The Heart of the Matter
September 26, 2017
Is That So?

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Once upon a time, many years ago, before the invention of Starbucks, Velcro, or Fructose, there lived a humble monk in a remote monastery in China. His name was Wan Loo and he was much beloved by everyone he met, dedicated, as he was to realizing the highest truth with every fiber of his being.

Every morning, he meditated with the other monks in the Central Hall, then ate breakfast, washed his bowl, and worked in the garden for the rest of the day, taking brief moments now and again to read the sutras and teach calligraphy to the younger monks. Life was simple for Wan Loo. And very fulfilling. He couldn't have imagined a better life.

One day, in the 17th year of his monastic life, while cultivating radishes in the upper garden, he found himself being approached by the venerable Abbot and three of the local townspeople -- a husband, wife, and their very pregnant 16-year old daughter.

"That's him!" the girl cried out, pointing to the monk "He's the one who did this to me! Him!"

Wan Loo, still weeding the radishes, looked up slowly, smiled, and uttered just three words: "Is that so?"

And with that, the Abbot, a stern expression on his face, began to speak. "It is time for you to leave the monastery, young man. It is time. You have broken one of our most sacred vows. Now go!"

And just like that, Wan Loo was exiled from the only home he had ever known.

For the next five years, he lived in a small hut far away from the monastery. Each day he woke at 4:00 am, meditated, and then from dawn to dusk, dug graves in a nearby cemetery to make the money he needed to buy milk for the little boy the people of the region had now come to call "the young monk's son."

Wan Loo continued with his life. He never complained. He never took a day off. And he never stopped meditating.

Then, one summer day, in the fifth year of his exile, while cultivating a few tomato plants just outside his hut, he looked up and saw the young girl, her parents, the Abbot, and the now five-year old boy all standing over him.

"Mother and father," began the young girl, in between tears. "The time has come for me to speak the truth. It was not the monk. It was a boy I met in the fish market. He was the one. He is the father of my son."

Big silence. Big, big silence. No one spoke, The young monk just sat there, looking up, a ripe tomato in his left hand.

"Is that so?" he said.

Adapted from an ancient Zen story

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2017
I Take a Few Deep Breaths

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On a good day
I take a few deep breaths
and feel God's primal tide inside me.
A force of nature they are,
coming from who knows where.
They continue, these breaths,
one slow motion wave at a time,
and take everything I have
back into the ocean.
Nothing remains,
nothing at all,
just the blue sky overhead
and the shell of a body
at ease, at rest, at peace,
now thankful for a power
greater than me
hiding in my breath.


Some inspiration for you
My book of poetry

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2017
Peace Quotes for All Time

The International Peace Day was yesterday, September 21st. But guess what? Peace needs to happen every day. And so, in honor of everyday peace, I invite you to enjoy the above slide show, featuring inspiring quotes about peace from well-known luminaries. And while you're at it, check out PeaceCast 2017 and TPRF's Medicine for Peace. Both of them will help you remember why peace needs to be our number one priority.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:15 PM | Comments (1)

September 21, 2017
Honoring International Peace Day

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The UN-sanctioned International Day of Peace Day is happening on September 21st -- an occasion for people, everywhere, to pause and reflect on what they can do help make peace a reality -- for themselves and others. If peace is something you care about, The Heart of the Matter invites you to tune into two inspired organizations and the multi-media they are producing to help get the word out.

The Prem Rawat Foundation
PeaceCast TV

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2017
Alive and Well in Amaroo

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It is 4:49 am and I am sitting on a wooden bench just a 60-second walk from the tent that has been my home for the past five days here in Amaroo, my most favorite place on planet Earth. Almost able to see my breath, I am wearing four layers of clothes, a ski hat, and a wide smile on my face.

It's the morning after five days of seeing and listening to Prem Rawat hold forth beneath the vast Australian sky and I'm a stunned, bubbling brew of contentment. I am sure that on some planet there are actual words to describe what has happened to me these past five days. I just don't have access to them at this particular moment in time. Would I like to? Yes, I would -- me having lots of wonderful friends, also students of this marvelous man, who were unable to make it down under this time around -- big-hearted people who want a taste, a whiff, a blast of what has transpired here this week.

To all of you, I ask your patience. Please bear with me for just a moment. I'm sure that soon I'll find my bearings and start making some sense, even though I'm not really sure I want to find my bearings, delighted as I am by being so thoroughly rearranged these past five days that longitudes, latitudes, and my curious ability to make long lists of things I need to do hold very little sway with me.

If I was a helium balloon, someone has just let go of the string. If I was a love song, I have just been sung.

Somehow, through an extraordinary alchemy of storytelling, laughter, listening, pauses, jokes, pearls of wisdom, and cutting through the noise of the mind with a smile and a glance, Prem Rawat has done it again -- his work, the great play of life, helping people feel the peace there is to be felt beyond the dramas of our lives -- why anyone, anywhere ever feels the spontaneous impulse to sing or dance or serve.

I'm not talking about a self-centered-turn-your-back-on-the-pain-of-the-world kind of peace. No. I'm talking about the sweet-centered-in-the-self kind of peace that is the grand potential of all 7 billion people who inhabit this beautiful jewel of a world spinning through space.

This peace is our birthright. It is our home. It is what we were born for. All of us: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sufis, Rastas, Jains, Agnostics, and Atheists.

What do I understand about this experience? Precious little. Am I a spokesperson for it? Not in the least -- just someone lucky enough to have entered into the general vicinity of a living Master -- a man on fire with love and dedication... a manifestation of my highest aspirations... a wise one with a deep connection to that which animates us all.

I first met him when he was 13. I was 24. In December, he will turn 60. I turned 70 just last week. And yet, it seems as if no time has passed since we first met. No time, indeed, because the essence of what it is he is here to help us experience is timeless -- the sweet nobility of the human heart and the irrepressible gratitude that comes when a person tunes into the feeling of how utterly amazing it is to be fully alive.

Photo: Courtesy of Timeless Today
TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:56 AM | Comments (5)

September 04, 2017
Honoring the Soulful Music, Life, and Family of Richie Ingui

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If you are a long-time Heart of the Matter reader, there is a good chance you are familiar with the music of Richie Ingui -- an extraordinarily gifted singer and deep-hearted man who unexpectedly passed away this past winter.

In the entertainment world, Richie was most famous for his iconic 1967 song, with the Soul Survivors -- Expressway to Your Heart. But there was also another side to Richie's music that many in the music marketplace never got to hear -- songs of love, longing, and gratitude inspired by his long-time connection to his teacher, Prem Rawat.

Many of us who knew Richie miss him deeply, but none more than his wife and soul-mate of 50 years, Cheryl, and their two children.

Recently, a few of Richie's Philly friends came up with a beautiful way to honor his memory, provide some much-needed help to his family, and share inspiration with people who have been touched (or will be touched) by Richie's soulful music.

Towards this end, a collection of 17 of Richie's songs, has been put together -- a kind of "Greatest Hits" from back in the day. It's called "Be A Lover To Me" and it is sure to inspire, uplift, and remind you of what the deepest part of you yearns for.

Because of copyright issues, these songs cannot be sold. However, the need is pressing and gifts can be freely exchanged. So, if you feel inspired to be part of this effort, here's how you can participate:

1. Send a gift, in the form of a check, to Cheryl Ingui. (38 Wheatsheaf Road, Shomong, NJ 08088.) Or, you can pay via Paypal: philysoul@comcast.net. All gifts go directly to Cheryl and the Ingui children.

2. Send an email to David Richman (Drichman007@gmail.com), informing him of the gift you mailed to Cheryl.

3. In response to your gift, you will receive a gift in the mail -- a USB drive containing 17 of Richie's songs.

If you are so moved, please consider forwarding this link to friends of yours who have been touched by Richie's music over the years. Your communication to them is likely to be the only way they will hear about this crowdsourced expression of love going out to Richie and his family. We are all in this together.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

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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