A Message of Hope
Ipswich Times Interview with Wendy Hughes
Journalist, Ipswich Times
What is different in Australia—I know you talk in prisons, and you do the PEP program, and you’ve been to some very poor countries.... But is there a need for peace in just, middle Australia, the people that are struggling to pay their bills and—is there a place for your message with them as well?
Yes, because, you know, we come in this world. There are two things that are given, one that we were born—and the other one is, one day we have to go. And the drama, trauma and everything is between those two walls. [Wendy: Umm-hmm.]
And, to me, once you understand the preciousness of life, the preciousness of every day, it only would make sense to understand, “Now, how can I take advantage of it to the max?”
Yeah. I look at the “Peace is Possible” message—[Prem: Umm.] and I saw the big artwork that’s in London. And I just think that’s such a beautiful, succinct three words, isn’t it? [Prem: Yes.] It sounds beautiful and it looks beautiful, and I imagine that everyone that sees that must go, “Ah, well, that’s hopeful. [Prem: Yeah.] That I’m glad I saw that in my day.”
But, do you really think that it is possible? Do you think that it’s—do you truly believe that we could have a peaceful planet one day?
Well, let’s take a look at that—that’s a very interesting question. Because I’ve thought about this, and people have asked me that: “Do you really think [Wendy: Umm-hmm!] peace is possible?”
So, there are things in this world that happen that make us believe that “maybe not.” But those things that make us believe “maybe not,” are they something that dropped out of the sky, or are they created by us?
And I have looked at it—and I see that “These are things that are created by us.” So that’s good news—because if they’re created by us, we can change them. [Wendy: Yeah.] And that’s where peace is possible. [Wendy: Nice.] Because the quest for peace comes from within us. [Wendy: Yeah.]
We have a history of war. We don’t examine the history of peace. [Wendy: Umm. Yeah.] But there have been longer periods of time of peace on this planet Earth than there have been of war.
Why do people focus on the negative? Yeah, how do you get everyone to slow down when our lives are all geared to be fast? And we’ve got appointments and we’ve got our phones, and everyone’s tapped into this bigger thing all the time; well, how on earth...?
Well, and what I have found—is that if we focus on you, me.... [Wendy: Umm.] Socrates, a long time ago, said, “Know thyself.” What does that mean? “Know your self.” We know our phone—do we know our selves? We know our responsibilities—but do we know our selves? We know what we should be doing—but do we know our selves?
And the thing is, you can have a lovely map—and most detailed map you can possibly imagine—but if you don’t know where you are on that map, how are you going to get wherever you want to go? [Wendy: Umm-hmm.] And that’s what knowing yourself is about. And once you start knowing yourself and understanding who you are, you start to see the relationship of everything around you.
The reality is never going to change—you were born one day, and one day you have to go. And between these two walls is this beautiful thing called “life.” And the thing is, to even understand that—you will. When you get really close to that wall, you’ll get it. [Wendy: Umm, wow, yeah, really?] Because I’ve seen that since I was a little kid.
It sounds like you had a, quite an extraordinary childhood—[PR: Yes.] that, and not many people on this planet would have experienced.
Well, at four years, I was already talking about peace to people. [Wendy: Wow.] And getting up on the stage and telling people these things....
That in itself is extraordinary. Like, well, and where did that inspiration come from?
Well, it happened.... Well, it came from within me. [Wendy: Umm-hmm?] I felt that—that there was something more than just the drama and the games and the, everything else. That everything was bigger than I could have perceived at that time. And I liked it; I liked it that it was beautiful.
You know, a lot of people can go into, “What is it that was...?” But to me, it wasn’t like I could figure out what it was.
So it was like, I loved the idea of peace—and if somebody was to ask me “Why?” I couldn’t tell them why—but I was enamored with peace. [Wendy: Umm.]
But what I was telling people is not much different than what I say today. [Wendy: Wow!] “That this is your life. [Wendy: Yeah.] You have been given an opportunity; this is a gift that you have been given. And the possibilities—of all the possibilities that are possible, one of them is that you can have peace in your life.” [Wendy: Umm.]
Because I still believe that. I mean, it’s not even a belief; I know that. I know that; I’ve experienced it.
What keeps you doing that now? You know, what keeps you getting up every day and doing this?
It’s that, it may appear very tiny, but the consequences of it are very big. When you can bring a smile to somebody’s face, (because you have the ability to), when you can cause somebody to think, when you can bring some sense of relief to a person—not everybody has that.
You know, and there are people who can sing—I can’t sing. There are people who can sing, and they can sing beautifully. And they bring something to that person. There are people who can play piano; this, magnificent—violin, magnificent. Paintings. Everybody has a gift.
Mine just happens to be—that I can bring something: contemplation, thought about peace, a reality about life.
You know, and I was—this is one of the things that I was explaining to them. It was like, “Look, there’s a rule.” And the rule is, “If you bring one lit candle and one unlit candle together”—[Wendy: Umm!] and this is the rule—“the unlit candle won’t put out the lit candle, but the lit candle will light the unlit candle.”
And, yeah. And yeah, that’s great. Umm-hmm.
Because it, that’s, [Wendy: Umm-hmm.] that’s what you have to become; you have to become a lit candle. [Wendy: Mmm.]
And so many of the inmates who are going through the Peace Education Program, then after they graduate from it, they actually end up becoming facilitators for other people.
Yeah. It’s a fact that there’s a huge population at some of those big prisons—that obviously, something’s broken somewhere that has led them to be in prison, [Prem: And yeah.] but in such great numbers. Is peace something that can solve that problem as well?
Yes, because—I think the number must be something like ninety-five percent of them say, “If we had this [Wendy: On the outside, umm....] outside, I’d not be here.” [Wendy: Yeah.]
And they plead with us, “Take this to our families.” [Wendy: Yeah.] This is the gift they want to send from prison to their families, so that they will not end up walking the same path and end up in these prisons.
Umm, umm-hmm. And how many prisons have you taken the program to now?
Well, it’s going to.... [Paul Bloomfield: Hundreds and hundreds—I mean, there’s nearly a thousand.]
Really! [PR: And, yeah!] Wow. [PB: Must be, yeah.] Umm, that’s incredible.
But it’s not just in prisons—the veterans coming from the war [Wendy: Yeah.] have been going through it. Because they come home; they’re totally devastated. [Wendy: Ummh!] You know, there is no ticker-tape parade for them.
It’s like, they realize it’s, they’re coming to a country in which people don’t even have any sense of what just, what they went through. [Wendy: Umm, mmm.] And they’re devastated. And they’re going through the Peace Education Program.
In England.... And in Zonderwater, in—I mean, in South Africa, it’s destined to go to every single prison. [Wendy: Umm.] And people see—people see the difference.
And this all got picked up by the University of San Antonio, Texas. Because in San Antonio, the Peace
Education Program was happening, and the university is very interested in monitoring all the programs. And they looked at all the programs and they looked at all the statistics, and they said, “This program has the least rate of return. What’s going on?”
So I ended up going there to San Antonio and talking to all the professors, and so on and so forth. And the professor said—and this was actually on the second trip—he said, “I get it. I think I get it. Your message is about you—and like, not about me, but about you, about the individual: ‘Know thyself.’” No other program addresses that. [Wendy: Umm-hmm!]
Because, when the inmates come, they’re blaming everybody else. [Wendy: Yeah.] “Oh, my family got me here; the judge got me here; the police got me here; the this got me here; the that got me here.” But they’re not looking at themselves.
And this program causes them to look at themselves, and as soon as they start looking at themselves, the transformations begin.
A few pennies drop.
Too many pennies drop, I think. [Wendy: Oh, but that’s amazing....] But that’s the power of it.
Yeah. [Prem: Yeah.] It’s very nice; it’s great. One more question—I was told that you like food—and a bit of a foodie?
Well, I—yes, I do. Absolutely, I do. [Wendy: Do you cook or...?] Yes, yes, I do, yes.
Really? What things do you cook?
I like to.... Well, I know a few basics, so that’s one thing—but I like to innovate, invent: “What can I do; how can I take a dish and [Wendy: Make it your own.] make it my own?” So, I’ll tell you a little story—this is a cute little story.
There’s a person in South Africa, a very dear friend of mine. And so she comes to me one day and she goes, “Prem, you’ve got to help me.” And I said, “What?” She says, “I’ve joined this club,” (it’s a cooking club), “and I don’t know anything about cooking. And I have got to submit a dish....”
So I realized what was going to happen here—that she was asking me to cook something. [Wendy: Yeah.] So I said, “Okay, I’ll make you a dish.”
So, of course, I made her the dish, and sent it to her and—she entered it with her name. [Wendy: And she won!] She won the first prize. People were eating it, [Wendy: Oh.] going, “Oh my God, you know, how, [Wendy: Wow.] and what is the recipe behind this?” And of course, she didn’t know. [Wendy: Oh, oops. Umm, funny....]
So, I—and she told me that and I said, “Well, now you have to learn how to cook yourself.”
Yeah, yeah, umm.
I think that cooking is very nice, because I think everybody should be aware of what they’re putting in their mouth. [Wendy: Yeah.] You know, and since God has given the ability to taste, “Let’s put something together that’s truly unique, that’s you—your signature, that you can do.”
Stories for Life
Author Event, Munich, Germany
All stories begin with “once upon a time.” The story that I really want to tell you also begins like this, but there is a small difference—and the difference is, “Once upon this time, there lives you.”
You have a story that you have been writing since you were born, but you haven’t read it. You are part of this story that is incredible, unbelievable. For you to be alive today means something—and it is greater than the sum of all the things you have accomplished; it is greater than your ambitions, and yet somehow we’re not even aware of what this possibility is.
To find out, to know this possibility, has to be the greatest story ever told, so far you are concerned.
Is this a story about sadness? Only if you decide to write it so. Because it is destined to be a story about success, if you let it play out. When we look back, millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of species contributed to this story.
Over billions of years of transformation, from that algae from the ocean, to making it possible to come to land, and going through all the problems of being on dry land, not being in water—we actually encompass that in this being. The position of the eyes, the position of the ears, the way our skin is, where our heart is, how the body could be—and all of this has come together to allow a story to take place.
We share nothing in common with each other except for one thing—like all stories, (like all stories, like every story), this story too has a beginning and an end. But no story is about the beginning and no story is about the end. The story is what happens from the beginning to the end.
And today we look at the world and we say, “Oh, look, look at this problem; these people are fighting.” Yes, there are people fighting. But there are a lot more people who are? Not fighting.
The rule of predators—you know the rule of predators? The rule of predators are, (or is), there don’t get to be that many predators—and very few. They get to be predators; they get to be on top of the food chain—but there are a lot more wildebeest than there are lions. There are a lot more wildebeest than there are alligators.
End of the day? Wildebeest will go on. And they will cross that river like they have, many, many times. It will happen again and again and again.
And us. Somebody asked me once—it was about three years ago, “What will happen? What will happen?” And she was a politician; she just said, “What, what will happen?” I said, “People will win.”
Because there is a lot of goodness in this world—that’s why you are here, interested in peace. People say, “We have been fighting—and fighting and fighting and fighting for a long time”—actually that is not true.
Some of the recent discoveries that have been made—most people actually opted for peace. And assimilation, when they had plenty, (to eat)—when they had plenty to eat, assimilating different societies, different people who were hungry was not a problem. We welcomed them, “Come on in.” And that’s why these cities went “Powkh!”
It’s only when the river would start to change its course, or the water became very difficult to have, where you couldn’t have irrigation, this is when people would have the wars. This is when people would have the fights.
So, when things were good, it is the nature of human beings to welcome. Because we do. Look, this is how we are. So, yes, we can know so much in our lives, but do we understand who we are? Do we understand what is the meaning of this breath?
I say this. Just recently I was in Delhi, (just before Pune, I was in Delhi)—and I did an event and there were 200,000 people at that event. And then last year, I had done an event; there were four hundred thousand people at that event. And I said to them; I said, “Do you know the meaning of this breath?” It was beautiful, just hush, shhh....
So, when you were born—when you were born in that room, as you had come out.... I know you don’t think of yourself as that, you know—there are people here I see who shave; there are people here who have a beard; who trim their beard. It takes a little bit of doing every day; they’re looking good; they’re looking smart—you all look good; you all look smart—ladies included, you know?
So, there you were, totally naked, slimy, wet—and everybody’s focus was on one thing. Not if you were a boy or you were a girl, only on one thing: “Are you breathing or not?”
Then the doctor will take a pump syringe and put it in your mouth, suck out the water—“Are you breathing—or not?” Then if that doesn’t do it, hold you upside down and “Whack.”
Now that whack is not to teach you a lesson. That whack is to jostle you into “cry.” You cry; you need to breathe. And obviously, you took that breath. You are here.
Had you not taken that breath—and if you were born in a hospital—if you had not taken that breath, guess what? You were not going home. You got to go home, courtesy...?
And the first one is amazing; it always comes in—has to. It comes in.
And all the time you’re going to be alive, that breath is going to come in, and it’s going to go out, and it’s going to come in, and it’s going to go out, and it’s going to come in. And you won’t even know how many times. And you will fall asleep and it’ll be happening. And you will do all your entertaining and it’ll be happening. And you will do your thinking and it’ll be happening.
And you will be crying and it will be happening, and you will be laughing; it will be happening—and it’ll be happening and it’ll be happening. Like a good friend, through good times and bad times, it’ll be there with you, bringing you, every step of the way, the gift of life every day.
And then?—like a good story, it will have an ending. Then there will be that time—and then the last breath you will take will not be breath in, but it’ll be the breath out.
So, somehow you share a story—and the story begins with that breath coming in, and it ends with that breath going out. And in between is the saga that you get to write every single day.
Do you want to explore of what you are all about? Then let me tell you, you have in you, the ocean of answers. And why should you know that you have this beautiful ocean of answers in you—is because, on those days when things are hot and you are tired, you can turn within and feel the cool breeze and see the clear waters of understanding of the self.
Because there will be those times; there will be those times when things are not going right. There will be those times when things are not going according to your plan; there will be those days when you don’t have enough meat—and reaching into tomorrow seems elusive. And all that you try to do, it doesn’t really look like the road you have taken goes anywhere—there will be those days.
We need to know who we are. Who we are, what this breath is, what this possibility is. To know that even though we experience our problems within us, the solutions to our problems are also within us. These, my friends, are not empty words; I stand behind them.
This book represents a small effort to convey to you again and again and again.... There are people who have never come here and ever listened to me live. And one of these gentlemen told me that he keeps my book, (I know him), keeps my book right next to his night bed stand. Something is bothering him; he just picks it up and finds an appropriate story, reads it—and it gives him some solace, gives him some comfort.
I hope that you find that comfort in this book—because in this navigation of life, on this journey of life, it’s important to live this life comfortably inside, feeling good inside, because this life deserves nothing less.
Los Angeles, USA
Gratitude is extremely important. And why is it important? I mean, of course, we all know gratitude, right? You know what gratitude is. We’ve been taught “gratitude” since we were very young—“Say ‘Thank you.’” Is that gratitude? (“Say ‘Thank you’”?)
A little kid—the mother, the father: “Say ‘Thank you.’” The unfortunate thing is that for so many of us, that’s all we know of gratitude. We don’t know any more!
And today, I’d like to open up a whole another world to you, and it’s called “the world of gratitude.” Because what does it take to feel gratitude?
First of all, gratitude is a feeling—and a feeling cannot be coerced. Either you feel it—or you don’t feel it. It’s not one of those things, “Sit down—and let me talk you into hunger.” Hunger is, either you feel hungry or you don’t feel hungry. Thirst is, either you feel thirsty or you don’t feel thirsty. Happiness is, either you feel happy or you don’t feel happy.
So, for a lot of people, when it comes to this one thing of gratitude, it’s a mystery—“What are you talking about? Yeah, of course I have gratitude; I say ‘Thank you’ all day long! When the flight attendant brings me the horrible food, I say ‘Thank you’”—and you don’t even know where it’s been.
And there are so many people who keep telling you about “recycle, recycle, recycle—and that’s good; that’s green.” And is this food recycled too? And there’s something suspicious about it because all the galleys are so close to the bathrooms. (And in India that would be a no-no—you cannot have a bathroom close to anywhere you’re preparing food.)
So, we say “Thank you.” We haven’t tasted the coffee, (and the coffee might be horrible), and we say “Thank you.”
“Have a great flight!” (How do you know? Are you a meteorologist; are you the captain?) And where is the turbulence? You know, did the captain get a good sleep last night? Is he feeling okay? Is it the copilot’s turn to fly? But “Have a good flight,” and you go “Thank you; I will.” So we think, somehow, we can just talk ourselves into gratitude, feeling thankful—but that’s not the case.
So, what would make you thankful? Is there something naturally going on inside of you that would make you thankful? Is true gratitude a head thing or a heart thing?
You’re thinking, aren’t you? I can hear you thinking; I can hear you going, “Nobody has ever asked me that question, ‘Is gratitude a heart thing or a head thing?’” Because your contact with gratitude has been a head thing—and that’s not the gratitude I’m talking about. Those are good manners. Manners has nothing to do with gratitude. Otherwise, the word “thank you....”
Say, you are in a situation which is horrible—horrible situation—and somebody gives you a glass of water—you’re not even thirsty—and he says, “Drink it.” Should you say “Thank you”? Shouldn’t you say “Thank you”? (You’re thinking again, aren’t you?) And that’s a million miles away from gratitude—has nothing to do with the situation.
It is not that you are rich, that you should be thankful, and it is not that you are poor, that you should be thankful. It is not that you are healthy, you should be thankful; it is not that you are sick, you should be thankful. It is not that you are young, you should be thankful; it is not that you are old, you should be thankful.
It is not any of these things. Gratitude happens when you realize in your life, what you have been given—innately, without requesting, without pushing a button, without making a call, without putting a request form in—so, what have you been given? You have been given life.
If you’re here and you’re listening to what I am saying—and you hear my words, obviously, you’re alive. And if you are alive, do you recognize what that means? That that is the first gift that you have been given for which you need to be thankful for.
And when you feel that life, when you feel like you are alive, you don’t have to create gratitude—the gratitude naturally flows from within you. And this is the essential gratitude—the basic, the core gratitude. The real gratitude, the true gratitude.
And without it, you cannot even begin to truly enjoy your existence. All you live in then is a peril of all these dualities, all these ideas, all these definitions which keep changing, year to year to year to year.
Today, I go around the world and people talk to me about peace and I talk to them about peace. For the life of me, one thing I have not been able to understand is, “How can it be that, well, this is an English word—it’s simple; it’s called ‘peace’—and nobody has any idea what it means?” How can that be?
But here we are, and in this world is so much crazy stuff.... “Gratitude?” Shouldn’t I be talking about how you can press an acupuncture point on your body and it completely relaxes you when you see the headlines of the newspaper? Shouldn’t I be talking about some antidote that you could use when you accidentally turn on the television and happen to just flash through a news channel?
No, because in reality, because you are alive, the most beautiful thing is happening, even with all the craziness in this world. And it can get ten times crazier. And even then, in the midst of all the craziness, there is something beautiful taking place.
And the greatest message in that, is that “Even in the middle of this craziness, there is sanity. Even in the darkness, there is light.”
There is a truth that remains defiant to all the lies that one faces in their life. That there is a power in the power of this breath, that this breath comes into you, even though you are surrounded by all those things that would steal it—defiant.
That there is a wisdom inside of you that defies all the ignorance that you may be surrounded with. There is a light inside of you that defies all the darkness around you. There is a well inside of you that is perpetually full of beautiful, clean, sweet water, and it defies all the droughts around it.
And the day you discover this well, the day you discover this wisdom, the day you discover this light, the day you discover this beauty, you will be filled with gratitude—and that will be the truest, most real gratitude there is.
Umhlobo Wenene FM Radio
Johannesburg, South Africa
Zizo and KCi Interview Prem Rawat
I’d like to know, when you go around and you teach the principles of having peace, do you think it’s important that the leaders of nations buy into the idea, so that it can filter through to the people? Or you speak more to individuals?
Well, let me just clarify one thing. [Zizo: Right.] I don’t teach and I don’t preach. [Zizo: Okay.] And that’s absolutely out of the question for me. [Zizo: Right.]
All I want to do, at most, is to say things to people that will cause them, that will evoke something in them to start thinking for themselves. [Zizo: Right.] To start understanding, “Yes, peace has always been inside of me. If I don’t feel that peace, it is because of the obstacles that I have created—not somebody else has created, [Zizo and KCi: Yeah.] I have created for myself.”
You know, distraction—you have to be attracted to a distraction. [Zizo: Ummm, umm.] Because the distraction might be doing something—but then you get attracted to that distraction. And that attraction takes you away from where you want to be attracted to. [Zizo: Umm-hmm.]
To be fundamentally sound, a building is built on a foundation. [Zizo: Right.] You don’t see the foundation; nobody decorates a foundation, because it’s buried. But the integral structure of that building—actually, the integrity of that building depends not on what you actually see—but what is that, what is [Zizo: Hidden.] the foundation.
So, what is the foundation of a human being? You know, do you want to be happy? I don’t see anybody going to any church, any temple, any God and saying, “God, I’ve had too much fun; I’m too happy. Please do something to reduce this happiness.” When we get sad, [Zizo: Right.] we do do that—we say, “This is too much sadness; I want to get rid of sadness.”
What does that tell you? That tells you that we like to be content, that we like to be happy, that we like to be in peace. We like to be in joy; we like to be in clarity. [Zizo: Right.] And we don’t like confusion. We don’t like anger; we don’t like fear; we don’t like these things. But they’re both in us, absolutely. I mean, if I may, I can tell you a little story, if that’s okay.
Once upon a time, there was a settlement, and in this settlement a lot of people were living, and there was a chief. [KCi: Umm-hmm.] And one day the chief was approached by a young kid—and he said, “Chief, I have a question. I’m confused; I have a question.” And the chief said, “What?”
He says, “Well, sometimes I see that people are good. And sometimes I see the same people who are good, they are bad. [KCi: Umm!] How can this be? I mean, either the person is good—or the person is bad. [KCi: Bad, umm-hmm.] But this is, no, well, sometimes people are good—and then, sometimes they’re bad.”
And the chief said, “That’s because there are two wolves in us, a good wolf and a bad wolf. And they’re fighting each other.” [KCi: Ummm!] So the boy thinks about it—and said, “Why do they fight?” So the chief says, “So they can have control over you; they can have supremacy over you.”
So the boy thinks about it and he says, “So, chief, tell me—which wolf is going to win?” [Zizo: Umm-hmm?] And the chief said, “The one you feed.” [Zizo: Ummm, umm.] So, we feed the bad wolf...? [KCi: Wow.] [Zizo: All the time....] The bad wolf will get strong.
And a lot of people think, “We should beat the bad wolf.” Beating the bad wolf is not going to help the good wolf. The good wolf has to be fed. Doing things to the bad wolf is not going to help anything. [Zizo: Yeah.]
And sometimes we just get caught up and it’s like, “If we could just remove the darkness from the room, there will be light, right?” [KCi: I know.] No, you know, you cannot take a bucket and try to remove the darkness—[KCi: Umm.] and then hope that there’ll be light. No, bring in the light, and the darkness will automatically go away.
So, how do I get there? Somehow, obviously, there’ll be sacrifices along the way...?
No, no sacrifices. [KCi: Umm-hmm.] Because you already have it. [KCi: Okay.]
See, there is a huge difference in trying to create peace in your life, [KCi: Umm, so?] and trying to discover peace in your life. [KCi: Okay.] And I’m talking about discovery, not creation. [KCi: Umm-hmm.] Anything that we have to create, that means that it’s not in us already. [Zizo: Umm.] But peace is in us already.
Wow, this is deep. Wow.
It’s more like finding, yes, and something that is already there.
Exactly; it’s discovery. [KCi: Okay, wow.] It is discovery, not creation.
The Happiness Factor
Prem Rawat speaking to an audience of children in Sebokeng, South Africa
I want to present to you a very simple idea—and it’s not an idea; it’s a fact. And the fact is, “From thought comes action.” When the thought is good, the action is good. When the thought is confused, the action is confused. When the thought is bad, the action is bad.
Now, bad action will not only hurt people around you, but also hurt you. That is why it is so important to have thought that is good, that is clear, that is simple, that is beautiful—so the action that is born from the thought is also beautiful, also simple, also profound.
So, what do you need to be happy? One, you need hope. Every day that you wake up in the morning, you should be excited about being alive. Are you? [Audience: Yes, yes.] Really? [Audience: Yes!] Are you sure? [Audience: Yes!] Now, really? [Individuals: Yes.] Really? [Audience: Yes!]
You are never disappointed? [Individuals: No. Yes! No. No.] Hah-hah-hah.... [Individual: That’s the problem.] That’s the problem. We are saying “yes”—(remember what I just talked about, “First, thought, then action”?) You are saying “yes,” but you’re not thinking. [Individuals: That’s right.] Because most people are buried with responsibility.
When you haven’t done your homework, do you look forward to going to school? [Individuals: No. No.] And don’t you have to wake up before you go to school? [Individual: You’re right; we do.] And so that day that you have to go to school and you haven’t done your homework, you are looking forward to going to school? [Individuals: No!]
So, how can you be hopeful? How can you be happy? You’re not. It’s like, “Eeeh-eeh-eeh, no....”
When we grow up, we don’t have homework; we have responsibilities. And when we remind ourselves of those responsibilities, we too start to lose hope.
Because we are fighting those responsibilities, fighting those responsibilities, fighting those responsibilities and they never stop—something new comes up; something new comes up; something different comes up, and it bashes us, and it beats us, and we too don’t want to get up. And so, there goes our hope.
But hope is important! Hope is important. Because without the hope, the person cannot thrive, cannot shine, cannot be happy.
We have to feel like we belong. The youth of this country and of the whole world is losing hope—they don’t feel like they belong. And when they don’t feel like they belong, sadness, fear, anger, disappointment, take the place of hope.
It isn’t just prosperity—it isn’t just fulfillment of our ideas that should bring us hope. But the reality, the reality of being alive, that is what should bring us hope. The reality of having peace in us, that should bring us hope. The courage that resides in our heart should bring us hope and understanding, every single day.
So, you need hope—and you need gratitude to be happy. [Individual: We have that.] What kind of gratitude?
Parents teach their children to say, “Thank you.” Somebody gives them something—they say, “Say ‘thank you.’” Is that right? [Audience: Yes.] And sometimes when you see a little child say “Thank you,” the child will go, “Thank-you!” You see, they are being taught manners, not the feeling of gratitude.
What is gratitude? Gratitude is when somebody does something nice for you—when somebody does something nice for you—and you feel good. And you take a little bit of that “good” that you feel, and you give it back to the person who gave you that which made you feel good; that is gratitude. That is true gratitude.
So, we teach manners, and there is nothing wrong in manners; we need to learn manners—but we need to understand what really, that “thank you” means.
And so, the heart full of gratitude, of understanding, of hope, this is what takes us closer to being happy in our lives. What else do we need to be happy? We need to know ourselves. If we don’t know who we are, how will we know what is our need? How will we know what makes us happy?
This, this is what I have come to tell you. You live with your problems every single day. [Individual: You’re right about that, yeah.] You grow up with your problems—and when you grow up, you begin to believe you too are a problem. [Individuals: You’re right about that!] But you are not a problem. You may have problems, but you are not a problem.
You are a human being, the gift of all the possible gifts—amazing gift that you receive, the gift of being alive every day. This is who you are, not your problems, not your ideas, not your disappointments. But you are a gift. And the peace that you seek is not on some mountain. But the peace that you seek is already in you, already in you.
People say—people say, “If peace is in me, how come I don’t know? If peace is in me, how come I don’t know?”
So, I ask you, do I have a handkerchief or not? [Individual: We don’t really know.] I’m asking you a simple question. I do. Do you see it? [Individuals: No, we don’t.] So, how do you know? Are you guessing? [Individual: That’s what we have to do about it.]
Watch—watch. You’re thinking now, right? “Does he have a handkerchief; doesn’t he have a handkerchief? Where is the handkerchief? What color is the handkerchief?” Right? Thinking?
Thinking-thinking, thinking-thinking, thinking-thinking, thinking, right? And you can think all night long. And you can think all day tomorrow. And you can think, and think, and think, and think, and think and you will never know.
You want to know the power of knowing? You want to see the power of knowing? Yes or no? [Audience: Yes!] This is knowing. Now you know. [Audience: Yes.] It’s white—and it’s in this pocket, right here! And, yes, I have a handkerchief. And now are you still thinking? [Audience: No.] Finished! That’s knowing.
So, everybody—“And what is peace? Where is peace? How come I don’t know?” Because you haven’t felt peace. You have to feel peace—just like this! Not think about peace. The world thinks about peace; that’s why they’ll never have peace. Because peace is not about thinking. Peace is about seeing, knowing, feeling! That’s what peace is.
So, why don’t you know? Because it is hidden. Why is it hidden? Who is hiding it? Your ignorance, your ideas—your ideas are hiding it.
Remove that, and be the human that knows. Feel, understand yourself—and you will feel peace within you. So, that is what it takes to be truly happy, to have hope, to have gratitude, to know yourself—and to not be reliant on others. To stand on your own feet.
Today, a lot of people say to me, “Oh, there are so many distractions.” And when somebody said that to me, it was on a TV interview—“There are so many distractions; there are telephones, there is iPhone, there is iPad, there are tablets; there is this; there is this; there is this”—I agreed. But then this is my nature; I have to think about that.
So, guess what Buddha says? “Don’t let your mind wander.” Well, “What?” Why is Buddha talking about “don’t let your mind wander”? What wandering—there are no iPhones; there are no smart tablets. Wait a minute; what’s going on here? You mean we have been bothered by this little thing of this mind wandering, being too busy, since the time of Buddha? And Kabir, same thing!
So, don’t be fooled. Don’t be fooled by the name of your detractors. Don’t be fooled—they have always been there, in different shape, different form, confusing you. Alienating you from whom? From yourself, from your serenity.
You, as a farmer, have become very good at harvesting your anger. (This is a loaded statement—be careful; take it for what it’s worth.) You have become very good at harvesting your anger; that also means you sow the crop of your anger. (Without sowing the crop of your anger, how are you going to harvest it?)
So, you have become very good at sowing the crop of your anger—and you have become very good at harvesting the crop of your anger. You have become very good at harvesting the crop of pain, sorrow, misery, confusion, doubt—and you do not know how to even sow the seeds of peace in your life—if you did, that’s what you would be harvesting today, and every day.
It’s a tragedy that I have to come out here and tell you this. It shouldn’t be like this. It shouldn’t be like this—at the best, it would be great for somebody to come out and say, “Isn’t life wonderful? Isn’t life great? Isn’t every day great?” And everybody agreeing. Not for an hour....
Well, but listen, just, we can sit here and talk about peace as much as you want. But then everything becomes a tool for that. What is the tool for life? What is the tool for existence? What is the tool to be alive; what is the tool to feel this amazing thing that you have called life?
Here is this universe—and, (ha-ha), and you know, I really have to tell you this. I’m using the word “universe”—I do not understand its vastness. It’s not like, and just because I’m using the word “universe,” it makes me an expert. And I know how big it is; I know where this street is and where that street is, and where this is and where that is—I don’t know.
But I know there is this, all around you. And there is this, our galaxy. And it’s all dirt! Some shiny dirt, some not so shiny dirt. Some reflective dirt, some not so reflective dirt. And then here, as though touched by magic, this dirt talks. This dirt smiles. This dirt can actually cry. And this dirt becomes so un-dirt-like—and yet it always remains dirt.
Take that one element from it, and it goes back to being that dirt. That’s the law; that’s the nature; that’s the science of it. This is not subjective stuff. This is objective; this is how it is.
And you—through it all, through your problems.... How many of you have problems? Some little, some small? Some big? Some really big? And sometimes the little ones get a little bigger? And sometimes the big ones get a little smaller? And sometimes they just rearrange themselves?
So, you came; you’re here. What have you become really good at? How do you judge yourself; how do you see yourself? “If you can cope with your problems, you’re good?” If you can’t cope with your problems, if you can’t deal with your problems? Don’t you all want to be unaffected by your problems?
How many of you want to be unaffected by your problems? [Individual: Ah-hah, that’s right.] Hmm, that’s very interesting.
So it’s like, you don’t really mind the problems—it’s okay to have the problems so far they don’t affect you, right? Is that correct? That doesn’t make sense. Just, I don’t know why, but it doesn’t make sense to.... “It’s okay to have problems, so far they don’t bother you?”
It’s like your house is full of cockroaches so far you don’t see them...? It’s okay if your toilet is plugged so far you don’t smell it? It’s okay if your soup burns so far you don’t taste the burnt taste? Wow. See, that’s a new one for me. That’s strange—don’t you think so?
Wouldn’t you rather really find out, “Do you have a problem?” Because if in reality, you don’t have a problem but you think you do, that would be really tragic, wouldn’t it? In fact, that would actually qualify you to be a little cuckoo. It would be like that joke.
So people then go from, “I am my problems; I am my problems and I am my problems”—then they find somebody quote-unquote “enlightened”—who tells them, “You are not your problems; you are not your problems.”
And then you keep repeating, “I’m not my problems; I’m not my problems; I’m not my problem—oops, I have a problem. Am I my problems or am I not my problems? Why do problems feel so real? Why do I have so many problems?” And on it goes.
The big questions start to pop up: “What am I about? What is this life about?” And then there—you think there’s a shortage of answers?
“You, in your last lifetime....” Some—there are plenty of these people too. “In your last lifetime, you did a lot of bad things. And you are now suffering. And if you don’t do good things now, straighten that out, you’re going to suffer again.”
Is that how it works? Because if this is how it works, then what is the point of anything called “enlightenment”? It’s already set. The game is already set: “This is what’s going to happen.” Then who are you? What are you imagining? What do you want in your life?
So, how is it? Is it something that’s completely different—none of this stuff, none. There is a divine everywhere—in you too—in every particle of that dust that you’re made out of. You are here; you’re alive. You have a gift—and it’s called “the breath,” and it comes into you, and it fills you—and it brings you the gift of life.
You have a brain; it can figure things out. And it’s not about problems. It’s about finding your way in this existence. It is not about circumventing obstacles.
You think that if you circumvent enough obstacles in your life, you will reach some sort of a destination—no, you won’t. You may be going around in circles, circumventing obstacles. And this is what you have become good at is circumventing obstacles.
You have actually not become good at holding a course—the course of life, the course of existence, the course of understanding, the course of joy, the course of peace, the course of having this heart full.
But people think, “Oh, you, just, just, you’re just a human being? You’re nobody. What have you—what have you achieved!?” I have achieved the breath coming into me, by the way—I’ve achieved that. Now make the rock do it. Not possible. Only a human being can have this gift of life, of understanding.
So I ask you a question. When you hear the word “peace...?” When you hear the word “peace,” do you feel peace or do you imagine peace? When you hear the word “divine,” do you feel the divine? Or do you imagine the divine?
When you hear the word “clarity”—do you imagine clarity or do you feel clarity? When you hear the word “joy,” do you feel joy—or do you imagine joy? When I say the word “love,” do you imagine love or do you feel love?
When somebody comes to me and says, “You were talking about peace; I want to experience the peace you’re talking about. I want to experience the joy you’re talking about; I want to experience the fulfillment you’re talking about,” we have to get one thing very right—you want me to fulfill your expectations?
Because if that is what you want fulfilled, I can’t do that. But there is a real peace—and it’s not about imagination. And how do you know it is real peace, because it will fulfill your hunger; it will fill your heart. Not your curiosity, not your imagination. It will fulfill your heart.
Do you know what a heart is? Do you know what a heart is? Or do you even have an imagination of your heart, and that’s what you consider the heart to be? The greatest challenge you will ever face—the greatest challenge you will ever face is to rise above your imagination and accept the reality as it is.
And that is the day you will understand what beauty is and what true beauty is. That is the day you will understand what fulfillment is. That is the day you will understand what life is. And in you, that joy, that clarity, that understanding will dance. And every time it does, every time it does, it’ll bring you a happiness you cannot even imagine.
The Timeless Breath
So, I’m here to talk to you, and today’s topic, a very interesting topic, “the timeless breath.” So, the question then becomes, is, “Like, well, does that make any sense? Is breath really timeless?”
To understand this, we have to back up—and to understand this, we have to understand, “What does breath represent to us? What does it mean?”
Breath comes into you—and you’re alive—you! And so what I want to say here is that, “Breath really represents not just exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, but it actually represents life, existence.” Now, most people cannot separate what happens in their life and existence. And maybe for a very small period of time, they get to understand it.
But it’s always quite unfortunate, because you may be lying in a hospital bed counting your last—you realized you can’t do anything—and it looks fairly imminent you’re going to go.... So now, finally, you get to separate all the things that are happening in your life, and with simply, this thing called “existence.”
And the more you understand the power of this existence, the more you will be able to shape everything around it—that that is the nucleus. Not the things that are happening around you, because those will constantly be changing; that is their nature.
What you like today, you may not like tomorrow—and that is the nature of desire. If desire does not change, it’s pointless. But it constantly changes. You buy a new TV—by the time you bring it home, plug it in, turn it on, it’s advertising a new TV—and you will desire that.
As Marcus Aurelius said, “The universe is about change; life is about understanding.”
“The most noble pleasure—the most noble pleasure is the joy of understanding”—Leonardo da Vinci. And when we can understand us.... When we can understand: “What is this breath?”
The whole universe, the existence has made it possible for you to exist. And this is more or less an exception. It’s not like, you know, every 200 light-years, there’s another system and another bunch of people or.... No, it goes on and on and on and there’s nobody around that they have found. They’ve been looking for a really, really—I mean, really long time.
This is an exception—not the rule out there. That you exist, that you are alive, that you breathe, that you think—and that you have in you the possibility of being fulfilled, what does that mean?
Do you know what is the biggest block to understanding? The biggest hurdle to understanding is the preconceived picture of satisfaction, clarity, understanding, that you carry in your head.
And so far in this life, we don’t take responsibility for “How do I feel...?” How do I feel? Right now, how do I feel? Today, how do I feel? Do I feel appreciation in my life or not—what, what in the world ever happened to a thing called “appreciation”? Pbbt, gone.
And without appreciation, there can be no gratitude. And what will take place when there is no appreciation—greed, because appreciation is the only antidote to greed. People who are greedy—that’s one thing they cannot do, is appreciate. If they start appreciating they wouldn’t be greedy.
Oh, are you familiar with the human nature? When you appreciate something, something you do, it’s really peculiar—if you’re listening to a song that you like on the radio of your car, what do you do? Turn it up. You want to share! You want to show; you want to share.
Have you gotten in touch with that part of you that wants to appreciate; have you gotten in touch with that part of you that wants to enjoy clarity in life? Have you gotten in touch with that part of you?
Have you gotten in—listen to what I’m saying—have you gotten in touch with that part of you that likes peace? Have you gotten in touch with that part of you that wants to be content? Have you gotten in touch with that part of you that deeply respects knowledge? Have you gotten in touch with that part of you that wants to express the sincerest kindness?
Have you gotten in touch with the part of you that wants to celebrate this existence? Have you gotten in touch with the part of you that wants to feel that gratitude? Have you gotten in touch with the part of you that holds these as the highest achievement of your existence?
How many human beings do you think there have been on this earth before you—and here you are. You are. What makes you different? What? Your kidneys? Your pancreas? Your knees, your ankles? What makes you different?
It’s one thing that makes you different—your understanding: “What do you understand?” That’s the only thing.
This breath is the manifestation of life for you. That power that ripples through the whole universe, comes through you in the form of breath—and it makes it possible for you to be. To be—so that you can understand.
And only then and then alone, does this breath become timeless—because your understanding, your understanding is timeless. That you have understood that this “being here” is not simply about the passage of time.
But you have reached out of this and dare to touch the timeless. The finite, (which you are), has dared to reach for the infinite. And that’s when this breath becomes timeless. That’s when this existence becomes timeless.
Embrace the one in your heart! Not in your mind—embrace the one in your heart.
You can have a modern iPhone; you can have a modern Android phone—but what you write in the SMS section or the email section or on your Twitter or on your Facebook can still come from kindness and humility. There’s not a conflict.
That in this world of paradoxes you can still have joy—but you will have to find that joy, not out there, but the joy in you; that’s it. Are you looking for kindness from the others—then look for the kindness in yourself. And if you don’t find the kindness in yourself, don’t even try looking at “in the others.”
Your potential is the potential of understanding. Understand. Understand that timeless; understand this life; understand the joy; understand this divinity that dances inside of you. Understand what it is to be human; understand what it is to be alive. Understand what it is to be in clarity; understand what it is to be swimming in the ocean of answers.
Understand—and every day, awaken to the possibility of your heart being full. That is when you begin to understand the timeless breath.