A Laundry Room at Amaroo
This piece was written three years ago. I will not be going to Amaroo this year, but would love to post some excerpts. If YOU are going and are willing to take verbatim notes and email them to me that same day, let's talk. I'm looking for three people to do this.
When I was a young man, I had a big desire to have cosmic experiences. The more cosmic they were, the better.
My assumption? That what I was experiencing, in my everyday life, wasn't quite "it" and I needed something more -- kind of like there was an extremely cool party happening somewhere else that I hadn't been invited to.
I am happy to announce that those days are over -- not because amazing experiences aren't still a good thing, but because I am coming to understand that everything is amazing, even the simplest, most mundane situations. That is, if I am in the right place to appreciate it.
Take this past week, for example, in a laundry room just 30 yards from the tent I was living in at Amaroo.
It's a place I found myself inhabiting for hours each day since it was the only place I could find with the outlets I needed to charge my computer so I could post excerpts of Prem Rawat's talks on my blog.
It was a small room, maybe 8 x 14, with two washing machines, two dryers, a wall phone, table top, half a refrigerator, and a bunch of Australian outlets.
At first, I was cranky at having to set up shop there.
After all, I had just traveled 27 hours to experience something profound at this five-day retreat and here I was in a cold and crowded laundry room, hunting daily for an unused outlet, surrounded by people folding underwear, blow drying their hair, and asking if they could plug their iron into my already maxed out adapter.
Not exactly the scene that a younger, God-seeking version of my self would have called "cosmic."
But it was. Very much so. Allow me to explain.
You know the experience when you walk into a dark room from the outside, can't see a thing, and assume it's empty?
But if you pause a little and let your eyes adjust to the light, you soon realize that there are all kinds of things there. What seemed, just a few minutes ago, to be nothing, now reveals itself to be something. You can see.
This was precisely my experience in the laundry room.
For the first hour, it was just your basic laundry room, me impatiently waiting for my laptop to charge and enduring the sounds of somebody else's spin cycle.
But then, a curious thing happened: the laundry room became divine -- not because angels with trumpets were flying around. They weren't. But because the laundry room had morphed into something super animated, inspired, and delightful -- a classic scene out of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera where everyone was perfectly playing their part.
Each day, for five days, when I wasn't listening to Prem Rawat, schmoozing, or eating, I was in the laundry room. Everything that I needed -- to know, to learn, to feel, or to see -- was happening there. Plus a hundred random acts of kindness.
Not because the room, itself, had any magical properties, but because the impact of my teacher's talks were so transforming that my experience of the room was changing before my eyes.
The first thing I noticed was that almost every person who entered the room was uncommonly at ease and relaxed, carrying out their seemingly mundane tasks with playfulness, focus, and grace.
If this had been a scene from New York, New Delhi, or Barcelona, it would have been a very different story, but it was none of those places. It was Amaroo -- the "Beautiful Place".
Spain was in the house. Italy, too. And Slovenia And Croatia. And Australia, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, Brazil, and America -- all with different detergents, but the same twinkle in their eye.
The sweet feeling in the laundry room had nothing to do with what we knew about each other, but what we knew about ourselves -- the experience of what it is that all people share in common: love, gratitude, and the possibility of peace.
Yes, the washing machines were spinning and so were the dryers, but something else -- at the center of it all -- was very, very still.
August 23, 2016
A Feeling That Defies Definition
August 19, 2016
Enjoy Every Day
I wrote the following upon returning home from one of Prem Rawat's events, in Australia, a few years ago.
People ask me what it was like being with you five days in a row. Here's what I tell them: It was like spinning around in a monsoon, cup in hand, trying to catch the rain. Every time I noticed my cup was full, I opened my mouth to sing, but my mouth filled up with water. I gulped, I drank, I bailed my boat of joy. Somehow, in between the tidal waves of love and my odd little habit of trying to understand what in the world was going on, I heard what you said: "Get wet! Get wet!"August 12, 2016
A Sign of the Times
August 11, 2016
PEACE DAY IS COMING!
Peace Day is coming on September 21st -- a global phenomenon of millions of people stepping up, with one voice, to proclaim, in various ways, the need for peace on planet Earth. All around the world there will be celebrations, presentations, concerts, dances, picnics, and parties in service to peace. Online, there will be livestreams featuring a wide variety of inspiring peace expressions. One of my favorites is PeaceCast. Check out their PeaceDay promos -- in English and Spanish and Serbian.
Stay tuned! Heart of the Matter will be posting a series of updates from PeaceCast in the weeks to come.August 10, 2016
Ponder This for a Moment August 09, 2016
How to Meditate
August 06, 2016
Thanks to Scott Cronin for this heads up
Prem Rawat's Recent Events in India with English Translation
August 04, 2016
Peace Quotes for the Ages
Peace Day is fast approaching -- September 21st -- and Heart of the Matter will be celebrating it in various ways, with news from PeaceCast and other livestream sites. (The show above is what Stuart Hoffman and I put together, two years ago, in honor of Peace Day).August 02, 2016
Announcing the launch of my new blog: UNSPOKEN WORD
I am happy to announce the launch of my new blog: UNSPOKEN WORD: THE POETRY OF LIFE -- short blasts of inspiration, reflection, and gratitude accompanied by photographs, illustrations, and paintings from my Facebook friends and other unusual suspects. If you want to receive an email alert whenever there is a new post, simply subscribe (in the sidebar) and be sure to respond to the "verification" email that you will receive soon after. Enjoy!
21 Quotes on Appreciation
1. "There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread." - Mother Theresa
2. "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice." Meister Eckhart
3. "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." - William James
4. "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." -- William Arthur Ward
5. "I would rather be able to appreciate things I cannot have than to have things I am not able to appreciate." - Elbert Hubbard
6. "Celebrate what you want to see more of." - Tom Peters
7. "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others." - Cicero
8. "Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower." - Goethe
9. "The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them." - G.K.Chesterton
10. "Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free and worth a fortune." - Sam Walton
11. "Next to excellence is the appreciation of it." - William Makepeace Thackeray
12. "Encouraged people achieve the best; dominated people achieve second best; neglected people achieve the least." - Anonymous
13. "Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart." - Seneca
14. "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." - Leo Buscaglia
15. "I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest asset I possess. The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement." - Charles Schwab
16. "You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink." - G.K. Chesterton
17. "We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." - Thornton Wilder
18. "In every person who comes near you look for what is good and strong." - John Ruskin
19. "There are two things people want more than sex and money -- recognition and praise." - Mary Kay Ash
20. "Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary." - Margaret Cousins
21. "Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful." - Buddha
Big thanks and a flying chest bump to Val Vadeboncoeur for finding these great quotes.