Mitch Ditkoff, Star Devotee Mitchell Ditkoff - To Believe Is To Rationalise

Prem Rawat's basic teaching is that people who follow his instructions and meditate using the techniques of "his Knowledge" have an experience that is beyond beliefs. That is possibly the most important belief a devotee of his must have because with that in mind he/she can explain away everything else that happens, especially the failure of this practice to immerse one in the dancing ocean of joy in their heart, blah, blah, blah. One of the great practitioners of this art of explaining away everything and anything is Mitchell Ditkoff who has not only made a hobby of this but also a career.

Below is a copy of acts 2 & 3 of a post on his blog by Mitchell Ditkoff. It refers to his feelings at a drunken party held by Prem Rawat for a group of his "initiators." Act II refers to 1993 (18 years before 2011). I left out Act I which was irrelevant. He correctly writes in his conclusions that we all see things differently and this is true up to a point. Very few people see Prem Rawat in the way Mitch does. Most people don't even bother to look. Mitch relates stories that reveal Prem Rawat as a divine supernatural genius in Mitch's eyes and this one is no different. His stories highlight something kept hidden by most premies since 1983ish. Most of Rawat's committed followers find the techniques boring, ineffective and pointless but they involve themselves in Rawatism activities because they wrongly believe that Prem Rawat is a divine incarnation of God.

You should read both acts to get the full story but the point is simple: the infantile gullibility and behaviour of Ditkoff vis-à-vis Rawat and the pointlessness of 40 years of meditating using Rawat's techniques. At least one other attendee saw Rawat's behaviour was in bad taste but Ditkoff's story is not unique.

"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. 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."

Mitch is being a bit creative here or he was a very unusual premie. Scriptures were disparaged by Maharaji and premies rarely, if ever, read them. They read and listened to Rawat's speeches. By 1993 even 'instructors,' Rawat's most committed followers, had given up on becoming yogis and Rawat's infidelity, drinking alcohol and smoking were no longer secret. "timeless, sacred, holy, cosmic …" So Mitch had had a few, or more, sips of champagne and made a funny and got a bit excited when he got approval from his Lord and Master but really, the language, please, who is he trying to kid? Himself.

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November 21, 2011

The Joy Of Heckling

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

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

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

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

I went.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I did, Maharaji," I say.

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

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

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

Go figure.

ACT III (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.

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Original blog posted by Mitch Ditkoff at www.ideachampions.com/heart/ on September 11, 2011, 07:09 PM


In this fable, based on a true story, Mitch gets to serve as a waiter at a party at Rawat's opulent mansion (no wages of course).

After staring at Rawat there for the umpteenth time the thrill is gone and Mitch explains that as a sign of his maturity as a student of Rawat's teachings and Knowledge thereby showing that Prem Rawat is the greatest teacher and Master alive on the planet in this or any other time. But belief will override experience every time as we can see from Ditkoff's interminable scribblings about his Lord and Master and if the excitement had risen to a special, timeless, sacred, holy, cosmic, blissful, meaningful moment with Maharaji then that too would have proven that Prem Rawat is the greatest teacher and Master alive on the planet in this or any other time.

July 09, 2012

My Tray of Hors D'oeuvres Is Empty

waiter.jpg 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.

waiter-standing.gif 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.

IMG_8708_blue_Sky2.jpg And so it was: Every 10 minutes or so a few guests would make their way back to my area, surprised to see a waiter, umbrella in one hand, tray in the other, standing in a field so far from the party.

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

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

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

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

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

I wasn't anything.

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

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

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

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

Something else was clearly going on.

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

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

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

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

I was not alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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