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Issue #2785 - Editor: Jerry Katz - Read my book, One: Essential Writings on Nonduality

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A Commuter's Guide
Stewart Bitkoff, Ed.D.


Stewart Bitkoff has signed a formal contract with Llewellyn Publishing for his book How to Attain
Enlightenment on the Major Deegan Expressway!


Published under the name, A Commuter's Guide to Enlightenment, you will be able to purchase the
revamped version of this incredible book at your favorite book stores such as Barnes & Noble and
Borders starting in early 2008!


To be one of the first to receive a copy, email Melody Bitkoff at [email protected].


Until then, please check-out Dr. Bitkoff's blog co-authored with his daughter Melody at


A Commuter's Guide
Stewart Bitkoff, Ed.D.


This short book is given to you as a tool to make your daily commute to
work and road through life a little easier




Millions commute to work every day. Some drive cars, some use
bicycles. Some travel five minutes, others two hours. Some love their ride,
others hate and endure it.


One day I found myself using a meditative technique to free my
mind from the drudgery of driving to work. It just sort of happened and
came about naturally. This has helped me survive and transcend my daily
journey on a monster of a highway ? the Major Deegan Expressway.
Before beginning, a few words about this manuscript and the Sufi
view of discontinuous learning.


--This ride occurs over a period of months; and there is no clear story
line or sequence of events. The ride starts, things happen ? which may or
may not be related. Then, it ends.


This is similar to the way we think and some events in our lives.
Daily, we go about our business. The events may not be joined in any
obvious way. Then, the day ends, and we wonder at the meaning of it all.
Yet, from a distance the events are connected. They are part of our
life and mind.


--Themes are presented, dropped, and picked up or restated later.
Some learning happens this way. We need things repeated over and over, or
presented in different ways to get the point.


Sometimes we may not understand an event until months or years
have passed.


--Lastly, this is about a car ride to work, but the subject matter can
apply to almost any activity.


This ride is about learning from the most mundane of things. The
Sufis maintain enlightenment can be attained in ordinary life, doing almost
anything. What is required is a different way of looking at events . . .
Well, buckle your seatbelt, and let's begin.



Last year while on vacation in
New Mexico one of my friends remarked,
"You know for someone who has spent most of his life in
New York City,
you're not as neurotic as some of the other easterners we meet. They're
always in a rush and rude."


My friend continued, "A few weeks back, when I was visiting New
York City
and driving to the airport on the Major Deegan Expressway I
almost lost my mind. It was 90 degrees; the traffic was backed-up. I had to open
my windows and turn off the air conditioner. All around me were large
trucks and buses. Exhaust was coming into my window and I couldn't wait
for the quiet of
New Mexico. How can anyone not go crazy and find peace
in that environment?"


I replied, "Over the last few years I had gone crazy at least a half
dozen times . . ."



* * *


When I returned to New York, I traveled the same route my friend
described to work.


As I looked about and saw dirt, exhaust, and endless rows of
vehicles, I realized something; over the years, I had learned to see beyond
the Major Deegan Expressway. While part of me was busy driving the
highway, another part was doing something else.


Sure, I got pissed-off when the traffic was backed-up at the approach
to the
George Washington Bridge and I was going to be late for work.
Somehow I learned to still this part of me, for the most part, and listen to that
quiet, inner, voice which sang of another realm, and put things in


* * *


My morning drive, while a long one of about 45 miles, is filled with
variety. It starts at
6:30 a.m. in the quiet tree-lined streets of upper
Westchester County. Here, one has to be careful to avoid both cars and deer.
There are forested hills, miles of protected reservoirs, and construction
crews widening the highways. This goes on for miles at a time.


As you get closer to New York City the traffic becomes heavier. I
get on the Major Deegan Expressway in the northern
Bronx. By this time, I
have traveled on four different highways; a distance of about 30 miles.
The Deegan borders the western portion of the
Bronx and, as it
winds south, feeds into the George Washington and Triboro bridges. When
there is no traffic, I can make the trip in about 50-60 minutes. Usually, this
is not the situation. Also, the later I start out, the more traffic I encounter.
Often, it seems, I am in an endless parking lot waiting to inch forward.
Yet, for millions this is nothing new or special. People do it every
day, year after year. The task, as in life, is to make something out of the


In other cars, as you look about, you see people laughing to a radio
show, or talking with a passenger. Some are bored, others are smoking
cigarettes . . . Each in their own way, trying to make the situation work.
The mystic claims, the pattern of repetitiousness exists so we can
break free of it. It exists to provide structure and, thereby, may be



* * *


Sometimes, trees grow in concrete. Wherever a little soil gathers, as
God wills, a seed will sprout.


When you look at the dividers between north and south, you see this
miracle, all about.



* * *


Occasionally, as you drive beneath highway overpasses, you see
pigeons nesting. Somehow, they have made their home in the center of
stone, steel, and exhaust fumes.


The need to survive is strong . . . One creature's purgatory is
another's home.



* * *


In many ways, I am the thoughts I think. While driving down the
highway, my interpretations of what I see are based upon my previous


Today, it was raining and depending if I liked or disliked rain, I was
affected in a particular way. Rain can be cleansing or a problem for driving.
It can help to cause an accident or help flowers grow . . . Rain is any
number of things and my response is usually based upon my pre-conceived



* * *



In order to get to work on time, I need to be up by 5:45 a.m. and
driving on the road by 6:30 a.m. Otherwise, the traffic is too heavy and I
arrive sometime after 8:00 a.m. This results in my rushing before the 8:30
a.m. meeting or walking in late.


In order to get to work, many things have to be in place. I have to
get gas for the car, make lunch, and set out my clothes the night before. This
requires a discipline of sorts and has gotten easier over the years. Now, it is
second nature.


Similarly, for the spiritual traveler's success, many things must be in
place. There must be a correct interaction between student, teacher, and the
Path. Also, the student must exert the right amount of discipline and do
things in correct order.


. . . In many ways, getting to work on time and spiritual studies are


* * *



Who was Major Deegan? Why was a highway named after him?
Surprisingly, this information was not very difficult to obtain. After
an hour on the phone and speaking with representatives of four City and
State agencies, I got some answers. People returned my calls, and one kind
lady read to me entries from her data file.


Skimpy, though the information is, it was obtained at little or no


Major Deegan was a New York City Housing Commissioner who
died in the early 1930's. Approximately five years after his death, the
highway was named after him.


I'm waiting for another call to find out the highway's length and how
many cars use it per year. I have been promised an answer.
Sometimes, the answers to our questions come easily. At other
times, they are not forthcoming or are exacted at a tremendous cost.



* * *



At night, while driving home, I am reminded of my place in the
chain of humanity. Ahead of me, I see the tail lights of 20 cars; behind me,
in the rear view mirror the lights of 12 more.


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