The Heart of the Matter
October 24, 2019
Michelangelo's Reply


When asked how he created his iconic statue, David, Michelangelo's response pretty much sums up one way in which Prem Rawat has helped me become a human being.

"I simply took away everything that wasn't."

The statue, you see, was always in the stone. All it took was the sure hand of a master sculptor to remove whatever wasn't the masterpiece. Simple? Yes. But not necessarily easy.

In my brief time here on planet Earth, I have never met anyone quite as masterful as Prem Rawat in the fine art of removing the unnecessary. Listening to him speak in ways that are utterly soulful, enchanting, and magnificent, the inconsequential falls away and what remains is the Masterpiece -- who we truly are behind the stone surface of our lives.

And as if that wasn't enough, he provides a simple way to stay connected to this experience wherever we happen to be at the time.
Photo: Courtesy of TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2019
The Sixth Noun


I first heard about Prem Rawat in 1971. He was 13 then and known as "Maharaji." I was 24 and known as "Ditty." A long-haired, earnest seeker of the Truth, I was astounded by what this young boy from India had to say and how he said it, stunned by his clarity, wisdom, and ability to engage my attention in such a heart-opening way. Now it is 49 years later. He is 61 and I am 72. I am still astounded by him.

In the early days, I used to refer to him as a "Guru" -- a Hindi word that translates as "the dispeller of darkness and the revealer of light." I liked that word a lot. It had a nice ring to it and satisfied my need to think of myself as a deep soul on the spiritual path. But soon I realized that word carried too much baggage, conjuring up stereotypical images of the East: incense burning, saffron robes, and little red dots on the forehead. My experience of Prem was none of these. But it didn't matter what I thought. The real deal was how my family, friends, and neighbors related to the word and, if they didn't, the word "Guru" had to go. And so it did.

Realizing I needed a better way to refer to him, I moved on to "Master." I liked that word a lot, especially since I experienced Prem as someone with a whole lot of mastery. And besides, I reasoned, the concept of "Master" was known to many people. Hey, there were Master carpenters, right? And Master musicians. And Master chefs. And Master mechanics, too. Using the word "Master" to describe someone with extraordinary abilities was not hype or a con job. It was both fitting and accurate.

Be that as it may, I noticed that the word sometimes made people uncomfortable. For example, they assumed I was referring to a person who thought he was superior to the average bloke -- someone who wielded Mastery over others. This was not my experience of Prem. No way. Not then. Not now. But hey, if my choice of the word "Master" created doubt and fear in the minds of others, it was time to let it go -- or at least only use it in the company of people who were not triggered by it.

Which brought me to the word "Teacher" -- a descriptor, which, for most people, was far less polarizing than Guru or Master. Everyone, somewhere a long the line, has had a teacher, no? Then again, for some people, even my closest friends, the word "teacher" carries some negative connotations -- old memories of boring Professors or cranky elders giving too much homework.

OK. No "Guru", no "Master", no "Teacher". Hmmm... anything else in the thesaurus?

Well, then, how about "Guide" -- a word that's about as non-threatening as they come -- simply a title for someone who helps you get to your destination. Is that such a bad thing? I don't think so, unless, of course, it conjures up are images of slick tour guides quoting robotically from prepared scripts and extending their hand in your direction for a tip.

Bye bye "Guide". Which brings us, I guess, to the increasingly popular "Friend", or more specifically "The Friend", a phrase the Sufi poet, Rumi, often used to describe Shams a Tabriz, his ___________ (fill in the blank, folks). Personally speaking, I've always resonated with the word "Friend", not just because I love Rumi's poetry, but because everyone knows how important it is to actually have a friend -- someone you can count on.... someone who's there when you need them -- someone you are so connected to that even if you don't see that person for ten years it feels like no time has passed.

Then again, when most people think of "Friend", they usually assume it's someone you have lunch with regularly, or watch the Superbowl with, or text three times a day. Since none of these behaviors come close to describing my relationship with Prem, I guess I'll need to retire that word, as well.

So there you have it. Five imperfect nouns: Guru, Master, Teacher, Guide, and Friend. But wait! There's more! Why limit it to five, especially since last night, while showering, a sixth noun came to mind. Ready?


What? Huh? Really? Marigold? Like the flower? Sure, why not? A marigold is not only beautiful to look at, but positioned next to a tomato plant, it radically increases the odds of that plant ripening all the way to fruition. Marigolds, by their very nature, keep aphids, mosquitoes, nematodes, beetles, and even rabbits away. In other words, just the proximity of a marigold protects a tomato plant from common obstacles to growth. "Companion planting" it's called -- nature's way of pairing two forms of life in a way that ensures the best possible result. The marigold does its thing and the tomato plant gets the benefit -- having a much greater chance of growing to its full potential.

A few mozzarella slices. A little salt. A glass of wine. Yum!
Photo: Courtesy of TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:12 AM | Comments (1)

October 14, 2019
What Remains


As I sort through 25 years of possessions, preparing to sell my Woodstock home -- infused, as it is, with the many memories of birth, death, fire, celebration, ecstasy, devotion, countless guests, exaltations, rites of passage, madness, dreams, dancing, bedtime stories, clinking of glasses, baby showers, live opera, dead mice, and ten thousand outtakes from the movie that seems to be my life, it dawns on me how little there is I want to take from this abode, in physical form. And while it won't come close to fitting through the eye of a needle, it will, I think, fit into a VW bug.

Michelangelo, when asked how he created The David, said it best. "I simply took away everything that wasn't." Indeed! Indeed! The statue was always in the stone. All he had to do was remove what wasn't. Less is more.

And so as I give away, throw away, and sell, I get to experience the odd pleasure of seeing what remains -- my own David, you might say -- the treasured totems of my life, all of which, no matter what form they take, serve the exact same function. REMEMBRANCE!

What remains from my estate -- what I have bought, inherited, or received -- reminds me of what it is I truly value here on planet Earth. A FEELING, a sacred moment out of time -- my soul's longing, God within, a wink from the Great Beyond: Many Buddhas, especially, Hotei, the laughing Buddha. Photographs of Evelyne, Jesse, Mimi, and me when we were at our best, loving life and each other. A 40-year old I-Ching. The Tao Te Ching. The poetry of Hafiz, Rumi, and Kabir. Many, many photographs of my amazing Master, Prem Rawat -- some beautifully framed, some tattered. A black and white photo of my parents kissing on their wedding day. My dog Chili's collar. And a box of journals I have never been able to throw away -- the hieroglyphics of my soul on fire. This is what remains. I'm guessing it will all fit into a box. Just like my body. This is my David. The rest? Just stuff.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2019
The Clear Path

clear path.jpg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:32 AM | Comments (0)

Welcome to Mitch Ditkoff's blog about what's really important in this life: Peace, gratitude, love, joy, clarity, and the effort required to wake up and smell the roses. Enjoy!

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