So, let me ask you first of all, we see a lot of cruelty around us, a lot of bad things. And sometimes it looks like a cruelty or badness, instead of peace and goodness, that is the genuine human nature. Is there a “no return” point from being a bad person? Or do you really think there is always a hope for anybody, even for the worst human being, let’s say?
This is a question that’s very close to me, because this is what I work with in so many prisons around the world when I go there. And some of them have lost all hope—that, they don’t want to change; they can’t change—“It’s not going to happen.”
But there is hope for them. And when they start to recognize who they are, then they see the desire from their heart that they want to change, that they want—they want, not so much to fulfill social obligations but the obligations of the heart, that they want to feel content; they want to feel fulfilled.
“Is there a point of no return?” When I was in Cape Town, South Africa, I was in Soweto. And if anybody is familiar with Soweto, this is like, you know, where people were just sent away, because nobody wanted them in the—so far the apartheid regime was concerned—didn’t want them any part of their society.
So, I was speaking to people there, and—it’s a very strange kind of situation. Because, what they had been always told is that, “You know, the apartheid will end some day, and then everything will be fine; everything will be okay.” Well, apartheid “ended,” (quote-unquote), but nothing changed for them.
So I was there talking to them, and they—you know, when I speak to them about peace, this is very personal for them, because peace isn’t just a luxury, you know, and they’re not out in a section of the bookstore which has to deal with self-help. No, they have to help themselves in practical means, every single day.
And a lady had sent a question from the prison. She said, “I have killed my children, and I tried to kill myself. Is there any hope for me?”
So, when I got the question, and I’ve got this audience sitting there—and, I could have answered it, but I felt it was more appropriate if they answered it. So I turned to them—and I said, “I’m not going to answer this question. You answer it. Is there any hope for her?” And in one unanimous voice, they all said, “Yes.”
So, I see it that there is never that point where it goes too far—because the goodness of human beings is always inside of them, and wherever they go, they carry this with them.
So, I have a lot of hope, because I see that the tools needed for the goodness and peace are already existing. We focus on the bad; we don’t focus on the good. There are a lot of good people on the face of this earth, believe me—very kind. This is their agenda too; they want to be in peace. They’re good people; they want good for everybody.
But they’re not the ones who are talked about. They’re not, you know, running mega-companies. And so, they’re not of interest. They run a little company called their family, and they run their little corporation called their little hut. And so they don’t come into the radar of what we are looking for.
Look within you, and you will start to see the similarity with these people. And, all of that that we need to make a better society—I mean, at the end of the day, when people listen to the word “peace,” they’re really reflecting not on themselves, but a better society.
Well, if we want a better society, we can have it. Because it wasn’t like a virus that descended from outer space that has caused this problem. All the problems that we see—if it is hunger, if it is war, if it is bad economics and poverty, whatever you want to look at, it’s created by the people.
So if it’s created by the people, that’s good news; we can change it. And that’s what it takes.
Did you ever consider entering politics? Don’t you think that your message would be—would have a wider and more effective and positive impact to people all around the world through politics?
Well, and the way I see it is like this. You’re in the middle of the ocean; you have a little boat. And all around you are these sharks, and they’re hungry; they’re really huge and they’re hungry.
And all of a sudden you get a hole in your boat. Now, slowly the boat is drowning. You have four or five very capable people in the boat, but they’re all drowning with you. And so, if somebody even was to say, “Don’t worry; I can swim really good.” Well, yeah, but what about these sharks? The option to go in the water does not exist.
The help that is needed is not going to come from the boat; it’s going to come from somewhere outside the boat.
So, the way I see it is, I can help much better, [Int.: Yeah, I’ll say! Right!] not being in the same boat—being outside that boat. Because if we’re all in the same boat, we’re all going to drown. [Int.: Yes.] You know, [Int.: Sure.] and this is, this is how I see it.
Sure. I heard that you have visited already Milan in the past many times. While Roma is considered one of the most beautiful and historical cities in the world, Milano is more business-oriented. Milano is mainly famous for fashion, hard working, and so on.
What’s your opinion—what’s your personal opinion about my city? Do you like it? Did you enjoy it, and do you like it in the past?
Prem Rawat: [simult.]
I have always—I have always enjoyed Milano. There is a totally different texture to what Milano is, even the food [Int.: Umm-hmm!] is different; [Int.: Hm-hm-hm-hm!] yeah, the people are different, and the way everything happens in Milano is different.
But somewhere it carries that undertone of having gone through so many changes, and yet still survived. [Int.: Umm.] And not lost its identity. And this is very attractive to me personally.
You know, I see—I go to Japan. I come—I was born in India, a country that is so steeped in cultures and traditions. And you drive forty kilometers, and they change. [Int.: Hmm-hmm!] So it’s like, everywhere you go, literally everything is changing; accents are changing; food is changing; traditions are changing; cultures are changing. Dress code is changing.
And then I see all the technology come. And I see a lot of change in India. You know, again, you see everybody walking on the street with their head down. [Int.: Umm-hmm.] You know, bumping against the posts and doing everything else.
And then I go to someplace like Japan, and they still have hung onto that tradition. Even in the middle of all this incredible technology, they’ve hung onto their tradition.
And so, I look for that, “Is this city, are the people here enamored by what their ancestors have been through and the struggle that they had to take...?” And the emergence, now, particularly, in this day and age....
Because, we could all become the same—or, we could be very similar, but be different flavors. So, you know, it’s like pasta. [Int.: Hmm-hmm.] You have so many different names for so many pastas.... Maybe pasta is the same; the sauce is different, and that gives the pasta its identity.
And that’s what I would like to see, because, you know, it’s like, “Okay, yeah, you’re having this pasta, and it’s the same. You taste this, and it’s the same. It’s the same; it’s the same; it’s the same.” I think it would be a monotonous world.
And so, having some texture. It’s like, every book in your library is exactly the same. Well, that wouldn’t do much.
And Milano has this uniqueness about it, and I have always enjoyed that.
Good. Thank you very much. [PR: You’re most welcome.]
Venetia Stanley-Smith in conversation with her lifelong friend and teacher Prem Rawat.
The abundance of life
-When the flowers of life bloom in the heart-
“In order to appreciate the inner garden, knowing the self is the first step.”
- Prem Rawat
Venetia: Prem, you often liken the heart to a garden. I’d like to hear more about the similarities between a garden and the human heart.
Prem: A garden is a very interesting place. Like your garden here, it wasn’t pre-determined what would grow here.
If you don’t do anything, weeds will grow; if you look after it, beautiful flowers will grow.
Thorns could grow or herbs could grow. The garden holds the potential for both.
Venetia: This example of the garden can also be applied to the heart or what you might call the inner garden?
Prem: Absolutely. The starting point is to understand how your own inner garden looks right now. In other words, to know the self. From that foundation of knowing the self, next you need to realize that just like the external garden, what will flourish in the garden of the heart is not pre-determined. It is an open book.
Understand that you have been given a gift of time to be alive, that you have a heart and it needs to be cared for. Then you can start to make your inner garden beautiful.
With self-awareness, understanding the potential that the garden of the heart holds, you will be able to sow the seeds that will benefit you the most. Then you will have a garden you can enjoy for the rest of your life.