Off the Coast of Love
February 01, 2016
The Three Questions
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."
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.July 26, 2015
Why I Am Flying 27 Hours to Amaroo in September
When I tell some of my friends, they look at me as if I've gone off the deep end. "Why?" they ask. "Haven't you seen him enough in the past 44 years? Don't you already know what he's going to say?"
Their questions all make sense. Logically speaking, that is. But my experience of seeing and listening to him, live -- especially in Amaroo for five days -- is not a logical thing. It's a love thing. And love is not always logical.
Can I experience this anywhere? Yes, I can. That's the whole point of what he teaches -- that each one of us can experience what we were born for anywhere. No, it doesn't take a trip to Australia to experience it.
But... somehow... some way -- at least for me -- spending five days, unplugged, in this man's company, helps me get way more deeply in touch with that feeling.
Anyway... as I gear up to make the trek halfway around the world, here are 50 reasons why I am going:
WHY I AM TRAVELING 27 HOURS TO AMAROO
1. Because I want to.
2. Because I can.
3. Seeing Prem Rawat always refreshes, renews, and rejuvenates me.
4. Usually, when I see Prem Rawat, it is only for 90-minutes at a public event. At Amaroo, it's at least twice a day and for five days in a row. Plus, the rest of the time is an off-the-grid festival of love.
5. It's a ton of fun. Make that two tons.
6. Mucho laughter.
7. Sometimes, a single word or phrase from Prem goes in so deep it becomes a kind of radioactive isotope of awareness -- teaching and nurturing me for years.
8. Joy. Big joy. Huge joy. Massive joy. Gigundo joy.
9. Amaroo is a very beautiful, welcoming place.
10. I like getting in sync with my teacher's vision for bringing his message of peace to the world.
11. Waking up early with the birds.
12. Seeing a kangaroo or koala bear.
13. Fabulous unexpected connections with people I've never met before.
14. Practicing Knowledge in my tent and knowing I will be sitting in the amphitheater, with Prem Rawat, later that morning.
15. The food tent. Yes, the food tent -- a great place to schmooze with old friends -- some of whom I haven't seen in years.
16. Reconnecting with my muse. Tapping into the realm from where real poetry comes.
17. The journey there. Each step is an arrival.
18. Realizing, once again, that I have everything I need.
19. Feeling as if every cell in my body is having a party.
20. Getting in touch with the feeling that originally drew me to receive Knowledge in the first place.
21. Going to bed when the sun goes down.
22. Experiencing heaven on earth.
23. Seeing people from every walk of life from more than 35 countries living in a beautiful bubble of grace.
24. Hot showers in the morning.
25. Many sweet opportunities to serve.
26. Deep, uncontrollable waves of gratitude.
28. Ultimate simplicity.
29. Just walking around.
30. Getting totally soaked with feeling.
31. The Australian accent.
32. Being rebooted.
34. Feeling like every day is the cherry on top of the Sundae on top of the world.
35. Realizing that if I was on my death bed and looking back at my life, the moments I'm having at Amaroo would be some of the most exquisite.
36. Love, love, love.
37. Getting a fresh perspective on what life is all about.
38. Listening to the truth being spoken beneath the beautiful Australian sky.
39. Enjoying every breath.
40. Getting down to basics.
41. The best vacation I've ever had.
42. Getting out of my head and into my heart.
43. Everywhere I am is the right place.
44. Learning something every day.
45. Seeing how peace on earth is not only possible, but happening.
46. Did I mention love?
47. I get to look in a beautiful mirror and see myself clearly.
48. Not having to DO anything to feel totally whole and complete.
49. Feeling. Deep, deep feeling.
50. Feeling good for absolutely no reason.
If you don't think you have the time or resources to go to Amaroo, read this to open up the possibilities.December 17, 2013
Sweeping the Path
As a middle class American male with a healthy dose of resistance to household chores, the broom has never been one of my favorite tools.
While I've certainly appreciated its timeless design and universal appeal, the act of sweeping has always felt like somebody else's job.
This belief radically changed for me one fine Spring day in 1980. That was the day I got word that my teacher, Prem Rawat, was coming to visit the house I was living in -- a funky old dwelling on Detroit Street in mile high Denver, Colorado.
Clearly, my housemates and I weren't ready. The kitchen was dirty. The bathrooms were a wreck. The lawn needed mowing. Mucho stuff needed to be done.
My task? To sweep.
Grabbing a broom like some kind of over-caffeinated Clint Eastwood on steroids, I pushed open the front door, surveyed the scene, and got busy.
The porch was a piece of cake. A few flicks of the wrist, a few energetic downward strokes in both directions and I was done -- leaves, twigs, and dust sailing over the edge onto the waiting lawn below.
Now it was time for the front walkway.
A sweep to the left. A sweep to the right. A sweep to the left again -- me a human metronome in tune with something beyond time. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.
I paused to view my handiwork. "Not bad, not bad at all," I thought to myself.
But though the porch and walk were much cleaner than before, my increasingly perceptive sweeper's vision was seeing things it hadn't noticed just ten minutes ago: a pebble stuck between cracks, a rusty bottlecap, a flattened piece of wax.
Whoosh to the left. Whoosh to the right. Whoosh to the left again.
It felt good getting ready, good preparing the way for the man who, nine years ago, had shown me -- in a heartbeat -- what life was really all about.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
Ta da! The porch was clean! The path was clear! All was right with the world! But wait! The sidewalk, in front of the house, was a complete mess. Bits of paper were everywhere. Plastic spoons. Shards of glass. And dirt, dirt, dirt.
Obviously, I had more work to do.
Whoosh to the left. Whoosh to the right. Whoosh to the left again.
I closed my eyes. I took a breath. I opened my eyes again. But wait! The road in front of the house was a wreck -- the very same road the person I loved the most in the world would need to cross if he parked his car on the north side of the street. Cigarette butts, oil spots, and leaves were everywhere. My hands began to twitch. My mind began to race. Wherever I looked, nothing was ready to receive him. Nothing was good enough. The world, it seemed to me, was one gigantic mess.
I wondered how far onto Detroit Street I needed to sweep -- how far I needed to go to prepare the way. At this rate, I might never come back.
And then, like one of those moments I used to read about in Zen Buddhism books, it hit me.
It wasn't the front porch that needed sweeping. It wasn't the path... the sidewalk... or the street. It was me. I was the one that needed to be swept -- swept of my clutter, swept of my assumptions, swept of whatever junk stood in the way of being able to receive my teacher in a way that was clean.
I didn't need to sweep the porch. I didn't need to sweep the street. I didn't need to shine my shoes... or cut the grass... or buy a suit... or lose five pounds... or iron my shirt... or paint the house... or wash the car... or buy a dozen roses. I could, of course, if I wanted to. I could if these things really needed to be done. But something else -- much more central to my life -- was going on.December 07, 2013
All of us, at one point in our life, feel the primal thirst for something holy, sacred, and divine -- beyond the commerce and conditions of daily life. This one's for you!September 17, 2013
The Students of Prem Rawat Speak
Yesterday, I posted the following question on Facebook: "If you are a student of Prem Rawat, what would you say is the one thing you've heard him say, over the years, that has had the most impact on you?" What follows is a sampling of the responses I received:
"Let me show you what is keeping you alive." - Daniel Light
"Everyone knows the drop is in the ocean, but very few know that the ocean dwells in the drop." - Jan Buchalter
"Peace is the perfume of God." - Stuart Hoffman
"Water the root." - Jennifer Boire
"Be true to your own heart." - Julia Howe
"Everything you need for complete fulfillment is inside of you. The thirst is within and the quenching is within. We are each complete!" - Alla Rogers
"Peace is already inside of you, and I can help you get in touch with that." - Paul Pilcher
"Peace on Earth begins within you." - Sharon Blatt
"Be true to this breath." - Tim Hain
"The angel you are looking for is you!" - Sally Richman
"Peace is as close as your breath." - Linda D. Miller
"Be a true human being, the one who is filled with kindness, who's filled with love, who's filled with peace, who's filled with joy. And to know this, you need the knowledge of the self." - Cintra Hardy
"I can help." - Michael Taylor
"Belief is like an unlit candle. When you light it, it transforms into knowing." - David Klamph
"Wherever one spark of this Knowledge goes, it hits and makes it perfect. Perfect." - Jane Bennett
"Love the love like it's never been loved before." - Larry Lustbader
"Trying to describe this experience, this self-knowledge, is like trying to describe a mango. The only way to know a mango is to taste it." - Joyce Gerber
"Let me introduce you to you." - Gabriele Regan Gfeller
"Life is a one-seater car." - Jule Kowarsky
"Enjoy your life." - Fran King
"It is not the words. Peace is a feeling." - Jan Scoular
"Many ask me are you a guru or a guide or a friend. The way I like to see it is I just hold up a mirror, keep it nice and shiny so you can see just how beautiful you truly are!" - Jeff Schreiber
"This is not a path of suffering." - Marcia Loft
"Everything you are really looking for is already inside of you." - Claudio Pollero
"Give me your love and I will give you peace." - Otto Vlach
"There is an ocean of joy and there is an ocean of sadness." - Stella Neary Sharpe
"An ocean of love is inside of you." - Rita Rubin Long
"Don't be a victim of circumstance. Be a human being." - Maggie Flannagan
"You get good at what you practice. Practice peace and you get good at that!" - Sigrid Eleonora Ariana
"Let your heart embrace you." - Cindy Lategan
"Live, live, live until there is no more." - Josephine Leslie Jackson
"Go in peace. Stay in peace. And come back in peace." - Kathy Sisler Soffer
"Longing is a beautiful experience." - Celia Jennings
"You are going to die." - Sharon Jeffers
"When you die, they will ask you two questions: 'Did you find peace?' and 'Did you help others find peace?'" - Bill Slater
"What you are looking for is within you." - Lucinda Brown
"Come closer." - Bhatta Sagar
"And I want you to be among the very few who know." - Maryvonne Louise Segalen
"You are not a human doing. You are a human being." - Maggie Flanagan
"Knowledge. Understanding. These are the only things that can remove uncertainty from this life so that I can begin to welcome what tomorrow is." - Denise Cartwright
"Find the friend within. This is a friendship that can last forever." - Kim E. Scott
"You wear peace well." - Annie Tresidder
"If you don't like the altitude you're flying and it's too bumpy, change it. If you don't know how to change it, I can help you with that." - Sylvia Flyer
"Just do it." (way before Nike said it). - Alan Roderick-Jones
"It is what it is." - Buffy Black
"Remain in holy company." - Mimsy Bouret
"Meditate. This Knowledge will give you peace." - Geraldine Larson
"Be still, be very, very still, and let peace find you." - Paula Rosenblum
"Can you do this? Of course. Of course." - Helen M. Waters
"Know the infinite that resides in you." - Monika Winslow
"Thirst is everything." - Christy Hodgson
"Be free of concepts." - Mary Foxen
"You cannot bring in the light by scooping out the darkness." - Evee Danneburg
"Just stay on the boat." - Rainer Poulet
"We get good at what we practice. So when we practice anger, we get good at that, but if we practice peace, then we get good at that." - Glenna Dumay
"Come to me and I will give you peace." - Joseph Rosenblatt
"You are the Angel that can solve your problems." - Laura Perez Velasco
"The only thing you have not done is accept, accept what is." - Janet Bloom
"You are greater than the sum of all your successes and failures." - Liz Westbyrd
"I can show you." - Howard Luckman
"Stay in the boat. Sit back and relax. That's all I ask. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride." - Joy Winnel
"It is all within." - Alaya Love
"Knowledge is your best friend. It's the sword that cuts clean the ambiguity." - Anna Luthi
"Come home." - Candice Wilmore
"Alan." (It's just my name, but of all the profoundly inspiring and helpful things I've heard him say, that one word meant the most to me. No one has said it with more love and respect). - Alan Roettinger
"Don't leave. If you can't express yourself here, where are you going to be able to do it?" - James Eartheart
"I will love you if you meditate or if you don't meditate." - Tara Lee Planett
"You are looking for peace, and peace is looking for you. Be still and let the peace find you." - Larry Mergentime
"The infinite resides in the finite." - Nikolaj Krarup
"You become good at what you practice." - Johan Drejare
"Feel the gratitude." - Melissa June Burnand
"A day without practice is a day wasted." - Asandra Lamb
"Even in your darkest hour I will not abandon you." - Teresa Wooldridge
"25,500 days." - Craig Klawuhn
"To get what you want without wanting is surrender."- Jan Herbert
"One second of being clear can save you a lifetime of being miserable." - Frieda Hill
"Practice." - Chris Cantrell
"Peace is within inside." - Kathy Lorenz
"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink (but you can put salt in its food)." - Chris Hamerton
"You are capable, valuable, and loved." - Louise Amm
"Be grateful you are alive." - Joyce Czarny
About Prem Rawat
Book of Prem Rawat talks
Videos of Prem Rawat
Photos courtesy of Words of Peace Global
About Words of Peace Global
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News of Prem Rawat's travels
The Stillness After Prem Rawat Speaks
After great performers come to the end of a performance, it is not uncommon for grateful audiences to give them a standing ovation. They clap, they cheer, they focus all their attention on the one who has just opened the door to magnificence. Think Pavarotti. Think Martin Luther King. Think anyone you've ever stood your ground for and loved.
What I find amazing is this is how Prem Rawat's presentations begin.
Before he utters a single word, audiences are on their feet, applauding. And when he's done? Pin drop silence.
Somehow, through his own unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight, he finds a way to bring everyone to a place of perfect stillness, back to the very beginning, where there is nothing left to do, but be.
When Prem Rawat is done speaking, I find myself barely able to move. I am stunned, pinned to the back of my chair by the invisible arrow of love. All dramas in my life disappear and there is no "me" left to applaud the end of the show.
What remains is a feeling.
Sitting in the afterglow of this man's communication of truth is a complete and total joy. Oh yes, I know I must move from my seat eventually. Oh yes, I know I will soon be walking and talking and asking someone to pass me the grated parmesan in that great little Italian restaurant just down the road, but now -- here in this sacred moment after he speaks -- nothing else matters.
I close my eyes and breathe. Then I open my eyes again.
I see people sitting. I see people standing. I see people wanting to linger just a little bit longer in this extraordinary state of arrival.
Some walk in silence toward the exits, eyes down, not wanting anyone or anything to distract them from the deepest of feelings welling up within them far beyond time.May 26, 2013
What a Good Teacher Does
"I don't know you. I don't know your name. But I do love you because you are a human being. That is sufficient for me to open up my heart and bring forth to you all that I know." -- Prem Rawat
When people ask me who Prem Rawat is, I usually describe him as a "teacher." Which makes me, I guess, his student -- though he has no school, no curriculum, and no exams.
What he does have is an extraordinary knack for accelerating a person's education. About what? About life. And how to get the most out of it.
A clue about Prem Rawat's approach comes from the word itself.
"Education" comes from the Latin word "educare" -- meaning "to bring out." That's what a good teacher does -- brings out, from the student, the desire to learn -- the thirst to know.
A good teacher does not stuff the student with facts, formulas, and information. A good teacher unstuffs. A good teacher removes the obstacles that get in the way of learning -- then finds a way to encourage, inspire, and guide his students to find out for themselves.
What Prem Rawat brings out of a human being is innate wisdom -- direct contact with the inner experience of knowing -- or what some people refer to as "knowledge of the self."
Here's the paradox:
Even though Prem Rawat teaches and has a lot to say, he'll be the first to admit that what his message is about goes far beyond words -- words, amazingly, that have been translated into more than 70 languages and considered daily by thousands of people worldwide who pay no tuition -- only attention.
Because what he teaches is free.
Which makes perfect sense when you stop to consider that what he's teaching is all about the fine art of becoming free.February 21, 2013
No Synonym for Thesaurus
Did you know that there's no synonym in the thesaurus for "thesaurus"?
And while the eskimoes may have 52 words for "snow," the rest of us are left howling in the wind when it comes time to expressing what we really mean by "love."
That being said, here goes -- what it feels like, to me, whenever I get to listen to Prem Rawat's message of peace.
1. Coming home
2. Being rebooted
3. Going back to Square One, only to discover there is no square -- only wide-open space.
4. The answer to every Zen koan ever asked
5. A spa for the soul
6. Finding buried treasure in my own backyard
7. Letting go of everything
8. The first day of Spring
9. Sunbathing on the roof at the top of the world
10. Unplugging from the madness
11. Following the yellow brick road
12. An early Thanksgiving
13. The cherry on top of the sundae I feel no guilt about eating
14. A cool breeze
15. The eye of the storm
16. Falling in love for the first time
17. Putting down my heavy load
18. Opening a present I didn't think I deserved
19. Pushing "pause" on the universal remote
20. Being at the most incredible party in the world
21. The space between in breath and out
22. Being kissed by the infinite
23. The music Mozart listened to when he was done composing
24. Effortlessly experiencing the virtues all religions espouse
25. The promised land
26. Consciousness revealed
27. A grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth
28. Happiness squared
29. The breath within the breath
30. Landing on Free Parking in Monopoly
31. The blissful breaking of my pinata
32. A diamond cutter's stroke
33. Knocking on heaven's door, only to discover I am knocking from the inside
34. Experiencing that each step is also an arrival
35. Discovering a secret room in my house
36. Receiving a very large inheritance
37. The happy marriage of laughter and tears
38. George Carlin, Mel Brooks, Jonathan Winters, Groucho Marx, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, Steven Wright, Peter Sellers, Sid Caesar, Jerry Seinfeld, Henny Youngman, Bill Hicks, Chris Rock, and Santa Claus all laughing at a joke no one can remember.
39. Surfing Hawaiian waves of love
40. These two whirling dervishes walk into a barAugust 09, 2012
The Beautiful Sadness of Longing
A big thank you to Fernando Garcia for using one of my poems, and Stuart Hoffman's music, along with a variety of beautiful images, to create a moving slide show about a topic not often talked about.July 09, 2012
My Tray of Hors D'oeuvres Is Empty
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.July 03, 2012
WAITING DOWN UNDER: A Timeless Moment in Amaroo
When asked to explain his highly abstract Theory of Relativity, Albert Einstein made it comprehensible in just two sentences. "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute," he said, "and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute."
I can relate.
There are entire years of my life I can barely remember, but singular moments that seem eternal. The birth of my first child was one of them. So was the birth of my second... as was the first time I saw the woman who would later become my wife... and the time I almost drowned.
"Peak experiences," they're called, moments when time seems to stop and we connect with something timeless -- moments when thinking gives way to feeling and we realize, without words, what life is all about.
And though the catalysts for these moments are different for each of us, the experience is universal.
Something takes us over. Something opens up. A Red Sea parts and we feel totally alive, far beyond the usual ways we measure the world, our worth, and life itself.
I've had my share of these moments and am grateful for each of them. But the most memorable ones have been in the company of my teacher, Maharaji.
Being around him brings out the best in me.
I laugh the loudest, feel the deepest, and experience the kind of spaciousness within that contains everything. Home sweet home. Free Parking in Monopoly. The peace that passes all understanding.
He is, for me, is an amplifier of all things good, a human tuning fork vibrating at the frequency I most love to frequent -- the frequency of love.
Which brings me back to the reason why I began this article in the first place.
A few years ago, I attended a five-day event with Maharaji, in Australia, along with 3,500 other people from more than 30 countries.
It took me 27 hours to get there, but it seemed like a minute.
Life was simple in Amaroo. I lived in a tent. I went to bed when the sun went down. I woke with the birds. I had no cell phone, no laptop, no worries, and nothing to do but listen to Maharaji -- twice a day -- hold forth beneath the vast Australian sky.
I was a happy camper.
On the fifth day of the event, I began to feel an old melancholy creeping in -- the kind I used to feel as a kid on Sunday afternoons when I knew the weekend was coming to an end.
Ah... the paradox!
On one hand, I was immersed in an experience that left me wanting nothing. On the other hand, the more this awareness grew, the harder it was for me think about leaving.
And so when I bumped into Michelle, an old friend of mine now working at Daya's Fine Dining, the on-site restaurant Maharaji was known to frequent, I asked if there was any way I could get in tonight -- my chance, I thought, to see him one more time before I flew home.
"All the reservations are taken," she replied. "But we still need waiters. If you meet me after the event, I'll introduce you to the woman in charge of personnel."
Fast forward a few hours.
The next thing I know a very focused woman is introducing me to Carl, the Head Waiter -- a well-dressed gent oozing confidence, purpose, and five-star restaurantiness.
Quickly, he explains my role, the difference between salad plates and dessert plates, when to bring the bread, when to pour the water, when to open the wine, when to take an order, how to take an order, where to find the spoons, how to fold the napkins, when to present the check, where to get the checks, what the consecutive numbers of my tables were, and a thousand other things that went over my head like an empty thought bubble in a Homer Simpson comic I had no time to read.
I wanted to take notes, but couldn't find a pen. I wanted to ask questions, but there wasn't any time. I wanted to confess my ignorance, but no one was available to play the priest.
I still didn't know where the kitchen was.
And then, before you could say "What are the specials tonight?" the doors open wide and the guests come flooding in.
I go to my section. I meet. I greet. I pour. I nod. I try to remember how the pork is prepared.
So there I am, walking across the room, carrying a chilled bottle of an Italian mineral water I couldn't pronounce if my life depended on it, when the entire restaurant becomes totally still.
Not the sound of a fork. Not the clink of a glass. Just pin drop silence and everyone looking in the same direction.
This, I knew, could mean only one thing.
There, at the threshold of the room, stood Maharaji, radiant, buoyant, completely present. He is looking in what I think of as "my direction," (though I'm convinced he's looking at someone else over my shoulder.)
"Hey Mitch!" he calls out. "So it's come to this? You've been demoted to a waiter!"
Everyone laughs. It's funny. But more than that, it has opened the floodgates. He's broken the ice and opened my heart with only 13 words.
It's clear that he is talking to me, not that mythical dude over my mythical shoulder. It's also clear that, standing halfway across the room, I'm much too far away to be having a meaningful conversation with him.
I should be closer. Much closer.
And then... I have one of those moments Einstein must have been referring to, years ago, when explaining the Theory of Relativity to people like me.
Time twisted. A second became a lifetime. A lifetime became a second.
Next thing I know I'm standing next to him.
I have no clue how I got there. Technically speaking, I walked, but not really. I didn't move an inch as far as I could tell. I was moved -- as if the entire restaurant had just been tilted in his direction... and I simply slid towards him.
Now next to him, before any other conversations in the room had a chance to begin, we continue the thread of what started as his humorous ice-breaker. I look at him and smile. He looks at me and says something about ADI, the new magazine he likes so much. I respond with news of my recent meetings with Ole, the editor. He says something else. So do I. Small talk, you could say, but for me it wasn't small at all.
It was huge.
Now everyone in the room is getting into the act. The guy at Table 12 (Trout Almondine and the broccoli soup) asks Maharaji about a new software program. The couple sipping champagne at Table 9 talks about music. Someone asks about this. Someone asks about that. And he is totally gracious and present with everyone -- as if each person speaking was the only one in the room.
Me? I'm just standing there next to him, soaking it all up.
And then, just before he continues on his way, he turns and, out of the blue, says something kind about my writing.
Then he pivots and is gone, schmoozing forward into the next room where more people who love him are waiting patiently. I follow behind, a self-appointed member of his entourage, but I know my moment with him is over. I have people to wait on, wine to pour.
And so I return to my station.
Everyone seems a bit different now than when they first came in. Lighter. More expansive. And no one is asking about food.
Of course, that moment passes, too. Soon someone is asking for more butter. Someone else complains about the bread.
The odd thing?
If you look at this story from the outside, it doesn't seem all that extraordinary. OK, so I fly to Australia, live in a tent, don't use my cell phone, and listen to Maharaji for five days. Then I dress up like a waiter, walk across the room, and have a seemingly mundane conversation with him.
"That's it?" one could easily conclude.
Ahhh... This is precisely where the great mystery kicks in, my friends -- the mystery of the most off-the-grid relationship I know.
It's never about the what. It's all about the who and how.
When you're in love it doesn't matter what's happening. Everything you do, everything you say, everything you don't do or don't say is infused with a feeling.
And that feeling is what it's all about.
My moving across the floor at Daya's Fine Dining took just a few seconds. My conversation with Maharaji took just a few minutes. But the feeling of it all will last a lifetime.
This is what Knowledge is all about. This is what we were born to experience: the timelessness of love. And it is available to each and every one of us every single second of our blessed lives.
If you have learned the techniques of Knowledge and want to attend this year's Amaroo event, click here.
Most photos from Amaroo.orgApril 16, 2012
Does anyone really understand
the work of a Master?
I don't think so.
Even those who say
they love him deeply
are only looking through a pinhole,
a crack in time and space,
through a very high fence.
April 09, 2012
Dazed by the light that finds its way through,
they spin endlessly
around the axis of an unexpected ecstasy,
their sudden expression of joy,
over which they have no control,
now witnessed by a few locals
out for a stroll and a smoke
and asking each other just a little too quickly,
why these people are dancing for no reason,
eyes on fire,
their words like painted rocks,
plummeting to the bottom of a very still pond
on a night no one wants to end.
The One For Whom It All Makes Sense
I have written a thousand poems for you
that have never left my room.
They fill the pages of notebooks
stacked high on a shelf
no one can reach.
Orphans they are, beggars
afraid they are not
noble enough for the King,
would never make it
past the guards.
I make a vain attempt
to dress them up,
disguise their ridiculous origins,
but still they smell bad.
Even so, there are times, late at night,
when the world has shut down and they think I'm asleep,
I can almost hear them talking to each other,
conjuring ways to make it to your court.
Oh, the arguments they have!
The lunatic moments of staking their ground.
Some of them actually believe
that all they need is a shower and a shave.
Others, unsure of who they are
or might have been,
insist on practicing, all night long,
their perfect way of greeting you.
Of course, there is much to be said
for these backroom bards,
these arm wrestling vagrants from another world.
Indeed, if I was dead,
my slightly deaf biographer, after paying his respects
to my dear, sweet wife,
would borrow them just long enough
to search for pearls,
find the perfect turn of phrase,
the sudden storm of brilliance
even my harshest critics would have to praise.
He'd think of clever little titles for the tome,
describing, in his mournfully halting way,
the "man who left his muse too soon"
or some such thing
that might make you wonder
why I never gave these poems to you --
the one for whom it all makes sense
even when it doesn't.
May I Stay Here Forever
May I stay here forever in this perfect place of peace with you -- the sacred space between in breath and out, timeless moment before the need for anything has risen, Buddha enjoying his late afternoon nap with no one around to extract any meaning from it. First, there is a breath. Then, there is a second. This is how I begin my long walk with you by the water's edge, cool white sand beneath both our feet.January 20, 2012
Longing for Long Beach on 1/29!
Turn up the volume! Go full screen! Here is a fun way that Stuart Hoffman, Jennifer Edwards, and Hannah Blake are getting the word out about Prem Rawat's upcoming Long Beach event on 1/29. Forward it to family and friends! Dance! Sing! Breathe! Do whatever it takes to get there on 1/29. And if you can't, watch it two weeks later here.November 21, 2011
The Joy of Heckling
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.September 11, 2011
Free At Last
August 17, 2011
The Impact of a Master
Friends sometimes ask me what the impact is of a Master, or, in my case, the one people know as Maharaji -- also called by his given name, Prem Rawat -- "Prem" meaning love.
Every once in a while, in response to their question, I try my best to quote from one of his talks, not wanting my words to be interpretations of anything he said, knowing how easy it is to confuse the ones I love with my own translations.
There are other times, however, when words, even his, will not suffice -- when the feeling is so absolutely radiant, all encompassing, and grand, that I am taken back to the time before language, the time when not even a single song has yet been sung.
This is the time I feel best about sharing what I know to be true. And one of those times happens upon seeing Maharaji speak at one of his events -- the most recent one being the Shrine Auditorium in LA.
There, I see people -- many people -- having traveled great distances to see this man -- see, feel, and listen to what it is he has to say. They have put everything in their lives, on hold, to be with him, which is, really, the only place for it, especially now when nothing else is needed but self.
These people are being lifted by something lighter than air, unseen. After hearing this man speak, they do not want to rise from their seats. They just sit there, beaming, breathing, beholding something sacred that is oh so easy to feel.
They have nothing to say. They have nothing to do. They have nowhere to go, having already arrived.
If it wasn't for the house ushers, on the evening shift, they might still be there, smiling, soft eyes focused on nothing in particular.
I watch them stand and walk, eyes to the ground like divining rods tracking an invisible current of love. Others kind of bob their heads and feel their way forward, slowly adrift, it seems, in some kind of all-pervading buoyancy.
They are not so much moving as being moved.
And while they clearly notice others moving to the exits, they are not engaging in the usual conversations. Why speak of 9-5 when you are, though no effort of your own, now in the timeless?
Out the door they go, into the night, surrounded by friends, known and unknown, equally enjoying the gyroscopic center of every dervishes' dance since the beginning of time. Home base. The alchemist's stone. The sword. And the rock from which the sword was unsheathed, scented with the perfume of God.
Much laughter. Huge embraces. A hearty round of ordering something everyone shares, remembering a word, a phrase, a story, told just minutes before -- a word, a phrase, a story that continues to reverberate, at such a rate, that at least one waitress -- the one with the beautiful smile -- wonders aloud why the drinks she is carrying to her guests in a tray above her head all seem to be swirling from the inside out.December 13, 2010
I Want to Tell You About My Master
A few nights ago, I was sitting in my kitchen with my wife, Evelyne, and our good friend Hudson.
Hudson had recently been diagnosed with cancer and the sobering reality of life's fragility was upon us. As we sat there, we started talking about how our lives would change if we knew we only had another year to live. We each took turns reflecting on what we would do differently -- what we'd stop doing, what we'd start doing, and what would guide our choices. For me, a few things became clear: 1) I'd take the practice of Knowledge more seriously; 2) I'd stop worrying about all the crap that now occupies my mind; 3) I'd dive a lot deeper into writing about the beauty of having a living Master in my life.
Towards that end, here's a little something I wrote a few years ago. I want to share it with you now, while I'm still alive. Enjoy!
I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT MY MASTER
I want to tell you about my Master,
the one who teaches from within,
that like a heartbeat longing to be heard
becomes the twin I never knew I had.
Him! That one!
He is calling me,
not with music, that would be too easy,
but with silence --
that's his choir!
I cannot describe him,
my words only exclude.
Better simply to say, "The one I love,"
answer to a prayer much too subtle
for anyone else to hear,
keeper of the flame,
who I am, was, and will be
when there's no one around to remember my name,
why you like candlelight,
want a child, dream,
the one with no other master plan but love.
I have met this man,
or should I say observed,
struck dumb by his simplicity
and the unspeakable glory of seeing
what these eyes first opened for.
Food for No Thought
"The pure-hearted man
fulfills the supreme purpose of life
instructions of his Guru,
even though they be
The worldly-minded man
studies and inquires
throughout his life,
MERRY EVERYTHING: Beyond the Story
One of the great benefits of having a living Master, is that you eventually realize how unbelievably tricky the mind is and how it likes to package your experiences in nice, tidy little boxes. While your heart is gleefully understanding the timeless truth, your mind is feverishly trying to make sense of everything.
Experience is then replaced by the story of the experience -- and the story, no matter how captivating or well-told can never be anything more than an approximation of what really happened.
OK. You are forewarned.
What follows are some of my stories -- magical moments I've with Maharaji over the years. If you've seen them before, here they are again. If you haven't seen them before, here they are for the first time. They are not perfectly written, but they DO point to what is perfect -- the timeless moment of love, gratitude, joy, playfulness. breakthrough, and surrender that dwells within each of us, regardless of the stories we tell...July 14, 2009
52 Reasons Why People Like Being with Maharaji
A year ago, on this blog, I posted 34 reasons why I like being with Maharaji -- my attempt to communicate some of the impact that seeing him, real-time, has on me.
At the end of the post, I asked readers to add their own reasons. Eleven people responded.
What follows is my original list and the additional comments of the readers who responded.
Feel free to add your own...
34 Reasons Why I Like Being with Maharaji
1. I breathe more deeply
2. It becomes very easy to savor every moment
3. I stop judging myself and everyone else
4. Time slows down
5. I listen from a still place inside me
6. I feel like I'm dancing when I walk -- or at least, gliding
7. I laugh uncontrollably
8. I cry tears of joy
9. I stop worrying
10. I like what I see when I look in the mirror
11. I have a lot more fun than usual
12. I experience timelessness
13. Everything seems perfect just the way it is
14. I let go of being self-conscious
15. I feel like I'm being massaged from the inside out
16. I move in tune with a hidden music
17. I see how peace is possible for the entire planet
18. I feel like he's talking just to me
19. I am grateful for everything
20. I want to serve
21. I feel whole and complete
22. I feel a vast spaciousness
23. I live in the present moment
24. Everything is profoundly simple
25. I rededicate myself to the practice of Knowledge
26. I stop trying to improve myself
27. I lose my need to gain anyone's approval
28. I am content
29. I come from my heart, not my head
30. Life feels like a party
31. I let things come to me -- and they do
32. I feel more authentic
33. I realize I have no problems
34. I feel like I'm totally home
Why HEART OF THE MATTER readers like being with Maharaji
35. I always leave loving myself a little more. - Candice Wilmore
36. It's incredibly great being around a lot of other people who are also feeling 1-34. - Steve Kowarsky
37. I feel my Heart come alive. - Mka
38. I wake up from the core of my being. - Alan Roettinger
39. I feel like the luckiest person on earth. - Alan Roettinger
40. I realize how much I've missed him. - Alan Roettinger
41. I forget about everything I've missed out on. - Alan Roettinger
42. I get to spend some time with the best friend I will ever have. - Alan Roettinger
43. I am in awe at consciousness & clarity. - Chris Tardieu
44. I am transported back into the ocean of joy, love and strength dwelling within me. Fearlessness presides as magic filled with gratitude resumes as my guide. - Amy S.
45. Magic fills the air and my heart and the hearts of others! I love seeing the Light in their eyes and the smiles on their beatific faces! -Jon Lloyd
48. The silence within me is breathtaking. - Asiebhan
49. I get cleansed of the dirt of the mind. - Asiebhan
50. I get to laugh a lot. - Asiebhan
51. Sometimes, I am completely overwhelmed by an awareness of the possibility of what it means to be a human being and how far short of that potential I fall in my life. Then to hear him beckoning me to join him on this journey of self-fulfillment despite my shortcomings is almost too much to take. Is this what friendship and unconditional love are about? Is this how gratitude unfolds to heal the wounds of a broken heart? Is this the recognition of how fortunate I am to have witnessed the Master and felt the touch of his love in my life? Words are poor substitutes to describe what I am trying to express. - G.S.Smith
52. He has given me 20/20 vision of the heart. - Gaz
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.
"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.
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!!!!
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
Photo by Durango99
The Diamond Cutter's Stroke of Love
This morning, on a weekend jaunt in New York City with my wife and two kids, getting ready to go out for brunch at an overpriced West Village restaurant and obsessing about cash flow, U.S. politics, and the sound of my two kids bickering in the kitchen, I clicked on a 20 second mp3 of Maharaji.
"Listen and try to have that bond of affinity with the silence that is so simple, so precious. Try to have that relationship with the eternal. If a little rubs off on you, that's a good thing."
This is one of the amazing things about Maharaji -- his ability to cut through the Gordian Knot of my own illusion and awaken the very best of WHO I AM in just a few seconds.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 DitkoffSeptember 19, 2008
On My Way to See Maharaji Today
Okie dokie. I'm heading to the airport in an hour to fly to Florida. Going to see Maharaji at an event in Miami on Saturday, then again in Gainesville on Sunday. If you make it to either of these events, I hope to see you there.
Next week I'll do my best to post something here from both events. Until then... count your blessings, have fun, enjoy, breathe deep, and know the only thing not subject to bank closings, stock market crashes, spin doctoring, or mortgage crises is inside you.
That "thing" is what all great teachers from the beginning of time have been talking about. You already have it. The only thing left to do is discover it... pay attention to it... and enjoy it.July 18, 2008
The Falcon and the Falconer
NOTE: This song of praise to Maharaji is best read aloud...
I am the falcon, you are the falconer. Always I am coming back to you, my soaring skyward just a strategy to gather speed for my ultimate return.
How you have trained me is a mystery -- the way you've tamed my restless heart. It is not with fear. I do not fear you. It is not with food. There is prey enough for me everywhere I fly. It is more the way you offer me your arm, a place to land, a second skin scented with the wild musk of one who waits for me, what I would be if I would be a man.
It is a wonderful game the two of us play -- this coming and going, this circular ballet. Each time you loose the loops around my legs and signal me to fly, I remember what it is to rise for the first time. It is here I find my rest, my home. Untethered, still I do not move, needing only to be close to you, my falconer.
It is this that beats my wings, releases me to sky, rides the unseen currents of the air, and though I notice other things: the tops of trees, a cloud, a nimble rabbit on the ground, all I see is you, holding out your arm to me, even as a thousand other falcons overhead, each within your view, circle closer, spiral down, descend.
Still I know that I am next and this is the perfect moment of my return.June 05, 2008
How to Listen to the Master
First of all,
give up everything you know
about listening --
it has nothing to do with your ears.
That kind of listening
will only take you so far.
If you really want to hear,
you will need to leave your ears at the door
and while you're at it,
Then, take a seat,
and become, if you can,
a flower opening to the sun.
The Falcon and the Falconer
I am the falcon,
you are the falconer.
Always I am coming back to you,
my soaring skyward just a strategy
to gather speed for my ultimate return.
How you have trained me is a mystery --
the way you've tamed my restless heart.
It is not with fear. I do not fear you.
It is not with food.
There is prey enough for me
everywhere I fly.
It is more the way you offer me your arm,
a place to land, a second skin,
scented with the wild musk of one who waits for me,
what I would be if I would be a man.
It is a wonderful game the two of us play --
this coming and going,
this circular ballet.
Each time you loose the loops around my legs
and signal me to fly, I remember
what it is to rise for the first time.
It is here I find my rest, my home.
Untethered, still I do not move,
needing only to be close to you, my Falconer.
It is this that beats my wings, releases me to sky,
rides the unseen currents of the air
and though I notice other things:
the tops of trees, a cloud, a nimble rabbit on the ground,
all I see is you, holding out your arm to me,
even as a thousand other falcons overhead,
each within your view,
circle closer, spiral down, descend,
yet still I know that I am next
is the perfect moment
of my return.
April 11, 2008
Just This Crazy Laughter
Now that you have ruined what I thought was my life,
what do you want me to do?
Sing your praises?
No can do, I'm mute.
Shout something timeless from the rooftops?
Sorry, I cannot move.
Write poetry? Impossible,
my hands are shaking and so is the ground.
it's clear my life is very different now
than what I thought it would be when first we met.
An ocean of unexpected tears I have become,
a lunatic walking on moonlight,
singing, singing, singing.
This is not at all what I thought it would be
the first time I saw you.
It's a billion times better than that.
Even if my story could be told no one would believe me.
I have no proof,
not a single shred of evidence,
just this crazy laughter
and the kind of late night sighing that comes
when there is nothing left to say.