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The Value of Knowing Yourself
Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre, Pretoria, South Africa
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to be here to talk to you. And what I have to say to you may come off as a little bit different. And the reason why it would be different—because I want to focus on you—not what you do. Not what you do—but on you. Because, who are you? What are you? First of all, you’re a human being—a human.
Now, I must preface that—most people think that human beings are no good. That’s why we have Superman, right? What created Superman? Because we don’t think human beings are worth anything.
I disagree! I disagree. We have in us good—and we have in us bad. This is how we were created. Through millions of years of evolution, this is how we are. There’s good in us; there is bad in us. What we have been given is the choice. Is the choice.
So, I’ll tell you a story. There was an encampment, and in this encampment, one day a little boy came to the chief—and said, “Chief, I have a question. And my question is, ‘Sometimes people are good. And the same people who are good, sometimes they’re bad. How can this be? I mean, either we are good or we are bad.’”
And the chief said, “No. Inside each one of us, there are two wolves—and these two wolves, one is a good wolf and one is a bad wolf. And both these wolves fight.” So, the boy thought—and he looked at the chief and he said, “Chief, which one wins?” And the chief said, “The one you feed. The one you feed gets strong.”
You like that story? [Audience: Yes.] Do you? [Audience: Yes.] You think it’s a nice story? Can I ask you a question? [Individuals: Yes.] Which wolf do you feed? [Individuals: And we have to think about that.] Which wolf do you feed? [Individuals: Which one—we thought about this.] Really? [Individuals: We thought about this, yes!]
I ask the same—I tell this story and I ask the question in front of thousands of people. Not just in prisons. People who are supposedly free—but they’re not.
Because they are incarcerated by the prison of fear, of doubt, of anger.... And they cannot break free. They cannot break free of that prison; they cannot break—the bars of fear are so strong that they cannot cut them; they cannot budge them. Doubt is so prevalent, so prevalent that they cannot even move. And this is the condition of the whole world.
You have to make a choice which wolf you are going to feed. When you become angry, which wolf did you just feed? [Individual: The bad one.] Good one or bad one? [Audience: The bad one.] When you become disappointed, which wolf did you just feed? [Individuals: The bad one.]
You know, they asked me today on the radio interview, “What are you going to say?” And I said, you know, one message is very, very simple for anybody in this world. Most of us in this world do—and then we think. Right? [Individuals: Yes.]
And that’s why you are here, thinking. Because you did—and now you’re sitting here thinking.
What you have to do—is you have to learn how to think—and then do. Are you making that habit? [Individual: We’re trying to, yes.]
You know, also, by the way—and this is not just for you. This is for the whole world; I say this to them too. Because there’s a whole world—first they do; then they think. Then they have the press conferences; then they have the debates; then they have everything else.
And what is happening in the world? What is happening in the world? People are destroying each other. Yesterday I had an event in Soweto—and I said to the people; I said, “The problem in this world, you know what the problem is?”
A few years back there was a scientist—he was an artist, scientist, and he wanted to do an experiment. So he bought a huge mirror, huge—and he put it in the jungle.
And when the gorilla came in front of the mirror, it freaked out. You know why it freaked out? Because he saw a gorilla! And this gorilla was big. This gorilla was strong. And every time this gorilla showed his teeth, so did the other one.
You know who the other gorilla was? It was him! But he could not recognize himself.
Socrates said, “Know thyself.” That’s the value of knowing yourself. When you growl, the growl you hear is of no one else but you.
So, everybody’s waiting for an angel to come—and what if I told you, “The angel has come”? And you know who that angel is? You.
I’m not talking about heaven and hell. I’m talking about now. There is—you are the angel that can save yourself.
And you know why you can save yourself—because you’re the most qualified to save yourself. Because you know exactly what’s going on, which wolf you just fed––and which wolf you have been feeding.
And the idea isn’t to beat the bad wolf. Beating the bad wolf is not going to feed the good wolf. You have to feed the good wolf, not feed the bad wolf—you don’t have to hit the bad wolf; you don’t have to beat him with a skin; you don’t have to try to skin him; you don’t have to try to bark at him—nothing.
Feed the good wolf—just, that’s all you have to do is feed the good wolf—so that that wolf can be strong.
This is your life. This is your life. You have been given this. Try giving your breath to somebody else. This is what I say: “If, if people could give their time of life to somebody else, nobody would be poor.” You know why? All the rich people would buy that—and give a lot of money for it.
But you can’t. This is yours. You can be a flower in God’s garden—a flower that looks beautiful, a flower that smells beautiful, a flower that enhances this—or you can be a weed. Which one do you want to be?
And the choices that you made got you in here. The choices you make will see you out of here—and the choices you make will keep you out of here.
I know a lot of you are very tough—and to you, it’s like, you know, somebody says something nice and you shake your head and you listen and you go.... “In here; out here,” ckchwkch! Am I wrong?
Because all your life, you have been right. It was the world that did you wrong, right? The world drove you to this, right? Well, that’s what you thought. And this is why you need to know yourself—that it has nothing to do with the world. It has something to do with you—of how you see it, how you perceive it, how you understand it.
What don’t you have? Do you not have wisdom in you? Yes, you do. Do you not have kindness in you? Yes, you do. When was the last time you exercised it? And on whom? On whom?
Your life that you have been given as a gift—why? Accept it. Give thanks to be alive. (It’s called “gratitude.”) What is gratitude? It’s not to say “thank you.” That’s something the world teaches us; I don’t know why. But they don’t teach us understanding gratitude; they just try to teach us to say just, “thank you.”
But what is gratitude? When somebody does something for you that makes you feel good—then that goodness that you feel, you take a little bit of that goodness and give it back in return. That’s gratitude.
There are three things that happen in a man’s life, (I mean, in a human being’s life). First is birth—it’s already happened. (Right? I hope. That’s why you are here.) That’s a big one. And there’s going to be another one at the end, and it’s called “death”—and it’s guaranteed. You don’t have to make an appointment. It will happen.
For millions of years, you were nothing—nothing. For millions of years, you will be nothing. This is the exception. Whilst you are alive it is the exception. Your job is to make this exception exceptional.
You want heaven? Make heaven here first. Make heaven here first! What is missing; why isn’t it heaven? Is the Divine not everywhere? Is the Divine not everywhere? Is the Divine not here? Is the Divine not in you? That’s the goodness. Ignorance is the bad wolf.
Feed knowledge; feed understanding—it’s up to you. It’s completely up to you. You have that power. Understand it. Peace is inside of you. Peace is inside of you—always has been; always will be.
Peace is not a word. Peace is a feeling. Peace comes when you understand you. Peace comes when you start feeding the good wolf. Peace comes when you understand that you are responsible for what happens in your life.