on my obvious mini-meltdown -- goes on to tell me that there is very little chance that I will actually be needed as the back up.

"Hey, this could be the best of both worlds," I'm suddenly thinking to myself. "I'll get a great seat, feel extra good about myself for being chosen, and maybe even get to see Maharaji at the dress rehearsal.

"Sure," I say to Kate. "Count me in."

Kate thanks me and proceeds to tell me what Maharaj said he wanted from the MC at the event. It all makes sense.

I hang up and start floating around my house like some kind of astral bodied Marx Brother. I'm pumped. I'm psyched. I'm pooping in my pants.

The next day I get to thinking about what Kate said Maharaji wanted from the MC and suddenly, I get an inspiration.

"Hey!" I think to what's left of myself, "I could write a funny blues song, poking fun at premies! I can send it to Kate and she can give it to the real MC -- and he can decide if there are any good lines in it to include his opening remarks.

Service!

Cool! Whew! The pressure's off! I like creating new things -- especially blues songs I won't have to perform. The best of all worlds!

It's a work day for me and I only have 30 minutes to spare, so I write some lyrics on the fly. Done! I email them to Kate -- and just as quickly forget about them, getting back to the business of working.

A day goes by. Then the phone rings again. It's Kate.

"So...," she says, without much need for a segue to the second part of her sentence. "You're going to be performing your blues song at the San Diego event."

I heard what she said, but didn't quite understand it. Performing? Blues song? San Diego? Me? She says it again just for good measure and goes on to explain that, after reading the lyrics and laughing loudly, she showed them to someone on his way to Maharaji's residence who also found them funny, so she gave him a copy and he showed them to Maharaji who read them immediately, laughed, and said something like "Good! Let's have Mitch perform this song at the event."

I am stunned. Dazzled. Baffled. Befuddled. The weird thing? In times gone by, I've spent years working on a piece of writing for Maharaji and never heard boo in response. Now, after 30 minutes of parody blues writing, I'm getting an invitation to perform for him and 5,000 people at his birthday event. Huh?

"But Kate... I'm NOT a musician. I'm NOT a singer. I don't have a blues band."

Kate talks me down from the ledge -- explaining that I didn't really need to sing the song, I could talk it -- like the talking blues -- and I didn't need a band -- a blues guitarist was being located to accompany me.

In over my head, I am praying my heart will show up soon.

Kate assures me that everything is going to be fine and that, hey, my blues performance won't happen until the party which is going to be on the afternoon of the second day when everyone is going to be so blissed out that I could read the San Diego phone book and people would probably applaud.

The next two days go by very quickly. I seem to be working. I seem to be a husband. I seem to be a father. I seem to be packing. But I'm actually imagining myself performing a blues song in front of Maharaji and 5,000 people from all around the world. "Be here now?" Not exactly. It's more like "Be there then."

So there I am in my San Diego hotel room, the day before the day before the event, munching on chocolate covered almonds from the overpriced mini-bar, when the phone rings. It's Kate again, mumbling a few pleasantries before cutting to the chase.

"So... it looks like you're going to be the MC," she explains. "The MC couldn't make it. Something came up. Oh," she adds, "Maharaji wants you to start the event with the blues song!"

"Medic! Mommy! Man overboard!"

I didn't sleep too well that night -- sort of like a baby tuna flopping around the deck of a very expensive yacht.

The next day was rehearsal time in Kate's room. Picture it. Me, the non-black, non-musician, pinch hitting, balding Jewish guy getting in the groove with the recently drafted classical guitarist -- Manuel Iman.

Now, I don't know about you, but there's a moment in everyone's life when you are not only uptight, but everyone knows you are uptight and they don't want you to be uptight (because they love you or are depending on you to be cool for a particular purpose) and they approach you and start massaging your shoulders so you will be less uptight, but the very act of them approaching and massaging you is such a dead giveaway that you are hopelessly uptight that even if their massage was perfect, the fact that they've identified you as someone who needs a massage makes you even more uptight in a way that no massage could ever be enough to relax you.

That's the condition I was in, sad to say, during the first part of our rehearsal.

And so it goes...

"I woke up this morning,
I got off the plane,
I went to the airport,
My suitcase went to Spain."

OK. Fast forward. It's half an hour before the program is supposed to start. I'm looking snappier than usual in my dark blue Hugo Boss suit, suitably sitting in the front row, patiently waiting for my cue, when the Hanuman-like Scott Cronin brings the newly blues-riffing Manuel and I a rather large tuna on rye.

"Are you hungry?" he asks.

Yes, we are, not having eaten since 8:00 am, but since it's obviously not elegant to be eating a tuna sandwich in the front row just minutes before the program, Manuel suggests we slip behind the curtain and have our pre-program repast backstage. Voila! We open the curtain to find a place to munch and there, just 15 feet away, is Maharaji, casually talking to a few smiling premies.

Manuel and I become very still. Time stops. Space stops. My attempts to think of cool metaphors to describe the moment stops. We're in the eye of the storm. But there is no storm -- only the impossible-to-translate experience of standing in the effortless radiance of Maharaji.

And then he turns and looks at me.

"So, Mitch, how are you feeling? Are you ready to MC?"

"Maharaji, I'm feeling really good," I say. "Yes, I am ready to MC."

Whatever residual nervousness or self-consciousness may have been clinging to me evaporated in that moment.

The next thing I know, the program has started and I'm onstage singing the blues...

"I woke up this morning,
I got off the plane,
Went to the airport,
My suitcase went to Spain,
They told me not to worry,
They'd bring it to me soon
'Soon coming' is a phrase I've heard
that could mean the end of June.

I woke up this morning,
Maharaji on my mind,
With oh, so many premies,
Would I have to wait in line?
Would I find myself a good seat
Or be stuck in the mezzanine?
I've heard of getting high,
but that's not really what I mean.

Maharaji, you're almost 50
Not to mention timeless, too
Can you tell me where's the usher
Who can seat me next to you?

I woke up this morning,
I practiced for an hour,
Did all techniques in order,
Then took a nice, hot shower,
Watched the news and checked my email,
Then brushed my last three hairs,
But I couldn't find my Smart Card,
Couldn't find it anywhere.

Maharaji, you're almost 50,
And five decades are complete,
Can you tell me where's the usher
Who can help me find my seat?

I woke up this morning,
Went down to the lobby,
Saw all of my friends,
Billy, Joe, Pam and Bobby,
Billy weighed 500 pounds,
Bobby had "special needs,"
Pamela had a triple chin
And Joe... could barely breathe.

But hey, they ain't my problem,
Don't matter what they do,
I came to San Diego, boss,
Only to see you,
So I ran straight to the program,
Dashed across the street,
Focused only on your birthday
And a front row seat.

Maharaji, you da man,
You da Hanuman of Love,
You da best friend that I got,
You da mezzanine above,
You da reason we have come here,
You da universal glue,
Maharaji, happy birthday,
Maharaji, we love you!!!!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:18 PM | Comments (7)

December 09, 2008
DANCE, DANCE, DANCE: The Sequel

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Two days ago, I posted a one-minute video of Maharaji dancing, on stage, at one of his events ten years ago. A few hours later, a concerned Heart of the Matter reader emailed me and questioned how the video would play to the general public. He wondered if the video, taken out of context, might misrepresent Maharaji in any way or spark some kind of negative reaction. At first, I thought he was over-reacting, but then I saw his point. Maybe he was right...

Wanting to test his theory, I forwarded the link to 66 people I know who are not affiliated with Maharaji in any way and asked for their feedback and specific impressions of the video.

PHOTO: Shri Hans Ji Maharaji (Maharaji's father)

"I think it is a beautiful video of a man whose heart is full of celebration."

"He is not my teacher, but I can feel his love."

"I loved it. I thought his dancing around and the music showed the humanistic side to him. Endearing as well."

"Loved it."

"That was fun! Not so much dancing, as just being moved by the energy of the room (or did he move the room with his energy?) Anytime anyone is moved to move it is moving and fun to watch."

"Dancing is the most natural and appropriate expression of joy. I'm always grateful for anything that reminds or inspires me to feel my heart, and that video certainly does. Thank you!"

"Nice! He is a happy person."

"Beautiful! He dances with an open heart, inviting everyone there to open their hearts as well. Very moving and bliss activating. Thanks for sharing it."

"It's very simple: dance is an expression of our feelings. He is happy."

"I found the video to be lovely. It communicates a sense of gentle celebration and joyfulness. I responded to Maharaji's naturalness with movement and the flow of the moment. It seems very in keeping with human moments we see from a number of great teachers."

"I thought this was wonderful and a great example of the beauty of dance and community -- a simple warm expression."

"I think it is just wonderful seeing him share the bliss of the moment. Also, I had the distinct feeling that he was doing much more than dancing. It seemed to me that he was showering the assembly with shakti and love."

"I thought it was nice, especially if you understand that this guy has made such an impact on people's lives. People love him."

"I like the reminder that dancing can be a transformative experience."

"I love this."


PS: Maybe it's time for a dance party of some kind?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:07 PM | Comments (3)

December 08, 2008
Twinkle Twinkle

So there I am, 11 years ago, putting my 3-year old son to bed, when I notice it's an especially clear night, a perfect time, I think, to introduce him to the ancient art of "wishing on a star." Scooping him up in my arms, I tenderly carry him across the room, part the gauzy curtain, and position him just right so he can see the fullness of the brilliant night sky.

"Jesse," I whisper, pointing up at the sky, "do you see that star? If you make a wish right now while looking at it, your wish will come true."

He turns and looks at me as if I had just revealed the secret of the universe. "Really, Dada?" he says.

"Oh yes," I reply, waiting for my first born to make his first wish on this perfect summer night.

He continues staring out the window, searching, it seems, for some deep sense of what he really wants from life. "I wish...."

(I couldn't believe my good fortune, the honor of being allowed to witness this, his first real act of longing.)

"I wish... I wish," he says, looking up at the sky and pausing ever so slightly, "for... a... lot of pretzels."

PS: What do YOU wish for? And more than that, what do you KNOW is possible?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2008
Happy Birthday, Maharaji! (three days early)

A beautiful 9 minute film. No spoken words. None needed. Just love...

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2008
The Laughing Baby

There's a reason this video has been viewed more than 68 million times on YouTube. Laughter is powerful medicine, a gift, and our birthright.

Click below for some great quotes on laughter...

"I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose." -- Woody Allen

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." -- e.e. cummings

"Laughter is an instant vacation." -- Milton Berle

"Laughter is the shortest distance between two people." -- Victor Borge

"What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul." -- Yiddish Proverb

"The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter." -- Mark Twain

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:54 PM | Comments (1)

December 04, 2008
Maharaji in Taiwan

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Below are a few paraphrased highlights of Maharaji's presentation in Taiwan on November 30th. Thanks to Jan Buchalter for sharing her recollections with us.

"You are told that your lover, whom you have not seen for two years, is arriving at 4 pm. That morning, when you wake up, you will be extremely happy. When you are brushing your teeth, you will be happy, thinking of the time to come. At breakfast you will be dreaming of that time. All through the day your attention will be waiting for the moment when the two of you can be together. Three o'clock comes and you start looking at your watch every minute. The longing... the anticipation... the excitement... Finally, after so long, the time is drawing so near. By 3:55 you are floating on air. Approach Knowledge the same way."

"When a mother has a baby, where is her attention? No matter what she does, she is always thinking of her baby. Everything she goes through, her awareness is on her child's needs. Where is your awareness? If, in 20 minutes, you were told you were going to die, where would your focus be? In 10 minutes? You would not waste a minute. Make every moment count! Keep your priority of this life very, very clear."

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"If you carve a chicken out of a piece of wood, does the wood become a chicken that actually lays eggs? What is our default nature that does not change regardless of what we make ourselves into, or what labels we place on our identities? One day our identity will become obsolete, so we might as well start now identifying with the timeless."

"When everything that is of the body is meant to return to the earth, to dust, can you be secure now... and then, ultimately, with your last breath, relying on the power that brought you into existence?"

"You are always so interested in knowing your friends, but there is one friend, in good times and bad, that will always be with you. When everything is good, friends are easy to come by, but when you are down and out, you will finally realize who your true friends are. Maharaji is the ultimate friend. It is time to get to know this friend within, and not be a stranger to yourself. Close the doors to all the outward, temporary show and begin to fathom the joy of the immortal."

"Though the wind may stir the surface of the pool, the ripples are from the wind. The depths below remain deep and placid."

"The warrior can battle the demons of arising conflicts and still maintain his or her stance of inner composure. This is the mark of one who has achieved some modicum of calm. Even in the face of anger or disruption one returns to the constant... for that is our underlying nature. This is possible for anyone -- from a prisoner to the most innocent human on the face of this earth."

"The relationship with the Master is beyond what we can comprehend with our understanding. It is so on another scale that there is nothing in this world that compares. One is lifted so above. The divinity there is a timeless actuality and both of you know you have never been apart. The longing to reach becomes so mutual that it raises the standard of what it means for two human beings to love. Devotion is the nature of this bond, and compares to no other relation."

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:56 AM | Comments (3)

Welcome to Mitch Ditkoff's blog about what's really important in this life: Peace, gratitude, love, joy, clarity, and the effort required to wake up and smell the roses. Enjoy!

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