The Heart of the Matter
February 14, 2019
With Love, on Valentine's Day

Don't know what to get your loved one for Valentine's Day? Looking for something a little different? How about the above slide show video -- 26 inspiring quotes on love set to some beautiful music?

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February 13, 2019
What Is Wisdom? Who Is Wise?

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All people, at sometime in their lives, aspire to be wise. But what is wisdom, really? I don't know. But here's what some sages, throughout the years, have said about it. Food for thought and beyond thought for you to contemplate.

"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." - Aristotle

"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Where wisdom reigns, there is no conflict between thinking and feeling." - Carl Jung

"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise; seek what they sought." - Basho

"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." - Shakespeare

"All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, until they take root in our personal experience." - Goethe

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." - Socrates

"The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom." - Isaac Asimov

"Any fool can know. The point is to understand." - Albert Einstein

"The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them." - Paulho Coelho

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest." - Confucius

"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom." - Lao Tzu

"The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms." - Socrates

"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." - Rumi

"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens." - Jimi Hendrix

"The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise." - Maya Angelou

"Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom." - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Gandhi

"Wonder is the beginning of wisdom." - Socrates

"This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond." - Rumi

"Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it." - Albert Einstein

"A man is not called wise because he talks and talks again; but if he is peaceful, loving and fearless then he is in truth called wise." - Buddha

"There is a wisdom of the head, and... there is a wisdom of the heart." - Charles Dickens

"We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us." - Marcel Proust

"Wisdom is knowing I am nothing. Love is knowing I am everything, and between the two, my life moves." - Nisargadatta Maharaj

"Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children." - Kahlil Gibran

"Many have died; you also will die. The drum of death is being beaten. The world has fallen in love with a dream. Only the sayings of the wise will remain." - Kabir

"I thought to myself: I am wiser than this man; neither of us probably knows anything that is really good, but he thinks he has knowledge, when he has not, while I, having no knowledge, do not think I have." - Plato

"Wisdom is the oneness of mind that guides and permeates all things." - Heraclitus

"Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody." - Benjamin Franklin

"To finish the moment, to find the journey's end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Once Upon a Timelessness

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February 12, 2019
When I Grow Up...

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February 10, 2019
The Old Yogi in the Forest

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Once upon a timelessness there lived a great yogi, alone, deep in the forest of a faraway land. How long he had lived there, no one knew, not even him, living in the moment as he was.

The forest was his home, his sanctuary, his favorite place in all the world. Following nothing and no one, only his breath, he was free -- totally free. Like the birds overhead. Like the moss underfoot. Like the trees.

One day, after an especially long meditation, the Yogi opened his eyes and saw what seemed to be three people sitting before him.

"Oh Master," the eldest spoke, "we've been searching for you for many years and now we have found you. Praise God! Won't you teach us what you know?

The yogi just sat there. Motionless. Unmoving as the ground. Many years had passed since he had spoken. Words came slowly.

"I... am...." he said, looking at the sky, "not your teacher. I am just an old yogi in the woods. Won't you please return from where you came?"

And what that, he simply stood, gathered his blanket around him, and disappeared.

Five days he walked, stopping only to chant a few prayers, eat a few berries, and meditate.

When he opened his eyes, there were now ten people sitting before him, the three he had asked to return home and another seven.

"Oh Yogi supreme," the youngest one said, "we know you told us not to follow you, but something moved us here beyond our will. We were helpless not to follow. Please, kind sir, won't you teach us what you know?"

The Yogi just sat there, a few butterflies circling his head. A long time went by. And a longer time after that. Then, in a barely audible voice, he spoke.

"Sweet souls, I honor that which moved you here, but I am not your teacher. I have nothing to teach. Please respect my need for solitude and return from where you came."

And with that, he stood and simply walked away, moving deeper into the forest once again, a few deer now by his side.

Ten days passed, the old Yogi now having entered the absolute heart of the forest, a place no man had ever been before. How quiet it was! How still! How totally serene!

And there, he closed his eyes and entered into meditation once again.

Days passed. Maybe weeks. When he opened his eyes, there were 100 people sitting before him. Overhead? No sky. Just the ceiling of what appeared to be a Great Hall, freshly painted. Somehow, when the old Yogi was meditating, a beautiful ashram had been built around him.

He just sat there, marveling at what he saw -- finally understanding the message life had been trying to bring him. What he'd been running from would not be denied. It was time -- the perfect time to share what he knew.

"OK, my friends. Welcome. Now... who's got a question?"

TimelessToday

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February 09, 2019
Even in Your Darkest Hour

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February 07, 2019
The Students of Prem Rawat Speak

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Six years ago, I posted the following question on Facebook: "If you are a student of Prem Rawat, what would you say is the one thing you've heard him say, over the years, that has had the most impact on you?" What follows is a sampling of the responses I received:

"Let me show you what is keeping you alive." - Daniel Light

"Everyone knows the drop is in the ocean, but very few know that the ocean dwells in the drop." - Jan Buchalter

"Peace is the perfume of God." - Stuart Hoffman

"Water the root." - Jennifer Boire

"Be true to your own heart." - Julia Howe

"Everything you need for complete fulfillment is inside of you. The thirst is within and the quenching is within. We are each complete!" - Alla Rogers

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"Peace is already inside of you, and I can help you get in touch with that." - Paul Pilcher

"Peace on Earth begins within you." - Sharon Blatt

"Be true to this breath." - Tim Hain

"The angel you are looking for is you!" - Sally Richman

"Peace is as close as your breath." - Linda D. Miller

"Be a true human being, the one who is filled with kindness, who's filled with love, who's filled with peace, who's filled with joy. And to know this, you need the knowledge of the self." - Cintra Hardy

"I can help." - Michael Taylor

"Belief is like an unlit candle. When you light it, it transforms into knowing." - David Klamph

"Wherever one spark of this Knowledge goes, it hits and makes it perfect. Perfect." - Jane Bennett

"Love the love like it's never been loved before." - Larry Lustbader

"Trying to describe this experience, this self-knowledge, is like trying to describe a mango. The only way to know a mango is to taste it." - Joyce Gerber

"Let me introduce you to you." - Gabriele Regan Gfeller

"Life is a one-seater car." - Jule Kowarsky

"Enjoy your life." - Fran King

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"It is not the words. Peace is a feeling." - Jan Scoular

"Many ask me are you a guru or a guide or a friend. The way I like to see it is I just hold up a mirror, keep it nice and shiny so you can see just how beautiful you truly are!" - Jeff Schreiber

"This is not a path of suffering." - Marcia Loft

"Everything you are really looking for is already inside of you." - Claudio Pollero

"Give me your love and I will give you peace." - Otto Vlach

"There is an ocean of joy and there is an ocean of sadness." - Stella Neary Sharpe

"An ocean of love is inside of you." - Rita Rubin Long

"Don't be a victim of circumstance. Be a human being." - Maggie Flannagan

"You get good at what you practice. Practice peace and you get good at that!" - Sigrid Eleonora Ariana

"Let your heart embrace you." - Cindy Lategan

"Live, live, live until there is no more." - Josephine Leslie Jackson

"Go in peace. Stay in peace. And come back in peace." - Kathy Sisler Soffer

"Longing is a beautiful experience." - Celia Jennings

"You are going to die." - Sharon Jeffers

"When you die, they will ask you two questions: 'Did you find peace?' and 'Did you help others find peace?'" - Bill Slater

"What you are looking for is within you." - Lucinda Brown

"Come closer." - Bhatta Sagar

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"And I want you to be among the very few who know." - Maryvonne Louise Segalen

"You are not a human doing. You are a human being." - Maggie Flanagan

"Knowledge. Understanding. These are the only things that can remove uncertainty from this life so that I can begin to welcome what tomorrow is." - Denise Cartwright

"Find the friend within. This is a friendship that can last forever." - Kim E. Scott

"You wear peace well." - Annie Tresidder

"If you don't like the altitude you're flying and it's too bumpy, change it. If you don't know how to change it, I can help you with that." - Sylvia Flyer

"Just do it." (way before Nike said it). - Alan Roderick-Jones

"It is what it is." - Buffy Black

"Remain in holy company." - Mimsy Bouret

"Meditate. This Knowledge will give you peace." - Geraldine Larson

"Be still, be very, very still, and let peace find you." - Paula Rosenblum

"Can you do this? Of course. Of course." - Helen M. Waters

"Know the infinite that resides in you." - Monika Winslow

"Thirst is everything." - Christy Hodgson

"Be free of concepts." - Mary Foxen

"You cannot bring in the light by scooping out the darkness." - Evee Danneburg

"Just stay on the boat." - Rainer Poulet

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"We get good at what we practice. So when we practice anger, we get good at that, but if we practice peace, then we get good at that." - Glenna Dumay

"Come to me and I will give you peace." - Joseph Rosenblatt

"You are the Angel that can solve your problems." - Laura Perez Velasco

"The only thing you have not done is accept, accept what is." - Janet Bloom

"You are greater than the sum of all your successes and failures." - Liz Westbyrd

"I can show you." - Howard Luckman

"Stay in the boat. Sit back and relax. That's all I ask. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride." - Joy Winnel

"It is all within." - Alaya Love

"Knowledge is your best friend. It's the sword that cuts clean the ambiguity." - Anna Luthi

"Come home." - Candice Wilmore

"Alan." (It's just my name, but of all the profoundly inspiring and helpful things I've heard him say, that one word meant the most to me. No one has said it with more love and respect). - Alan Roettinger

"Don't leave. If you can't express yourself here, where are you going to be able to do it?" - James Eartheart

"I will love you if you meditate or if you don't meditate." - Tara Lee Planett

"You are looking for peace, and peace is looking for you. Be still and let the peace find you." - Larry Mergentime

"The infinite resides in the finite." - Nikolaj Krarup

"You become good at what you practice." - Johan Drejare

"Feel the gratitude." - Melissa June Burnand

"A day without practice is a day wasted." - Asandra Lamb

"Even in your darkest hour I will not abandon you." - Teresa Wooldridge

"25,500 days." - Craig Klawuhn

"To get what you want without wanting is surrender."- Jan Herbert

"One second of being clear can save you a lifetime of being miserable." - Frieda Hill

"Practice." - Chris Cantrell

"Peace is within inside." - Kathy Lorenz

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink (but you can put salt in its food)." - Chris Hamerton

"You are capable, valuable, and loved." - Louise Amm

"Be grateful you are alive." - Joyce Czarny

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On Maintaining a Positive, Healthy Mindset

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Yesterday, I posted the above graphic on my Facebook page and asked people to share one way they stay in a positive, healthy mindset. Here are the replies:

Claudia Neuman Watts: "Practice having fun."

Mary Mcmanus: "No matter what happens, know that unless it's life threatening, ALL IS WELL."

Susan Armstrong: "Spend time paying attention to my inner resources."

Ranjini Rusch: "Clean up the mess."

Melissa Ward: "Laugh."

Paddy Noble: "Walk in the woods."

Linda Azato: "Listen to your heart. It's waiting for you."

Sarah Grace Powers: "Notice everything that is working in your life."

Janis Wilson: "See with the eyes of beauty the incredible gift it is to be alive on earth feeling peace."

Mary Foxen: "Keep the company of the Good in me."

Jos van Laar: Before you do ANYTHING, first tune your instrument PERFECTLY."

Sheila Lindsay: "Just be."

Jennifer Boire: "Get a good night's sleep. What a difference it makes."

Sandeep Agarwel: "Trust and have confidence in yourself."

Patty Lancaster: "Laugh."

Muriel Stockdale: "Express gratitude."

Robyn Botelho: "Focus on the good and positive, and water it, and it will grow more than the bad."

Lin D. Miller:
"Value each moment."

Sharon Jeffers: "BE in LOVE."

Joyce Gerber: "Turn my attention within inside myself. Center myself by going to my inner tuning fork."

Heike Schmeling: "Have a good laugh."

Priscilla Kelly: "Remain grateful."

James Hickey: "Remember the breath."

Venu Gopal: "Read Sri Nisargaddata's spiritual classic: I Am That."

Joan Ferlazzo: "Feed the good wolf."

Lisa Hart: "It's great to start the day laughing."

Lynne Ciccone: "Gratitude, baby."

How about YOU? How do you stay in a positive, healthy mindset?

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February 06, 2019
Peace Comes to Two Street Gangs in Ecuador

Wow. All I can say is wow. COMING SOON: An interview with Paul Murtha, the out-of-the-box gent who played such a vital role in helping The Bloods and Latin Kings of Ibarra find common ground, go beyond violence, and become contributing members of their communities.

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February 05, 2019
An Interview with Stuart Hoffman

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The following is an interview with singer/songwriter/composer/ Stuart Hoffman, a long time friend of Heart of the Matter and all-around awesome human being. It is the first in a series of interviews with Heart of the Matter readers with something of value to say.

Why is music especially important these days?

Music has been called the universal language. THAT is a powerful statement. These days, we, as a human race, maybe more than ever, need to be united, not divided. Music, the universal language, has the power to unite us.

What do you love the most about composing and performing music?

Giving my heart a voice. Bringing forth what was invisible and making it visible, what was inaudible and making it audible. Having the awesome feeling of being a channel for an expression that wants to be expressed, a message that wants to be shared. Being beyond the state of duality that enslaves the creative impulse. To put into words, without words, but with music. Channeling the love in my heart into the hearts of others. When I'm singing, I often close my eyes and feel as if I'm in a huge arena, the Hollywood Bowl, for example. The feeling is so massive, so all encompassing, so benevolent, so grand, and so life reinforcing.

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You have been a long-time student of Prem Rawat. What impact has he had on your music and creative life?

Prem Rawat has taught me how to go within myself to a place that is full of joy and peace. Spending time in this inner sanctuary and being filled by the beauty that lives there, I am compelled to give that feeling expression through music and song. He has dedicated his entire life to reminding me to spend time in the place that is the source of creativity within. It is because of his influence and the gift of having him in my life that I am compelled to try to express the beauty and gratitude I feel for life itself and all the amazing gifts wanting to be discovered everyday.

Over the years, you have performed at various Prem Rawat events around the world. What was that like for you?

Wonderful. A dream come true. Getting to give back in this way was a gift I will always treasure. It was a highlight of my life. Being a part of his events, him presenting his message to people everywhere, was such an honor. And getting to spend close time with him was precious.

What is the most challenging thing about being a composer/musician these days?

For me, making the time. Staying in a consistency of rhythm. There are many distractions, of course, the least of which is making a living. The primary way music is sold these days is via streaming. It has never been so difficult to get compensated for the mammoth efforts that go into the creation, production, recording, producing, mastering, distributing, and marketing of a music project.

What lyric of yours do you like enough to put on your tombstone?

"And if I could make a wish come true, I'd have one more day with you."

What songs have you written that are the you most proud of?

Many. Some instrumental, some words and music. From my first album "Silent Longing": Waiting (a collaboration with Marcel Adjibi). Joy to Joy

From my 2nd album, "Somewhere Tonight": Somewhere Tonight (inspired by my teacher, Prem Rawat's lifetime of endless travel to touch the Hearts of human beings.) One More Day. Capture the Day (a collaboration with Tara Liz Driscoll).

From my 3rd album, "Dance in the Dance": Dance in the Dance, Colors of the Beloved, You Get More Beautiful (inspired by the late Lee Hillyard)

From my 4th album, "Shine Your Light": When The Rain Begins (a collaboration with Jennifer Edwards, One Million Strong (a collaboration with Stephen Rivera, Shattered Dreams.

You've had several musical collaborations in your life. What do you like most about creating songs with a partner?

I love how all parties are taken outside of their abilities. I am always surprised by the magic -- the transformation of the piece into something beyond our greatest expectations. I guess, in this case, it's true that 1 + 1 = 11.

Imagine it's two years from now and your wildest musical fantasies have come true. What would that look like?

It would look like pure joy. It would look like performing in beautiful concert halls and arenas with my friends and musicians -- both my original music and covers I have made my own. And knowing our efforts are a part of a global effort to bring people together, to help usher in Peace on Earth for all peoples regardless of race, religion, color and differences. To finally celebrate and rejoice in the oneness we all share by the amazing fact that we are alive. To come together and sing from our hearts the glory of what we have discovered we have been given.

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As I understand it, you are a big fan of "anthems" and are in the process of creating new anthems for the future. What IS an anthem and why is it so meaningful to you?

An anthem can capture and express a universal feeling or knowing. An anthem sheds light on what was always there, but perhaps hidden from view. An anthem is the obvious made apparent. An anthem unites. An anthem lifts consciousness to a level where differences fall away and what is similar and common to ALL shines most clearly. An anthem brings hope where no hope could be found. An anthem transcends time. An anthem transcends age and gender and race. An anthem, if you are fortunate enough, writes itself through you. An anthem can speak to the most special place in all. An anthem can carry a generation, a nation. An anthem can unite the world. An anthem can bring out, without trying, what is the very best in us.

Can you tell me about your current musical project? How far along is it? What remains to be done?

My current music project is in its infancy. I am focused on new songs, collaborations, and an anthem or two. Beyond that, there are original and cover songs that did not make it on my latest music release, "Shine Your Light," that I am planning to include in my next project.

Finish this joke: A musician, a rabbi, and a politician walk into a bar...

A musician, a rabbi, and a politician walk into a bar. The TV is on. Donald Trump is talking. A musician, a rabbi, and a politician leave the bar.

I'm not sure if you are aware of it, but one of your songs (When the Rain Begins) is the fourth most popular posting (out of 1,710) on The Heart of the Matter blog. What do you attribute that to?

It's an anthem! Some of my greatest collaborations have been with with my life partner, Jennifer Edwards. When The Rain Begins is a wonderful example of our collaborative process. We were asked to write a theme song, an anthemic piece for an upcoming animated feature film. One of the most wonderful parts of the collaborative process, for me, is discovering the marriage of the music with the words/lyric -- as if it was already there and they were always destined to meet. This was one of those times.

Jennifer penned the lyrics. I put them in front of me at the piano and, effortlessly, within 30 minutes, the entire song was born: intro, verses, chorus, bridge, outro. Then began the production of the song which was also a joyous process from beginning to end.

What state of mind do you need to be in to compose a memorable piece of music?

Receptive. Non-judgmental of self. Being in a state of worthiness to receive a most wonderful gift with an almost infinite possibility of touching others.

Imagine you found a patron (or won the lottery) and no longer needed to work a "day job". How do you think that would affect your music-making?

It would free up all that physical, mental, psychic energy and time I have to spend now to create a steady income stream. That space would be freed up to allow for the creation of new material, production, and arrangement and recording of existing material. Also, it would raise the production level of the project. And most importantly, it would allow the songs to shine and be brought to their highest potential.

What advice, if any, do you have for musicians just starting out?

YOU have something to say. Learn to allow yourself to SAY IT in your own, unique way. Remember your creations are, first, gifts to yourself. Always give at least an equal weight to that fact. The "world" tends to ignore this and insists that all your attention should go into what OTHERS think. HUMBUG!

It's what you think and feel, first. Trust your passion. Never doubt it. You have been given a unique voice to say what you see. Your perception is unique to you and is your gift to share. Why? Because no one else can. And there may be someone else is this world who needs to hear and see your unique perspective. Never doubt. Your music is your best friend. As long as you allow it, it will always be with you. Take care of it.

What are the most important things you have learned about life?

Allow light and life to win everyday. This is the MAIN mission. Be filled with what you have, what you are -- not drained by what you think you don't have, who you think you're not. Life itself is non-judgmental and unconditional love. It holds no grievances or grudges. Every single moment starts fresh and is like a new day. Life wants me to WIN in the truest sense. Life is my best friend. Always. Life is simple. Try not to complicate it. Make an effort to come back to its simplicity everyday. In doing so, you will have achieved true success not as defined by our culture or society, but by life itself. Contentment and gratitude and fulfillment are everything. Our soul's mission is written and embedded deep within our true heart's core. Come home to it. Stay home with it. Always. As much as you can.

NOTE: Stuart's music can be heard on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Tidal and all popular streaming and download sites.

PS: Stuart is available for hire for movie and television soundtracks, commercials, and documentaries. He is also available for house concerts and parties.

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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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