Sanjay Giri Goswami: Today, we have with us Mr. Prem Rawat. Mr. Rawat, I have heard a lot about you. Many people talk about you. But everyone wants to know, who is Mr. Rawat? What does he want? What is Mr. Rawat's vision? And how did Mr. Rawat's journey begin?
Prem Rawat: Firstly, my heartfelt greetings to all of your audiences. And I have this opportunity to talk about my message. I'm very pleased about that. I have a deep connection with Uttarakhand. So when I found out that you were coming, I was happy to have this opportunity.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: We are very fortunate to have you on our channel today, and you're giving us a live interview.
Prem Rawat: So I'd like to answer your question this way. There is an ocean. And there are countless drops in that ocean. And I am one of those many drops. I'm not yet in the ocean; I'm still a drop. But one day, I will merge with that ocean. And this is going to be the case with everyone. The thing is, when I merge with the ocean, I won't remain a drop. I will become the ocean.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: You will become a part of the ocean.
Prem Rawat: There's no separation. An ocean is an ocean. We identify them separately: Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean ...They are not separated. They're all one. And as long as I am a drop, I'm not the ocean. But there's an ocean within me. Quoting couplet by Kabir: "There's a drop in the ocean, everyone knows. But that the ocean resides within a drop, only a few know." So this is not the case just with me, but with everyone. And what is my journey? Where did I begin? One day I was born, and one day I have to go.
Whatever I learned, whatever I understood, if I don't realize it in my life today, then when would I do it? When I become the ocean? I will no longer have a personality. Lord Krishna says to Arjun, "There's a big difference between you and me. And that is, you don't know your last lifetime. You've forgotten it, but I know." So, I will forget too. Who I was, what I did, what I ate, what I drank ...I will forget everything that happened. But there is one thing. There is abundant peace within me. And did I understand that abundant peace? Did I realize it in my life, or not? When you eat a mango, you find it sweet. You like it.
And the mangoes from Dehradun are amazing. Think about it. That drop came from the ocean...rose from the ocean, went up, rained, landed down, went up the mango tree, became sweet. You enjoyed the sweetness and one day that very drop will merge back with the ocean. This is something to understand. Will this drop ever give anyone sweetness or sourness? This is possible. If I could give myself sweetness, then I would share that sweetness with others too before the mango shares its sweetness with others ...
Sanjay Giri Goswami: It will first have to be sweet. Yes.
Prem Rawat: When I experience that peace within my life, then I can help others experience it too. So this is my life's journey. I don't know where it began, when it was born. I know what it is today, and I also know that one day it won't be there. But as long as I am alive, one thing is possible: that I can do something for myself and for others. And if I am empty, then what can I give to anyone? The fruit is first born on the tree; then one can eat it. We often forget this. We start out with wanting to give someone the fruit, but how? The tree has to first bear the mango for someone to eat it. And I understood this and have been trying to bring about awareness in people around the world that they can experience peace.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: Mr. Rawat, you talked about peace, but when it comes to spirituality every person is confused, unable to understand where the path to peace is. How can troubled people become calm? How can they find peace?
Prem Rawat: The most important thing ... You asked a very good question, because people seek peace in spirituality. Some don't look for it in spirituality; they look for it in their factory. Some aren't looking for it in their factory but are looking for it in science. Some are looking here; some are looking there. But none can find it. And they're moving away from it. The biggest issue is this. And this is what I try to explain to people: why are you searching for something which you already have? You already have it. Why are you searching for it? Where are you searching for it? How will you find
something that's already within you? Search for it if you don't have it with you. And if you're lucky enough, then you'll find it somewhere. But it is already with you. Peace was never away from you. Ever since you were born, and for as long as you are alive, peace is within you. Peace is a part of you. The desire for peace is a part of you. The breath is with you, just as you desire the breath. Peace is also within you. It's with you. Don't go looking for it, but start enjoying it. Start knowing it; start recognizing it.
But they're looking for peace. What does peace feel like? What does peace taste like? How much does peace weigh? What does peace sound like? Does anyone know? There are great personalities who give lectures, but what does peace sound like? What is the fragrance of peace? What does it taste like? Is peace like velvet, or is peace like thorns?
Is peace like flowers, or is it like hot water? Who knows? Why? Because they have not experienced peace; they just talk about it. Talk is not going to help. Does talk satisfy your hunger? When you go home and say to someone, "I'm hungry. Please get me some food." And they reply, "What do you need food for? I'll tell you all about food. Halwa, halwa, halwa..." Are you now full? That doesn't help. You need to eat. When you're hungry and someone gives you a lecture about food, then it's possible that you'd get angry with them. You might beat him up because food is what you need.
When a human being wants to experience peace in his life, then he needs peace, not lectures. He need not run to some place. It's within him. It needs to be recognized and experienced. It needs to be experienced.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: "Experience." This is a big word. Many people go places in pursuit of experience. They say that you also travel to many countries. Mr. Rawat, I'd like to ask - things have changed in today's post-COVID world. Perhaps nobody has more experience about this than you do. You are an Indian first. So in comparison of India and other countries, is there something that stands out to you, like there's something still missing?
Prem Rawat: I wish to make more effort in comparison to what I have done so far.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: You don't want to stop with the effort you've made?
Prem Rawat: No, I'm not done yet. I can do more, and I want to do more. I want to go to more places. I feel that hours in a day are still not enough. And months in a year are not enough. Because there's a need for us to understand.
Couplet by Kabir: "The fragrance of musk resides within the deer's navel, but it wanders around the forest in search of it." And the divine resides within us, but we wander the world in search of it...running after technology.
Creators of technology are running after our wallet. And this is the spectacle happening around the whole world. It was in the news that someone lost a billion dollars. Do you know how much a billion dollars is? I can't even fathom. How can it be lost? I mean, such a humongous thing! If someone says to you, "I've lost my elephant," "What? You lost an elephant?" If a needle was lost, I'd get it. But lost an elephant? Then I'd ask if one was in their right mind. A billion dollars lost.
How? Where did it run away to? Who ran away with it? Who stole it? But this is the state of this world. A special interaction: if only the billion dollars existed. But someone said they did, so they exist. And if they said it doesn't exist, then they don't. What is it? Credit. Credit. Someone wrote a document declaring that you are worth so much, so you are worth that much.
There was a time when even if one rupee was printed, the silver worth that much was accounted for. It was embedded into the currency. And when Nixon became President, he got rid of all this in America. After that, people went to town with printing money.
So people are running, running, running -running this way, running that way. And nobody is running after that which everyone is looking for. And that is peace. I have never said that one shouldn't be successful in their business. One should be. One should be. But that doesn't mean that you don't need to be healthy. You need to be healthy also in your business. Right? If you go to a doctor, he will tell you the same thing: focus on your business, but also focus on your health. What would a chef say? Focus on your business, but also make sure you eat. What will one who gives you water say? Do business, but also hydrate. And I'm someone who offers peace. I say, "Do business, but also be in peace." Be in peace and also experience peace in your life.
This message is very important because we are blinded by technology, and this will not have a positive outcome. This is not going to turn out well because this technology is going to distance us from ourselves. There is technology that connects us with ourselves, and then there is technology that distances us from ourselves. And we are caught up in this technology.
Look at the young kids. During the first years without the phone, their head is up; they look around. The minute they get a phone in their hand, they only look in one direction. That's it.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: The significance of relationships seems to be coming to an end. Perhaps technology is contributing to that.
Prem Rawat: Humanity is coming to an end. Humanity is coming to an end. What has a human being been reduced to?
Sanjay Giri Goswami: He has become a machine.
Prem Rawat: Exactly. And the creators want you to stay involved so that their wallet swells and yours shrinks. They have put such high prices on things, and people are willing to pay. Who is speaking up and saying this is wrong? Nobody! Everyone goes along and agrees. What has it come to? You have a new phone, so I should get a new one too. I mean, what has happened? What should be happening is, "You are radiant so teach me to be radiant too." "You have peace, so please help me find peace too." "Be happy and teach me to be happy too." What happened?
But people don't think about this anymore. It's just one thing now: running, running, running ... Where to? No one knows, but still running.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: Exactly. Rushing and running everywhere. Mr. Rawat, what's your perspective on India? You have extensive experience. The environment today and the technology you spoke about ... everyone is fed up in today's post-COVID world. And you boldly speak to any topic. What's your perspective on India?
Prem Rawat: I still see it the way I have always seen it. In India's culture, tolerance is its greatest strength. When the Indian people exercise tolerance ... not, "You are this way; you are that way"... but when they see unity - the true unity that exists in India. And in difficult times, that unity has taken the Indian people out of deep problems. If someone has a microphone, a stand and two speakers, then people will say anything. But when people exercise the unity that India has, then no matter who it may be, no matter who it is, they will not stand a chance. That's the kind of strength unity has. And we forget about that unity time and again. So this is our misfortune, and it is our good fortune that we know the power of unity. This is our good fortune. The misfortune is that we forget.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: What's your take on the Indian culture?
Prem Rawat: Unity, compassion, and the greatest of all, culture. When the people of India treat each other with compassion ... I'm talking about India,
but no matter where you go in the world, when you treat others with kindness, everything transforms.
I have an education program called the Peace Education Program. The numbers from the program show that it is now in correctional facilities. People from countries have graduated from that program. At the time, this program was started for the people who were in prison. Now it's also in the police force, military, and other places. But it was started for those who were incarcerated. What hope do the inmates have in their lives? They become disheartened. But when they reflect upon themselves, then the flower of hope blooms in their heart. They understand that what they did was wrong, and that's why they've been imprisoned. They also know that they can turn their life around, be better, do better, and move ahead. They find relief in considering the fact that they can improve their life by transforming it themselves, whether someone else does it for them or not.
When they understand these things, their life takes a turn. Then their hopelessness turns to hope.
I'm telling you this because this topic is also for those who are not behind bars...that we can change hopelessness to hope. There are people who are unhappy. Many of those will also watch your interview. I don't know what the reason of their unhappiness is. And I don't deny that they're unhappy.
Yes, they are unhappy. A human being becomes sad. That is his nature. But when he feels sad, it doesn't mean that there is no happiness in his heart. No matter how dark it may be on the outside, there still is light within his heart. No matter how dark it may be. All he has to do is glance within, and he will see a burning lamp.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: About books, Mr. Rawat, you have authored popular books. And you're now launching another book. What is it about books that people think they want? Like you mentioned, everyone is rushing around these days. Peace is your mission, and your advice is to hear one's self. With your statements, it feels like, indeed, there's something that you want to give. Through your book, what do you intend to offer to people that is important for them and what will people receive? What will they embrace?
Prem Rawat: I had declared a long time ago that I won't write any books because I thought that writing a book is like establishing some religion. People will quote the book and claim, "This is it, this is it. Believe in this, this is everything." No. As long as one does not experience it in their heart, it doesn't work.
I wrote this book because I was asked to write about my experiences. So I honed in on that because no matter who it may be, he can learn to reflect within himself. Enough reflection has been done on the outside, and we also know what that has to offer. It's not that there's no calm and tranquility.
That's there. There's just one thing ... It's temporary. It's like, you have a car and the car has wheels and the tires need air. It won't run properly without air in the tires. And after you inflate them, the air runs out in minutes. How will the car move forward? It will be hard work to stop the car every few minutes and inflate the tires.
This is the case with this world outside. And what is the case on the inside? There's no deflation on the inside. It's solid. This is what the book is about.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: Your experiences made you a writer. Could that be said?
Prem Rawat: I am a human being. Firstly I am a drop. A drop that emerged from the ocean. But that drop has written something.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: I was looking at the title, "Swayam ki Avaaz." Why is it "Swayam ki Avaaz" (Hear Yourself)?
Prem Rawat: Because we function on noise...the noise poured into our brain by this world. We still remember them. Everything our parents told us, we remember them to this day. "Son, focus and study or you will fail in life." Those noises echo. What the teacher said in school echoes. What the friends said echoes. My question is: does your heart too have a voice that echoes within you? How's it possible that the voices on the outside echo and the true voice within is not echoing? There are two sides to this. One is: the noise on the outside can be blocked. But how can the noise between the ears be blocked? No amount of cotton or earplugs will block that noise. And these voices are not our own. What is our very own voice?
And how important is it to listen to it...our very own voice...the voice of the heart? That's why I titled it "Swayam ki Avaaz" (Hear Yourself). In English it is "Hear Yourself" and in Hindi it is "Swayam ki Avaaz."
Sanjay Giri Goswami: "How to find peace in a noisy world." The peace which is talked about, that which everyone is after. So, do you think that peace is achievable if we hear ourselves?
Prem Rawat: At least the noise would quieten. The noise is drowning out our voice. Lowering the noise is the greatest skill. We will hear our voice when that noise stops. What does our heart want? What does this drop want
before it merges with the ocean? The sweetness of a mango, the sweetness of litchi? The tartness of lemon? Or offering the hungry or thirsty some water? Because one day this drop will merge with the ocean. Do what needs to be done, today.
Quoting a hymn:
"This human life is precious.
Don't waste it away.
You have received it now, but will not receive it again.
Never again, never again."
Sanjay Giri Goswami: Mr. Rawat, you mentioned litchi, which is special to Dehradun. You also mentioned that you have a deep connection with Uttarakhand. There are many things said about Uttarakhand. They say that a lot gets planned in Uttarakhand. The mountains, the youth and the water of Uttarakhand are of no use. You must have heard this too. And you have given Uttarakhand a lot. You have helped immensely. But even today we hear the same thing: the plants, the water, the youth, and the mountains are of no use. I'd like Mr. Rawat to share his thoughts about Uttarakhand.
Prem Rawat: There's a short story about something that's useless and something that's useful.
Once upon a time, a king asks his gardener to renew and beautify an old garden...to grow lots of flowers in that garden. The location of where the garden was to be grown was high up on a hill. And the gardener had to walk all the way down to the river to get the water. So he fastens one pot on one end of a bamboo, another pot on the other end. And he would go down to the river everyday, fill the pots and bring them up the hill and water the flowers he had sown. And gradually the garden began to flourish.
One day a tiny rock hit the pot in the back and made a hole in it. The pot couldn't contain water due to the hole. By the time he went down the hill and brought it back up, the pot had emptied out. One day the gardener placed both pots on the ground and went away to drink some water. The pot in the front says to the pot in the back,"You are useless. You are useless because you have a hole in you and you can't bring water to this garden anymore. There will come a day when the gardener throws you away."
So the pot in the back started crying. The gardener came over and asked him, "Why are you crying?" The pot replied, "I'm useless because I have a hole in me. I can't contain any water." The gardener laughed and said, "Why do you worry? Look, I'll show you something." He showed him the sides of the path and said, "Look, there are flowers growing on both sides of this path. Do you know why? That's because of you. The flowers growing up there in the king's garden can be enjoyed by the king's guests.
But this path is used by people coming and going, and they all enjoy the beauty and fragrance of these flowers. And all this has been made possible by you. When you got a hole in you, I wondered if I should throw you away. Then I had an idea. I would fill you up too and move you to the back, so that you would water the sides of the path as I walked back up. That's when these flowers bloomed...because of you. You are not useless. You are very useful. The only difference is, you water the flowers on the path and not the king's garden. But thousands of people will enjoy these flowers and the flowers in the garden will be enjoyed only by a few people invited by the king.”
Nothing is useless. Nothing is useless. If we consider something to be useless, then why not do something to make them useful instead? There are mountains, and they belong to nature...not made by man. Nature has created them so they can be enjoyed by everyone. I know very well what you're saying, and it can turn political very quickly. And I don't dip my toes in politics. I don't touch politics. All I know is one thing: politics is such a thing that .... People like politics because it gives them someone to point a finger at and say, "They did that." But when one finger points towards them, always remember the number of fingers pointing back at you.
No matter who you are, what are you doing to help it? You can do something too. Do whatever you can for the betterment of others.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: Precisely, something needs to be done. I'd like to ask you two more questions. We have discussed spirituality and we've discussed peace. Why did you choose this path? What inspired you to spread peace? Or the message you've been giving to people, "Stop running. And recognize yourself."
Prem Rawat: I chose this path because it has nothing to do with spirituality. This is not about beliefs. This is about experience. Perhaps you've heard this for the first time: belief versus experience. Belief versus experience. Belief versus experience. Belief is not experience and experience is not belief. If you're experiencing something, then you don't need belief. And if you're caught up in beliefs, then you will not pursue experience. But unless you experience ... unless you experience, you will not understand exactly what all this is about...what peace is.
We chant Brahma's name, but what Brahma is, we have no idea - neither do we understand it. Brahma is not something to understand, but to experience. There are things that are not meant to be pronounced, like Roti (Indian flat bread). It's meant to be eaten. Roti is neither to be described nor to be worshipped this way, and that way. No. The best thing to do with it is, when it's piping hot, spread some ghee or butter on it and eat it with chutney. That is it's worship. That is it's worship. And the worship of that Brahma which resides within every individual is by experiencing it. I chose this path because it has nothing to do with spirituality or beliefs. I don't go after beliefs. I go after, "It means nothing unless you experience it." Like when one get's sick, the doctor says, "Just believe that you'll recover." But he's in pain, so what is he to do? Should he tell the doctor that he hurts, or not? So belief versus experience. Belief versus experience. What do you want? Belief or experience? If your bank says, "Don't worry, you don't need a balance. Just believe that your money is fine." No, you will ask for proof. "Give me proof!"
Belief. Belief. Why not believe in the path of spirituality? Shouldn't you believe? Belief is the foundation of a human being. It's the support structure. And when a human being forgets about experience and stays stuck in beliefs, then he ends up with circumstances dealt out by the world. Why? Is there a shortage of religions in this world? Is there a shortage of spirituality in the world? No. They keep growing. New ones keep coming up. But there is a shortage of experience. And that's what I offer.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: Everything begins with experience.
Prem Rawat: Without experience, you are limited. If you're not experiencing it, then you're limited.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: What is your message of Peace for our audiences and for the readers of your book?
Prem Rawat: Good news! Peace is within you. You don't have to wander around. It's within you. Quoting couplet by Kabir: "The fish is thirsty in the water ..." It's within you. Quoting couplet by Kabir: "It resides within, but we look outside, far away from the self." This is within you. Experience it. This book will tell you the same thing — experience it. But what's the need for this experience? This book will openly explain that too. So I recommend that people read this book because those who have read this book ... I wrote it, and when I was proofing it and recorded the English audiobook, I felt that the more I read it the more my life transformed. It's that powerful. And even though I wrote it, it positively impacted me. And I hope that people progress towards peace, towards experience. Beliefs are okay. Makes no difference whether one does or not. But until you experience it, there's something missing.
Sanjay Giri Goswami: Mr. Rawat, you have addressed some significant points through "Swayam ki Awaz" To find peace in a noisy world, it is indeed important to hear yourself. And your own voice is such that I don't think in today's world many people are able to hear it.
I wish and hope that through this book of yours people can know that there is indeed a voice within them that they need to listen to. Thank you so much for giving us your time.
Prem Rawat: My greetings to you and your audiences.
Watch the interview (in Hindi): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoPpslbq450
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.
Good afternoon, Mr. Rawat, and a very warm welcome.
Thank you for having me, and it’s great to be here.
Lovely. So, you are an international speaker who presents a practical perspective about the business of life. Why the business of life?
Because we’re involved in so many other businesses—businesses of raising a family, businesses of going around doing whatever we do. And why don’t we focus on the business of life? Because we are alive, and that is the most, absolutely the most important thing.
And when the life isn’t right, nothing else falls into place. When life isn’t happening, when you don’t feel alive, then everything else just seems so static. And so, yes, the business of life—understanding the business of life, getting that business of life perfected—for having everything, everything, in this time that we have on this precious earth.
And so, how important is it for one to have a balanced life, and what would you say that is?
Well, the question is, life will be balanced if those forces that throw it out of balance are removed. Because life wants the balance. There is a joy; there is a want for joy; there is a want for happiness.
You know, nobody goes to a church or a temple to pray and saying, “Well, I’m too happy.” You know, “Remove some of this happiness.” Because we don't have a limit for how happy we can be. But for sadness, for fear, for anger, for pain, we definitely have very low tolerance.
And so that, right there, is telling us something: go ahead and let that joy of being alive, being here, being now, being happy, being satisfied, being successful, let it all come! Let it all come! Make it happen! And that’s the business of life.
So, well, happiness is just but for a while, but joy is what you want to achieve. How do we get to that point?
Well, this is a very, very beautiful question, because I think that’s at the crux of so many things. What…what is happiness? A lot of people think that being prosperous, that’s happiness. And they look at prosperity as just one thing, which is, make a lot of money.
But that’s not actually prosperity. Prosperity also includes good health, and also includes that you are happy with what is happening in your life. To be happy, we need hope. To be happy, we need gratitude in our life. To be happy, we need self-reliance—not always thinking of what other people are thinking of us, but what we think of ourselves.
And to be happy, we also need to know ourselves—the very thing, many thousands of years ago, that Socrates said, “Know thyself.” It’s still true today, and maybe even more true today than at any given time.
Because we need to know who we are, what our needs are—what we really, really need—and we are so confused about our wants and our needs. We think that our wants are our needs! That’s not true! There are things that we need, and without those things we wouldn’t even be alive.
But, you know, we go on the tangent of, “Oh, yeah, this would be nice to have; this would be nice to do; this would be nice to have in my life.” That’s okay! But really, you have to understand what is important. And important is you, you being fulfilled.
An unlit candle cannot light another candle. It doesn’t matter what happens. So, you are a lit candle, then you can light other unlit candles.
So, would you say that living a purposeful life would then result to one living a joyful life?
The joy will come from within you. You cannot create the joy. You cannot invite the joy, to say, “Okay, now I’m ready for you.” When all is right, it is like a flower blooming. When all is right.... You sow the seed, fine. You water it, fine. But then, when the season comes, that seed will germinate.
And all the things have to be right for that seed, regardless of the time. But if everything is right, it will happen. And joy is the same way; happiness is the same way.
You know, there is the happiness that we get that is so temporary. But then there is the happiness that really comes from our heart. A smile because we met a stranger—and a smile when there’s nobody around, and that smile is still there. And that, to me, is the important smile—not the smile of manners, not the smile of external gestures.
All right. And so, for any of you charged on prosperity—what would you say is true prosperity?
True prosperity is where there is a balance for fulfillment of your dreams, balanced with the fulfillment of your needs—and, at the same time, good health. I mean, look at what’s happening to people today. You know, they work, work, work, work, work, work, work to become rich.
And then they retire and all the money they have earned, they literally give to the hospital, so that they can be cured of the disease that they have accrued trying to make all this money. And that’s no prosperity at the end of the day. Prosperity is a full heart—not just a full pocket, but a full heart. And you will never feel prosperous unless your heart is full too.
And it also requires that you be in peace, that you are stable, that you are good. You know, if you’re sitting in a train and the train is jockeying back and forth, and you’re trying to hold a pot full of water…the thing is, it’s going to be very difficult because you are shaking—so is the train, so is the pot, so is the water.
And if you really want that stability, something has to go stable. In your life, you are the base of your existence, and you have to become stable if you want that pot full of water to be stable. But if everything is just jockeying and jockeying and jockeying, it’s going to be difficult; it’s going to be impossible.
So, you do mention that, in order for one to understand the business of life, there has to be some storytelling that happens somewhere there. Can you just take me through this? And how do you link the two?
No, the thing is, not just ideas, not just beliefs—but this has to be about knowing, knowing yourself—not believing you could do this, not believing that this exists, not believing—because…You know, one example I give is like, you’re sitting somewhere and you make believe there is a cow.
And so, five people are there or whatever, and they go, “Yeah, yeah, okay, there is a cow”—because it’s all make-believe, there’s no harm done. But if you want milk for your tea, the only kind of milk the make-believe cow can give is make-believe milk. Now, if you want real milk, it’ll have to be a real cow, not a make-believe cow.
And that’s the same thing in life—that we believe in so many things! People say, “Believe in yourself.” I say, no, that isn’t going to help. What you really need to do is know yourself.
How do you get to that point of knowing yourself?
It begins with a simple introspection. And then, there is a very beautiful way to be able to do this introspection—which is a program that I have. It’s actually called the Peace Education Program. And it has benefited so many people, so many people. It is in prisons; it is in hospice, police, military....
And everybody is discovering that there is such a dimension to themselves, that they are not limited by their own imagination—but there is a whole dimension to understand. That there is a courage in you. And you get in touch with that courage; you get in touch with the joy that is in you; you get in touch with that understanding that is in you.
And when you start to actually, not just believe in these things, but feel every day, the courage that you have, you start to understand who you are. That the components that bring you together, that make up what you are, are powerful, powerful. Kindness is in you, all the time!
Of course, anger and hate, and all these things, are in you all the time—but so is kindness, so is joy, so is understanding, so is love, so is forgiveness. And we have only used one spectrum of ourselves, and the spectrum has been the hate, the non-understanding, the non-believing....
You know, look at me. For fifty years I’ve been talking about peace. And everywhere I go, people go, “Oh, it’s not possible. It’s not possible.” And I just ask them one question—“Okay, so it’s not possible. What is our choice?” Without peace, the fabric of society is going to fall apart. We are falling apart. Nothing is gluing us together.
And this falling apart is getting worse every day. We’re killing people who have done nothing wrong. [Interviewer: Umm-hmm!] And we are fueling the fire of revenge. Little children who are orphaned have hate—hate and hopelessness—in their eyes, when those little eyes should be full of hope, should be full of joy. And so, we have no choice but to court peace in our lives.
So, the message of peace that you are spreading, how has it been received?
Well, people who understand it... and believe me, I respect this in people, because it requires a change in thinking…people have been thinking a certain way, “It’s not possible.” And, you know, the thing is, I actually respect them for that. Because, yes, you have looked at the horizon and there is no ship out there. And so you feel alone and you feel desolate.
But one of the things that we have not done is look at ourselves. We have looked at the world; we have looked outside, but we have not looked on the inside. And when we start to look on the inside.... And this is the message—that it’s not just my message—this is the message that has echoed through the years, through the ages, from one civilization to the other civilization.
You know, and another way to just look at this is that, a long time ago we came out of the jungle. We were all in the jungle, and we came out of the jungle and we started the practice of farming. Farming not only brought us all kinds of different things, but it brought us the very thing we called civilization.
And as civilization came to be, we said, “We don’t want to practice the law of the jungle.” The law of the jungle is very simple: big fish eats little fish. And that’s it! And we said, “No! We don’t want that. We don’t want that. We don’t want that in our civilization—because that won’t work in this civilization. It works in the jungle—but it won’t work in civilization.”
So we built a wall around us, and the wall separated the laws of the jungle and the law of civilization. Well, unfortunately, this wall that uses the mortar of peace, the bricks of kindness, understanding—this wall has been breached. It hasn’t been maintained. And it is falling apart. And the laws of the jungle are permeating our civilization. [Interviewer: Hmm.]
Pretty soon there is going to be no difference between civilization and the jungle. And all that transformation of going from the jungle to civilization would have been for nothing. And this is what’s happening everywhere you look. Little fish are trying to be big fish.
You look at bullying—which is such a crucial problem starting to appear in this world—and what is that bullying? Bullying is, just for a very short period of a little time, the little fish wants to experience what it is like to be the big fish. [Interviewer: Hmm!] And yet, the rule of the jungle is, you do that and you will get eaten.
So now, tell me, you are on the 16 Days of Activism tour to South Africa. Why this tour? Can you just talk us through this initiative?
Well, I have been coming to South Africa for quite a long time, and I have felt.... And the first time that I came to South Africa, it was—I was shocked. I was really shocked. I was a teenager—and I was shocked. I had not experienced this. I had heard about apartheid, but when I came, it was like, “Oh my God, this is…this is terrible!”
And I was actually asked that, you know, “You cannot have mixed meetings…that you have to have separate meetings, you know, for separate color.” And I said, “Sorry, I’m not going to do that.” And the consequence of that was that I was blacklisted!
Of course, they didn’t want to do anything to me because it would have caused a major incident—because, arresting a teenager....So I was followed everywhere I went. I was blacklisted. When I applied for my visa to come back to South Africa, it was denied. And it was only after the apartheid started to dissipate that I could start coming back to South Africa.
So, I see what was happening here. And this is horrible; this is terrible. And there’s so much that needs to be made up for because of this. [Interviewer: Hmm!] But I also see that it’s not going to happen just by lectures and talks—that people need to really understand what kindness is. That revenge is one thing—and forgiveness.... Because one of the things that I talk about is, “What is forgiveness?” [Interviewer: Mmm!]
A lot of people think forgiveness is to forgive a person’s mistake. Well, you can’t. There are things that have been done to those people that they cannot forgive. They cannot say, “Oh, okay, fine, I accept what you did.”
But forgiveness is for you to make a decision that you don’t want to still continue being hurt by the actions of that person, and you want to move on; you want to go on. You are exercising your power to move forward, rather than to try to accept the mistakes of another person.
And when we look at that forgiveness as the power to move on that you bestow upon yourself, then the forgiveness takes on a doable meaning…that, “Yes, I want to move on. I don’t want to be a victim of this any more. And I am alive; the breath comes into me—and this is an incredible blessing, and a call for me to keep going. And I will do that bidding.”
That’s lovely. And so you started on the 6th, and it’s ending on the 15th, the tour, right? [PR: Yes.] How has it been so far, from the day that you’ve covered?
I…I have to tell you, you know—I love it; I love it. Because when I tell people these things.... And what I’m really bringing to the people is fifty years of my experience. You know, I started speaking about peace when I was four years old—at nine years old I actually had to shoulder the responsibility—my father passed away.
And, whatever he was doing fell on my shoulders to carry on. [Interviewer: Hmm, mmm.] And when I bring that experience, and the “aha moment” happens for people, you have no idea how amazing that “aha moment” is. Because it’s like, I have helped light another candle. And that person now has the capability of lighting another candle.
And I…I really see that South Africa can be a shining beacon in these stormy waters, for the whole world! I mean, South Africa has something incredible—if they could do it, they have something incredible to teach the whole world. That it is not just about money; that it is not just about fame; that it is not about those things, but it is about the humanity of human beings.
The most separated come together. The most hated join hands for a better future for all of us, and our children, and our grandchildren, and the ages yet to come on this earth.
Yeah, indeed. So, you are one of three leaders to receive the International BrandLaureate Lifetime Achievement Award—of course, alongside our former president elect, President Nelson Mandela, and Hillary Clinton of the U.S. How did this come about?
Well, this person in Malaysia recognized what I had been doing. He had come, and he had heard what I had to say. And he also saw that the influence of what I was saying and the influence of what I was doing through my Peace Education Program was so powerful that he invited me to come. And, I mean, it was a surprise for me. I didn’t know I was going to get it.
But, he invited me. And he’s a wonderful person, and a great friend now, of course—we have met many times now. And he wanted to present me with this award. And so I very gladly accepted.
Lovely! And you are a man of many talents, eh? Even a successful pilot, I’m told. So, what do you enjoy doing the most? Is it music, photography? Is it art?
Well, what I enjoy doing the most is what I am doing right now—[Interviewer: Mmm!] hopefully, lighting candles. I fly because I have to get around the world—and so that’s one thing that I have to do. So wherever I go, I end up flying there. [Interviewer: Umm-hmm?] And, places like....
When do you get to sing?
I…I get to sing from my heart a song of life, [Interviewer: Uh-huh?] a song of joy, a song of certainty, a song of hope. [Interviewer: Mmm!] And, that is an incredible song.
In my spare time I really like photography; I like cooking, and I like doing art. It’s just an expression of what I sometimes feel.
So, you know, there’s many, many things but, really, what I enjoy doing is talking to people.
Thank you so much Prem, for your time. It was really lovely chatting with you. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much for having me. Thank you.
You are welcome, and bye!