So So Simple...
November 26, 2015
It's Time to Tell Your Story
If you are a regular reader of this blog, there's a good chance you are going to enjoy my new book about the power of personal storytelling. It's entertaining. It's evocative. And it will help you tune into the stories within you that really need to be told -- stories of insight, wisdom, and breakthrough.
During these crazy times on planet Earth it's important that we all elevate the conversation. There's a whole lot more going on here than just terrorism. One way to elevate the conversation is by sharing our meaningful stories.
At work. At home. And everywhere in between.
November 25, 2015
The Great Thanksgiving Listen
Awesome idea! So simple to do. All about the power of stories.November 24, 2015
Wisdom from the Dalai Lama
November 20, 2015
What Are You Thankful For?
November 17, 2015
Popping the Question
When I was 24, I received Knowledge from Prem Rawat, known at that time as Maharaji. It was, you might say, an initiation, a direct experience of the life force inside me, what exists beyond identity -- who we are behind the daily drama of our lives and all our seeming differences. The highest common denominator. Home, sweet home. The beginning and end of all journeys. The source!
Yes, I got a peek under the Big Top and felt as good as I could imagine a human being could feel. Doubts? Fears? Worries? Gone beyond beyond. If I was an Olympic diver at that moment in time, it would have been a perfect 10. No splash. No waves. Nothing but net as they say in the NBA. Perfect. Everything was perfect. And if anything wasn't perfect, that was perfect too. Questions? I didn't have any. None.
Except for one.
You see, at that time, I was in the third year of a relationship with a woman I loved -- a woman I imagined was going to be my wife within a year or two. But after receiving Knowledge and really getting into it, I started wondering whether marriage, for me, was the right thing to do. Doubts started creeping into my mind. Questions began bubbling up. Would marriage be a distraction? Would I end up "stuck in maya", "off the path", or otherwise screw up the beautiful opportunity to deeply explore the experience that Maharaji had shown me?
Confounded, I began asking Maharaji's "senior students" -- people I assumed were wiser than me. But nobody knew. Though each person was extremely effusive in their responses, everyone gave me a different answer, fully confident they had just resolved my confusion.
Nothing at all having clarified, it dawned on me that there was only one person I could ask and that was Maharaji himself. Yes, of course! But...um...er... I had no idea how to get to him, me being from the boonies, knowing no one close to him, having no clue about the proper protocols, and was literally out to sea, living on an island as I was at the time.
Still the question burned inside me. Somehow, I HAD to find him. I had to ask my question.
So when I found out, a few weeks later, that he was going to be speaking at an event at Hunter College in New York City, I decided to make the six-hour journey from my home on Martha's Vineyard with the woman in question and three of my friends.
Maharaji, that night, as always, was a total delight -- uplifting, inspiring, funny, and deep. An absolute breath of fresh air.
When his talk was over and the hall emptied out, I find myself standing in the middle of the street, when a complete stranger walks over to me, and in a very quiet voice, tells me exactly where Maharaji is going to be the next day and when -- an estate in Old Westbury. Then he walks away.
My heart is pounding. I can't believe my good fortune.
When my girlfriend and the rest of my friends find me, I tell them the good news, but they just look at me as if I'm insane.
"I can't believe you believe that," one of them says. "Do you know how many rumors are flying around the place? You just can't believe anyone who walks up to you on the street. We're going back home, dude. You ready?"
Ready? Yes, I was. But for something other than going back the way I came.
So I went about my business of finding a ride to the home I grew up in, which, as fate would have it, was just five miles from where Maharaji was supposed to be the following day.
When I got to my childhood house, later that night, I knocked on the door, fully expecting my parents to answer, but no one was home. So I did the only thing that made sense -- walk around to the back of the house to my old bedroom and jiggle the window like I used to every time I forgot my key. Voila! The window opened. I hoisted myself up, let myself in, and slept in my old bed. In the morning, I let myself out the front door, and hitched to the address the guy gave me last night on the street in front of Hunter College.
When I arrived, the place was buzzing with 75 people also hoping to see Maharaji. For a few hours, we sang songs, walked around, played frisbee, and waited, craning our necks every few minutes in the direction of the house where he was staying.
And then, maybe three hours later, someone starts rolling out a long red carpet on the manicured lawn, someone else trailing along behind and carrying the most beautiful chair I had ever seen. This could only mean one thing -- Maharaji would soon be on his way. And he was. Fifteen minutes later, this 14-year old boy starts making his way to the chair now positioned just 20 feet from where I'm sitting.
He sits, smiles, surveys the crowd, and asks if there are any questions.
But I do not raise my hand, ruled by the thought that my question is absurd. Meanwhile, Maharaji is responding to pretty much anyone who raises their hand, continuing to ask "Are there any more questions?"
Finally, I raise my hand.
"Maharaji," I blurt, "can a devotee be married and still be a devotee?"
He throws his head back, his whole body shaking with laughter, then he snaps his head forward as if shooting some kind of invisible arrow in my direction.
"Look," he says. "Even Lord Ram was a husband and a father of seven. I care about your soul. I don't care about your body. Your body can be anywhere. Next!"
Simple. So simple. Everything was so simple. And spacious. Very spacious.
Maharaji was not telling me what to do. Nor was he telling me what not to do. He was just speaking the truth -- the kind of truth around which everything revolves. This wasn't about right and wrong. This wasn't about good or bad. This wasn't about philosophy, spirituality, karma, lifestyle, religion, or decision making. This was about the experience of being fully alive, the off-the-grid, totally free, unhinged, unhampered, whirling dervish sweet spot of pure and perfect presence.
Pressure off, drama diffused, my question answered far beyond the place I was asking it from, I ended up choosing to get married. The marriage lasted four years. Then I took a 16-year break and got married a second time. That marriage is in its 24th year. My relationship with Maharaji, now known as Prem Rawat, is entering it's 44th year.
If I had a bottle of champagne at this precise moment in time I would pop the cork and pour a drink for everyone -- the guy on the street in front of Hunter College, my friends who drove back to Martha's Vineyard without me, Ram, his children, my parents, whoever left the window open to my old bedroom, both wives, my kids, you, your wives, husbands, children, and friends with all their questions and everyone else on planet earth who has ever longed to experience something timeless and pure.
Hey, with all those people, I'm guessing the bottle I'll be pouring from better be a big one. No worries. It is. Actually, it's beyond big. It's infinite.
May the bubbles tickle your nose. May our glasses clink in space. May we laugh for a billion years. And no matter what shape our life takes or who we share it with, may we enjoy it to the max. Here. Now. In this moment.
November 16, 2015
Be Who You Are
When I heard about Prem Rawat's message of peace in 1971 and, soon after, received Knowledge, my life took a major turn for the better.
One of the things that opened up for me was the recognition of how beautiful it was to serve -- to give from the heart without any thought of return. The urge to serve was huge for me.
And so, one fine Spring day, I decided to leave my happy home on Martha's Vineyard and drive to an ashram in Concord, Massachusetts where I figured I could "help out" for the day.
All day long I did whatever was needed, happy to have the chance to give of myself from a place of total gratitude. And then, just before it was time to return home at the end of the day, my hosts, noticing how exhausted I was, invited me to stay the night in their living room in my sleeping bag.
Blissfully tired from a long day of service, I slept like a baby. That is, until 2:00 AM when the lights, in the room, suddenly went on and 20 highly animated people in pajamas came bounding into the room.
Apparently, one of them had just returned from India and wanted to show everyone, on his classic Kodak projector, some never-been-seen-before photos of Maharaji.
I yawned. They oohed and ahhed and oohed again.
Their super-enthusiastic response to the slide show totally baffled me. Though I, too, had received Knowledge, I wasn't feeling anything remotely close to oohing and ahhing.
The more everyone continued expressing themselves so effusively, the more I felt like there must be something terribly wrong with me. I wasn't oohing. I wasn't ahhing. I wasn't even smiling.
"Maybe this isn't the path for me," I thought. "Maybe I'm not loving enough. Maybe I'm too mental... too Western... too this or too that."
At the height of my rapidly escalating bout of doubt, a particularly radiant, saffron-robed, bald-headed man from India shot me a very powerful glance from across the room. And then, with a simple, downward sweep of his hand and a smile, he signaled me to lie down and go back to sleep, which I immediately did, hearing nothing more of the slide show which probably continued for another hour or so.
I woke up four hours later as the sun rose -- fully rested, quietly happy, and feeling very much alive.
I realize now, some 44 years later, that I learned a lot that night. And though my experience was a personal one, I think it's possible that it may have some resonance for you, too, whoever you are, wherever you live, and whatever path you follow or don't.
HERE'S WHAT I LEARNED:
1. Comparing yourself to others is a total waste of time.
2. There is no one right way to express love.
3. Everyone grows in appreciation of their Beloved in their own sweet time.
4. There is no rush required to feel anything "special" at all.
5. I am who I am and that is good enough.
6. "Devotion" isn't always visible.
7. The practice of Knowledge is a very individual thing.
8. There's nothing wrong with going to sleep when you're tired.
9. Devotion is not emotion.
10. It's always a good idea to keep a sleeping bag in the trunk of your car.
Chris and Daya in Boulder: 11/28
"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence, nor imagination, nor both together, go to the making of genius. Love, love, love. That is the soul of genius." -- Amadeus Mozart
If Mozart was alive today, I think he would be a big fan of Chris Mac Vittie and Daya Rawat -- not because Chris and Daya play classical music. They don't. But because their muse and Mozart's muse was probably the same. Or, if not the same, then at least played in the same band.
Other similarities? All three of them started their musical careers early in life. Mozart was writing and performing concertos at the age of four. Daya was singing in her cradle. And Chris? Why, just last year, at 37, he wrote the title song to their groundbreaking CD, The Envy of Stars.
Clearly, the music scene today is very much different than Mozart's in the 1700's. Patrons, now, are in much shorter supply. Wigs are out. Home studios are in. And the marketplace is way more cluttered. Back in the Mozart's time, there just weren't that many musicians on the scene. These days it's a totally different story. According to a recent MySpace survey, there are approximately eight million bands in the world. Last year, more than 141 million CDs were sold. That's a lot of competition for eyeballs and ears.
So why give a listen to Chris and Daya? What about their music is worthy of your precious attention?
For starters, their harmonies border on the divine -- as intricate as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and as evocative as Tony Bennett and whoever he happens to be singing with at the time. But even more than their exquisite harmonies, is the joy and feeling their music evokes.
Their hook? Life. As in live it to the fullest. As in let it rip. As in celebrate the very best of what a human being is -- or could be -- if only we allowed ourselves to tune in to what really matters.
Some reviewers of Chris and Daya's music characterize it as fusion -- the place where East meets West, country meets soul, and, yes, man meets woman. OK. I get it. True. But I think an even more accurate word for their genre is fission, the artful splitting of the atom -- in their case, the atom of love -- an act of creation that releases great amounts of heat and light: heat that warms the heart and light that illuminates the path.
If you are anywhere near Boulder, Colorado, on November 28th, you're in luck. Chris and Daya will be performing at the e-Town Hall on Spruce Street. Doors open at 6:00 pm. Concert starts at 7:00 pm. Purchase tickets here.November 02, 2015
150,000 People Attend Prem Rawat's Public Event in Calcutta, India