All Hands on Deck!
Look around you. This is not the time for lone wolves, closet geniuses, unaffiliated mavericks, out-of-orbit freelancers, hidden agendas, superstars, cranky collaborators, or hyper independent dreamers. Sorry. Wrong decade. Now is the time for alliances, partnerships, collaborations, and team chemistry. If you are trying to "get something done" and it just ain't happening, pause for a moment and take a good look at how you are operating. If you don't have a team of committed collaborators, allies, and partners in place, it will be very difficult to manifest the inspired results you are imagining. Make sense?
What's one thing you can do this week to build your team?
The One for Whom You Create
Poets, lose your pens,
Painters, toss your brushes
in the sea,
Musicians, give your instruments
away, then go for a long walk.
When you're done, keep walking,
notice the beauty all around you.
Don't try to remember
a single thing, breathe.
This holy moment is your poetry,
your art, your song.
Do not concern yourself with giving it form.
The One for whom you create
what you just didn't do.
November 27, 2011
When I was a young man (that's me to the left), I thought the "spiritual journey" was a very serious affair.
Serious, as in heavy. Serious, as in ancient. Serious, as in the world is a big, bad illusion and I better figure out what's real before I die.
Like many people in the 60's, I tried a lot of things in a slightly self-absorbed effort to wake up and experience "the Truth".
And then I met Maharaji -- who was only 13 at the time, but spoke with the power and presence of the greatest of sages...
It was the singular most significant moment of my life.
Receiving his gift of Knowledge, practicing it, and listening to his inspiring words of wisdom transformed me over time.
Heavy became light. Feeling balanced out thinking. And I began to experience life in a much more enjoyable way.
In time, I became happier, freer, relaxed, and far more appreciative of all the blessings in my life.
I stopped trying to out stare others and started looking within.
It's 40 years later and I am still his student, still learning, still enjoying the extraordinary ways in which he and his gift of Knowledge are waking me up to the beauty of THIS moment.
Popcorn, anyone?November 26, 2011
Happy Almost Birthday
Maharaji (aka Prem Rawat) will be 54 on December 10th. When he first came to the West, he was only 13. Here is an inspiring 3 minute video, on Words of Peace Global, that will give you some insight into what his work is all about. Enjoy!November 25, 2011
Waiting for a Sign?
The Selective Attention Test Duck!
When I was a young boy, I loved to swim in the ocean in a place called Jones Beach. Happy to be out of the suburbs for the day, I'd run into the water, make my way out to the biggest waves, and body surf as far as possible into shore. Again and again and again. I wasn't a great body surfer, but good enough to have a lot of fun.
Of course, there were always those moments, standing out there in the shifting sands beneath my feet, when a monster wave would appear, gathering force like some kind of outtake from a 1950's Japanese disaster movie.
It didn't take a whole lot of smarts to realize that those waves were way too big for me to ride -- forces of nature not only over my head, but entirely out of my league.
I had only one choice: duck.
So duck I did, holding my breath and feeling torrents of water swarming over my head.
When I think about the Knowledge that Maharaji reveals, I think about my boyhood ocean adventures.
The world, with all it's gathering force, often feels like a wave -- the rising stuff of life sometimes just too intense to ride, even for the most athletic and trusting among us.
Sometimes you just gotta duck and find the place inside you that is free of the pulls, free of all the tidal ups and downs.
Please don't get me wrong. I am not talking about avoidance, retraction, or refusing to engage in the dance of life. Far from it.
I'm talking about having the option and the know how to slip beneath the rising tide of madness often swirling all around you. On the streets. On the job. And ultimately, in your own oceanic mind.November 22, 2011
The Power of Love
Here is an inspiring video montage, slide show, and remake of One Foundation's classic "Power of Love" sung by Daya Rawat. If a picture's worth a thousand words, this six-minute video is worth a million.November 21, 2011
The Joy of Heckling
If you talk to a thousand people who are (or have been) students of Maharaji, you will get a thousand different impressions of who he is and what he does. Your guess about the accuracy of their perceptions is as good as mine.
But if you really want to know the answer, you will need to have your own experience, while being mindful of the words of Anais Nin, "We don't see things as they are, but as we are." Allow me to be more specific.
When Maharaji was 16, he married -- not to an Indian woman chosen by his parents, but to a 24-year old American. This troubled some of his students -- especially those who, at that time, had chosen celibacy as part of their path to enlightenment. How could Maharaji get married, they reasoned. Marriage was so mundane... such a distraction... so unspiritual.
And so, when Maharaji said "I do," a bunch of these people said "I don't" and split the scene.
Other students of Maharaji had a different response. They thought his marriage was cool -- more proof that he was free of old-fashioned concepts -- a liberated move that only deepened their love and respect for him. His actions, they concluded, were a kind of divine permission to do the same. And so they did. Got married, that is.
Still others, with no absolutely no desire to stop practicing Knowledge or settle down with a soul mate, had yet a different response. They sent wedding presents. They sent gardenias. They sent roses and cards and effusive telegrams.
Me? I was happy for Maharaji, wondered what kind of gift I should buy, figured I couldn't afford it, and did nothing -- thinking my long distance thoughts would somehow be enough.
ACT ll (three years later)
As far back as I can recall, Maharaji used to conduct "instructor conferences" -- intensive retreats for handpicked groups of his students on how to best represent his message in the world. Like many of his students, I wanted to be invited -- not only for the sheer joy of being with him, but for what I imagined was undeniable proof that I was "getting somewhere" with Knowledge.
Eight years passed. My love for Maharaji and Knowledge continued to blossom. Not once, however, was I invited to attend one of these events.
And then, completely, out of the blue, one unofficial day -- VOILA! -- I got the word. "Get down to Miami. You've been invited to an instructor conference... but not as a candidate -- as a guest."
A guest? Now I was really confused. I mean, Maharaji was inviting me, but he was also not inviting me. Huh?
For three days I sat in the back of a large conference room and watched Maharaji, like some kind of improv laughing Pied Piper Buddha, in perfectly creased pants, bring everyone to a place of exquisite attention, learning, and relaxation. A magician he was. A conductor of joy. A man on a mission.
And then, before I knew it, the conference was over. Or at least I thought it was over. It wasn't. There was one more thing still to come -- a "Celebration Dinner".
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the room were the champagne bottles -- one on each table. "This is gonna be interesting," I thought, amused by the fact that 98% of the people in the room hadn't had anything stronger to drink than a smoothie in the past few years.
Someone led me to my table. It was next to Maharaji's.
Feeling suddenly mid-western, I surveyed the room in a noble attempt to figure out what I was supposed to do -- how I should act. Clearly, no one had a clue. Things were just happening. There were no reference points, no sign posts, no correct courses of action -- only the sound of corks popping and a palpable wave of joy.
Good guest that I was, I raised my glass and drank, occasionally sneaking glances at Maharaji like some kind of wide-eyed tourist.
The next thing I know, he's asking if anyone has a good joke.
There's the usual self consciousness... the pregnant pause... then someone stands up, mounts the stage, and begins. The joke isn't funny, but it breaks the ice. In a flash, someone else mounts the stage, only this time the joke is a lot better and X-rated, to boot. I look at Maharaji to see his reaction. He is laughing. Of course he's laughing. The joke is funny! A third person gets up. Then a fourth -- each joke raunchier than the one before -- and everybody crazy with laughter.
At the telling of the fifth joke, I shout out a heckle like some kind of wise guy from Brooklyn. Irreverent. Unrehearsed. And way funnier than the joke itself.
"Who said that?" Maharaji asks, looking in my direction.
"I did, Maharaji," I say.
Maharaji laughs and points at me, "One point for Ditkoff!"
Now here is where all logic breaks down... where what I am about to say may seem as strange as my son's one-time fascination for Pokemon. I got completely ecstatic. In a blink of the eye, a major concept of mine had evaporated and I felt infinitely lighter.
After years of trying oh so hard -- in oh so many futile ways -- to have my special, timeless, sacred, holy, cosmic, blissful, meaningful moment with Maharaji, I finally have one -- and it's for heckling an aspiring yogi at a dirty joke contest.
ACT lll (18 years later)
Not long ago, I read an account of this very same event by someone who was also there -- someone once very close to Maharaji. This particular fellow described the contest accurately. The only thing different was the conclusion he drew.
For him, the contest was inappropriate, off-putting, poorly timed, and in bad taste. For me, it was perfect, divine, liberating, and transcendental -- exactly what was needed for that particular group of people on that particular night, so focused on the "path" that they had forgotten to smell the roses... or accept themselves for simply being human.
Looking back, it's fair to say that I learned more in those few joke-telling moments about life -- my life -- than I did from years of meditating and reading holy books.
A Red Sea parted. For me, it parted. Not for that other guy. He had a different experience. He tells a different story now. Which, of course, is his right, but does not make him right. That's just one of the amazing things about this life. We all see it differently -- based on where we're coming from at any particular moment in time.November 17, 2011
Welcome to My Woodstock Abode!
Photos: Mimi Ditkoff (14)November 16, 2011
Draw a Breath, Not a Line
Throughout history, inner-directed people on the so-called "spiritual path", have had a tendency to perceive the world as "maya" -- the fancy sanskrit name for "illusion."
I used to feel this way a lot.
Back in the early days of my adolescent quest for meaning, I had a curious habit of drawing lines in the sand. On one side of the line was the "inner life" -- the place where God lived (or if not lived, at least vacationed). On the other side of the line was "the world." You know -- the laughable detritus of life on planet Earth: relationships, shopping malls, money, politics, ego, organized religion, high school geometry, taxes, Frosted Flakes, and anything I didn't understand, agree with, or like.
Somehow, it made me feel good to draw these lines -- not unlike the way Democrat and Republican spin doctors strut their stuff on CNN after each political debate.
Well... I would like to take this late night blogospheric moment to humbly apologize to all of those whose lives I somehow judged by my habitual line-drawing behavior.
I see things differently now -- kind of like that old Zen story...
Two young monks, one fine day, found themselves existentially arguing over whether it was the wind or the flag that was moving. Unable to agree, they sought the counsel of their teacher.
"Master, oh Master" they asked, "is it the wind or the flag that is moving?"
"Neither," the Master replied. "It's your mind that is moving."
And so, dear friend, if you find yourself judging anyone these days, including yourself, chill. It's a total waste of time -- especially when you could be enjoying the very thing you were born for.
Draw a breath, not a line.
A wonderful up song from down under: Geoff Bridgford's Ordinary Man.I Take Requests
November 11, 2011
The year was 1986. Or maybe it was 1989. Or 1990. I really don't remember what year it was, but it doesn't matter in the least because my story has nothing to do with time.
Maharaji (aka Prem Rawat) had just spoken to a few thousand people at a venue in Queens, NY. I was on my way out of the building when an old friend comes up to me and mentions there is going to be a small reception for Maharaji, immediately after the program, at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City.
In a heartbeat I'm out the door, zipping through traffic, and pulling up to the hotel entrance.
A smiling usher greets me in the lobby and points to the reception room on the second floor.
I bound the stairs three at a time and enter, fully expecting last minute preparations to be in full-frazzled swing. They're not. Maharaji is already there -- standing quietly in the middle of the room and talking to someone...
My first instinct is to rush across the room, go right up to him and say hello... or shake his hand... or thank him profusely... or offer an hors d'oeuvre... or ask if he needs help ... or volunteer for something... or remain inscrutably silent... or attempt to blend in like I'd been attending these kinds of gatherings with him for years.
So I do what any good guest at an elegant reception in a fancy New York City hotel would do. I sidle up to the buffet.
By now, it's clear I don't know how to approach Maharaji, but I do know how to eat. And though I'm not all that hungry, eating, I reason, will give me something to do as I wait for my opening to get closer to him.
The crudite looks good, but too much like a picture from a magazine I wouldn't read in a dentist's office. And besides, carrots and celery are nowhere near my "celebration foods" -- the stuff I eat whenever I'm feeling really good.
Ah...look! Over there by the olives! Cashews! I love cashews! The perfect finger food! Nothing to drip on my shirt!
And so I grab a few and eat -- doing my best, at all times, to sense where Maharaji is in the room -- a curious kind of modern day yoga not yet featured in Time or Newsweek.
The cashews are good. Very good.
They are also, I discover, very salty. This is not good because my right hand -- the one I'd be using to shake Maharaji's should I ever get close enough -- was now completely greasy.
I pick up a napkin to wipe off the salt, but succeed only in further spreading the salt over both my hands. I think of going to the men's room to wash them off, but then I'd be leaving the room Maharaji is in and who knows how much longer he'd be there?
Trusting the moment, I quickly take my leave, wash both hands, and re-enter the room. Maharaji, I'm relieved to see, is still there, now talking to someone else.
And then... in a classic, pre-verbal, pure instinct, swallow-back-to-Capistrano mode, I find myself spontaneously migrating towards him, stopping only when I'm about an arm's length away.
He is talking about radio conversations he's had with Russian fighter pilots when piloting his plane.
I do my best to stand there without standing out.
He continues, making some kind of reference to the apocalypse, which triggers, for me, the following response:
"Maharaji, I've heard it said that the only thing that will remain after World War lll will be a McDonald's milkshake."
"No," he replies. "Cockroaches."
There are many ways a person could interpret the preceding story.
One could easily conclude that what I experienced at the Hotel Carlyle reception with Maharaji was simply a function of my own mindset and mood that night -- the quirky way I see the world and the choices I make based on those perceptions.
Show three people a sharp knife and you'll get three different reactions. Someone's going to think of a stabbing... another, the number of carrots they can chop in three minutes... still a third, how much they could get for it on eBay.
"We don't see things as they are," said Anais Nin, "we see things as we are."
I'm guessing the other 75 guests at the reception told very different stories the next day -- none of which had anything to do with cashews, salt, or Russian fighter pilots.
"Motivation affects perception," explain the psychologists.
Still, I'd venture to say that everyone in the room that night, at the root of their own story, shared one thing in common.
And that was a feeling.
Not a thought, not a concept, not an opinion, projection, abstraction, comparison, analysis, or conclusion.
A feeling of love and freedom far beyond the specifics of what they experienced at the reception that night and how they told their stories the next day.
This feeling is why I was happy to be at the reception with Maharaji. And it's why I'd be happy to be in a desert with him. Or a bus station. Or a hallway. Or a field far away from here.
What Maharaji connects a person to is a place beyond the story of their life -- a place that cannot be found on a map.
A place that can only be found in the heart.
Not intrigued? Got other fish to fry? No problema. May you enjoy all the rest of your days no matter what you do. May you count your blessings. Then lose count. May you have the grace and the courage to let go of whatever is in your way -- and if you can't let it go, then at least kick it aside. If there's not enough love in your life, take a breath and look within. That's where you'll find it.November 07, 2011
November 06, 2011
The Most Powerful Force on Earth
Photo: Sarite Sanders
by Glen Whittaker.
Takes three minutes to read.
If you do one thing today, please watch this video. Extraordinary! Words by my teacher, Prem Rawat. Music: Stuart Hoffman. Video editor: Fernando GarciaNovember 03, 2011
Archbishop Desmond Tutu Speaks