The Heart of the Matter
November 11, 2023
The Hostage Situation

A few days ago, Rabbi Zoe B. Zak from Temple Israel of Catskill asked me to write something for tonight's Sabbath service -- something that spoke to the hostage situation in Israel.

This gave me pause and one more opportunity to reflect -- specifically on what, if anything of value, did I have to say about this great tragedy and from what persona of mine would I speak?

As member of this temple? A Jew? An American? A man? A father? A poet? A Democrat? A peace advocate? A lifelong seeker of truth?

There are so many ways to look at things, so many points of view, so many sides of the story.

At first blush, like all of you here tonight, my heart goes out to the hostages and their families. I can only imagine if it were my children who had been taken hostage... or my friends... or my parents. I have no words to describe the feelings I would be having, never having lived through this nightmare myself.

Nor do I have words to describe the feelings of the hostage-takers and what drove them to such an action in the first place.

Here's what I know: thoughts and prayers are not enough to heal the pain that the people of Israel and Palestine are experiencing. Nor is political posturing, protest marches and whatever cease fire or truce is eventually agreed on -- especially since we all know that whatever cease fire or truce is agreed on will only be temporary and that the deep-seated hatred and antagonism that both sides have for each other -- along with their own "proof" for why their stance is well-founded -- is likely to continue.

Here's what else I know:

We were not born to hurt, fight and kill each other. We were born to experience love, kindness, compassion, consciousness and true humanity.
Demonizing the so-called "other" is easy to do. It has become a sport on planet earth -- which, as far as I can tell, is a planet of duality, one of the great challenges facing all of us -- the apparent dance of opposites:

Up and down... in and out... black and white... good and bad... East and West... North and South... hot and cold... male and female... light and dark... now and later... hard and soft... you and me... us and them... Israel and Palestine.

This duality, deeply embedded into the DNA of every single person that walks this earth very much affects our perceptions of life. "Otherness" rules us in just about every aspect of our lives. And this otherness blinds us to our common humanity in such a vile way that it makes it insanely difficult to experience each other as brothers and sisters... or children of the same God.

We have all been taken hostage by this mindset of otherness. We have all been kidnapped by an invisible force that makes it extremely difficult to come from a place of love instead of hate, compassion instead of destruction, kindness instead of killing.

Personally speaking, I have seen and felt a lot in my 76 years.

I almost died at 21, just three seconds away from drowning. Three years later, when I was 24, I met a great being and experienced my timelesss, true nature beyond the circumstances of my life. I saw an angel when I was 27 -- not in my imagination, but in my room. I worked in an Islamic school for a year -- the only Jew among 1,000 Muslims. I have walked the halls of power in corporate America, for 35 years, invited by that curious slice of humanity to open their minds to new possibilities. I have brought two children into this world, written seven books, and watched Fiddler on the Roof six times.

Speaking of which, there is a scene in that movie that has always stayed with me -- one that has relevance to the world we now find ourselves living in. Perhaps you remember the scene.

Tevye, the town milkman and also the town wise man was walking through the town square when he encounters two villagers arguing loudly about a transaction they recently had. Apparently, one of the men sold a horse to the other, but the other man is now insisting it was not a horse, at all, but a mule. When they see Tevye, each of them turns to him and vehemently makes their case.

After the first man tells his side of the story, Tevye strokes his beard and says "You're right!"

Then the second man, with an entirely different story of the transaction, makes his case to Tevye.

Tevye listens, strokes his beard and says. "You're right!"

A third villager, standing close by, who had been watching the argument play out for the past ten minutes then turns to Tevye and says, "Wait a minute, how can he be right (pointing to the first man) AND he be right (pointing to the second man)?"

Tevye listens, strokes his beard, and exclaims "YOU'RE RIGHT!" Then he starts dancing, embodying in that highly-charged moment, something far beyond right and wrong.

This story may sound cute to you or not at all applicable to the awful situation in the Middle East. But it is neither cute or naive. There is a lot of truth in it.

Until and unless, we -- as a species -- get to a place beyond our cultural perceptions of right and wrong -- we will always be fighting, always killing, always taking others hostage and more fundamentally, taking ourselves hostage.

What I am talking about has nothing to do with the laws of mankind. It has to do with the laws of life and the almighty -- that which not everyone agrees on, selectively quoting from their favorite scripture or interpretation of their favorite scripture to support their own point of view.

What can YOU do in regard to the hostage situation in Israel? What can you do in regard to the horror show going on in the Middle East these days -- and let us not forget the war between Russian and Ukraine.

That is for you to decide.

You can send thought and prayers. You can send money. You can send ambassadors. You can protest. You can write letters. You can come to services like the one here tonight. And all of these approaches, of course, have their place and time.

But ultimately, all of us -- you and me and everyone else who is not in this room tonight -- will need to find our own way back to peace -- the promised land that is not a physical place, but a state of being, a state of consciousness -- one whose natural attributes are love, kindness, empathy, compassion, selflessness, and the recognition that all people, regardless of their apparent differences, skin color, religion, language, politics, education, or perceptions are children of the same God -- all here to experience true love and forgiveness.

For now, before I take my leave, I invite you to close your eyes, take a long slow breath, and get in touch with one step you can take, one move you can make, to bring more love, kindness and understanding into this world -- starting tonight, in this room right now, in your home when you return there, and tomorrow in your community or wherever you can reach out to someone with love in your heart and the timeless recognition that we are all in this together.

Shalom! As-salamu alaikum to you all!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2021

Big Blue Sky.jpg

I just woke up, five minutes ago, from a dream in which some kind of celestial force, a conscious beingness, granted everyone on Earth immunity from pain, suffering, and ignorance -- a kind of universal amnesty. All bets were off. All debts were forgiven. All struggle was gone. In its place was nothing but peace.

This beyond-the-beyond, all-consuming graciousness was granted to absolutely everyone -- those who were seeking this state of grace and those who weren't. It was as if some kind of invisible tsunami of love washed over everyone at the exact same moment, everywhere. In a flash, without effort, every single person was free, unburdened, and in love.

And then, as I lay there in a field, completely stunned by this gift to humanity, I saw something "air-dropped" from the sky. It looked like a child's paper airplane -- the kind all of us made as kids to throw in the wind and watch it fly, hopefully, forever. As I watched, because of the perfection of this undeniable moment, I expected it to land right in the center of things, but it didn't. It kept on flying, even as it descended.

My dear friends, it is possible, this peace, that is. It is possible, against all odds, during these absolutely medieval times of craziness, density, and despair, that each and every one of us -- regardless of our past, our problems, and our pain, can be be free. It is possible. It is.
Always be open to this possibility.

In the dream from which I just awoke, this peace was granted -- a universal act of divine dispensation. It seemed undeserved. Every sentient being was on the receiving end. Everyone received this gift. And everyone was free, almost as if, in some alternate universe, all of the bad news upon us now was reversed and only the "good" remained.

This is my prayer, my dream, my highest aspiration -- that each and everyone one of us on this third rock from the sun will be on the receiving end of this blessing. It was not religious, this gift. It was not spiritual. It was not the result of great work, focus, concentration, or any strategies of realization. It was just given and given in such a way that it was impossible not to receive it. If this was rain, everyone got wet. If this was sunshine, everyone felt the warmth. If this was wind, everyone was refreshed. May it come to pass. May it come to pass.

HEAR YOURSELF: How to Find Peace in a Noisy World

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August 10, 2020
Some Beyond Covid-19 Perspective

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August 09, 2020

Thanks to my dear brother, Steve Ornstein for the heads up!

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May 10, 2020

OK. I get it. There's a serious virus going around that is disrupting just about everything on planet Earth. Not fun. And, apparently, it will be around for a while. But there is also something else capable of spreading -- and that is kindness. Human kindness. We all have it and, yes, it is perfectly fine to share with each other. Today, there will be at least one opportunity to express kindness to another human being. Or maybe, an animal. Go for it! Let kindness be the contagion!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2020
Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Big thanks to Susan Gregory for the heads up

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November 26, 2019
WAFA: Water Air Food Awards

If you haven't heard of WAFA yet (Water Air Food Awards), here's your introduction. Based in Denmark, WAFA is a global volunteer organization that recognizes our world's silent heroes -- people making a difference in their communities with low cost, high impact, environmentally friendly innovations and initiatives. Prem Rawat is one of WAFA's four patrons.

WAFA's vision and mission
WAFA's patrons
A sampling of WAFA success stories
How to volunteer
WAFA's new 2020 Youth Climate Award

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2019
We Were Made For These Times!


What follows is an extraordinary call of the heart by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Not only is it worth reading, it's worth reading aloud -- so you hear it and feel it as well as see it. Then, you get to decide who you want to share it with -- and how. This is a piece of deep, soul-inspired, primal writing that deserves to travel to every corner of the Earth.

"My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The luster and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

pinkola estes.jpg

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for."

Dedicated to Steve Soffer who reminded me this morning about how important this piece of writing is.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes: American poet, post-trauma specialist, Jungian psychoanalyst, and author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:44 PM | Comments (4)

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! Oy! 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.

Prem had answered my question, 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 too 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. Prem spoke, told some jokes, and 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 bad. 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 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. 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.

My Amaroo question

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:57 PM | Comments (13)

December 31, 2015
To the Friends of Charles Cameron

th.jpgThis morning I received a phone call from Charles Cameron, a long-time friend of mine and an early student of Prem Rawat.

Charles is currently in a very difficult situation and is reaching out to his various friends and networks for support. If you can help, even in a small way, keep reading.

Charles' health is declining. He is diabetic and five years ago had a stroke. Currently, he is five days away from being evicted which would not only be very challenging, but also mean the loss of his beloved book collection and 40 years worth of his poetry, articles, and other papers.

Charles will soon be launching a GoFundMe campaign to get his time-of-need message out to as many people as possible, but for now, THIS blog post is his main communication platform -- and time is of the essence.

What Charles just told me is that he need $2,000 within the next five days to cover back rent, medications (he has no health insurance), blood work, MD visits, and a few other immediate needs.

Charles is reluctant to ask for help, knowing how stressed most people are about money these days -- but he is asking nonetheless. If you know Charles, please consider making a donation. If you don't know Charles, but are inclined to help a brother in need, one who is a gifted poet now down on his luck, you are also invited to help.

Two ways to contribute:

1. PAYPAL --
2. Bank of America Account #: 000162606787, Routing #026009593

If this appeal offends you in any way or you think it is not appropriate content for this blog, feel free to send me an email:

In recent months, because I have this blog platform, I have been asked by a number of people in need to communicate their request for support. I know this is tricky business and some of the readers of my blog have chosen to unsubscribe. So be it. I guess that's the risk I take. The way I look at it is this: next time it might be YOU who needs the support of the community.

May this coming year bring you as much joy, peace, and love as possible.


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:22 PM | Comments (6)

February 06, 2015
Hungry for Love

The Prem Rawat Foundation is doing some amazing work around the world, spreading peace, dignity, and prosperity to people who really need it. TPRF's Food for People program is groundbreaking. What follows are photos of some of the children on the receiving end. If you are moved to donate, click here -- part of a Valentine's Day-themed independent fundraising effort to support the good work of TPRF.




The Valentine's Day Love Quote show

Stuart and Mitch's social fundraising page

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

July 01, 2014
See and Hear How Inspiring Virtual Collaboration Can Be

Lots can happen when a bunch of people who have never met join together, virtually, to express an inspired possibility. Composer and Conductor Eric Whitacre made some magic in this arena a few years ago and now, in a seriously more low tech production, Know Thy Selfie, another virtual collaboration, has been born -- part of TPRF's light-hearted, 2014 fundraising campaign. Join in the fun.

The TED talk: Eric Whitacre's virtual choir

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November 22, 2013
The Word I Want on My Tombstone

Thanks sign.jpg

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November 07, 2013
The Huffington Post Meets the Heart of the Matter


What follows are ten links to articles of mine from the Huffington Post. #1 and #6 are very much related to the work of Prem Rawat. The rest are on a variety of topics -- some humor, some on other topics of interest to me.

1. Jeremy Gilley and Prem Rawat

2. The Syndrome Syndrome

3. I'm From Woodstock. Yes I Am!

4. The Kindness at Work Manifesto

5. The 27 Best Practices of Volunteer Organizations

6. How to Go Beyond Self Improvement

7. Why You Need to Ask Why

8. The Afghani Cab Driver

9. How 13-Year Old Girls Can Wipe Out Terrorism

10. Excerpts from Full Moon at Sunrise

About Prem Rawat

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September 21, 2013
A Conversation Between Jeremy Gilley and Prem Rawat

This is an extraordinary video. Peace Activist and Founder of Peace One Day, Jeremy Gilley, has an animated conversation with Prem Rawat. Their exchange is deep, revealing, inspiring, and very timely. If you are interested in the topic of peace, this one's for you.

Words of Peace Global

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September 15, 2013
PeaceBeats WorldWide Webcast Coming Soon!

Get ready for the PeaceBeats world wide webcast on September 21st. This is an inspired effort by some inspired people to support the inspired message of the UN-sponsored International Day of Peace. As soon as the program schedule is announced, it will posted here.

PeaceBeats website
TPRF Peace for People

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March 22, 2013
Humanizing the Workplace


If you work for an organization that needs to become a more benevolent and humane workplace, I invite you to respond to my new Humanizing the Workplace poll.

You'll need about five minutes.

I'll be posting the results of the poll here in a few weeks, but if you'd like me to email the results to you directly, just note your email address in the comments box below or send a message to

You can read more about this topic in my latest Huffington Post article.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:03 PM | 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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