The Heart of the Matter
January 12, 2017
Light Reading for Tough Times

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The famous actor, Peter Ustinov once said something I will never forget. "Comedy," he explained, "is merely a funny way of being serious." Bingo! And one of the reasons why it was often the court jester who had the ear of the king.

And so... in the spirit of humor and laughter (much-needed during these turbulent times on planet Earth), I am happy to share ten light-hearted articles of mine that have been published in the Huffington Post in the past few years. My funny way of being serious. Enjoy!

(If you like what you read, please forward to friends.)

A Man of Few Words
The Syndrome Syndrome
How 13-Year Old Girls Can Wipe Out Terrorism
A Very Unexpected Journey
I Am Not a Handyman
The True Fruit of the Spiritual Path
What I Learned from Listening to Ravel's Bolero for 14 Hours
Consultant Outsources Sleep!
Mayan Calendar Prophecy Demystified
An Unforgettable Evening with Shlomo Carlebach

My favorite website

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October 11, 2016
Entering the Sweepstakes

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When I was a kid I used to enter Sweepstakes all the time.

Here's how it worked: I'd be flipping through one of my parent's magazines when I'd see a huge, double-page spread with lots of smiling people having just won a NEW HOUSE! or a LUXURY YACHT! or a FABULOUS VACATION FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY!

I couldn't believe my eyes. I mean, how difficult was this going to be? All I had to do was fill out that little magazine form or write "Burry's Chocolate Chip Cookies" on a "reasonable facsimile" 3x5 index card.

And the fine print said I could enter as many times as I wanted. Dude, how could I possibly lose?

Oh, that feeling of walking to the mailbox and dropping in my stack of 25 envelopes! And even if I didn't win, second place was a cool $50,000. God was good.

I never won a thing.

In a curious way, this LIFE AS A FABULOUS SWEEPSTAKES concept has had its hold on more people than just me as an 11-year old.

From what I can tell, lots of my fellow earthlings keep filling out those 3x5 index cards and dropping them into the mailbox -- but instead of "Burry's Chocolate Chip Cookies" they're writing "Soul Mate" or "Financial Security" or "Drop Ten Pounds.'

OK. So there's nothing wrong with entering contests. But it's not the contests I'm talking about. It's the belief that there's something to win that's going to improve our life in a truly meaningful way.

Here's the deal: You've already won the SWEEPSTAKES! And that big OVERSIZED CHECK with all those fabulous zeros after the "1" -- is actually being delivered to your front door every moment of the day.

All you have to do is answer the knock. Really! I'm not kidding. You've already won! Sail on that yacht!

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September 05, 2016
The Tao of the Man Bun

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July 26, 2016
Yoga for the New Age

After a three-day sabbatical from Heart of the Matter, I am renewed and refreshed, ready to bring you the very best of what life has to offer. Today, in honor of my own return, I bring you three, brief yoga videos that have contained with them a very ancient message of the soul. I realize I may lose a few subscribers with this post, but since I'm not running for office, does it really matter? Namaste!



And, just in case, you haven't been feeling well lately.

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February 01, 2016
The Three Questions

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Some years ago I attended a 5-day conference, in Miami, with Prem Rawat and 50 other people.

On the first morning, during his opening remarks, Prem explained that he wanted everyone at the conference to feel absolutely free to ask their questions whenever they had one. Made perfect sense. After all, we were there to learn.

The first morning passed in a questionless mode for me. Everything he said was absolutely clear and I was content simply to sit, listen, and enjoy the feeling of being in the room with him.

The afternoon was a different story. About an hour after lunch, he said something that baffled me. No kapish. I had a question. But I also had something else -- and that was the fear of asking.

One part of me -- the respectful part -- thought I'd be interrupting him if I raised my hand. Another part -- the educated part -- thought I should already know the answer. Yet another part (hey! how many parts did I have?) didn't want to be the focus of attention.

My right hand twitched, but hung at my side like a slacker. Then I remembered what Prem had said the day before: "If you have a question, ask."

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I raised my hand and asked.

"That's the stupidest thing I ever heard," he replied.

Ouch! Now it was official. I was a fool, a moron, a complete idiot -- something I'd always suspected, but now had all the proof I needed.

I could feel myself shrinking, slinking back into my chair.

My teacher had answered the question I asked, but I barely heard a word. My mind was out to lunch, but had no idea where the restaurant was. A hundred over-caffeinated PR guys inside me, hell bent on damage control, did their best to save the day, but their efforts were a joke.

I didn't sleep well that night.

The next morning I took my seat with an extra dose of humility and some last-minute effort to gracefully manage my emotional meltdown from the day before.

Thirty minutes into Prem's morning presentation, he said something that made only partial sense to me. I kind of understood it. I mean, I sort of got what he said, but not really.

I had a question.

No way was I going to ask it. No way was I going to reveal yet another questionable side of my questionable self -- not only to him, but to 50 of my peers, some of whom, I knew, already had their doubts about me.

But then I remembered what he had said on Day One. "If you have a question, ask."

I raised my hand.

"That," he replied, "is a really good question."

Hallelujah! I was back in the game -- now hanging ten in my semi-comfortable hotel chair, waiting for his response to my now, officially-declared, good question.

I barely heard a word he said -- consumed, as I was, by his acknowledgment of my question being "good." I could see he was talking, but I was suddenly deaf. My mind, once more, was out to lunch. OK, maybe not lunch, but out for a meal. Like... maybe breakfast.. or a light snack.

Day Three came quickly.

I woke, took a shower, practiced Knowledge, drank coffee, ate a bagel, and took my seat.

The morning session was smooth as silk. My teacher spoke, told some jokes, showed some slides -- me enjoying my new found status as a question-free human being.

The afternoon?
Don't ask.

An hour into it, I felt an old familiar feeling coming over me. I wouldn't exactly call it cluelessness, but I was clearly in need of a clue.

I took a breath. I raised my hand. I asked.

Prem listened. Then he spoke. His response, this time, was neutral. My question wasn't good. My question wasn't stupid. It was just a question.

Three days. Three questions. Three different responses.

Looking back at this conference with my favorite person on the planet, the metaphor that comes to mind is one a friend shared with me some years ago.

"Imagine yourself," she said, "as a sword in a stone. It's stuck and won't come out. You pull to the left. You pull to the right. You pull to the left, again. Back and forth, back and forth you go between the extremes: good and bad, up and down, black and white, rich and poor, this and that. With each movement between the extremes, the sword gets looser and looser until it gets loose enough for you to pull from the stone. That's how it works some times -- all this going back and forth, until we're finally free!"

I'm glad I took Prem Rawat up on his word and asked my questions. In a curious way, I may have learned more from the act of asking than I did from the answers I received. That's one of the cool things about being in relationship with someone like him. Every interaction is amplified. Every conversation has the potential to reveal something extraordinary.

I'm glad I didn't play it safe with him. I'm glad I didn't hide behind my simulated mask of understanding. Yes, it's a risk to speak up. But a risk to what? Only that self-serving, legend-in-my-own-mind character more concerned with other's opinions of me than the experience of truth.

Did he know that the three different ways he answered my questions put me through some changes? I doubt it. But it doesn't really matter.

Prem Rawat is not a mind reader. He is not a psychic. He is not a therapist. He merely holds up a mirror. What we see -- and what we do after we see what we see -- is completely up to us.

Words of Peace Global
PremRawat.com
The Prem Rawat Foundation
Prem Rawat's new book

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June 09, 2015
Groucho Speaks

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February 11, 2015
The History (and Present) of Valentine's Day

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Most people think Valentine's Day was invented by Hallmark Cards. It wasn't. Valentine's Day is actually a well-documented, historical phenomenon -- its tangled roots winding their way through centuries worth of Christian liturgy, pagan tradition, myth, and an occasional beheading.

The most popular account of its origins date back to a temple priest named, not surprisingly, Valentine, a later-to-be-canonized saint who was executed in 270 A.D. by Emperor Claudius II for performing illegal marriage ceremonies on the Roman battlefield. Back then, as the story goes, the military-minded Claudius believed connubial bliss was bad for war and made it illegal for soldiers to wed.

Imprisoned for his battlefield-betrothing ways, Valentine, a man of many talents, supposedly healed the blind daughter of his jailer while incarcerated and, the night before his execution, gave the newly sighted young lass a hand written card signed -- you guessed it -- "From Your Valentine."

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Of course, as in most historical accounts, there is almost an infinite variety of competing legends -- some religious, some pagan, some merely the result of bad translations by poorly educated scribes. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints named Valentine -- each of whom were martyred on February 14th. And to make matters even more Valetiney, the official Roman Catholic roster of saints lists no less than 12 saints named "Valentine."

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Indeed, depending on where you live and what you believe, it is possible to celebrate St. Valentine's Day on six different days of the year -- November 3, January 7, July 25, July 6 being four of them. Me? I prefer February 14, not just because it's an American tradition, but because, where I live, February is ridiculously bleak and chocolate keeps my spirits (and blood sugar) high.

It wasn't until the 14th century, however, that Valentine's Day was associated with romantic love. And it was the English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, who we have to thank for that. Chaucer's opus, Parliament of Foules, was the first ever to link the tradition of courtly love with St. Valentine's day.

Handwritten Valentine's Day cards were the tradition until 1847. That's when Esther Howland, a Mt. Holyoke graduate and budding entrepreneur, got the idea to mass produce them, ordering massive amounts of paper and lace from jolly old England, a country where no less than half the population was in the habit of giving and receiving Valentine's Day cards.

Thirty five hundred miles away, in the not-so-jolly United States, more than 190 million Valentine's Day cards are given each year -- and, if you count the number of cards school children give each other, that number skyrockets to one billion. With US citizens spending approximately $13.1 billion on Valentine's Day gifts each year, it's fair to say this love-themed holiday may be just as good for the economy as war is.

Fortunately, you don't have to be martyred, heal your daughter's jailer, or recite Chaucer's poetry to celebrate your loved ones this year. In addition to sending chocolate, roses, jewelry and cards, you can also send something digital, more specifically, the 5:23 music slide show featuring 23 inspired quotes on love by a selection of movers and shakers, none of whom, I believe, have ever been beheaded, healed the blind, or performed a single marriage ceremony on a Roman battlefield.

Also published in the Huffington Post.

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November 17, 2013
To Life!!!!

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July 31, 2013
In Case You Are Wondering What This Blog Is Really All About

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July 22, 2013
Why Groucho Raised His Eyebrows

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Order the book here

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January 03, 2013
100 Reasons To Go Within

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Since the beginning of time, and even last Thursday, there have always been "inner directed" people -- seekers of peace, truth, and knowledge of the self.

Some of these people turned away from the world and ended up in caves, forests, or ashrams. Some sought the guidance of Masters. Others, stayed closer to home and simply checked out their nearest yoga class.

Have you ever wondered why people make this choice -- what moves a person to turn within? Well, I have -- and here they are -- 100 of the most common reasons.

Yours may be on it. If not, just let me know and I will add it to the next edition. Maybe.

100 Reasons to Go Within

1. The world always seems to let you down.

2. You just lost your job.

3. Oprah told you to.

4. Your 401K is now a 101K.

5. You're not getting any younger.

6. You've always been curious about this "going within" business.

7. Someone you love just died.

8. You think the Dalai Lama is cool.

9. You read it in a book.

10. Your girlfriend ran away with your therapist.

11. Your house burned down.

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12. Watching Dancing With the Stars no longer does it for you.

13. You're an unhappy atheist.

14. You've recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease.

15. You're about to have a root canal.

16. Your three-year plan has revealed itself to be a total charade.

17. It's free.

18. You have a living Master who keeps reminding you to go within.

19. Your wife, husband, kids, and hair have all left you.

20. You like what Jesus had to say about it.

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21. There's no time like the present.

22. You had a near death experience a while ago, but could never figure out how to stay in that blissful place.

23. Your team just lost the Big Game and you realize that everything you give yourself to in this world eventually disappoints.

24. You're stuck in traffic
25. You're on your death bed
26. You're on vacation

27. Inner space is a lot more interesting than outer space.

28. Space is curved. If you looked long enough through a powerful enough telescope, you'd end up seeing your own butt.

29. You've always been fascinated by the lives of sages, saints, and monks.

30. Nothing else seems to be working for you.

31. You want to build your house of bricks.

32. You've seen Avatar twice.

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33. The financial cliff makes you very nervous.

34. You finally figured out that the entire world is your projection and the flickering images on the screen aren't the only thing to focus on.

35. There's nothing good on TV.

36. You lost the remote.

37. You lost your way.

38. You read Siddhartha.

39. You'd rather have your own experience than read about someone else's.

40. You love George Harrison.

41. You want to lower your stress.

42. Googling it didn't get you anywhere.

43. You don't believe your own story anymore. (And you're tired of telling it).

44. You realize that your personality is a complete fabrication and you want to find out who (or what) exists behind the mask you call your "self."

45. Your best friend suggested it.

46. You're the reincarnation of Shiva.

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47. You're the reincarnation of Shiva's chiropractor.

48. You keep wondering why the spelling of "Shiva" and "Yeshiva" are so similar.

49. You've always favored silence and simplicity.

50. When you go to a video store, it takes you a long time to find anything you want to rent.

51. You once heard Prem Rawat talk about it and it sounded really good.

52. You went on a retreat last month and, even though the people there seemed to be completely full of themselves, smiled too much, and didn't have a sense of humor, you liked the way you felt when you weren't busy judging them.

53. It's good for your blood pressure.

54. You'd rather be on the inside than the outside.

55. The Dow is down (but not the Tao).

56. Your server is down.

57. All roads lead to Om.

58. You don't want to end up like the musk deer who wanders forever in search of the intoxicating fragrance that emanates from its own navel.

59. You prefer Rumi, Hafiz, and Kabir to Lady Gaga.

60. For thousands of lifetimes this is what you've done.

61. Your moon is in the House of Pies.

62. You want to find out what Prem Rawat meant when he said that "there are a lot of people who know there is a drop in the ocean, but only a few who know there is an ocean in the drop."

63. You want your mojo back.

64. Face it. You're just not that happy with your current state of affairs (even though you always tell people you are "fine" when they ask you how you are). It's kind of like you have a low grade virus or know there is a party going on nearby that you haven't been invited to and can't figure out why.

65. The happiest moments of your life have been listening to your Master speak about the beauty of going within.

66. You want shelter from the storm.

67. You've always sensed there was something universal inside of everyone -- far beyond religion or philosophy -- and you want to know what it is.

68. You read Be Here Now many years ago.

69. You're tired of waiting for Christmas, retirement, or a positive cash flow.

70. You've heard there's is at least one living Teacher who can show you how.

71. You'd rather know the "I" than the iPhone.

72. Three magi from Jersey City just showed up at your door. They are each holding a large pepperoni pizza and telling you that you better go within or they're gonna break your kneecaps.

73. Hey, if it doesn't work out, you can always get back into that network marketing thing.

74. Your favorite part of every meal is grace.

75. You don't need any credentials.

76. It's sugar free.

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77. Some time ago, for no apparent reason, you experienced a profound sense of gratitude, expansiveness, and joy. Everything made perfect sense. Alas...that feeling came and went. Now you want to get it back.

78. Rush Limbaugh has nothing to do with it.

79. It's non-caloric.

80. Every time you go to a bookstore, you find yourself wandering around the spiritual section.

81. When you were a little kid you alternated between feeling like an orphan and a visitor from another planet. You always wanted to "go home." Now you understand that home is not a geographical place, but a state of consciousness and "going within" has something to do with it.

82. Sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll took you only so far.

83. You realize that Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, and Lao Tzu can't all be wrong.

84. Your most favorite people on planet Earth have all committed to this journey.

85. You understand that to "go within" you don't need to give up bowling, poker, steak, sex, baseball, beer, crossword puzzles, scrabble, sushi, cappuccino, square dancing, break dancing, blogging, basketball, William Burroughs, designer jeans, Otis Redding, jello, science fiction, bonsai trees, tweeting, fruit loops, weightlifting, jazz, bargain hunting, coin collecting, the Kabaalah, dirty jokes, making fun of politicians, arm wrestling, Bruce Lee, Lee Marvin, Marvin Gardens, toasted marshmallows, and googling your own name when no one is watching.

86. You don't want anything else.

87. You realize that if you can't be happy in your own skin, nothing else is ever going to matter.

88. Your favorite songs are all love songs.

89. You feel a deep thirst within that cannot be quenched by anything else.

90. You want to.
91. You have to.
92. It's time.

93. You know that God is within and you would like to make his/her/its acquaintance.

94. Did I mention that you're not getting any younger?

95. Tick tock tick tock.

96. You're tired of the rat race.

97. You've been looking for love in all the wrong places.

98. You're almost coming to the end of this list.

99. You're almost coming to the end of your life.

100. Rush Limbaugh has nothing to do with it.

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November 04, 2012
As Above, So Below

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July 20, 2012
Three Yogis in a Cave

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So there are these three yogis meditating in a cave. They've been there for ten years -- in total silence the entire time. Then one day, in the tenth year of their retreat, an albino mountain lion makes his way to the mouth of the cave and lets out an earth-shattering roar.

Five years pass.

The first yogi twtiches, opens his mouth and says "WOW!"

Another five years pass.

The second yogi blinks and blurts, "Yeah, I know what you mean, my brother."

Five more years pass.

"HEY!" the third yogi bellows, "knock it off! If you guys don't shut up, I'm moving to another cave."

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July 09, 2012
My Tray of Hors D'oeuvres Is Empty

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I have been a student of Prem Rawat (AKA Maharaji) since 1971.

For the past 41 years, inspired by the feeling of deep peace and gladness he has awakened in me, I have been attempting -- in various unsuccessful ways -- to describe who he is.

In the beginning, my descriptions were extremely effusive. Borderline inflated, you might say, and tinged with a hint of the zealot -- not unlike the poetry of one in love for the first time and badly in need of an editor.

Charming? For sure. Engaging? You bet. Attention getting? That, too. But also confusing to anyone sincerely wanting to understand what the big deal was all about.

In time, like wine, I've mellowed, no longer ruled by the need to label, define, and explain. It's a game I choose not to play any more.

What does Maharaji say when people ask him who he is? "Just a human being -- a mirror that helps people see their true reflection at that moment in time." This has been my experience completely. Allow me to be more specific...

The year was 1983 and I was living in Los Angeles.

Although I had enjoyed some wonderfully casual moments with Maharaji throughout the years, most of my contact with him had been at big programs, him on stage, me straining to see from the mezzanine, wondering how to get a better seat. Like most of his students I wanted "special" time with him, away from the crowds.

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And so when a friend asked me to be a waiter at a party he was throwing for his neighbors I jumped at the chance. I rented the outfit. I shined my shoes. I showed up early. Nobody but my mother could have guessed I wasn't a waiter by profession.

And then, with a signal from the caterer, my adventure began -- silver tray of hors d'oeuvres in my left hand -- spreading out with the rest of the waiters among the guests, each according to our designated areas.

The first thing I saw was Maharaji.

Technically speaking, he wasn't in my "area," but since none of the other waiters were approaching him, I decided to fill the void. This was my chance, I reasoned -- especially since I hadn't talked to him for three years.

"Hors d'oeuvre?" I asked, extending my tray of goodies in his direction.

Maharaji pulled his head back, looked away, and extended his hand in a slow, downward motion as if to say, "Keep that thing away from me!"

I smiled and continued on my way, wondering if his refusal had any kind of cosmic significance. Was it me or the pizza puffs? Was he seeing some deep, ancient flaw in me? Was I hopelessly uncool?

Fortunately, the day was too beautiful to obsess on my thoughts for long and so I kept moving until I located my area in the field behind his house.

From where I was now positioned, there were absolutely no sight lines to the party, no chance to see, I thought, Maharaji. The only thing interesting to look at was the ocean and the sky.

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And so it was: Every 10 minutes or so a few guests would make their way back to my area, surprised to see a waiter, umbrella in one hand, tray in the other, standing in a field so far from the party.

It took about ten guests to empty my tray. After that I would head back to the waiters' shed for refills. This must have happened at least 20 times during the day and each time it did, Maharaji would somehow enter my field of vision -- standing, talking, eating, walking, and doing all the things that a person does at a party. And though I could never predict what he was going to be doing when I saw him, I could predict the feeling I would have.

"Jazzed" is how I would describe it. Pumped. Buzzed. Blissed. I was a curious hybrid of boy seeing Santa and a Grateful Dead groupie with a lifetime back stage pass.

"It's "him," I would think to myself again and again. "Him!"

This little scene played itself out several times during the day. I could have gone on like this forever. But then something curious happened.

About the 20th time I saw him, I felt nothing. enso.jpg Zero. Nada. Zilch. An unwelcome sense of normalcy began to take me over. Seeing him was suddenly no big deal. I wasn't awed. I wasn't amazed. Neither was I captivated, astounded, excited, glad, grateful, inspired, delighted, or energized.

I wasn't anything.

My concept of Maharaji was being deconstructed before my eyes. My "mental model" wasn't working. Something I had counted on for years -- that seeing him would always be uplifting -- was no longer operational.

Was it him? Was it me? Was it both of us? Neither? Something else?

One conclusion I could have easily drawn was that Maharaji was nothing special -- a Wizard of Oz made great only by my own neurotic projections.

Yes, if I wanted proof that he was nothing but my own self-invented hype, now I had it. But having received Knowledge from him 12 years earlier and having experienced the many benefits of his guidance in my life, I could not bail out at such a simplistic conclusion.

Something else was clearly going on.

Looking back, my 'buzzless' series of waitering moments at Maharaji's party felt like the unceremonial end of my extended honeymoon with him -- that formerly delightful time of spiritual romance in which I had been protected from (or blinded to) the moments in which one's "significant other" does not appear very extraordinary.

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In marriages, this either marks the beginning or the end of the painful acceptance of the apparent mundane -- the time when the husband no longer seems heroic and the wife is no longer recognized as goddess.

It was confronting to admit it, but the part of my relationship to Maharaji that I had fabricated was becoming undone. Without knowing it, I had become a fan and a groupie in addition to being a student.

Like my previous strategy in my personal life of creating short-term love affairs to keep me feeling studly, I had been orchestrating my relationship with Maharaji to provide well-timed payoffs. Did it work? Yes it did. But it went only so far.

I was not alone.

In my experience, lots of Maharaji's students have set him up in this way. Ruled by the very human need to define and categorize, we turned him into many things: a superstar, a hero, an Avatar, an anthropomorphized version of our own private God -- projecting all kinds of images on him, not unlike small children do with their parents or teachers.

Inevitably, this leads to disappointment. Which leads to doubt. Which leads to anger. And it is this anger, born from the gap between who he is and who we imagine him to be, that is often the reason why some students of Maharaji eventually reject him.

"He is not who I thought he was," they claim. And of course it is true, because, in many ways, it is impossible to know Maharaji (or anyone else for that matter) through the medium of thought.

More relationships are ruined, I believe, by expectations than by anything else.

Husbands do it to their wives. Wives do it to their husbands. Parents do it to their kids. The Master/Student relationship is no exception. Somehow we get it into our heads that a Master has to be a certain way.

movie_20director_small.jpg Casting directors in our own "B" movie, we patch together our favorite stereotypes and create a picture of how the Master should be -- and then proceed to compare everything he does to that picture.

Of course, we're going to be disappointed. How could it be any other way?

The alternative? Live and let live. Be who you are and let Maharaji be who he is. Give up the addiction to having everyone and everything fit the Procrustean bed of your spiritualized imagination.

Allow the simplicity of love to be the fulcrum around which your life revolves. Appreciate each breath. Be grateful. Live and let live. Savor the opportunity to be alive and enjoy all the many blessings in your life. Take off the rose-colored glasses and those rose-colored explanations. You don't need them anymore.

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June 06, 2012
The Crosswalk of the Future

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April 27, 2012
Puppet-Ji On Non-Attachment

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March 12, 2012
Rumi and Kabir Bowling

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Last year, as I understand it, Rumi was the best selling poet in the United States -- 800+ years after he was alive. Kabir, too, is still being widely read -- as is Hafiz, Gibran, and a host of other ecstatic poets from times gone by. Many people assume these guys must have been praying, meditating, and going on pilgrimages 24/7. I don't think so.

This next piece is an homage to Rumi and Kabir -- my fantasy of how the two of them might have spent an evening, in a bowling alley, knocking back some brewskis, if they were alive today.

By the way, if you are willing, this piece is best read aloud.


RUMI AND KABIR BOWLING

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I have been to the place where Rumi and Kabir are bowling all... night... long. They are rolling perfectly round balls down a perfectly polished alley, laughing at the sound of the pins falling down again and again and again.

Every time they bowl a strike even when they miss which is often, their aim wandering in fabulously random ways around this grand interior space.

Rumi orders a shot of Red Eye,Kabir, a Bud Lite, their clinking of glasses some kind of esoteric temple bell ritual neither of them understand.

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They keep drinking and laughing and drinking again, knocking back the elixir of their late night bowling life and muttering under their barely moving breath about the strangers outside returning home from yet another night shift.

Rumi opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out -- Kabir, long beard flecked with foam, orders a second round and then a third as if the world was on fire.

Suddenly Rumi glances over his left shoulder. More pins fall, this time leaving a perfect 7-10 split, Kabir, knowing he never has to write another poem to prove himself whole, leaps from his chair and hurls himself down the perfectly polished alley, arms outstretched, moving at the speed of lite beer.

Bang!

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Both pins fall,like... cedars in Lebanon,like...Adam from Grace, like... trees in a forest with no one close enough to hear whether anything has actually happened or not. No one except Red Eye Rumi swiveling in his chair and pointing to the door.

A small man, in a starched white uniform, enters, many keys hanging from his belt.

"Hey, you two! What are you doing here? This place is closed!"

Rumi smiles, tilts his head back and talks into his empty glass now megaphone for the moment.

"I beg to differ, my good man, this place is not closed. It is open! If it were closed we would not be here. Open it is, I say! Wide open! Like the Red Sea, like a window on a summer night, like the eyes of a young man upon seeing the most beautiful woman in the world walk across the room, her body the perfect mix of spirit and flesh. Open, I say, like a book, like the sky, like the heart of one not yet disappointed in the ways of human love. Go about your business, friend, and leave us here, two happy hieroglyphs of love."

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"We have a perfect game on Lane 23," intones a disembodied voice over the PA system "A perfect game!"

Rumi and Kabir pull over another chair, pour another drink and beckon to the man in the starched white uniform, many keys dangling from his belt.

"Good friend, come closer, come drink with us. Come now! The night is still young."

Illustration

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:03 PM | Comments (3)

February 14, 2012
Beautiful Thoughtlessness

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:57 AM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2011
No Attachments

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More

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:51 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2011
The Joy of Heckling

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If you talk to a thousand people who are (or have been) students of Maharaji, you will get a thousand different impressions of who he is and what he does. Your guess about the accuracy of their perceptions is as good as mine.

But if you really want to know the answer, you will need to have your own experience, while being mindful of the words of Anais Nin, "We don't see things as they are, but as we are." Allow me to be more specific.

ACT 1
When Maharaji was 16, he married -- not to an Indian woman chosen by his parents, but to a 24-year old American. This troubled some of his students -- especially those who, at that time, had chosen celibacy as part of their path to enlightenment. How could Maharaji get married, they reasoned. Marriage was so mundane... such a distraction... so unspiritual.

And so, when Maharaji said "I do," a bunch of these people said "I don't" and split the scene.

Other students of Maharaji had a different response. They thought his marriage was cool -- more proof that he was free of old-fashioned concepts -- a liberated move that only deepened their love and respect for him. His actions, they concluded, were a kind of divine permission to do the same. And so they did. Got married, that is.

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Still others, with no absolutely no desire to stop practicing Knowledge or settle down with a soul mate, had yet a different response. They sent wedding presents. They sent gardenias. They sent roses and cards and effusive telegrams.

Me? I was happy for Maharaji, wondered what kind of gift I should buy, figured I couldn't afford it, and did nothing -- thinking my long distance thoughts would somehow be enough.

ACT ll (three years later)

As far back as I can recall, Maharaji used to conduct "instructor conferences" -- intensive retreats for handpicked groups of his students on how to best represent his message in the world. Like many of his students, I wanted to be invited -- not only for the sheer joy of being with him, but for what I imagined was undeniable proof that I was "getting somewhere" with Knowledge.

Eight years passed. My love for Maharaji and Knowledge continued to blossom. Not once, however, was I invited to attend one of these events.

And then, completely, out of the blue, one unofficial day -- VOILA! -- I got the word. "Get down to Miami. You've been invited to an instructor conference... but not as a candidate -- as a guest."

A guest? Now I was really confused. I mean, Maharaji was inviting me, but he was also not inviting me. Huh?

I went.

For three days I sat in the back of a large conference room and watched Maharaji, like some kind of improv laughing Pied Piper Buddha, in perfectly creased pants, bring everyone to a place of exquisite attention, learning, and relaxation. A magician he was. A conductor of joy. A man on a mission.

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And then, before I knew it, the conference was over. Or at least I thought it was over. It wasn't. There was one more thing still to come -- a "Celebration Dinner".

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the room were the champagne bottles -- one on each table. "This is gonna be interesting," I thought, amused by the fact that 98% of the people in the room hadn't had anything stronger to drink than a smoothie in the past few years.

Someone led me to my table. It was next to Maharaji's.

Feeling suddenly mid-western, I surveyed the room in a noble attempt to figure out what I was supposed to do -- how I should act. Clearly, no one had a clue. Things were just happening. There were no reference points, no sign posts, no correct courses of action -- only the sound of corks popping and a palpable wave of joy.

Good guest that I was, I raised my glass and drank, occasionally sneaking glances at Maharaji like some kind of wide-eyed tourist.

The next thing I know, he's asking if anyone has a good joke.

There's the usual self consciousness... the pregnant pause... then someone stands up, mounts the stage, and begins. The joke isn't funny, but it breaks the ice. In a flash, someone else mounts the stage, only this time the joke is a lot better and X-rated, to boot. I look at Maharaji to see his reaction. He is laughing. Of course he's laughing. The joke is funny! A third person gets up. Then a fourth -- each joke raunchier than the one before -- and everybody crazy with laughter.

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At the telling of the fifth joke, I shout out a heckle like some kind of wise guy from Brooklyn. Irreverent. Unrehearsed. And way funnier than the joke itself.

"Who said that?" Maharaji asks, looking in my direction.

"I did, Maharaji," I say.

Maharaji laughs and points at me, "One point for Ditkoff!"

Now here is where all logic breaks down... where what I am about to say may seem as strange as my son's one-time fascination for Pokemon. I got completely ecstatic. In a blink of the eye, a major concept of mine had evaporated and I felt infinitely lighter.

After years of trying oh so hard -- in oh so many futile ways -- to have my special, timeless, sacred, holy, cosmic, blissful, meaningful moment with Maharaji, I finally have one -- and it's for heckling an aspiring yogi at a dirty joke contest.

Go figure.

ACT lll (18 years later)
Not long ago, I read an account of this very same event by someone who was also there -- someone once very close to Maharaji. This particular fellow described the contest accurately. The only thing different was the conclusion he drew.

For him, the contest was inappropriate, off-putting, poorly timed, and in bad taste. For me, it was perfect, divine, liberating, and transcendental -- exactly what was needed for that particular group of people on that particular night, so focused on the "path" that they had forgotten to smell the roses... or accept themselves for simply being human.

Looking back, it's fair to say that I learned more in those few joke-telling moments about life -- my life -- than I did from years of meditating and reading holy books.

A Red Sea parted. For me, it parted. Not for that other guy. He had a different experience. He tells a different story now. Which, of course, is his right, but does not make him right. That's just one of the amazing things about this life. We all see it differently -- based on where we're coming from at any particular moment in time.

More
The Keys
WOPG blog
Online videos

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August 09, 2011
I Am Moving to a Blog Cabin

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Here is a link
to the most
recent
blog
posting
on
Words of Peace Global --
an upbeat rant
about
the need
we all have
to connect
to something
real inside of us.
(PS: Not just virtual friends).

WOPG.org
Illustration: Sara Shaffer

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2011
I Am Moving to a Blog Cabin

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I see the future.

Everyone will have a blog. Every blogger's pet will have a blog. Every blog will have a blog. Every blog's blog will have a blog. No one will be reading any of these blogs because everyone will be too busy writing blogs. (Those with ADD will be tweeting).

Bloggers will occasionally visit other blogs, but only for the purpose of leaving comments that will direct readers back to their own blog.

Letter writing will become popular once again, gaining a new lease on life after the internet crashes repeatedly because of the profusion of blogs, tweets, and youtube videos created by 5-year olds, holographic spammers, robots, and terrorist groups.

Why all the blogging?

Because people want to connect. And WHY do people want to connect? Because there is a fundamental need inside each and every one of us to feel connected.

"Connected to WHAT?" is the question.

Most business leaders are likely to say something like "the marketplace," or "our customers" or "company values," but the real answer is far more fundamental -- your self.

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Remember that? The part of you that doesn't have a title, a strategic plan, or a smart phone to keep it all together? That's where innovation begins -- from the inside out. And even more importantly, that's where the real experience of life begins.

Bottom line, for each of us to feel truly connected, we first need to connect with ourselves. Then, and only then, does it make sense to connect with others.

Otherwise, all our efforts to connect will be fundamentally flawed -- tinged with the slightly neurotic need for more approval, information, and virtual friends -- none of which are really necessary once we master the fine art of tapping into who we really are in the first place.

Sort of like putting the isness back in business.

And speaking of the future -- high rises are out. Blog cabins are in.

Photo

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:47 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2011
The Middle Path

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Cartoon

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March 15, 2011
Why Are We Here?

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January 29, 2011
This Just In!

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Prem Rawat speaks


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:49 AM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2011
HOW You Get There Matters

There is a set of stairs, with a moving escalator next to it -- both of which lead to the same place. At first, 97% of all people took the escalator. Then some engineers figured out how to change the percentage. Now, a whopping 66% more people take the stairs. Find out why -- then ask yourself what you can do to infuse your life (or the organization you work for) with more fun. Results will follow.

More
Thanks to Celia Jennings for the heads up.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2011
Man's Best Friend

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Yesterday was really weird. It began normally enough, with my kids scrambling to catch the school bus, my wife going to her studio, and me making my way to the local cafe for a cappuccino and toasted bagel. But that's where normal ended.

When I returned home an hour later, the front door was wide open and I could smell an unfamiliar incense coming from the living room. Cautious, I approached slowly.

There, sitting on the floor, completely unmoving, was a rather large dog (not mine). I think he was trying to tell me something...

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More
My best Friend
Barking up the right tree

Photo

Thanks to David Passes for the doggie

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:03 PM | Comments (2)

January 04, 2011
The Fisherman and the Banker

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An investment banker was standing at the pier of a small coastal village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The banker complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, "Only a little while."

The banker then asked, "Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more fish?"

The fisherman said, "Why bother? I now have more than enough to support my family's needs."

The banker then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening and spend time with my family, I have a full and busy life."

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The banker scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat! With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to the capital city. After that, who knows, maybe you could take on the world!"

The fisherman asked, "How long will all of this take?"

To which the banker replied, "I'd say about 15 to 20 years."

"But what then?" asked the fisherman.

The Banker laughed, "That's the best part! When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions?...Then what?" the fisherman replied.

"Then you would retire and do whatever you want," said the banker. "What would you want to do?"

The fisherman answered: "I would sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening and spend time with my family."

More

Thanks to Neil Evans for submitting this wonderful story.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:39 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2010
Don't Let This Happen to You

This guy forgot to meditate...



Help is available

Thanks to David Passes for the muppet connection

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:22 PM | Comments (3)

November 24, 2010
No Attachments

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Thanks to Ellen Kirschner for the heads up
Cartoon

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:23 PM | Comments (4)

October 12, 2010
The Results of a Ten Year Research Project on Meditation*

The Heart of the Matter is pleased to announce the publication of a multinational, longitudinal study on meditation conducted by the Global Institute for Higher Learning. Over 1,750,000 people from 81 countries were interviewed since 1995. Or maybe 7 people. I'm not totally sure.

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More

*Hmmm.. I thought everyone would get that this posting was a parody, but apparently not. Some readers are actually asking me serious questions about the "study." This is a parody, folks, but apparently not enough so. Oh well...

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:51 PM | Comments (2)

September 17, 2010
Sayings of the Jewish Buddha

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"Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?"

"Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is another story."

"Drink tea and nourish life; with the first sip, joy; with the second sip, satisfaction; with the third sip, peace; with the fourth, a Danish."

"Accept misfortune as a blessing. Do not wish for perfect health, or a life without problems. What would you talk about?"

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Oy Vey."

"There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And whose fault was that?"

"Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis."

"The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao is not Jewish."

"Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems."

"Let your mind be as a floating cloud. Let your stillness be as a wooded glen. And sit up straight. You'll never meet the Buddha with such rounded shoulders."

"Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers. Each flower blossoms ten thousand times. Each blossom has ten thousand petals. You might want to see a specialist."

"Be aware of your body. Be aware of your perceptions. Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness."

"The Torah says, Love your neighbor as yourself. The Buddha says, There is no self. So, maybe we're off the hook."

Thanks to Gary Ockenden for these fun quotes. Next up? Sayings of the Unitarian Buddha.

Image

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:19 AM | Comments (2)

July 13, 2010
The Word is CELEBRATE!

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A young monk arrives in a monastery where he is put to work as a copyist.

After a few days, he notices that the monks making copies of the scriptures are all working from copies -- not the original. This alarms the young monk because he thinks of how easy it would be for mistakes to be repeated. And so he goes to the Head Monk and expresses his concerns.

"Yes, brother," replies the Head Monk, "you have a valid point. But this is the way we've always done it. Still, I better check to make sure there are no errors."

So off he goes to the cellar where he spends the entire night carefully consulting the original scriptures. In the morning all of the brothers go down to the cellar and find the Head Monk crying.

"What's the matter?" they ask.

Between the loudest of sobs, he groans: "The word is celebrate!"


Thanks to Prem Rawat for the story.

Photo: Luo Shaoyang
http://www.flickr.com/photos/scenery/

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:24 AM | Comments (1)

April 04, 2010
Four Days After April Fool's Day

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"A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool." - William Shakespeare

"For God's sake give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself!" - Robert Louis Stevenson

"We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance." - Japanese Proverb

"Life is one fool thing after another whereas love is two fool things after each other." - Oscar Wilde

"The fool who persists in his folly is not a fool." - Anonymous

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2010
It's a Wonderful World Puppet Show

Louis Armstrong...shadow puppets...and you.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)

January 09, 2010
The 8 Irresistible Principles of Fun

I'm sure you've heard the expression, "Are we having fun yet?" Well, that's what the flash animation video below is all about -- the eight irresistible principles of fun done in time to Johann Strauss' The Blue Danube Waltz. Inspiring. Cool. And yes, fun!

www.eightprinciples.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:51 PM | Comments (5)

November 25, 2009
George Carlin On Aging

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions.

"How old are you?" "I'm four and a half!"

You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key.

You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.

"How old are you?" "I'm gonna be 16!"

You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life ! You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh... what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.

But! wait! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!

So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE IT to 60.

You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!

You get into your 80s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; "I Was JUST 92."

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100 and a half!"

May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!

HOW TO STAY YOUNG

1. Throw out non-essential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay them.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. ! Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever, even ham radio. Never let the brain idle. "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." And the devil's family name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long, and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever.Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health. If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them at every opportunity.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

And if you don't send this to at least 8 people -- who cares? But do share this with someone. We all need to live life to its fullest each day!

More George

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:16 AM | Comments (1)

November 14, 2009
Puppet-Ji Speaks!

Today, it is my honor to welcome a very special guest speaker to The Heart of the Matter -- a highly esteemed, cosmically conscious, beyond duality channel of peace and love. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming, the ONE, the ONLY... Puppet-Ji!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2009
This Man Has Practiced!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2009
Wright Brain Thinking

OK. Break time. Park your left brain and get into your right. I mean Wright, as in Steven -- a truly funny fellow I once ran into while jogging on the streets of New York City.

If the following jams your mind, good. You've been thinking too much anyway. Like I said, it's time for a break...

"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time."

"I was a peripheral visionary. I could see the future, but only way off to the side."

"For my birthday I got a humidifier and a de-humidifier. I put them in the same room and let them fight it out."

"I bought some batteries, but they weren't included."

"I intend to live forever. So far, so good."

"I like to reminisce with people I don't know."

"I invented the cordless extension cord."

"I saw a subliminal advertising executive, but only for a second."

"If a word in the dictionary were misspelled, how would we know?"

"What's another word for Thesaurus?"

"I stayed in a really old hotel last night. They sent me a wake-up letter."

"I think it's wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly."

"I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering."

"I watched the Indy 500, and I was thinking that if they left earlier they wouldn't have to go so fast."

"You can't have everything. Where would you put it?"

"I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time". So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance."

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:34 PM | Comments (1)

March 30, 2009
Puppet-Ji on Seeing

Now you see it, now you don't. Join Puppet-Ji, world-class pundit, on the nuances of what seeing is really all about...

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:23 AM | Comments (1)

February 16, 2009
Outsource This!

Need more time in your life? Feeling overwhelmed by your day job and other "worldly responsibilities?"

Check this out...

In an extraordinary move, destined to be emulated by movers and shakers everywhere, I've just outsourced all my sleep to a guy named Namdev in New Delhi. Yes, it's true. I no longer need to sleep. Namdev does it for me. It's astounding how much more productive I've been this week.

And, as if my sleep breakthrough wasn't enough, I've also outsourced all my exercise to a guy named Sung Lee in Malaysia. God bless Sung Lee! He's been on the treadmill three hours today, as I understand it, and will be working on our delts and pecs tomorrow. Needless to say, I'm feeling exceptionally buff at the moment.

I was just about to have a big piece of cherry cheesecake to celebrate my innovative, time-saving enhancements, but I've... er... outsourced my eating to a woman named Min Yung in Taiwan. I'm down to about 145 pounds, but I'm feeling absolutely psyched about the new contract I just got from GE. Starts next month. Wind generators in Malaysia!

The only thing I haven't outsourced this week is this blog and a visit to my dentist. (Do any of you know someone willing to get a root canal on my behalf?)

PS: While there's nothing inherently wrong with outsourcing (or delegating, for that matter), it's not the heart of the matter. For that, we need to go within.

Insourcing is the name of the game. Not outsourcing.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:20 PM | Comments (1)

December 10, 2008
So Far Beyond the Blues (revisited)

In honor of Maharaji's birthday, what follows is a previously posted story about his 50th birthday event in San Diego last year -- or at least an aspect of it, seen through the eyes of yours truly. Happy 51st birthday, Maharaji! You have taught my heart to sing a song so far beyond the blues.


OK. Here's the scene...

It's December 3rd, five days before Maharaji's 50th birthday event in San Diego, when the phone rings in my kitchen. Its Kate, one of the program coordinators, wondering if I'm available to be the "back up MC."

"Back up, MC?" I ask. Kate laughs and deftly explains that Maharaji has already selected the MC for the event, but they always like to have a back up, "just in case."

"In case of what?" I'm thinking. "A heart attack?"

Two thoughts race through my mind...

One is the wow-amazed-humbled-what-a-beautiful-opportunity thought that spontaneously arises from deep within the heart of someone who loves Maharaji and wants to be of service in any way possible.

The other?

"Oops! I'm in big trouble now. I'm not exactly who you think I am. I'm in way over my head and will surely screw up Maharaji's event for thousands of people, proving, once and for all, that I am a complete idiot impostor.

I think you get the picture.

So there I am on the phone, metaphorically breaking out in hives and maintaining the last remnants of my rapidly disappearing persona, when Kate -- picking up on my obvious mini-meltdown -- goes on to tell me that there is very little chance that I will actually be needed as the back up.

"Hey, this could be the best of both worlds," I'm suddenly thinking to myself. "I'll get a great seat, feel extra good about myself for being chosen, and maybe even get to see Maharaji at the dress rehearsal.

"Sure," I say to Kate. "Count me in."

Kate thanks me and proceeds to tell me what Maharaj said he wanted from the MC at the event. It all makes sense.

I hang up and start floating around my house like some kind of astral bodied Marx Brother. I'm pumped. I'm psyched. I'm pooping in my pants.

The next day I get to thinking about what Kate said Maharaji wanted from the MC and suddenly, I get an inspiration.

"Hey!" I think to what's left of myself, "I could write a funny blues song, poking fun at premies! I can send it to Kate and she can give it to the real MC -- and he can decide if there are any good lines in it to include his opening remarks.

Service!

Cool! Whew! The pressure's off! I like creating new things -- especially blues songs I won't have to perform. The best of all worlds!

It's a work day for me and I only have 30 minutes to spare, so I write some lyrics on the fly. Done! I email them to Kate -- and just as quickly forget about them, getting back to the business of working.

A day goes by. Then the phone rings again. It's Kate.

"So...," she says, without much need for a segue to the second part of her sentence. "You're going to be performing your blues song at the San Diego event."

I heard what she said, but didn't quite understand it. Performing? Blues song? San Diego? Me? She says it again just for good measure and goes on to explain that, after reading the lyrics and laughing loudly, she showed them to someone on his way to Maharaji's residence who also found them funny, so she gave him a copy and he showed them to Maharaji who read them immediately, laughed, and said something like "Good! Let's have Mitch perform this song at the event."

I am stunned. Dazzled. Baffled. Befuddled. The weird thing? In times gone by, I've spent years working on a piece of writing for Maharaji and never heard boo in response. Now, after 30 minutes of parody blues writing, I'm getting an invitation to perform for him and 5,000 people at his birthday event. Huh?

"But Kate... I'm NOT a musician. I'm NOT a singer. I don't have a blues band."

Kate talks me down from the ledge -- explaining that I didn't really need to sing the song, I could talk it -- like the talking blues -- and I didn't need a band -- a blues guitarist was being located to accompany me.

In over my head, I am praying my heart will show up soon.

Kate assures me that everything is going to be fine and that, hey, my blues performance won't happen until the party which is going to be on the afternoon of the second day when everyone is going to be so blissed out that I could read the San Diego phone book and people would probably applaud.

The next two days go by very quickly. I seem to be working. I seem to be a husband. I seem to be a father. I seem to be packing. But I'm actually imagining myself performing a blues song in front of Maharaji and 5,000 people from all around the world. "Be here now?" Not exactly. It's more like "Be there then."

So there I am in my San Diego hotel room, the day before the day before the event, munching on chocolate covered almonds from the overpriced mini-bar, when the phone rings. It's Kate again, mumbling a few pleasantries before cutting to the chase.

"So... it looks like you're going to be the MC," she explains. "The MC couldn't make it. Something came up. Oh," she adds, "Maharaji wants you to start the event with the blues song!"

"Medic! Mommy! Man overboard!"

I didn't sleep too well that night -- sort of like a baby tuna flopping around the deck of a very expensive yacht.

The next day was rehearsal time in Kate's room. Picture it. Me, the non-black, non-musician, pinch hitting, balding Jewish guy getting in the groove with the recently drafted classical guitarist -- Manuel Iman.

Now, I don't know about you, but there's a moment in everyone's life when you are not only uptight, but everyone knows you are uptight and they don't want you to be uptight (because they love you or are depending on you to be cool for a particular purpose) and they approach you and start massaging your shoulders so you will be less uptight, but the very act of them approaching and massaging you is such a dead giveaway that you are hopelessly uptight that even if their massage was perfect, the fact that they've identified you as someone who needs a massage makes you even more uptight in a way that no massage could ever be enough to relax you.

That's the condition I was in, sad to say, during the first part of our rehearsal.

And so it goes...

"I woke up this morning,
I got off the plane,
I went to the airport,
My suitcase went to Spain."

OK. Fast forward. It's half an hour before the program is supposed to start. I'm looking snappier than usual in my dark blue Hugo Boss suit, suitably sitting in the front row, patiently waiting for my cue, when the Hanuman-like Scott Cronin brings the newly blues-riffing Manuel and I a rather large tuna on rye.

"Are you hungry?" he asks.

Yes, we are, not having eaten since 8:00 am, but since it's obviously not elegant to be eating a tuna sandwich in the front row just minutes before the program, Manuel suggests we slip behind the curtain and have our pre-program repast backstage. Voila! We open the curtain to find a place to munch and there, just 15 feet away, is Maharaji, casually talking to a few smiling premies.

Manuel and I become very still. Time stops. Space stops. My attempts to think of cool metaphors to describe the moment stops. We're in the eye of the storm. But there is no storm -- only the impossible-to-translate experience of standing in the effortless radiance of Maharaji.

And then he turns and looks at me.

"So, Mitch, how are you feeling? Are you ready to MC?"

"Maharaji, I'm feeling really good," I say. "Yes, I am ready to MC."

Whatever residual nervousness or self-consciousness may have been clinging to me evaporated in that moment.

The next thing I know, the program has started and I'm onstage singing the blues...

"I woke up this morning,
I got off the plane,
Went to the airport,
My suitcase went to Spain,
They told me not to worry,
They'd bring it to me soon
'Soon coming' is a phrase I've heard
that could mean the end of June.

I woke up this morning,
Maharaji on my mind,
With oh, so many premies,
Would I have to wait in line?
Would I find myself a good seat
Or be stuck in the mezzanine?
I've heard of getting high,
but that's not really what I mean.

Maharaji, you're almost 50
Not to mention timeless, too
Can you tell me where's the usher
Who can seat me next to you?

I woke up this morning,
I practiced for an hour,
Did all techniques in order,
Then took a nice, hot shower,
Watched the news and checked my email,
Then brushed my last three hairs,
But I couldn't find my Smart Card,
Couldn't find it anywhere.

Maharaji, you're almost 50,
And five decades are complete,
Can you tell me where's the usher
Who can help me find my seat?

I woke up this morning,
Went down to the lobby,
Saw all of my friends,
Billy, Joe, Pam and Bobby,
Billy weighed 500 pounds,
Bobby had "special needs,"
Pamela had a triple chin
And Joe... could barely breathe.

But hey, they ain't my problem,
Don't matter what they do,
I came to San Diego, boss,
Only to see you,
So I ran straight to the program,
Dashed across the street,
Focused only on your birthday
And a front row seat.

Maharaji, you da man,
You da Hanuman of Love,
You da best friend that I got,
You da mezzanine above,
You da reason we have come here,
You da universal glue,
Maharaji, happy birthday,
Maharaji, we love you!!!!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:18 PM | Comments (7)

December 08, 2008
Twinkle Twinkle

So there I am, 11 years ago, putting my 3-year old son to bed, when I notice it's an especially clear night, a perfect time, I think, to introduce him to the ancient art of "wishing on a star." Scooping him up in my arms, I tenderly carry him across the room, part the gauzy curtain, and position him just right so he can see the fullness of the brilliant night sky.

"Jesse," I whisper, pointing up at the sky, "do you see that star? If you make a wish right now while looking at it, your wish will come true."

He turns and looks at me as if I had just revealed the secret of the universe. "Really, Dada?" he says.

"Oh yes," I reply, waiting for my first born to make his first wish on this perfect summer night.

He continues staring out the window, searching, it seems, for some deep sense of what he really wants from life. "I wish...."

(I couldn't believe my good fortune, the honor of being allowed to witness this, his first real act of longing.)

"I wish... I wish," he says, looking up at the sky and pausing ever so slightly, "for... a... lot of pretzels."

PS: What do YOU wish for? And more than that, what do you KNOW is possible?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2008
Diving In Deeper

If you are new to Heart of the Matter, chances are good you've only seen a small percentage of what's available to you here -- more than 200 postings of all kinds: videos, slide shows, excerpts and reports from Maharaji's events, stories, personal reflections, poetry, humor, a talking puppet, links to cool resources, and much more.

You can always access the most recent 30 postings by logging onto the site and scrolling down. For the rest of the content, you'll need to click on the archives (in the sidebar beneath "Recent Entries"). But since you're already here right now, all you need to do is click the link below for a hot-linked list of all past postings. (If you find something you like, please feel free to forward it to friends, acquaintances, family, or neighbors. That's how word about this blog is getting out.)

Heart of the Matter Monthly Archives

October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January

Photo by Durango99

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

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 Ditkoff

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2008
Rumi and Kabir Bowling

Rumi.jpg

Last year, as I understand it, Rumi was the best selling poet in the United States -- 800+ years after he was alive. Amazing, eh? Clearly, there is something timeless and universal in his words. Kabir, too, is still being widely read -- as is Hafiz, Gibran, and a host of other ecstatic poets from times gone by.

Many people assume these guys must have been praying, meditating, and going on pilgrimages all the time. I don't think so. All you have to do is read their poetry to see how down to earth they were, how irreverant, and how funny.

Anyway... this next piece is an homage to Rumi and Kabir -- my little fantasy of how the two of them might have spent an evening -- in a bowling alley -- if they were still alive today.

Read it aloud, with some drama in your voice, for maximum value.

I have been to the place where Rumi and Kabir
are bowling all... night... long.
They are rolling perfectly round balls
down a perfectly polished alley,
laughing at the sound of the pins falling down
again and again and again.

Every time they bowl a strike even when they miss
which is often, their aim wandering in fabulously random ways
around this grand interior space.

Rumi orders a shot of Red Eye,
Kabir, a Bud Lite,
their clinking of glasses
some kind of esoteric temple bell ritual
neither of them understand.

They keep drinking and laughing and drinking again,
knocking back the elixir of their late night bowling life
and muttering under their barely moving breath
about the strangers outside returning home from yet another night shift.

Rumi opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out --
Kabir, long beard flecked with foam, orders a second round
and then a third as if the world was on fire.

Suddenly Rumi glances over his left shoulder.
More pins fall, this time leaving a perfect 7-10 split,
Kabir, knowing he never has to write another poem
to prove himself whole, leaps from his chair and hurls himself
down the perfectly polished alley, arms outstretched,
moving at the speed
of lite
beer.

Bang!
Both pins fall,
like... cedars in Lebanon,
like... Adam from Grace,
like... trees in a forest with no one close enough to hear whether anything
has actually happened or not.
No one except Red Eye Rumi swiveling in his chair
and pointing to the door.

A small man, in a starched white uniform, enters,
many keys hanging from his belt.
"Hey, you two! What are you doing here? This place is closed!"
Rumi smiles, tilts his head back and talks into his empty glass
now megaphone for the moment.

"I beg to differ, my good man,
this place is not closed.
It is open!
If it were closed we would not be here.
Open it is, I say! Wide open!
Like the Red Sea,
like a window on a summer night,
like the eyes of a young man upon seeing
the most beautiful woman in the world walk across the room,
her body the perfect mix of spirit and flesh.
Open, I say, like a book, like the sky,
like the heart of one not yet disappointed
in the ways of human love.
Go about your business, friend, and leave us here,
two happy hieroglyphs of love."

"We have a perfect game on Lane 23,"
intones a disembodied voice over the PA system
"A perfect game!"

Rumi and Kabir pull over another chair, pour another drink
and beckon to the man in the starched white uniform,
many keys dangling from his belt.

"Good friend, come closer, come drink with us.
Come now!
The night is still young."

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:39 AM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2008
The Ten Commandments for Visiting a New Age Ashram

During the past two decades, a curious phenomenon has swept this nation. Inspired by the teachings of several Master souls from the East, an unusually large number of ashrams and retreats have made their appearance on the scene -- spiritual centers designed to provide seekers of the truth with a focused environment in which to practice their particular spiritual path.

While most people who spend time in these places are extremely dedicated and sincere, there still remains a goodly number who, in their attempt to have "an experience," miss the point completely.

Seduced by the Western notion of cause and effect, they somehow think that spiritual attainment is related to the way they act -- as if God were some kind of transcultural Santa Claus looking for good little boys and girls to bring his shiny red fire trucks to.

Not surprisingly, the spirit of the law is all too often traded for the letter -- a letter that, no matter how many stamps are put on it, is continually returned for insufficient postage. Surrender is replaced by submission; patience by hesitation; and humility by timidity.

Alas, in the name of finding themselves, our God-seeking brothers and sisters have tended to lose the very thing that makes them truly human -- their individuality.

And so, with great respect to your personal God, your Guru, your Guru's Guru, and your favorite tax-deductible charity, I humbly offer you the following soul-saving tips should you decide to visit (or move into) the ashram or spiritual center of your choice. Take what you can, leave the rest, and remember -- it's not whether your shoes are on or off, but if your heart is open.

1. Do Not Change the Way You Walk
Most visitors to a spiritual retreat think they have to change the way they walk if they are truly going to have a meaningful experience. Somehow, they believe there is a direct correlation between the way they move their feet and the amount of "grace" or "blessings" about to enter their lives. The "spiritual walk," is actually a not-too-distant cousin of the "museum walk," the curious way a person slows down and shuffles knowingly, yet humbly, past a Monet (or is it a Manet?), silently getting the essence of the Masterpiece even as they move noddingly towards that incomprehensible cubist piece in the next room.

If you like, think of the spiritual walk as the complete opposite of the on-the-way-to-work-walk or the exiting-a-disco-in-New York walk. Simply put, the spiritual walk is a way of moving that practitioners believe will attract small deer from nearby forests -- deer that will literally walk right up to them and eat from their hand -- more proof to anyone in the general vicinity that they are, in fact, enlightened souls, humble devotees, children of God, or the so-far-unacknowledged successors to their guru's lineage.

Ideally, the spiritual walk should be taken in sandals, though Reeboks or Chinese slippers will do in a pinch. Cowboy boots are definitely out, as are galoshes, high heels, and Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars.

2. Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, Succumb to the Spiritual Nod
Closely related to the spiritual walk, the spiritual nod is routinely practiced in retreats the world over. And while no one completely comprehends it's divine origins, many believe it began when a blissful brother simply forgot the name of his roommate on his way to the bathroom. Instead of issuing the familiar Sanskrit phrase of the week, our trend-setting friend simply tightened his lips, looked at the ground and... well... nodded. Now, every time you walk by someone at the ashram, you are half-expected to flash them the nod, the non-verbal equivalent of "Hi! I know you know, and you know I know, and you know that I know that you know, and in my knowing, I know that I know you know, and by so knowing, need not speak, since words are finite and cannot express the knowingness which the two of us (being one) share from such a knowful place. Know what I mean?"

3. Do Not Judge Anyone, Including Yourself
This is the hardest of all commandments to obey. Why? Because spiritual environments not only bring out the best in people, they also bring out the worst. And while the worst is often more difficult to detect than the bliss of people wanting you to notice how blissful they are, the higher you get, the easier it is to notice -- that is, if you are looking for it.

Of course, it would be very easy to spend your entire spiritualized retreat noticing all the subtle ego trips going on around you. Resist this temptation with all your might! Do not, I repeat, do not, focus on the stuff that would make good material for this article. You have no right. In fact, you have absolutely no idea why anyone is there, what their motivation is, or how they will learn the kinds of lessons you are absolutely sure they need to learn.

In reality, you are most likely seeing your own projections -- those disowned parts of your self that you've refused to acknowledge all these years: your spiritual groupie, your brownie point collector, your junkie for more experience, your suburban yogi , your guilty seeker of God, your con man, your eunuch, your resolution maker, your ass watcher, your closet fanatic, your glutton for humble pie, your too poetic definer of ecstasy, your flaming bullshit artist, your know-it-all, your have-it-all, your spring-headed bower towards anyone with more than two devotees.

All of them are you! Every single one of them! Don't judge them. Love them! Bring them tea! Rub their feet every chance you get!

4. Do Not Think That This Is the Only Place Where It Is Happening
Spiritual retreatants have a marked propensity to think that the grounds they inhabit are somehow more blessed than any place else on earth -- that they are privy to a special command performance by God, revealing himself in thousands of exotic ways for those lucky enough to be there, while thousands, nay millions, of George Bush-like souls are stumbling around in uncool places recently vacated by the Power of Life so a very cosmic thing can happen here and only here this weekend.

Life, in fact, is often perceived as so good in the "Center," that the rest of the world becomes eerily cast as the "booby prize." Indeed, to new age seekers, everything else is simply referred to as "the world," much like Manhattanites speak of New Jersey. In short, the new age retreat comes to represent all that is good -- about God, about the Guru, about life itself.

Somehow ("and I don't know how, but you could ask anyone who was there this weekend") flowers seem sweeter there, the moon seems fuller, the air seems cleaner. Even the bread tastes better. If you glimpse a shooting star at night, it's the "guru's grace." If you see a double rainbow, it's directly over the meditation hall.

I guess it's all in how you look at it. The same shooting star convincing you that your guru is, in fact, the Supreme Guru, was also seen by a plumber named Leroy who just happened to be drinking a beer in between innings of the Mets game. His conclusion? The Mets were gonna win 20 of the next 25 and bring the pennant home to Flushing!

What do the signs in the sky (or what we perceive as signs) really mean? Isn't the whole world our ashram? Isn't the real issue one of appreciating what is happening all around us? The flowers? The stars? The beggars asking for spare change? Flowers aren't any sweeter on retreat. It's our willingness to breathe deeply and enjoy them that's different. What's stopping us from being in this place right now? What's stopping us from realizing that the very ground beneath our feet is the promised land -- wherever we happen to be at the time.

5. Don't Put a Red Dot on Your Forehead If You Don't Want To

Unless you've been living in a trailer park your whole life, you probably already know what the red dot thing is all about. That's right. The third eye. The sixth chakra. High holiness. INDIA!! While sometimes mistaken for a beauty mark or a random bit of watermelon, the little red dot is actually a useful reminder to focus one's attention on the space between the eyebrows, which, for some people, is where God lives (or if not lives, at least vacations). Nothing wrong with that, now is there?

Still, you have to concede that the third eye isn't the only spot on the human body that's sacred. What about the earlobes? The belly button? The nipples? They come from God, too -- not too mention chakras #1 - 5 and the highly under-represented center of consciousness at the crown of the head. Sacred, every one of them!

Don't you think that, if the body is the temple of the soul, it follows that our entire physical structure is sacred? Shouldn't we be covered from head to toe with little red dots? And if so, why is it that we routinely quarantine people with measles -- the very people who have selflessly chosen to manifest disease just to remind us to honor our body's ultimate holiness?

6. Play With the Children
The only sentient beings free from the collective mentality of spiritual seekers are the children. Children visiting "holy places," in fact, behave the same way the world over no matter what adjectives their elders use for the unspeakable name of God. When they're hungry, they eat. When they're tired, they sleep. They cry when they want to, laugh for no reason, consume ice cream without guilt, and rarely wonder why your picture of the Master is bigger, newer, or better framed.

7. Fart At Your Own Risk
If you fart, and there's no one around to hear it at the ashram, did it happen? And if it did happen, does that mean you've been disrespectful? Is the resident Guru able to hear you? And if he or she is meditating, out of the country, or dead, is their guru or their guru's guru able to hear you? And if so, so what? Will you be reborn as a gerbil? Does the Guru fart? And if it's OK for him or her to pass wind, why not you?

OK, so it's their place and you're a guest. But after all, aren't we all guests here? Even the Guru? Who do they answer to? And if it's not the same one you're answering to, what the hell are you doing getting up at five in the morning and sitting in the lotus position?

Maybe the real question isn't whether or not it's permissible to fart on holy ground, but how you fart. For instance, if you're farting out of a blatant disregard for the Master's teachings or the sincerity of his or her followers, you might want to reconsider where you're coming from. However, if your farting is just a random release of gas, relax! Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You see, a typical visit to a spiritual center quickens one's ability to "let go" -- so what you call "farting" may, in fact, be a timely sign of your evolving spiritual condition.

8. Do Not Think You Are Higher or Lower Than Anyone Else
One of the favorite pastimes of people visiting a spiritual retreat is comparing themselves to everyone else. "See the guy over there carrying firewood? He's a very old soul -- way older than me. Been on the path for years. And that dude laughing hysterically in the corner? That's Shiva. Oops, he can probably see through me, maybe I better walk around the other way."

Want to save yourself some time? Don't try to figure out how "on the path" anybody else is. It's impossible. Stare into the eyes all you want, watch for tell-tale signs of liberation, but when it comes right down to it, the only conclusion you'll reach will be your own -- one that may have absolutely nothing to do with the anything but your own projections.

Face it, how accurate is your assessment going to be when 99 percent of humanity couldn't tell that the carpenter from Galilee had something special going for him? Indeed, it's not at all unlikely that the beer-bellied, first-time visitor you met this morning at the ashram is, at this very moment, being treated like a spiritual mongoloid by everyone who meets him (repeatedly being asked if "this is your first time") when, in fact, the beer-bellied, first-time visitor is actually the reincarnation of Buddha.

9. Do Not Think That You Are Going to Get Something
Many people visit a a spiritual retreat because they want to get something. They want "clarity" or "contentment," "enlightenment" or "grace," "blessings" or "peace of mind." At the very least, they want their business to improve or their marriage to be saved. Alas, they miss the point completely: If you try to get, you will lose, left only with the sinking feeling of having just bought $300 worth of lottery tickets only to learn that some electrician from Staten Island just won the whole thing.

Look, it's really very simple. You don't go to a spiritual center (or a Big Time Teacher, for that matter) to get. You go to give, to let go -- to relax your grip on the very thing that's been separating you from getting all these years: Your grasping. Your fear. Your well-rehearsed strategy to realize God.

10. Do Not Feel Compelled to Change Your Name
OK, so your name is Joey. Ever since you were knee high to a can of Cheese Whiz, everyone called you Joey -- as in, "Hey, Joey, what's goin' down, bro'?" Yeah, you grew up in Brooklyn, cut school once a week, and dated a chick named Angela with very big boobs. Great. So, here you are at the ashram and ba-bing, you run smack into a bunch of dudes with names like Arjuna, Govinda, Namdev,Shanti, Krishna. "Hey," you think to yourself, "maybe they got something I don't."

Guess what? They do. They have spiritual names given to them by their Guru -- names that make their mothers somewhat close-lipped around the canasta table. And while these names are clearly given with a purpose, the fact of the matter is -- they are irrelevant. Do you think the people in India who have spiritual experiences get their names changed to Eddie, Gino, Stacey, or Shirley ?

Hey, what difference does it make? You are not your name -- even if your namesake was enlightened. It doesn't matter what they call you, when it's time to go, you're gone. The only name worth knowing at that time is God's name -- and that, my friend, no matter how many mantras you've memorized, can never be pronounced.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:32 AM | Comments (5)

June 01, 2008
Shameless Self-Promotion

AATW cover.jpg

Dear Heart of the Matter reader:

If you are enjoying this blog, chances are good you will also enjoy my new book, Awake at the Wheel.

Part fable, part creative thinking toolbox, the book is a simple way to radically increase your chances of manifesting your most inspired ideas.

Although there are people who will say that "ideas are a dime a dozen," the fact of the matter is: your most inspired ideas are priceless. Indeed, they are often clues that there is something you are here to do.

Maybe it's an idea for a book you want to write. Maybe it's an idea for a business you want to start... or a change you want to make... or a way to serve in a new and exciting way.

Whether your idea is big small or big, it's yours and you cannot get it out of your head.

Why? Because it's trying to get your attention.

You may want to consider honoring this idea, instead of characterizing it as "mind" or "ego" or a bothersome thought distracting you from your "inner life." You may even want to follow the yellow brick road to it's ultimate manifestation.

If you do, Awake at the Wheel can help -- in a fun, entertaining, and useful way.

Intrigued? Then click here to find out more. Want to read what others have said about the book? Then click here. And if you want to read two recent reviews on the web, click here and here.

Oh... if you've already decided you want to buy the book, click here.


"If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself." -- Rollo May

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2008
An Ocean of Possibilities

W.C. Fields was always an exceptionally gifted performer, but some of his most unforgettable performances took place off-camera.

Like most actors at the start of their career, Fields found himself a little short of cash. A problem? Not for him. The non-traditional Mr. Fields simply created a new kind of job for himself, one summer, in Atlantic City, as a professional drowner.

Here's how it worked:

Several times a day, Fields would swim out to sea, pretend to be drowning, and then be "rescued" by one of his accomplices, the lifeguard. Invariably, a large crowd would gather on the beach as the no longer struggling actor was "resuscitated." Once it was clear that this poor fellow was going to live, the suddenly relieved crowd would turn to Field's third accomplice, the hot dog vendor, (who just happened to be standing nearby) and treat themselves to an "I'm-so-glad-he's-alive" snack. At the end of each water-logged day, Fields would split the take with his buddies -- the lifeguard and the hot dog vendor.

Brilliant!

Now, I'm not suggesting that you do anything to deceive, hustle, or con people. Not at all. What I AM suggesting, however, is that you take a fresh look at what you can do differently in order to get an extraordinary result -- whether the result you're looking for has to do with your business, your service, your relationships, or something else.

As the famous pundit, Anonymous, once said, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."

In other words, if your business, product, or service is drowning, what can you do to resuscitate it?

Is there a new approach you need to take? A different twist? An experiment you need to try?

And if so, what's your next step?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2008
Drink Deep, Think Deep, Feel Deep

Ever since the beginning of time, mankind has been obsessed with finding the ultimate. The original metaphor for this ancient quest was the Holy Grail. Over time, the metaphor changed. The Fountain of Youth was popular for a while. And most recently -- especially in business circles -- it has been named the "magic pill" or the "silver bullet.'

For years, I have steadfastly refused to be part of the hype. I knew, in my bones, there was no such thing as an instant solution.

That is, until last week, when I successfully finished the formulation of my 101 CreativiTeas -- rare, exotic blends of divine beverages that don't even have to be imbibed to work wonders. In fact, just thinking about them is usually enough to change mood, mindset, and one's ability to create extraordinary results.

All you need to do is bring a challenge to mind, read the list, then select the tea whose quality you need more of in order for you to succeed. Then... reflect on what you need to do differently to manifest this quality in your life. That's it.

Intrigued? Click below...

101 CreativiTeas

1. Opening Up to PossibiliTea
2. Easy Going FlexibiliTea
3. Gandhi-like HumiliTea
4. Well-timed AdaptabiliTea
5. Taking Care of Details Amidst InfiniTea
6. Loosey Goosey ManeuverabiliTea
7. Acceptance of MortaliTea
8. Total QualiTea
9. Beyond MoraliTea

10. An Occasional Dose of RealiTea
11. Following Your Passion With ImpuniTea
12. Balancing PolariTea
13. InterdimensionaliTea
14. Flashes of NonsensicaliTea
15. Unfettered CreativiTea
16. Appreciation of DiversiTea
17. Tuning in to SynchroniciTea
18. OriginaliTea
19. UnconventionaliTea

20. Old Fashioned PracticaliTea
21. CuriosiTea
22. Celebration of IndividualiTea
23. A Deeper Sense of InevitabiliTea
24. Letting Go of FutiliTea
25. A Transformed MentaliTea
26. Go With the Flow FluidiTea
27. Baby Oh Baby SensualiTea
28. WhimsicaliTea
29. Child-like SimpliciTea

30. Tiger-like FerociTea
31. Nose to the Grindstone DurabiliTea
32. Let it Rip TheatricaliTea
33. Grrr!! TenaciTea
34. Authentic AuthenticiTea
35. Mucho GenerosiTea
36. Acceptance of AsymmetricaliTea
37. Quick Moving MobiliTea
38. Enlightened SpiritualiTea
39. Day By Day ClariTea

40. Sylvester Stallone MusculariTea
41. In the Moment SpontaneiTea
42. Twelve Step SobrieTea
43. Beethovian VirtuosiTea
44. Wild Maniacal HilariTea
45. Increased CapaciTea
46. ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTea
47. Lucid PerspicaciTea
48. Ha Ha Ha LeviTea
49. Focused SingulariTea

50. A Daily Shot of InsaniTea
51. Expressing Your PersonaliTea
52. Frontal NudiTea
53. International CommuniTea
54. Much More VarieTea
55. Information Highway ActiviTea
56. Higher ProductiviTea
57. Que Sera SororiTea
58. Off the Wall BanaliTea
59. Alimentary CanaliTea

60. Relaxed InformaliTea
61. Sprint? Verizon? AT&Tea?
62. Understanding Primal CausaliTea
63. SpecificiTea
64. Huge Amounts of PubliciTea
65. Give Up Feeling ShitTea
66. IntentionaliTea
67. Beyond Beyond MetaphysicaliTea
68. A Bowl of Soup and a BLTea
69. Hip Hop, Reggae MusicaliTea

70. Calling on Your Own DiviniTea
71. A Touch of SubtleTea
72. Profound ProfundiTea
73. Bottom Line ProfitabiliTea
74. Surprise and SerendipiTea
75. Do It Now InstantaneiTea
76. Proven CertifiabiliTea
77. Solid MarketabiliTea
78. Truth, Love and BeauTea
79. ExponentialiTea

80. Let Go and Be EmpTea
81. We Are the World SolidariTea
82. A Twist, A Change, Some NovelTea
83. Getting Down to the Nitty GritTea
84. San Andreas FaulTea
85. Midwestern SinceriTea
86. Transcending Financial ScarciTea
87. Death of CertainTea
88. Buddha and KrishnamurTea
89. You Don't Have to Feel So GuilTea

90. Total ResponsibiliTea
91. Challenge AuthoriTea
92. Anyone here From Joisey CiTea?
93. More and More CredibiliTea
94. Get it Done MasculiniTea
95. Be More Receptive to FemininiTea
96. A Three Month Vacation in TahiTea
97. Get Rich and Become a CelebriTea
98. Much Deserved SereniTea
99. Hot Diggity DoggiTea

100. Tons of PositiviTea
101. If All There Is Is Now, What Is EterniTea?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:58 AM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2008
What You See Is What You Get

Holmes and Watson are on a camping trip. In the middle of the night Holmes wakes up and gives Dr. Watson a nudge. "Watson," he says, "look up in the sky and tell me what you see."

"I see millions of stars, Holmes," says Watson.

"And what do you conclude from that, Watson?"

Watson thinks for a moment, "Well," he says, "astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and we are small and insignificant. Uh, what does that tell you, Holmes?"

"Watson, you idiot! Someone has stolen our tent!"


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2008
It's Hard to Write a Blues Song in Jamaica

It's hard to write a blues song in Jamaica
Or any island in the tropics
With all those mangoes and papayas
I can't seem to find the topics,
Yeah, it's hard to write a blues song
In a place that's always sunny,
When you're thinking 'bout your tan
You can't worry 'bout your money.

Life is so simple down by the sea
When you're laying in a hammock strung between two trees.
Nothing much to do here, but watch the clouds float by
And the only highs and lows are coming with the tide.

It's hard to write a blues song on vacation,
Spending all day in your shorts,
Readin' night skies like a Haitian.
Not no quarterly reports,
The only thing that's blue here
Is the blue that's in your eye
With no one in the red
And no one asking why.

Life is so simple when you're drinking your rum punch,
Goes with absolutely everything except a power lunch,
There's nothing much to say here sitting still beneath the moon
Feeling yahmon with your maker, not no business tycoon.

Oh, it's hard to write a blues song in Jamaica
When the sunset's turning red
And you're eating a banana
Not thinking bout the fed
The only thing that's blue here
Are blueberries in your cream
And those troubles way back home?
They be fadin' like dream.

Life is so simple when the fisherman at sea
Ain't fishin' with no internets and nothin starts with "E"
There's nothing much to know here and nothing to forget,
If there's an uptight rasta man, I sure ain't met him yet.


Other fun blues lyrics and mp3s

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:25 AM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2008
Forget About the Box, Get Out of the Cave!

See the caveman to your left? That's Og. He's the protagonist of my new book, Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World). The word "protagonist" is not in Og's vocabulary. Never was, never will be. Even I don't use the word "protagonist" all that much -- though I have used it three times in this paragraph.

Hmmm... That's pretty odd.

Then again, the experience of inventing the wheel was pretty odd, too. Which is what Og did. 24,000 years ago. Long before Game Boy, i-Pod, or Starbucks. And yes, long before the Mesopotamians -- the people who usually get all the credit for the wheel -- some 20,300 years after my main man, Og.

Hey, when was the last time you used the word "Mesopotamian?" That's another word not in Og's vocabulary.

Actually, Og didn't need a big vocabulary. He had something else going for him: Neanderthalic genius. Stone age brilliance. Originality.

Og, you see, was the first innovator. Intrinsically motivated, he was. Fascinated. Inspired. Mojo-driven. And while he was not without imperfections, he needed no attaboys, cash awards, or stock options to follow his muse.

Back in Og's time, when men were men, and stones were stones, even the idea of an idea was unthinkable. And yet... somehow, he had one -- an IDEA, that is -- and not just your dime a dozen variety. Nope. A GREAT idea, a BIG idea, or what I like to call an "out of the cave" idea: The wheel.

Ah... but I go on too long. If Og were here, he'd be frowning by now, shrugging his stooped shoulders, wondering in his delightfully pre-verbal way what other new ideas and discoveries awaited his wonderfully hairy touch.

Want to order the book now? (Og gets 10% of every sale). Go ahead. Help him put bear meat on the table.


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2008
The Big Game

A few weeks ago, I watched the NY Giants beat the Green Bay Packers 23-20 in an NFL championship football game. I watched it with eight friends. As always, we had a fantastic time -- an experience that our wives (no matter how wonderful they may be) have never been able to fathom. Our viewing behavior, to them, is a merely a parody of the American male: two-dimensional, woefully predictable, and absurd.

That assessment, however, was not my experience as I watched the BIG GAME. No way. On the contrary, my experience was noble, ecstatic, tribal, and divine. Beyond the pretzels, popcorn, chips, and beer something else was happening.

At the risk of making a mountain out of a football game, allow me to share a few observations about the experience and, by extension, the experience of millions of men huddled together before the Big Game. In that sacred act of viewing, NOTHING ELSE WAS HAPPENING! Zero. Nada. Zilch. No work. No bills. No back taxes. No car repairs. No war in Iraq. No recession. No primaries. No relationship issues. No cholesterol. No this and no that. Only THE GAME. Pure immersion it was. Spontaneous expression. Presence. Unbridled emotion. Liberated laughter. And the kind of concentration most yogis would gladly trade their third eye for.

What, you may ask, has any of this to do with love, longing, and letting go -- the supposed topic of this supposed blog? Plenty. The state of mind (no, make that state of being), of the BIG GAME-watching, pretzel-munching men noted in the paragraphs above is exactly the state of being required of anyone wanting to have even the slightest chance of experiencing something glorious.

OK. Let's go to the slow motion, video replay of that last sentence: I'm talking focus, friends. I'm talking compelling goal. I'm talking feeling, humor, fun. The experience of uncensored delight. And the realization that anything is possible.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about the common garden variety trance experience induced by watching TV or a movie. No. I'm talking about the BIG GAME. The "All In" moment. The Full Monte. The No Turning Back. The This Is It. The There's No Tomorrow. And all of it sprinkled with a healthy dose of pepperoni and celebration even before anyone knows the final score.

Yes, I admit, the eight of us didn't deliver anything as a result of watching the BIG GAME -- no output, no product, no proof that we had used our time well. But so what? When you're eating chips and experiencing the Unified Field of Consciousness on the day the Lord rested and time stops as your team huddles in the freezing cold, against all odds, to gather together one more time, focused on the goal and absolutely free of constraint, doubt, and delusion, what is there left to say except:

Giants 23, Packers 20. (And in overtime, yet!)

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

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