The Heart of the Matter
February 10, 2024
The Epitaph


Now 76 and increasingly approaching the expected lifespan of an American male, I wonder from time to time what inscription I would want on my tombstone -- something not quite as goofy as WC Fields' ("I'd rather be in Philadelphia"), but very much to the point. And I think I have it. Just two words -- eight and a half times shorter than a haiku, but hopefully as memorable -- at least for the gravedigger who I doubt I'll ever meet. Ready?

"Thank you!"

That's it. Short and sweet. No wasted words. "Thank you!"

The list of who I'd be thanking with those two words would be a long one, indeed: my parents, my sister, Evelyne (my former wife of 29 years), my two astounding kids (Jesse and Mimi), my amazing friends, my coaches, mentors, and teachers, Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Rilke, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Pavarotti, Duke Snider, George Carlin, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Hanuman, Muhammed Ali, Martin Luther King and so many more.

But the person I'd thank first would be Prem Rawat, my soul's friend, my heart's song, my glorious guide on the path of life.


I met him 52 years ago when I was 24 and he was just 13, but I feel like I've known him forever. Indeed, a single glance from him, a word, or smile has taught me more about life than any book I've ever read.

Why would I thank him first? Because he has shown me (and continues to show me) what comes first, that which is, was, and will be -- the nameless, formless, spacious essence of life -- the place from where gratitude (and everything else) originates.

If I had a mirror in my attic covered with the dust, he'd be the one to blow the dust away so I could see my reflection or, better yet, he'd remind me I had the power to blow the dust away myself.

I thank him for his wisdom and his relentless commitment to do everything in his power to be of service to humanity. I thank him for his stories and the way he tells them. I thank him for his extraordinary ability to shine a light on that which is truly worthy of my attention, care, and love. I thank him for his overflowing kindness. I thank him for his humor. I thank him for showing me what it really means to be alive -- not just exist -- eyes open, mind open, heart open. Indeed, I attribute, to him, the lion's share of my ability to be grateful and to express that gratitude.

His words have comforted me, soothed me, inspired me and brought me back to square one on the chess board of my life. I thank him for his patience, love, listening, resilience, tenacity, presence, and divine irreverence.

There are so many scriptures that have been written, so many poems, and songs of praise that expand on this theme, but what it all comes down to can be summed up in two words: "Thank you!"

So thank you, Prem. Thank you for being who you are and doing what you do, making it so much easier this time around for me to be who I am and do what I do.

Prem Rawat photo: Courtesy of TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at February 10, 2024 03:13 PM

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

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