The Heart of the Matter
July 28, 2019


If you happen to be feeling overwhelmed at the moment, unappreciated, neglected, ignored, unloved, unsettled, diminished, disappointed, disillusioned, disgruntled, or just plain dissed, the following words from Saint Francis -- spoken over 800 years ago -- may be just what the doctor ordered.

By the way, you don't have to be a saint to get the value. Just a human being.


"O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light, and
Where there is sorrow, joy.

Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life."


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July 27, 2019
When the Rain Begins

Beautiful song by Stuart Hoffman. Vocals by Stephan Rivera.

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July 25, 2019
I Am Not Joking, It Is Serious

Thanks to Susan Gregory for the heads up!

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July 19, 2019
One Person at a Time


My teacher, Prem Rawat, is a marvelous storyteller. From what I can gather, he tells three kinds of stories: 1) Jokes, which are the shortest kind of story there is; 2) Classic teaching tales that have been told for centuries and; 3) His own, personal accounts of meaningful moments in his life. All three of these story genres pack a wallop. All three, delivered at the right time in the right way, have the potential to uplift, awaken, and inspire.

The following story, which I heard Prem tell years ago, has stayed with me from the moment I heard it. I continue to drink from its fountain, refreshed every time I do. It's a story about his father, Shri Hans Ji Maharaj, a great Teacher of his time in India, and a few of his students. PS: Today is the anniversary of his passing in 1966.

In the 1960's, a small group of Shri Hans' students, thrilled at the prospect that he was going to be visiting their village in a few months, made an extraordinary effort to get the word out. They handed out flyers, nailed posters to trees, organized introductory events, and did whatever else it took to alert as many people as possible. These were exciting times for these young devotees, moved as they were by the all-too-rare opportunity to pave the way for their Teacher's imminent arrival and the public event that would follow.


Months passed. They worked around the clock, focused on just one thing -- inviting as many people as possible to hear their Master speak. Then the big day came. Everything was together -- the tickets, the ushers, the seating, the sound, and the music. But much to their surprise, only one person showed up. Just one. Supremely disappointed and experiencing who knows how many other painful emotions, they approached Shri Hans, solemnly, to deliver the bad news.

He just sat there, listening, nodding his head. Then he smiled broadly.

"OK," he said, "Very well! I understand. But do you realize how long this person has waited to hear my message?"

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: One person. That was it. Only one person showed up after months of effort. But the Master was not disappointed. Neither was he sad, upset, or judging anyone for the apparent lack of results. One person was sufficient for him. His was not a numbers game. His was something else. He was not measuring success the way most people do. He was coming from an entirely different place -- one that was filled with love, presence, and gratitude for the opportunity to share his message, even if there was just one person in the audience.

Maybe one day I will understand this. Maybe one day I will actually live this expression of truth. My strategy, historically, has been different. I conceive great goals. I make long lists. I execute a bunch of tasks in service to my great goals and, more often than not, there is a gap between my goals and what happens. Committed to a particular outcome, I usually end up feeling, much like Shri Hans' students, disappointed -- like I could have done better, way better. Like I blew it. Like the outcome I was going for would have manifested if only...

The older I get, the more I realize how flawed this way of thinking is. Having big goals is fine. There's nothing wrong with having big goals. But it's the attachment to my goals when things start getting strange.

While it's been years since I've heard Prem Rawat tell this story, I cannot get it out of my mind. And I don't want to. It's a lesson I need to keep on learning -- going beyond the numbers game and entering into the place where gratitude reigns -- the place where even one person showing up, or none, is not only sufficient, but divine.

Excerpted from this book

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July 12, 2019
Whatever It Takes

Whatever it takes.jpg

Illustration: GapingVoid

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July 06, 2019
The Tourist Syndrome


A few years ago, I went to Istanbul for a vacation. Never having been to the Mideast, I was excited to explore a new culture, which I did with great relish -- and a whole lot of hummus. Of all the new adventures, perhaps the most remarkable was the visit to the Grand Bazaar. Not because of the number of shops (2,432). Not because of the history (493 years old). And not because of the masses of people. No. Because I finally got clear about something in my own psyche and, by extension, the human psyche -- something I call the "Tourist Syndrome" -- a phenomenon that, curiously has great relevance to the way in which some people relate to Prem Rawat or any enlightened Master.

Here's how the Tourist Syndrome plays out:

You feel a need for something (i.e. a new experience, a good deal, an adventure) and decide to go to a specific destination to meet your need. In my case it was the Grand Bazaar and the possibility of buying a really good rug.

So you make your way there and begin your process of locating just the right shop that carries the kind of goodies you are seeking.

You know you are a tourist, but you don't want to APPEAR to be a tourist because, you reason, if you appear to be a tourist, the odds of the merchants taking advantage of you will increase. So you do your best to take on the local color. You take the camera off your neck. You don't speak. You walk with confidence. Anything not to appear to be an easy mark.


Of course, the merchants (who have been merchants way longer than you have been a tourist) know exactly what you're doing. They've seen thousands of foreigners, like you, pretending not to be tourists, so they adjust their approach accordingly.

You see them seeing you seeing them and, even though you are attracted to the merchandise in their shops, decide to keep walking because you feel, somehow, that if you enter, the merchant will have the upper hand and it will only be a matter of time before you buy something you don't really need or want.

So you continue walking, appearing to be cool and purposeful. But the fact remains, you know you want something and you know that what you want is in one of these shops that you keep passing. You also know that this, being Turkey, has the potential to be THE place where you can buy a high quality rug at just the right price.

So you get over your self-consciousness for the moment and enter a shop. The merchant smiles. You smile back, but you don't want to make too much eye contact because, if you do, you are granting a kind of tacit permission for him to begin his sales shtick, which you already know will be extremely slick.

So you stand on the edges, feigning disinterest. You don't want the shop owner to see you actually marveling at his goods because, then, you reason, he will probably raise the prices. So you play it cool. The merchant has seen many people like you before. So he bides his time.

The really savvy shop owners give you just enough space so you feel comfortable enough to step in of your own accord. Just to make matters even more interesting, there are an equally amount of savvy shop owners who, sensing your indecision and discomfort, make the decision to cross the chasm to YOU (in a very charming way), hoping to diffuse your anxiety just long enough to gain your trust and thus increase the odds of a sale.

You, sentient being that you are, see the shop owner sizing you up. You see him giving you the space to make your own decisions, which makes you even more uncomfortable, you now playing out an infinite loop of subtle mind games with the shop owner (who, in reality, is just a simple man who loves his children, plays cards with his friends, prays to Allah five times a day, and would be very pleased to sell you a rug at a fair price so both of you get what you want.)

From what I can tell, this same little game has played itself out for countless centuries whenever a human being, with a felt need, hears about the existence of a living Master.

You get curious. You move in his direction. You see his "shop" and are attracted. You get closer. But then, some version of the Tourist Syndrome kicks in. You sense that owner of the shop is very experienced, knows his stuff, and has been doing this for a looooooooong time. An old fear of yours rises to the surface. You don't want to be "taken." You don't want to be deceived, fooled, mislead, or sold something you don't need. You wonder if you can trust him/her. So you stand on the edge, arms folded, and observe. You don't want to get too close.

The Master is just standing there, smiling. You wonder why he's smiling -- if his smiling is all part of a ruse to disarm you. Other people come and go from his shop. Some leave with rugs. Some do not. You continue standing there on the edge, trying to decide if what he is offering is actually worth it.

You see another tourist exiting his shop, smiling, carrying a beautiful rug. You gather up the courage to ask how much. The tourist stops and says "It's free. No charge."

Now you are completely confused. "Free?" you think. "How can this be? It's too good to be true. What's the catch?"

An old woman enters the shop and exits with a beautiful rug -- the color of your living room walls. A young, married couple enters and leaves with a small prayer rug, something that would look great in your hallway. The shop owner's two children enter, laughing, bringing him tea.

You think about checking out the other shops. After all, you reason, there must be another 200 in the Grand Bazaar selling the same, or even better, carpets.

Lost in your thoughts, you don't see him approaching.

"Can I help you?" he asks. "Would you like to enter my shop? I think I have just what you're looking for."

He is smiling. The tourist in you wants to move on. But something in you encourages you to stay. You're not sure what it is -- the sound of his voice? The happy people coming and going from his shop? The fact that all his rugs are free?
An introduction to the message of Prem Rawat

Photo #1: unsplash-logonurhan

Photo #2: unsplash-logoRaul Cacho Oses

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July 01, 2019

peace is possible8.png

Here it is

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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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