Heart of the Matter's Top Ten Posts
The Heart of the Matter blog began nine years ago in January, 2008. Since that time, the 1,817 postings on the site have been viewed a total of 1,390,444 times. What follows are the ten most popular postings since the blog was first launched.
1. We Were Made for These Times
2. On Being an Instrument of Peace
3. Prem Rawat: Miami Beach, 4/9/16
5. When the Rain Begins
6. Prem Rawat in Johannesburg
7. Excerpts from Asheville
8. Prem Rawat: Amaroo, 9/10/15
9. Prem Rawat in 24 Minutes
10. You Are the Water
PS: Subscribing to the blog is easy. Just enter your email address in the space provided in the sidebar, then click "subscribe." Immediately after, you will receive a verification email. (If you don't get it, check your spam folder). Once you click the verification email, you will begin receiving alerts, to your inbox, whenever something new is posted on the blog.February 05, 2017
The Power of Gratitude
Here is a collection of expressions of gratitude from people around the world who have experienced some of the benefits of Prem Rawat's message of peace via their participation in the Peace Education Program.November 24, 2016
What Are You Thankful For?
If there is one thing I have understood about life is that GRATITUDE is what it's at. No matter what your spiritual practice is, who you pray to, or what you know, unless you've gotten to the place of GRATITUDE, you haven't yet arrived. The good news? It's simple. Just pause for a few seconds and ask yourself: "What am I grateful for?" Then STAY THERE no matter what happens or doesn't happen in your life...
November 05, 2016
A Manifesto for a Simple Life
September 21, 2016
PLUM TREE (written in Amaroo)
Today, I imagined everything I owned had reduced itself down to a singular plum tree -- the kind an 85-year old Japanese poet, sipping sake, likes to tend at the end of the day. This plum tree, this solitary plum tree, has suddenly become the still, ripe center of my life -- the axis around which all my desires dissolve, stunned as I am, ALIVE, purple fruit everywhere.August 23, 2016
A Feeling That Defies Definition
August 19, 2016
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!"July 19, 2016
Draw a Breath, Not a Line
Throughout history and even last Thursday, inner-directed people on the so-called "spiritual path", have had a tendency to perceive the world as "maya" -- the fancy sanskrit name for "illusion."
I used to feel this way a lot.
Back in the early days of my adolescent quest for meaning, I had a curious habit of drawing lines in the sand. On one side of the line was the "inner life" -- the place where God lived (or if not lived, at least vacationed). On the other side of the line was "the world." You know -- the laughable detritus of life on planet Earth: relationships, shopping malls, money, politics, ego, organized religion, high school geometry, taxes, Frosted Flakes, and anything I didn't understand, agree with, or like.
Somehow, it made me feel good to draw these lines -- not unlike the way Democrat and Republican spin doctors strut their stuff on CNN after each political debate.
Well... I would like to take this late night blogospheric moment to humbly apologize to all of those whose lives I somehow judged by my habitual line-drawing behavior.
I see things differently now -- kind of like that old Zen story...
Two young monks, one fine day, found themselves existentially arguing over whether it was the wind or the flag that was moving. Unable to agree, they sought the counsel of their teacher.
"Master, oh Master" they asked, "is it the wind or the flag that is moving?"
"Neither," the Master replied. "It's your mind that is moving."
And so, dear friend, if you find yourself judging anyone these days, including yourself, chill. It's a total waste of time -- especially when you could be enjoying the very thing you were born for.
Draw a breath, not a line.
Off the Coast of Love
March 30, 2016
A Simple Question For You
March 02, 2016
The Essence of All Paths
November 20, 2015
What Are You Thankful For?
September 02, 2015
Sometimes You Just Gotta Dance
These two gents just found out that a good friend of theirs bought them round trip airfare to see Prem Rawat in Amaroo. Note their reaction below:May 29, 2015
What I Want on My Tombstone
February 27, 2015
Somewhere Off the Coast of Love
My wife tells me I should pay more attention to details -- the house, the car, the lawn -- there's a thousand things, by sunset, that need to be done. She's right, of course. It's true. If only I wasn't floating many miles off the ground today, caught in the updraft of a single gaze from you, spinning like a thousand cyclones off the coast of love.February 16, 2015
What I Learned from Our Independent Valentine's Day Fundraising Project
Recently, my good buddy, Stuart Hoffman and I collaborated on an independent fundraising initiative to help support our favorite charity, The Prem Rawat Foundation. It was a ton of fun. So far, we've raised $4,981 and gotten more than 13,000 hits on our video. Here's a bunch o' stuff I learned (or remembered) along the way:
1. It feels good to serve.
2. Most people want to give.
3. If you want to create something new, it's helpful to have a collaborator.
4. It takes a village and a few village idiots to make magic.
5. Some people don't like Valentine's Day.
6. Twelve saints named "Valentine" have been canonized by the Catholic church.
7. Googling "love quotes" reveals hundreds of inspiring quotes from known and unknown sources.
8. Everybody has an opinion.
9. The staff of The Prem Rawat Foundation is very committed and easy to work with.
10. Some people think 5:23 is a long time.
11. More people will participate in a fundraising effort if they are invited to participate and have a clearly defined role that makes sense to them.
12. Daya Rawat is an extraordinary singer.
13. Any effort made to personalize a fundraising effort is an effort well-made.
14. Proper planning prevents piss poor performance.
15. Fundraising success can be measured in many ways. HINT: It's not all about the money.
16. Coffee is an excellent fundraising catalyst.
17. Many people suffer from "fundraising fatigue."
18. Posting a video on my friends' FB pages is a good way to get the word out, as long as I don't overdo it and only choose the friends who won't be bothered by my taking that liberty.
19. I have a tendency to obsess.
20. I never really knew that my dog, Chili, could become part of a fundraising campaign.
21. Donors to a fundraising campaign appreciate getting updates and progress reports.
21. Some people perceive a request to donate to a charity as a botheration.
22. Publishing an article about the History of Valentine's Day in the Huffington Post is an excellent way to publicize a Valentine's Day-themed fundraising campaign.
24. It's inspiring to set seemingly impossible goals as long as I don't get attached to them.
25. Keep my emails short.
26. It's useful to pay attention to feedback, especially the feedback I judge as irrelevant or absurd. It's also good to thank the people who give me feedback, even if I don't agree with them.
27. Murphy's Law has a way of creeping into any project.
28. The path is made by walking on it.
29. TPRF could use some more volunteers.
30. In some places around the world, $1.00 feeds a hungry child for a day.
31. Some people won't get to #31 on my list of 40 things I've learned (but YOU have, so, congratulations!) You either have nothing better to do, are slightly crazy, or are a patient friend of mine.
32. Stuart Hoffman and Jennifer Edwards are a great songwriting team.
33. No matter what you think of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is an awesome platform to facilitate communication.
34. The Peace Education Program is working wonders to help people in prison get a fresh start in life.
35. When your Mac keyboard stops working in the middle of a project like this, buying a $49 plug-in keyboard at Best Buy is the way to go.
36. Doing anything on behalf of a charity, whatever the cause, works way better when you are actually feeling grateful.
37. Love rules!
38. The Food for People program is a shining example of how a good idea can work wonders.
39. Thinking I don't have time to volunteer for a charity (in this case TPRF) because I need to focus on "making a living" is a bogus thought, originating from a weird place of fear and anxiety. There is always time to be of service. And the amazing thing (even though I can't really prove it and the concept of "cause and effect" is a slippery slope to walk), two well-paying gigs came to me out of the blue while I was working on this project. That's two month's worth of income, folks. Coincidence? Maybe. But maybe not. Just saying...November 05, 2014
It's Really Very Simple
February 12, 2014
A Surprise Collaboration with Vivek
This morning I received a surprise email from Vivek, a young man from India I have never met.
Vivek told me that he had recently discovered my blog, The Heart of the Matter, and really enjoyed some of the visuals featuring excerpts of Prem Rawat's talks.
Since Vivek and his team were helping to promote the Youth Peace Fest (an event where Prem Rawat would eventually address an audience of 183,500 people), he decided to make a video of the slides, add some cool music, and show it at colleges, offices, and other venues around India to get the word out. Vivek noted, in his email to me this morning, that the show was a "big hit with audiences."
February 03, 2014
There's a Saint Louis, Missouri... Why Not a Saint Francis?
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.
THE SAINT FRANCIS PRAYER
"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."
All of us, at one point in our life, feel the primal thirst for something holy, sacred, and divine -- beyond the commerce and conditions of daily life. This one's for you!November 25, 2013
Prem Rawat in Boston: Excerpts
November 08, 2013
Where Gratitude Comes From
September 27, 2013
An Experiment in Gratitude September 17, 2013
The Students of Prem Rawat Speak
Yesterday, 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
"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
"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
"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
"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
About Prem Rawat
Book of Prem Rawat talks
Videos of Prem Rawat
Photos courtesy of Words of Peace Global
About Words of Peace Global
PeaceBeats WorldWide Webcast on 9/21
News of Prem Rawat's travels
The Stillness After Prem Rawat Speaks
After great performers come to the end of a performance, it is not uncommon for grateful audiences to give them a standing ovation. They clap, they cheer, they focus all their attention on the one who has just opened the door to magnificence. Think Pavarotti. Think Martin Luther King. Think anyone you've ever stood your ground for and loved.
What I find amazing is this is how Prem Rawat's presentations begin.
Before he utters a single word, audiences are on their feet, applauding. And when he's done? Pin drop silence.
Somehow, through his own unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight, he finds a way to bring everyone to a place of perfect stillness, back to the very beginning, where there is nothing left to do, but be.
When Prem Rawat is done speaking, I find myself barely able to move. I am stunned, pinned to the back of my chair by the invisible arrow of love. All dramas in my life disappear and there is no "me" left to applaud the end of the show.
What remains is a feeling.
Sitting in the afterglow of this man's communication of truth is a complete and total joy. Oh yes, I know I must move from my seat eventually. Oh yes, I know I will soon be walking and talking and asking someone to pass me the grated parmesan in that great little Italian restaurant just down the road, but now -- here in this sacred moment after he speaks -- nothing else matters.
I close my eyes and breathe. Then I open my eyes again.
I see people sitting. I see people standing. I see people wanting to linger just a little bit longer in this extraordinary state of arrival.
Some walk in silence toward the exits, eyes down, not wanting anyone or anything to distract them from the deepest of feelings welling up within them far beyond time.November 28, 2012
Enjoy the Beauty Everywhere!
August 21, 2012
In Praise of Monhegan Island
There are places on Earth that remind me of what the cosmically-inclined among us refer to as the astral plane, the realm where some people go after their time here is up to contemplate the life they lived.
In this place of gladness, when people pass each other on the unpaved path to whatever is next, they smile. Few words are exchanged, and when they are, they are already understood before anyone speaks.
There is instant recognition here, an equipoise, a pause, a sharing of presence beneath the blue sky.
Having finished what they came here to do, space opens up... and time... and hearts. Each person becomes harbor for the other, a field to go dancing in.
This realm, this unexpected manger between worlds, is an island of joy. There is no rushing here, no sudden moves, no unnecessary thoughts.
Here, each step is an arrival. Here, one breath is taken at a time. Here, you never want to leave.
You can find places like this on the Earth, cool ocean breezes, sea birds gliding, spruce trees, pines, a woman, in her garden, laughing, filling a basket with summer's first yield.
August 09, 2012
The Beautiful Sadness of Longing
A big thank you to Fernando Garcia for using one of my poems, and Stuart Hoffman's music, along with a variety of beautiful images, to create a moving slide show about a topic not often talked about.July 03, 2012
WAITING DOWN UNDER: A Timeless Moment in Amaroo
When asked to explain his highly abstract Theory of Relativity, Albert Einstein made it comprehensible in just two sentences. "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute," he said, "and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute."
I can relate.
There are entire years of my life I can barely remember, but singular moments that seem eternal. The birth of my first child was one of them. So was the birth of my second... as was the first time I saw the woman who would later become my wife... and the time I almost drowned.
"Peak experiences," they're called, moments when time seems to stop and we connect with something timeless -- moments when thinking gives way to feeling and we realize, without words, what life is all about.
And though the catalysts for these moments are different for each of us, the experience is universal.
Something takes us over. Something opens up. A Red Sea parts and we feel totally alive, far beyond the usual ways we measure the world, our worth, and life itself.
I've had my share of these moments and am grateful for each of them. But the most memorable ones have been in the company of my teacher, Maharaji.
Being around him brings out the best in me.
I laugh the loudest, feel the deepest, and experience the kind of spaciousness within that contains everything. Home sweet home. Free Parking in Monopoly. The peace that passes all understanding.
He is, for me, is an amplifier of all things good, a human tuning fork vibrating at the frequency I most love to frequent -- the frequency of love.
Which brings me back to the reason why I began this article in the first place.
A few years ago, I attended a five-day event with Maharaji, in Australia, along with 3,500 other people from more than 30 countries.
It took me 27 hours to get there, but it seemed like a minute.
Life was simple in Amaroo. I lived in a tent. I went to bed when the sun went down. I woke with the birds. I had no cell phone, no laptop, no worries, and nothing to do but listen to Maharaji -- twice a day -- hold forth beneath the vast Australian sky.
I was a happy camper.
On the fifth day of the event, I began to feel an old melancholy creeping in -- the kind I used to feel as a kid on Sunday afternoons when I knew the weekend was coming to an end.
Ah... the paradox!
On one hand, I was immersed in an experience that left me wanting nothing. On the other hand, the more this awareness grew, the harder it was for me think about leaving.
And so when I bumped into Michelle, an old friend of mine now working at Daya's Fine Dining, the on-site restaurant Maharaji was known to frequent, I asked if there was any way I could get in tonight -- my chance, I thought, to see him one more time before I flew home.
"All the reservations are taken," she replied. "But we still need waiters. If you meet me after the event, I'll introduce you to the woman in charge of personnel."
Fast forward a few hours.
The next thing I know a very focused woman is introducing me to Carl, the Head Waiter -- a well-dressed gent oozing confidence, purpose, and five-star restaurantiness.
Quickly, he explains my role, the difference between salad plates and dessert plates, when to bring the bread, when to pour the water, when to open the wine, when to take an order, how to take an order, where to find the spoons, how to fold the napkins, when to present the check, where to get the checks, what the consecutive numbers of my tables were, and a thousand other things that went over my head like an empty thought bubble in a Homer Simpson comic I had no time to read.
I wanted to take notes, but couldn't find a pen. I wanted to ask questions, but there wasn't any time. I wanted to confess my ignorance, but no one was available to play the priest.
I still didn't know where the kitchen was.
And then, before you could say "What are the specials tonight?" the doors open wide and the guests come flooding in.
I go to my section. I meet. I greet. I pour. I nod. I try to remember how the pork is prepared.
So there I am, walking across the room, carrying a chilled bottle of an Italian mineral water I couldn't pronounce if my life depended on it, when the entire restaurant becomes totally still.
Not the sound of a fork. Not the clink of a glass. Just pin drop silence and everyone looking in the same direction.
This, I knew, could mean only one thing.
There, at the threshold of the room, stood Maharaji, radiant, buoyant, completely present. He is looking in what I think of as "my direction," (though I'm convinced he's looking at someone else over my shoulder.)
"Hey Mitch!" he calls out. "So it's come to this? You've been demoted to a waiter!"
Everyone laughs. It's funny. But more than that, it has opened the floodgates. He's broken the ice and opened my heart with only 13 words.
It's clear that he is talking to me, not that mythical dude over my mythical shoulder. It's also clear that, standing halfway across the room, I'm much too far away to be having a meaningful conversation with him.
I should be closer. Much closer.
And then... I have one of those moments Einstein must have been referring to, years ago, when explaining the Theory of Relativity to people like me.
Time twisted. A second became a lifetime. A lifetime became a second.
Next thing I know I'm standing next to him.
I have no clue how I got there. Technically speaking, I walked, but not really. I didn't move an inch as far as I could tell. I was moved -- as if the entire restaurant had just been tilted in his direction... and I simply slid towards him.
Now next to him, before any other conversations in the room had a chance to begin, we continue the thread of what started as his humorous ice-breaker. I look at him and smile. He looks at me and says something about ADI, the new magazine he likes so much. I respond with news of my recent meetings with Ole, the editor. He says something else. So do I. Small talk, you could say, but for me it wasn't small at all.
It was huge.
Now everyone in the room is getting into the act. The guy at Table 12 (Trout Almondine and the broccoli soup) asks Maharaji about a new software program. The couple sipping champagne at Table 9 talks about music. Someone asks about this. Someone asks about that. And he is totally gracious and present with everyone -- as if each person speaking was the only one in the room.
Me? I'm just standing there next to him, soaking it all up.
And then, just before he continues on his way, he turns and, out of the blue, says something kind about my writing.
Then he pivots and is gone, schmoozing forward into the next room where more people who love him are waiting patiently. I follow behind, a self-appointed member of his entourage, but I know my moment with him is over. I have people to wait on, wine to pour.
And so I return to my station.
Everyone seems a bit different now than when they first came in. Lighter. More expansive. And no one is asking about food.
Of course, that moment passes, too. Soon someone is asking for more butter. Someone else complains about the bread.
The odd thing?
If you look at this story from the outside, it doesn't seem all that extraordinary. OK, so I fly to Australia, live in a tent, don't use my cell phone, and listen to Maharaji for five days. Then I dress up like a waiter, walk across the room, and have a seemingly mundane conversation with him.
"That's it?" one could easily conclude.
Ahhh... This is precisely where the great mystery kicks in, my friends -- the mystery of the most off-the-grid relationship I know.
It's never about the what. It's all about the who and how.
When you're in love it doesn't matter what's happening. Everything you do, everything you say, everything you don't do or don't say is infused with a feeling.
And that feeling is what it's all about.
My moving across the floor at Daya's Fine Dining took just a few seconds. My conversation with Maharaji took just a few minutes. But the feeling of it all will last a lifetime.
This is what Knowledge is all about. This is what we were born to experience: the timelessness of love. And it is available to each and every one of us every single second of our blessed lives.
If you have learned the techniques of Knowledge and want to attend this year's Amaroo event, click here.
Most photos from Amaroo.orgJune 30, 2012
Happy for No Reason
When I was 21, I came within five seconds of drowning.
As I was going down for the third time, I looked to the shore and realized that this, my last moment, was the most lucid moment of my life.
Everything else was a cartoon. Unreal. Fake.
In the state I was in, only one thing was certain. I wanted to live. And in that moment, which felt like my last, something extraordinary took over -- way beyond my exhaustion -- and got me to the shore.
It swam me, until I -- completely out of breath -- could finally stand. And when I did, I fell to my knees and kissed the ground. I cried. I sang whatever children's songs I could remember. I laughed.
In that moment of pure exaltation, I had no philosophy, no religion, no politics, no family, no friends, no future, no past. Only the simple joy of being alive.
When I think about my teacher, Prem Rawat, and the experience he has shown me, it feels much the same.
In such a simple and loving way, he has connected me not only to the will to live, but to the primal force that moves me.
As my teacher, he has taught me how to be a student. And as his student, I have learned that it doesn't matter what I know, but who I am. Or more correctly, what I am.
It's what the poets pray to feel, so finally they'd have something worth writing about.
When I feel it -- and I do a lot -- I am happy for no reason at all. Happy like someone on permanent vacation. Completely alive. Grateful to the max. Content in a way that requires no action to prove itself whole.
Unconditional love it is. No strings attached. First kiss. Second chance. Unexpected snow day. Home for the holidays. More fun than I've ever had and absolutely nothing is happening. Just the peace that passes all understanding -- even when my hard disk crashes.
Who is the one who showed me what it's all about I cannot say.
All I know is this: When I'm with him, I never want to leave. And when I do, it's like starting over once again -- whatever I once was being left behind like a second skin. I am refreshed, renewed, re-awakened once again.May 29, 2012
We Love Howie Kent
Our beautiful friend, Howie Kent, passed away today, a gem of a human being -- full of love, devotion, humor, and soul. We will all miss him. Travel well, Howie, and know that you have left your mark here!
The funeral is this Wednesday, May 30th, at 12 noon
1153 Coney Island Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11230
Burial after at Wellwood Cemetery, on Pinelawn Rd. in Farmingdale, LI
If you'd like to send a gift; the family requests donations be made in Howie's name to https://www.wopg.org/en/give
Longing for Long Beach on 1/29!
Turn up the volume! Go full screen! Here is a fun way that Stuart Hoffman, Jennifer Edwards, and Hannah Blake are getting the word out about Prem Rawat's upcoming Long Beach event on 1/29. Forward it to family and friends! Dance! Sing! Breathe! Do whatever it takes to get there on 1/29. And if you can't, watch it two weeks later here.January 01, 2012
Unconditional Gratitude Is Possible
November 12, 2011
I Take Requests
September 11, 2011
Free At Last
June 02, 2011
Stone Walls Do Not a Prison Make
Inmates in correctional facilities around the world are listening to Prem Rawat's message of peace... and responding in extraordinary ways. Like this, for example, from a prisoner in Texas:
"Thank you for providing a perspective that has given my life significance, meaning, and most of all, peace applied directly to the wounds of my life that personally, privately, and powerfully give me the direction I longed for."December 31, 2010
Happy New Year!
Here's to a fabulous 2011!
May this year be filled
with love and grace
and gratitude and
fun and abundance
and health and
deep inner peace
and the ongoing recognition
that THIS PRESENT MOMENT
is a gift to be opened
Everything happens for the best!
for all your love and support.
Happy New Year!
Enjoy the play!
Thanks to Jean Marie Bontous for the heads up on this image.
Growing up in New York, there were three things I found utterly amazing: the accents of people from other places, baseball, and snow days.
If you're from California, Mexico, or Hawaii, you probably know what the first two are all about. But the third? Allow me to explain.
A snow day, for those of you who have never experienced winter, is an unexpected day off from school granted by a benevolent universe. You go to bed at night, dreading your history test the next day, and wake up with three feet of snow outside your window -- your mother telling you (having just heard it on the radio) that school is closed.
It's a snow day!
Somehow, while you slept, the whole world shut down. Everything came to a halt. The only thing you can see out your window is a solitary bird looking for food and the kid next door, arms outstretched, making snow angels.
You jump for joy! Yahoo! Hallelujah!
Gone is the need to rush through breakfast. Gone is the need to catch the bus. Gone is the need to perform.
All bets are off. Your time is your own. You are free!
You look out the window and everything is white. The jagged edges of the world have been softened, curved, and relaxed. Everything is still, as if the God you've heard so much about in Sunday school has just hit the pause button.
You have time to slow down, time to do nothing at all -- and feel really good about it. After all, this isn't a sick day, it's a snow day -- a complete and utter gift... an unexpected bit of grace... an inheritance you didn't realize was on its way.
For me, the gift my Teacher gives is a bit like that.
And the ultimate beauty of the whole thing? You don't have to wait for an "Act of God," while you sleep, to enjoy its benefits. It's with you every second of the day, every breath.December 13, 2010
I Want to Tell You About My Master
A few nights ago, I was sitting in my kitchen with my wife, Evelyne, and our good friend Hudson.
Hudson had recently been diagnosed with cancer and the sobering reality of life's fragility was upon us. As we sat there, we started talking about how our lives would change if we knew we only had another year to live. We each took turns reflecting on what we would do differently -- what we'd stop doing, what we'd start doing, and what would guide our choices. For me, a few things became clear: 1) I'd take the practice of Knowledge more seriously; 2) I'd stop worrying about all the crap that now occupies my mind; 3) I'd dive a lot deeper into writing about the beauty of having a living Master in my life.
Towards that end, here's a little something I wrote a few years ago. I want to share it with you now, while I'm still alive. Enjoy!
I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT MY MASTER
I want to tell you about my Master,
the one who teaches from within,
that like a heartbeat longing to be heard
becomes the twin I never knew I had.
Him! That one!
He is calling me,
not with music, that would be too easy,
but with silence --
that's his choir!
I cannot describe him,
my words only exclude.
Better simply to say, "The one I love,"
answer to a prayer much too subtle
for anyone else to hear,
keeper of the flame,
who I am, was, and will be
when there's no one around to remember my name,
why you like candlelight,
want a child, dream,
the one with no other master plan but love.
I have met this man,
or should I say observed,
struck dumb by his simplicity
and the unspeakable glory of seeing
what these eyes first opened for.
Radiant Being of Light
Radiant being of light,
vortex of love,
magnifier of prayer,
the one I dream about
and the one who
wakes me from the dream,
why the dervish spins
and the earth,
teacher, teaching, and the taught,
first breath, last breath,
what lovers look for in each other,
but rarely find,
center around which everything revolves,
endless night of love
and the ecstatic aching
of a moon-howling heart
that does not want the morning to come.
Where I Live
Many times over the past 16 years, well-meaning people have asked me where I lived.
Depending on my mood and how much I thought they really wanted to know, I would tell them any of the following:
"Two hours north of Manhattan" ... "Ulster County" ... "65 miles south of Albany" ... or the "oh so famous Woodstock, New York."
Now, many years after receiving Knowledge and having relocated to my breath, I simply say:
The State of Gratitude.August 29, 2010
It Just Keeps Getting Better
I'm on my way to Montreal to see Maharaji. Yahoo!
Soon coming: Excerpts from Montreal, Boston, Baltimore, and maybe Toronto. Also, more guest responses from the fabulous Woodstock event.
In the meantime, here are some links from the archives. There are 522 postings on this blog -- so if you are new here or have only read a few things, there is still a lot to explore. Click and scroll...February 20, 2010
There's A Lot Here For You
Dear Heart of the Matter Reader:
First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog. Without you, there would be no reason to do this -- so keep on logging on and spreading the word to your friends and family.
And second of all, there are a lot of postings that you probably haven't seen yet. If you have a few minutes (or a few hours or a few days) and want to dig deeper, click on any of the links below.December 21, 2009
HO! HO! HO! Give Everything You Have
Give everything you have, and after you have given, give what's left. After you give what's left, give what remains. After giving that, give the feeling of having given. After giving the feeling of having given, give what you get for having given. Then give again, never stopping, always giving. And should it come to pass that you forget, forgive yourself immediately. Then begin again, giving everything you have, and after you have given, give what's left.September 30, 2009
WARNING! The following blog posting contains words -- mono and multi-syllabic configurations of letters that have been known to confuse, distract, misrepresent, and otherwise complicate the cognition of readers attempting to understand another person's experience.
That being said, I am going to take a whack at describing what it was like for me to see Maharaji (aka Prem Rawat) on September 23rd in Asheville, North Carolina, where he spoke for 60 minutes to approximately 1,200 people.
Ready? Here goes:
Fast forward to the morning after.
I am sitting in the Asheville Regional Airport, sipping my tall soy latte and waiting for my plane, when the very likeable Ellen Kirschner sits down beside me, laptop in hand and, after a few pleasantries, asks if she might interview me for an article she is writing for Words of Peace Global about last night's event.
"Sure," I say. "Let's do it."
Ellen looks at her notes and asks me a few questions. I look at Ellen and give a few answers, underwhelmed by the vagary of what I have to say in the time I have to say it.
Interview done, Ellen and I both stand and go our separate ways -- she down a ramp to Charlotte, me down a ramp to Newark.
I present my e-ticket. I put my bag in the overhead rack. I listen to a disembodied voice tell me how to put my seat belt on.
And then, like a ton of bricks, 30 minutes later, 35,000 feet in the air, it hits me -- what I really wanted to say to Ellen.
What was it like sitting in a room with Maharaji?
Like being an electric fan and having the plug pulled. Things slowed down. Way down. Everything came to a complete stop. My blades -- those finely honed, energy-efficient abilities I've been so busy developing to cool the room I call my life -- stopped spinning.
Back to square one. Everything became still. Nothing was happening.
But not the nothing that is the absence of anything. No. The nothing that is the fullness of everything. The moment of HERE. The moment of NOW. The moment that is already wonderful without anything extra needing to happen to make it so.
This nothing, like a large bay window opening to the sea, allows me to feel the coolest of breezes -- a breeze that does not depend on my spinning blades for its origination. It allows me to enjoy who and what I am without even trying.
What moves the breeze moves me. And it feels very, very good.
Maharaji, somehow, has the knack for facilitating an experience that enables people, from all walks of life, to feel the fullness of the moment -- to be totally receptive. Receptive to life. Receptive to love. Receptive to the realization that everything is perfect just the way it is.
At moments like this, I am filled with an extraordinary tidal wave of gratitude -- and I had one of those moments being with Maharaji, in Asheville, on September 23rd.
(If you liked this posting, you'll probably like this one, too.)August 30, 2009
A Dozen Red Roses!
Today, in a sudden fit of love and appreciation, I bought a dozen roses and brought them home to my wife.
Usually, when I think of buying roses, I go through a predictable sequence of events. First, I surrender to a wonderful feeling of expansiveness that takes me over. Then I get curious and smell the flowers. Then I ask the shopkeeper how long she thinks the roses will last.
Then I ask the per stem price, do the math, and reach the pitifully male conclusion that $46.95 is way too much too spend on something that won't last out the week and is probably less expensive somewhere else and it's obviously indulgent of me to be buying so many roses when I've got two kids to put through college in a few years and besides, beauty is within.
All of this, of course, is my inner Woody Allen taking the low road in response to what is obviously a Johnny Depp moment.
So I dig deep and bring the roses home -- my entire living room taking shape around them.
I then become very aware that there are definitely not enough flowers in the room. In a curious way, the recent appearance of roses has made the rest of the room seem barren. Tabletops and shelves that only minutes ago were doing just fine, are now utterly flowerless.
So I do the only thing a man can do when faced with such a paradox -- I return to the flower shop.
But the shop is closed. Closed? Impossible! I need flowers!
So I get back in my car and speed my way to the other flower shop in town.
It, too, is closed -- or, should I say, closing. The owner is shutting the door and giving me the "too-bad-you-didn't-get-here a few-minutes-ago" look.
But I will not be denied. And he knows it.
"What do you want?" he asks.
"Cut flowers," I reply.
He signals me to enter and I buy way more flowers than makes sense. A ridiculous amount.
Let's put it this way: if I was in the federal witness protection program, my sudden flower buying behavior would have put my government handlers in a tizzy.
Fast forward ten minutes to my wife in our kitchen.
She is looking at me as if I am totally insane -- me, the guy who, only days ago was making an airtight case for a more modest household budget.
Here's my philosophy:
Flowers first. Logic second. If money is tight, buy more flowers. The more flowers you buy, the more money will appear. And if not in this lifetime, then the next (or maybe the one after that).
OK. There you go -- my not very financially sound, flower-centric view of the universe. You, my friend, are a witness. If I forget, please remind me.
Indeed, next time I see you (Woodstock? Asheville? Boston? Long Island? Miami?), you have my permission to ask me how the flower thing is going.
Remember, flowers first. (OK. Stop reading this blog. Go out and get some flowers, already).August 10, 2009
VIDEO: What Makes Me Happy? July 14, 2009
52 Reasons Why People Like Being with Maharaji
A year ago, on this blog, I posted 34 reasons why I like being with Maharaji -- my attempt to communicate some of the impact that seeing him, real-time, has on me.
At the end of the post, I asked readers to add their own reasons. Eleven people responded.
What follows is my original list and the additional comments of the readers who responded.
Feel free to add your own...
34 Reasons Why I Like Being with Maharaji
1. I breathe more deeply
2. It becomes very easy to savor every moment
3. I stop judging myself and everyone else
4. Time slows down
5. I listen from a still place inside me
6. I feel like I'm dancing when I walk -- or at least, gliding
7. I laugh uncontrollably
8. I cry tears of joy
9. I stop worrying
10. I like what I see when I look in the mirror
11. I have a lot more fun than usual
12. I experience timelessness
13. Everything seems perfect just the way it is
14. I let go of being self-conscious
15. I feel like I'm being massaged from the inside out
16. I move in tune with a hidden music
17. I see how peace is possible for the entire planet
18. I feel like he's talking just to me
19. I am grateful for everything
20. I want to serve
21. I feel whole and complete
22. I feel a vast spaciousness
23. I live in the present moment
24. Everything is profoundly simple
25. I rededicate myself to the practice of Knowledge
26. I stop trying to improve myself
27. I lose my need to gain anyone's approval
28. I am content
29. I come from my heart, not my head
30. Life feels like a party
31. I let things come to me -- and they do
32. I feel more authentic
33. I realize I have no problems
34. I feel like I'm totally home
Why HEART OF THE MATTER readers like being with Maharaji
35. I always leave loving myself a little more. - Candice Wilmore
36. It's incredibly great being around a lot of other people who are also feeling 1-34. - Steve Kowarsky
37. I feel my Heart come alive. - Mka
38. I wake up from the core of my being. - Alan Roettinger
39. I feel like the luckiest person on earth. - Alan Roettinger
40. I realize how much I've missed him. - Alan Roettinger
41. I forget about everything I've missed out on. - Alan Roettinger
42. I get to spend some time with the best friend I will ever have. - Alan Roettinger
43. I am in awe at consciousness & clarity. - Chris Tardieu
44. I am transported back into the ocean of joy, love and strength dwelling within me. Fearlessness presides as magic filled with gratitude resumes as my guide. - Amy S.
45. Magic fills the air and my heart and the hearts of others! I love seeing the Light in their eyes and the smiles on their beatific faces! -Jon Lloyd
48. The silence within me is breathtaking. - Asiebhan
49. I get cleansed of the dirt of the mind. - Asiebhan
50. I get to laugh a lot. - Asiebhan
51. Sometimes, I am completely overwhelmed by an awareness of the possibility of what it means to be a human being and how far short of that potential I fall in my life. Then to hear him beckoning me to join him on this journey of self-fulfillment despite my shortcomings is almost too much to take. Is this what friendship and unconditional love are about? Is this how gratitude unfolds to heal the wounds of a broken heart? Is this the recognition of how fortunate I am to have witnessed the Master and felt the touch of his love in my life? Words are poor substitutes to describe what I am trying to express. - G.S.Smith
52. He has given me 20/20 vision of the heart. - Gaz
Today I wrote the most beautiful poem in the world,
something so pure I wouldn't mind dying --
the perfect song of praise
hewn from the dark forest of my secret heart.
Not a wasted word it was,
rhythmic, elegant, and holy,
poetry for the ages,
why sages dance,
timeless in its pauses,
with a long white beard and a thousand Santa Clauses
ringing their bells for love.
Yes, I wrote this poem today
or rather, it wrote me,
flooding through my body
onto a singular white page,
which I, amazed at having said it all
and having signed my name,
left, for a moment, on my favorite chair
beneath the willow tree,
then turned inside again and took my leave
to celebrate this unexpected visitation of my muse
by listening, with great respect,
to Mozart in the living room.
I did not hear the rain.
Not a single drop.
It was only later, after dinner, I discovered
the many ways ink drips down a white page
in a sudden, summer shower.
I could see, I think, small patches of blue,
a cloud, a flower, a silhouette,
perhaps a word or two,
my perfect poem now watercolor --
the many colors of my love for you.
ASK YOURSELF THIS: "What Can I Do to Help?"
No matter what path you're on, used to be on, think about being on, can't remember you're on... or disbelieve there is any such thing as a "path," the question always remains the same:
"What can I do to help?"
In other words, how can you participate on planet Earth in a way that serves? Certainly, there must be something you can do to go beyond yourself and make a contribution.
In the end, it doesn't really matter what form your effort takes, as long as you are authentically stepping up to the plate and giving it your best to pitch in.
Maybe your effort to serve will have something to do with a "cause" or a Master. Maybe not. If you have a Master, maybe he or she is living. Maybe not. Maybe your Master is Maharaji... or Gurumayi... or the 17th Karmapa... or Thich Nhat Hanh... or Neem Karoli Baba... or Yogananda... or Buddha... or Lao Tzu... or Jesus... or countless other great souls who, from the beginning of time, have been reminding human beings about what's really important in this life.
Yes, the way they've communicated this message has differed, but the essence of the message has always been the same:
What you are searching for is already within you -- and you can experience it. Indeed, that's what you're here for.
Once you've experienced it -- no matter what adjective you use to describe it, it's time to give back -- time to participate... time to serve.
Or, as Bob Dylan once said, "You've got to serve somebody..."
No need to wait, like some wallflower at the High School prom, to be asked. Now's the time.
I know you are busy today and may not have the time to read yet another blog posting, so I've decided to say everything I have to say in this headline: Be grateful! Breathe deeply! Let go! Live fully! Love! October 30, 2008
A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words
October 01, 2008
Back to the Garden
I'm sure there was a time back in the Garden of Eden before the biting of fruit, naming of lizard, and placing of fig leaf, when Adam turned to Eve or Eve turned to Adam and, in the delightful absence of language, greeting cards, or text messaging, found a simple way to communicate something real about their experience of being alive.
Ever since those halcyon days, we've been trying to do the same -- to express something basic, primal, and pure. About what moves us. And why we often linger in the gaze of another who lets us in just long enough to experience the blessing of being received, no strings attached.
It is into this space I find myself being transported upon seeing Maharaji -- a space that continues expanding the moment he leaves the stage.
He's gone and so am I -- my body now a hologram, my heart a happy camper.
Stunned in my seat, I am completely still, infused, fulfilled, free, my blood a kind of overflowing champagne fizz.
I'm sure I could move if I wanted to, but I don't want to. The desire to go anywhere has vanished. All I want to do is sit here and soak up the feeling forever. My name, my plans, the details of my life all seem like odd relics.
I am driftwood here, washed ashore, something a curious tourist might find.
I breathe. I bask in the light of an interior sun now made brighter by the one I have no words for. I breathe. I follow my breath like a happy drunk follows the dotted white line home after an endless night of celebration.September 30, 2008
Thirst Quench Thirst
Hello... You can hear nothing but the sound of my voice.
You are lovingly placing your cursor over the hotlinked phrase below, clicking once and buying at least one copy of my new book of poetry, Thirst Quench Thirst.
Do not concern yourself about whether or not you actually like poetry, read poetry, or have ever heard of me. Those concerns, while certainly understandable, are beside the point. Sometimes you just need to trust your instincts. Like now, for instance.
Some of the poems in this blog are excerpted from the book, so if you're still not sure, simply scroll around and read.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention, the book is only $15.00. At 72 pages, that's only $20.8 cents a page (1/18th the cost of a Starbuck's Frappucino). Such a deal!
Still need proof it's worth the money? Click below and check out the reviews:
Thirst, Quench Thirst evokes a memory of the deepest longings of the soul. Reading Mitch's poetry reminds me of what I already know, but often forget." -- Joan Apter
"This poetry has touched the deepest recesses of my heart." -- Dermott Philpott
"Mitch's poetry touches a universal human longing; the ache for internal connection to the divine. He speaks in a personal, simple, accessible way about things that are ancient and deep." -- Erika Andersen
"Most great love poetry baffles the mind, but delights the heart. And great love poetry cannot be written without great love. Mitch Ditkoff's poems are intoxicating." -- John Adorney
"This is the kind of nourishment that penetrates to the core of Divine Love, and if deeply imbibed, its sweet nectar can be savored for a lifetime." -- Jamie Delay
"Mitch mixed the most profound -- almost indescribable -- with the kind of simplicity that somehow manages to capture a feeling. Lovely stuff!" -- Candice Wilmore
"This book of poetry, delightful and charming, takes me right to the heart of the matter gently, often with wonderful humor! I read and re-read these poems just to take the ride." -- Kim Greene
"Not bad, but buy this book anyway so I can get a higher allowance." -- Jesse Pouget DitkoffAugust 15, 2008
At the Threshold
A few years ago I found myself standing in my closet, madly searching for clean clothes in a last minute attempt to pack before yet another business trip, when I noticed my 4-year old son standing at the entrance.
In one hand, he held a small blue wand, in the other -- a plastic bottle of soapy water. "Dada," he said, looking up at me, his eyes wide open, "do you have time to catch my bubbles?"
Time? It stopped. And so did I. At that moment, it suddenly made no difference whether or not I caught my plane -- I could barely catch my breath. The only thing that existed was him and that soulful look of longing in his eyes.
For the next ten minutes, all we did was play -- him blowing bubbles and laughing. Me catching and laughing, too. His need was completely satisfied. His need for connection. His need for love. His need for knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that absolutely everything was perfect just the way it was.
He is almost 15 now. His bubbles are digital. But his need is still the same. And so is mine -- and yours, I would venture to say. Scratch the surface of our differences, remove the cultural masks, and all of us -- regardless of age, religion, politics, gender, or astrological sign -- are seeking the same thing.
And this "thing" is a feeling -- a feeling of contentment, a feeling of peace, a feeling of deep freedom, fearlessness, and joy. Spiritual practitioners have been attempting to name this feeling for centuries, but ultimately it doesn't matter what it's called.
This sweetness is the place all journeys end. My son's took him across the living room to the threshold of a closet. Yours will take you other places. But no matter where it takes you, one thing is for sure -- what's moving you has moved millions of others since the beginning of time. Yours is an ancient quest. Primal. Tidal. Pure. As basic as breath itself.
For the moment, let's call this driving force "thirst" -- the innate quest each of us has for meaning, love, and fulfillment. Why poets wait beneath a moon for words. What dancers feel before they leap. Why birds fly halfway around the world to the place where they were born.
This thirst is not the same thing as "desire." Desire is wanting what you don't have. Thirst is wanting want you do. Desire assumes the emptiness you feel can be filled by getting -- as if the world was a giant puzzle and all you needed were the pieces. Thirst assumes nothing. It's all about being -- not getting or having.
The good news? You don't have to go to the Himalayas to find what you're looking for. You can start today, wherever you are. The pilgrimage you need to take is actually quite short -- merely the distance between your head and your heart. That's the so-called path.
Your guide on this journey? Thirst. All you need to do is feel it. And if you don't, then at least want to feel it. And if you still don't, then at least want to want to feel it.
Pretty simple, huh?August 12, 2008
A college professor stood before his philosophy class at the start of a new semester. Silently, he picked up a very large jar and filled it with golf balls. Then he asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly, pebbles settling into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students again responded with a resounding "yes."
The professor then produced two beers from under the table and poured them into the jar, filling the empty spaces between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor. "I want you to understand that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things -- your family, health, friends, and feeling of well-being. If everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."
"The pebbles are the other things that matter -- your job, your house, your accomplishments etc. The sand is everything else -- the small stuff."
"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there's no room left for the golf balls or pebbles. The same holds true for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you'll never have room for the things that are really important to you."
"Pay attention to the things that are essential to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Smell the flowers. Enjoy the beauty of existence. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first -- the things that really matter. The rest is just sand."
One of the students then raised her hand and asked what the beer represented. The professor smiled, "I'm glad you asked."
"The beer shows you that, no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers with a friend."
July 18, 2008
(Many thanks to Jan Buchalter for forwarding this sweet story...)
The Falcon and the Falconer
NOTE: This song of praise to Maharaji is best read aloud...
I am the falcon, you are the falconer. Always I am coming back to you, my soaring skyward just a strategy to gather speed for my ultimate return.
How you have trained me is a mystery -- the way you've tamed my restless heart. It is not with fear. I do not fear you. It is not with food. There is prey enough for me everywhere I fly. It is more the way you offer me your arm, a place to land, a second skin scented with the wild musk of one who waits for me, what I would be if I would be a man.
It is a wonderful game the two of us play -- this coming and going, this circular ballet. Each time you loose the loops around my legs and signal me to fly, I remember what it is to rise for the first time. It is here I find my rest, my home. Untethered, still I do not move, needing only to be close to you, my falconer.
It is this that beats my wings, releases me to sky, rides the unseen currents of the air, and though I notice other things: the tops of trees, a cloud, a nimble rabbit on the ground, all I see is you, holding out your arm to me, even as a thousand other falcons overhead, each within your view, circle closer, spiral down, descend.
Still I know that I am next and this is the perfect moment of my return.June 28, 2008
A Stroke of Insight
This 20 minute video is extraordinary. It's the story of a brain scientist, Jill Bolte Taylor, who had a severe stroke and, in the process, experienced the true essence of who she was. She makes a compelling case for the choice we all have -- separateness or unity, struggle or peace. Well worth watching. In the words of an old song whose name escapes me at the moment, "You are not your body, you are not your mind..."May 15, 2008
A couple of nights ago I went to a local concert that featured my friend, the jazz saxophonist, Peter Buettner and his quartet. I had heard Peter play many times before, but never like this. He was soaring, free, transcendental, and plugged into the saxophone Gods that night. After the gig, I saw him in the lobby and told him how awesome he was. Peter smiled and mentioned that he finally figured out a way to go beyond himself and stop analyzing his own playing. In other words, he let go to his natural gifts and just let it rip.
This is the same challenge we all have, no matter what medium we use to express ourselves. When we give up being self-conscious, when we give up worrying about what other people think, the true power and beauty of our art form materializes immediately.
And so, in honor of Peter's breakthrough and the one that's imminent for you, here's a song of praise for all the jazz boppers out there -- the ones who go beyond the boundaries of form and somehow find their way home.
(Please read it aloud for maximum impact...)
There's a billion jazz men in my blood, blowing their horns for love. They've been out on the street too long to wonder what the hell is going on -- for in their freedom -- in their utmost respect for recklessness, they know that life is but a high note held above the head of anyone who listens.
Happy to be playing on a night when others less fortunate than them are recovering from day jobs, these jazz boppers restore all integrity to the underground club that is my body here in this nether world of friends and future lovers. I sing with them! I dance! I tap my soul to the beat of their incessant drumming! And though they do not need to look at me, they smile.
What I see I cannot say, nor can this midnight review redeem the essence of what it is these billion molecules of madness in human form demand.
This is the form of God before your eyes! This is the moment of majesty!
Jazz men, jazz men, play your horns and drums, pound those keys so the vague interrupters of eternity can finally get up and dance and forget themselves once and for all.
Jazz men, play yourselves.
Hey you finger drumming soldiers of man's need to stop finding himself, and so stopping, actually find himself to be found. Hey, you street licking bluesmen of the space between day and night, I love your song, your scream for no one in particular.
Time Out for Love
Ta da! Introducing Jesse (13) and Mimi (11), my two kids.
When Jesse was four, I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. "Everything!" he replied, without missing a beat. And then there was the time when Mimi mounted the living room table, raised both hands high overhead and declared, as if kicking off some kind of invisible Olympic ceremony: "Babies... and gentlemen!"
When it snows, they think snow angels. I think shovel.
Thomas Edison had it right: "The greatest invention in the world is the mind of a child."