Life on Your Terms
Interview with Tony Wrighton
When you meet someone at a dinner party and they say, “What do you do,” how do you answer?
Well, I talk about peace—and that’s been my endeavor since I was nine years of age; I’ve been talking to people about peace. Because I think that’s an important ingredient that we’re missing.
You know, there’s nothing in the world that sets us up to really recognize ourselves, who we are. Socrates talked about this, “Know thyself.” And yet, what is in this world...? Once in a while, you might come across Socrates, and by—only by mistake.
And then, what is the value of that? You know, what reflects in our social media; what reflects in our world that we go about every single day—that says, “Oh, by the way, did you, today, know yourself? Do you know yourself today; do you understand who you are? Do you...?”
You see the whole world in a way that you have been trained to see. “Yeah, I’ve got to wear clothes; I’ve got to wear this kind of clothing; I’ve got to do this; I’ve got to do that; I’ve got to take this with me; I’ve got to do this; I’ve got to contact this person....” But what about contacting you, you as a human being?
And a lot of times we say, “Okay, why is my world so strange sometimes?” Well, could it be that you’re looking at a map, and you’re saying, “Well, the map is good. [Tony: Ummm.] I love the map. And I’ve got where I want to be on this map marked in a big X.”
But the big question is, “Where are you on the map?” Because if you don’t know where you are in the map, that map is useless to you—because how are you going to plan your navigation to where you want to be?
So, everybody is going around on their map marking the X’s, “I want to be here; I want to be here; I want to be here!” But where are you? And who are you?
And so this is the message. Because I think that that can profoundly change the world. Because I see that change happen in people’s lives who are in prisons! Just imagine the viewpoint that they have; they’re seeing the worst of the worst of the worst of the worst, every day, every day.
And yet there is some goodness in this humanity, and each one of us. And we have to do something to bring it out. We have created a society in which, literally, the worst of us comes out without a problem—but we haven’t really created a society in which the best of us comes out.
You meet someone at a dinner party and you say, “I talk about peace.” [Prem: Yes.] And they say, “Well, well, how? And how did you arrive at this place when you talk about peace,” yeah?
Well, it’s been going on for a really long time. My first speech that I gave was when I was four. And I felt that—okay, there was a huge gathering of people... [Tony: And you were four years old?]
I was four years of age—and it was an event that my father had pulled together. And I realized that everybody was just really fragmented. Everybody was going about their own business and nobody was there. And I felt that my father’s message, (again, about peace), was very important.
So, I went out there—and I just said, “Listen, guys, you know, but we need to be all focused, because here is an opportunity that we have. We have—we are alive. And we don’t see our life....” (And I’m paraphrasing.)
“We don’t see our life from the context of birth and death, that there’s a limited amount of time that we have on the face of this earth—but there is peace inside of each one of us, and aren’t you interested in that peace; don’t you want that peace in your life?”
And then it began—so I would address a lot of audiences. And then, people got very interested. This is—and it worked for them. You know, and this is the thing; it’s building upon what works, not what doesn’t work.
So, it just has been doing that. And people have been coming—and there are no strings attached. There are no strings attached—you like it, fine; you don’t like it, fine. Even peace in your life, you don’t like it, fine. You know, you want to be out there in the war, and that’s how you see yourself, fine.
But then people do recognize—and realize. And it builds and it builds, and more people get interested, and more people get interested.
And then, I know you spoke at the first—as you started to become more established, the first Glastonbury Faire. [Prem: Yes!] Didn’t you—that was—was that 1971?
Yes, that’s—but that, that was an amazing thing. Because I—you don’t know the story behind that—I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to go, because I felt, “You know, they already have their agenda all set.”
But people just kept saying, you know, “Please go; please go; please go.” So, I started going for a drive—I just asked the person; I said, “Take me for a drive.” [Tony: Hmm.]
And I’m thinking, and I’m thinking and I’m going, “Well, you know, what am I going to say to them? They’re there to listen to music. I can’t sing—and I’m not going to play a guitar; I can’t play a guitar—so, what do I do?”
And then I realized, “Well, what you’ve always done. Put your message out—maybe somebody’s life will change. Maybe you will never know them, but their life will change. Isn’t that why you do it?”
So, I arrived there, and everybody was there: “Okay, the next song”—and all of a sudden, there was no next song. [Tony: Ah.] They brought out a chair; I sat down on it and I started addressing these people. And amazingly enough, pin-drop silence; people were actually listening.
And I am like, “Oh, okay. I’ll keep this brief. I know you want your music, but here it is. That, one, what you’re looking for is inside of you. Then there is peace, possible; peace is possible.”
And I spoke for a few minutes—I don’t even remember how long I spoke for—I was off the stage; things could begin. And for me, (and I know, for a lot of people), everything changed.
Everything—for me, it changed; it’s like, “Well, listen. You don’t have to have only those people in the audience that have absolutely said, ‘Okay, I want to listen about peace.’ [Tony: Yeah.] You know, you can have anybody.” And it’s a message that really, truly can touch people in a very beautiful way: “Keep it simple; keep it real.”
My instinct is, it’s quite hard to argue with the message—yeah, we all want more peace. It’d be quite nice, wouldn’t it? [Prem: Yeah.] So, why don’t we have more?
Well, because we are, again, we’ve got our map—and it takes a long time to come up with that map. Because everybody gives you an input, “This is what you want on this map, and this is where you want to go visit.”
And of course, once you start traversing, you realize, “Well, I’m not getting to where I’m going.” I mean, do you realize how real that is for people? You know, they go and they do this, and they do this, and they graduate, and then they find a job and everything else, and all of a sudden they’re realizing, “Is this it?”
You know, and in everything. I mean, like, dieting, for instance—I mean, I guess a lot of people can relate to the dieting. So, you start with your dieting, and you, you know, things are going really good. And then all of a sudden, the next thing you know, one, it’s not working for you—or two, you’re losing interest in it.
And you’re not following it exactly the way you should be—and somebody else is having an ice cream cone and you want one too. And things just fall apart. And so people go on one diet, to another diet, to another diet, to another diet.
Well, it’s very easy to understand it in the relationship to diets—but if that’s happening to diets, guess what else is happening in our life that’s very much like that? That we have set out, you know, made our resolution for the first of New Year and here we go.... [Tony: Umm-hmm.] And, arrrrrut, it falls apart, and it falls apart, and it falls apart.
The quest for peace also falls apart. And a lot of people start then saying.... And it’s kind of like the sour grapes, the story of the fox, you know, that couldn’t reach those grapes as the.... For a lot of people, it’s like, “Well, peace is not going to happen.” And this is the first reaction I get. [Tony: Umm.]
When I say—oh, I, you know, I was going through customs once and the guy asked me; he says, “What do you do?” I said, “I talk about peace.” He goes, “That’s not going to happen. That’s not going to happen. [Tony: Hah.] There’s so much problems in this world, there’s so much greed in this world—that the peace isn’t going to happen.”
And so I really started thinking about that. And it’s like, “Well, how did greed come about? Does it grow on trees? Does it—you know, is it naturally found in rivers or icebergs, or what?” And it’s human-created. Greed is a, very much a thing that is exercised by human beings.
So, if human beings can do it, that means they can reverse it too. And maybe there is an incentive that needs to be given.
And that’s where this message comes in. “Look, in the midst of all of your war that you are fighting (at any given time), there is something else that’s going on. There is a clock ticking—and you can do nothing about it; you can’t rewind it; you can’t pause it. And there’s a quest for peace from your heart—but you need to know yourself to find that.”
When you do big events (like you’re doing this weekend, for example), how do you encourage people to find their purpose more? Or maybe they know their purpose but it’s not actually happening for them. Are there—I mean, is there a—what format is there to the day, that you help people to kind of find that inner purpose and kind of, live their best lives?
It’s very simple, really. We just need to be reminded. Our power to forget is exceptional—and we forget. We get so caught up in this world that we forget, “Hey, by the way, you’re alive! You know?” And the being alive becomes a second-grade thing; it’s like, “Yeah, so what—and well, what have you told me, by the way, that I didn’t already know?”
Yeah, and go tell that same statement to a person who’s lying on the hospital bed taking their last breath. And they will have a totally different appreciation. I’ve done it. I’ve seen it. They’ll have a totally different appreciation—than that person, you know, whose agenda is to go to this fancy football game or fancy dinner game, or fancy something, or fancy dress party. [Tony: Umm.]
And it’s like, “Wait a minute. We do need to be reminded—especially in this world which is so confusing.” And just so much attraction out there that it’s distracting us from these fundamental things—that we need to be reminded, need to be reminded.
You know, and that’s so important. That’s so important that “peace is possible”—we need to be told every single day. [Tony: Ummm.] Whatever you practice most, you get good at it. And if that’s the way things are.... Because that’s how it happens. We, whatever we practice the most, we get good at it.
And so, look around your life—how long does it take you to get upset? So, is that what you’re practicing, getting upset? You know, and how long does it take you to just relax? Well, it’s like, “Huh-eah, ‘breathe deeply, sit down....’”
But getting anger? Getting mad? You don’t need to sit down to get mad. [Tony: Umm-hmm.] You don’t need to breathe deeply to get mad. You can get mad just like that. So, we’re practicing that. You’ve got to break the bad habits. If you don’t break the bad habits in your life, those will perpetuate, and they will shape your life and your future.
Born to Feel
Is there a trick to this life? Is there a way to live this life and not be slain by the problems?
So, now I give you my experience, fifty years.... (Fifty-one, almost approaching fifty-one in just a few days—thirty-first of July, fifty-one.) So, here it is.
And how have I come to this conclusion? Because I too have problems. And I too have tried to overcome my problems. And I too have fundamentally not succeeded in overcoming my problems. The same problem—and if you barely get over it, it changes, it morphs and becomes something else—with a totally different appearance but you know it’s exactly the same problem.
So you’re, fundamentally, you are trying to be victorious over your problems—without being victorious over the self. So you’re not victorious; you are losing—with you! You’re losing with you, but you’re trying to win everywhere else. And you’re going to fail—you’re going to fail. Why? Because the first victory you have to gain is not your problems—is you.
So, what does that look like; I mean, what...? Gaining victory over yourself, what does that look like?
It looks like this—where you understand that wall. And not the back side of that wall, but the front side of the wall. Because if you’re wondering about the back side of the wall, you will—you’ll lose, believe me.
Because people have been trying to figure that out for hundreds of thousands of years: “Where did I come from?” And then they have come to the conclusion that—you, somehow the whole world has concluded that they don’t come from here; they come from somewhere else: “Tshhhhou....”
So, this is what it looks like. You begin to realize that between this side of that wall, (the first one, the birth wall), and this side of the other wall, (the death wall), is heaven.
That’s what it looks like when you’re victorious over yourself. That is heaven—that you can feel. And that’s not what makes it heaven, (that you can feel). But what can you feel? You can feel joy. That’s what makes it heaven.
And when I came up with this title, “Born to feel”.... They asked me, you know, “What are you going to call that event?” I didn’t answer. “Aagh, we, we need, we need, we need to announce the event and we need a title. We need a theme.” “Born to feel.”
Born to feel clarity. Born to feel joy. Born to feel the Divine. Born to feel the true happiness. That’s why you went through this wall and you came onto this stage, onto this platform. And what did you do? You allowed yourself to be contaminated, “No-no-no, destiny, destiny. Oh, yeah, you know, I’m just a little puppet.”
So, where are the strings? Do you feel little strings? You want to be a puppet; you can be a puppet.
So, what is destiny? I have a definition for destiny too. Every one of you sitting in this hall, every one of those people who are not in this hall, (the 6.6-some billion people on the face of this earth), every one of them has a gift. And destiny is.... When you find your gift and pursue that gift to no end, it becomes your destiny.
That’s what destiny is. Not pre-ordained—because that would include taking away choice. And what you have, at the crux of this entire universe, on this planet Earth.... I don’t know if the sun has a choice; I don’t know. I don’t know if the moon has a choice. I don’t know if all the stars have a choice. I don’t know if rivers have a choice.
But I know you do. You as a human being, you have a choice. And you can choose. You can choose to gain victory over yourself—or you can choose to try to pursue, for the rest of your life, trying to gain victory over your problems. In one, you will never win—in one you’ve got a fair shot.
Nobody—nobody has won over their problems. And now, there are many people who think they have. Many people would like to; many people would imagine they would. But nobody has yet conquered their problems.
And it is only when you begin to understand that that is the nature of the problems—they’re not to be conquered. If they get conquered, they’re no more problems. That is their nature. They will morph to something else, to something else, to something....
Just when you get everything settled, your cat will run away. Just when you find your cat, your dog will run away. Just as you find your dog, your wife will run away. Just as you find your wife, you will run away.
On this earth, if we don’t understand what this life, what this existence is all about—if this breath is not precious to us, if you are not precious to yourself, your existence means nothing to you—then truly, believe me, my friends, this drama between the two walls is lost.
This drama is not going to be a drama; this is going to be a nightmare. (“Nightmare.” Hmm. Hmm. Gee, that could describe a lot of people’s lives: nightmare. Nightmare. Nightmare.)
One of the incredible programs I have, it’s called the “Peace Education Program.” It’s spreading like wildfire; it’s everywhere. I mean, I just got a picture of the war veterans all in their army suits, you know, with a big sign in the back, “Peace Education Program.”
So, a lot of war veterans are going through. It’s in so many prisons now. So many of the ex-guerilla members in Colombia—and so, these people are put in the, incarcerated. And what happens to them?
Well, of course, they’re very bitter. But here’s what happens. They sit there, (huh), and they blame everybody for their problems. “I’m here because of him, and because of him, because of him, because of him, because of him, because of him, because of him.”
And then when they go through the Peace Education Program, they start looking at themselves—and when they start looking at themselves, they go, “No-no-no-no-no, I’m not here because of anybody else; I’m here because of me!”
And of course, then the beautiful thing is, (this is what my message is all about), you can fix that. You can’t fix other people—but you can fix yourself. You can’t be victorious over your problems, but you can be victorious over yourself.
So then they go, “Aha! I know how to fix this—I need to change.” And then they start changing, and there is a genuine transformation. So this is how that happens.
And again, what does that look like? That looks like heaven—on earth. “Ah, uh, yeah. Somebody mentioned that a long time ago, ‘Heaven on earth.’” Where a human being is real—that you are real, real to yourself. That your life is not about lamenting your mistakes—but you see every day as powerful as the sunrise.
And do you know something about the sunrise? That on this planet Earth, the sun never stops rising—did you know that? It’s constant—and I know you know that. But doesn’t it give you goose bumps, just thinking that there is a sunrise at every single second on this earth? And there is a sunset every single second on this earth?
And there is light, and there is darkness—and it’s all here. And as powerful as that sunrise is, that you acknowledge every moment to be that powerful—the bringer of light, to be able to fill your life with light, to be able to fill your life with joy, to be able to fill your life with clarity, to be able to fill your life with those things that mean so much to you as a human being.
And that you are the source of those things, not me—not somebody sitting 60,000 feet up there, not something on the other side of the wall, but here’s the stage; here’s the drama; here’s where it plays; you are that actor. And you have to do what you have to do. And you will do it from inspiration. And do you feel inspired to be alive?
And that’s what knowing yourself is all about. That’s what knowing yourself is all about. If you don’t know yourself, you can never be thankful for anything!
And if you find yourself, (and use it backwards, okay; you can reverse-engineer this). So, if you find yourself not thankful for anything, that’s because you don’t know yourself. So, get on with the business of knowing yourself, so that you can be thankful, because gratitude feels good.
So, gratitude feels good—and you were born to? Feel. This is how you connect the two lines of “born to feel” and “feel the good.”
Being human works. To be alive works. So, that’s all we need to be. And every day, to understand that we are here, that we were born to feel, and feel we must. And what we are capable of feeling is that infinite clarity, is that joy, is that understanding.
And we have a choice. We can either feel and do those things that bring us misery—or we can choose to feel the beauty, the simplicity that lies in the heart of every single human being. This is what is real. And only accept what I am saying if it makes sense to you.
Be alive. This is your time on the stage. There is that wall; there is that wall. That’s happened—that’s due. And every step, you need to remember you were born to feel—but not just anything.
You were born to feel the ultimate. You were born to feel the Divine. Feel—feel because you were born to feel.
Bunya International Seminar, Part II
There are three things in your existence: Birth. You’re alive. And one day you have to go—death. I’m simplifying, okay? I know there are a lot more things, but so I’m simplifying: you were born; you are alive, and one day you have to go, (“ptschou”).
You had no control over when you were born. You really don’t have much control over when you’re going to go. But between those two, (the coming and the going), you do have control. Question is, “Are you?” No, but it—and the only reason why I say this is because if you are not, you should be.
Because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to say, “Ah, excuse me; I don’t want frustration in my life. Excuse me; I don’t want anger in my life. Excuse me; I want joy in my life. Excuse me; I want peace in my life. Excuse me; I want to feel good every day.”
Because if it is incumbent on other people, then I am at their mercy. Their approval makes me feel good—then I am at their mercy. And I have to do what I have to do to please them.... So that, so that they can say, “You’re doing good; you’re doing good.”
What’s really difficult about life? What’s really difficult about life? Do you know? Like a tape recorder, it doesn’t have buttons: “Pause. Stop. Rewind.”
I mean, if I missed yesterday, then I would like to pause, rewind: “Let me try this again. Please, let me try this again.” If in a moment I feel really angry, really angry, really angry—I know what’s going to happen after my anger; I’m going to feel bad. I could just pause, rewind: “Let me try this again.”
So, because there are no buttons, you are forced to live your life consciously every day—and that’s really difficult. That is really, really, really difficult. And the reason why it’s difficult—because you’re not set up for it.
Two minutes you live from your heart; two minutes and you live from here. Two minutes here; two minutes here. Two minutes here; two minutes here. Two minutes here; two minutes here. Two minutes here; two minutes here.
One minute, you have to be practical. One minute, “Ah....” One minute, “Oh my God; I’m late.” One minute, “I am so happy I’m alive.” Third minute, “Am I happy I’m late...?”
Confusion. Confusion, confusion.... And then that’s where everybody goes; everybody goes, “Oh yes, we cannot be confused. So, let’s go to a training; let’s—let’s go and read a book and let’s find one of these people like me.”
But what I will tell you is straight. I will tell you, “You don’t need to be looking at me for peace; you should be looking at you for peace.” Because your peace resides in you. My peace resides in me. I cannot give you my peace; you cannot give me your peace.
I cannot give you my breath; you cannot give me your breath. And from that time, from that one wall to the other wall, not one moment can be exchanged. It’s yours. It’s mine.
You understanding you. You understanding you! This is what Socrates said, “Know thyself,” understanding the self.
So, what I have to say is very simple: “What you are looking for is within you.” The question is, you say, “How do I look inside?” Same way you see your face. How do you see your face? If you want to see yourself, how do you see? With your eyes, you see the world. You see everybody’s face, right, with these eyes? You see everybody’s face except?—yours.
Now, if you want to see your face, what do you need? [Audience: You need a mirror.] (You got that one right.) You need a mirror! Not dependence; independence.
I am about freedom! I’m talking about independence. That’s where my message is so different. It so happens, I do come sit down in a chair, (or sometimes I’m standing by a podium); I do talk in a microphone. And that’s it—the message is entirely different. Message is about freedom. Message is about “Know thyself!” Message is, “You have the power to free you.”
When I say, “You know your world; now, know your breath,” why do I say that? Because in that life, there’s something so beautiful.
I will leave you with one last thought. And, (hmm), wisdom doesn’t all come at the same time—believe me, it sometimes comes in little pieces. So, one day I have this thought—and I’ll share it with you.
If I’m looking for Buddha.... Now, I have seen pictures of Buddha; I have seen statues of Buddha. And if I’m looking for Buddha in this world today, how should I do it? How should I do it?
Because should I be looking for somebody that looks like the statues that I have seen, the pictures that I have seen? Because if I am, I won’t find a Buddha.
But if I am looking for someone who carries the wisdom, who carries the benevolence, who carries the kindness, who carries the caring, then do you have any idea how many Buddhas I will find? Millions. Millions—because Buddha wasn’t about this; Buddha was about this. What made Buddha Buddha was not his face, but his benevolence, his caring, his sharing, his wisdom.
And that always lives. It never dies. It always lives.
A lot of people—somebody very close to them passes away; they feel sorrow—they should. But because you’ve seen that person you would know, you’re attached to a face. Stop looking for the face. Start looking for the kindness; start looking for the joy of that person; start looking for the caring of that person—and you will realize they’re still here.
Not in one, but in many—and many and many and many. This is the wisdom of life—not the wisdom of the world but the wisdom of life.
An Unopened Gift
In this life, there are many things, many issues—but there are also many gifts. And without accepting those gifts, without opening those gifts, this life would not be a life.
Human beings have a short memory. And even after the statues and the famous names, slowly but surely, surely and surely, they fade from the memory. As more and more of the past becomes irrelevant, it all starts to fade and you forget who they were. And once again, the field is ripe for the same mistakes to be played out again.
Do you know how many billions of people will work extremely hard to reach that line that says, “You are successful,” and fail? How many billions of people will dream about that arbitrary line that somebody has drawn that says, “Here is the ‘success’ line”—and they will fail, as they have in the past? Now, the question becomes, “Is that what life is—or is there something more?”
Is there a world of yours that you are unfamiliar with, your inner world in which you don’t strive for success but for happiness? In which you don’t strive for fame, but peace? In which you don’t strive for diplomas, but clarity? In which you don’t weigh and measure the accomplishments, but measure your existence by the gifts you have been already given?
Do you understand and see the value of this breath? Because this breath is the inner face of existence, so far you are concerned. So far you breathe, you are alive. Breath comes into you? All is good. Breath doesn’t come into you? All is not good.
It is the manifestation of life. No, we don’t see it that way. Then we do—when it’s too late. When it is too late! We’re lying in that bed: “The bed. The bed.” And the doctor ... is not looking optimistic.
And then the penny drops. Oh, boy, does the penny drop—and you have no idea how big that penny is when it drops. It is huge. And it drops with that “krdack, krdack, kullunk, kullunk, kuh-dunk!” And now you finally see your relationship with everything else.
Now, all of a sudden.... Because first, there is sorrow; there’s sadness—disbelief, anger, fear—at first. But now there is no point in getting angry—and you start to realize that; it’s like, powchkh, “What’s the point?” Nothing you can do about it.
And now all of a sudden, something else comes in—love. Love! You become the center of your life. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s the unopened gift! That’s the unopened gift!
Because you are not at the center of your life; everything else is. The morning you get up—the coffee you pour, and you grab your newspaper; your family is dancing around you; that “Dah, da-deh, da-deh, da-deh, dah-dah, dah, da-deh, dah, da, da-dah-dah....”
There are no “‘love you’s”; there are no “‘good morning’s”; there is just like, “So, what do you have to do today?” “Oh, well, ah-la-ah-la-ah-lah, I have to go there, yeah, you know....”
So, what do we do now? Well, we now change our strategy. That’s what we do. Because we’ve had the wrong strategy all along—we change our strategy. And what do we do? We hone in on every last drop of joy we can muster from this thing called “life.” No holds barred.
And I say to them, “Till this breath is coming into you, you are alive. And you have the license to squeeze it. So, do!” Usually, the family members are there—and I say to them, “Fill the bowl! Because that’s the only thing, the only thing you take with you. The only thing is the feeling of being full.”
And that’s why you have a heart—which lies there, an empty bowl, wishing to be filled. Wishing to be filled, filled with joy, filled with understanding. And the day you ask yourself that question, “Who am I?”—you have given yourself a gift. Because you have finally acknowledged, what? You!
And what about me? Who am I? Seventy percent water? And I can talk? Seventy percent water? And I can actually see things? Seventy percent water? And I can think? When was the last time water thinks? Does that come across the news? “We have thinking water.” And we have thinking water right here! So, who am I—this tourist that has to go one day? Who? What?
What is this life all about? Why do I want to be happy? I mean, well, what is this crazy thing? “I mean, well, I just want to be happy.” Even when I’m sad, I want to be happy. It’s not like when I’m happy, I want to be sad. (Then I’m crazy. Then I need to see a psychiatrist.)
But why is it, naturally, that when I am happy, I want to remain happy and when I am sad, I want to be happy? Clue? Sherlock Holmes, clue? What is the clue? That I am biased.
“Oh, but no human being is born with an instruction manual.” Maybe we don’t need it. Because the instruction manual is obvious.
Nobody goes to the church, nobody goes to the temple, nobody goes to the mosque to pray to God, “Too much happiness; please take it away; I can’t stand it.” Too much sadness? “Oh, please, too much sadness; take it away.” Too much happiness? Not a problem. Too much joy, not a problem. Too much clarity, not a problem.
So, if this is who you are, what have you done about it? If you are hungry, you need to eat! (Or do you need a scientific discourse?)
As you saw in that video, people come to see me—and that was a crowd of about 300,000—I’ve had more. Over 500,000 people—people could hardly hear me on the PA systems, and we had three rows of PA, (time-delayed and everything), but people in the back still couldn’t hear me.
So, what do I tell these people? I tell them, “One—you are very fortunate that you have life—gift number one.” “Umm, oh, oh, but-but it’s been so many problems; how can this be a gift?”
“Second gift: you can separate the problems from you. Gift number two. Gift number three—regardless of what happens, you can still feel contentment in your heart.”
Socrates said, “Know thyself.” Why? Why? I mean, why know yourself? Isn’t your name enough—on a, on a card? Isn’t it? Isn’t it?! But is that who you are? Somebody else had that name—and somebody else will have that name.
You! There’s a beautiful—and there are a lot of people from India here, so I’m going to say something in Hindi. So, (and I’ll translate it so nobody’ll be left out. I won’t translate it in Hindi; I’ll translate it in English; nobody will be left out.) This is about the gifts, the unopened gifts.
So, “[quotes poem in Hindi.] Within you are the magnificent gardens, magnificent jungles. And the gardener of this garden is also within you.” This is from Kabir. “[quotes poem in Hindi.] Within you are the seven seas, the seven oceans. And within you is the priceless star.” Ocean holds in it immense wealth; this is the metaphor of that immense wealth. (Within you!)
“[quotes poem in Hindi.] Within you....” (The “paras” is this mythical stone in India, that when you take this stone and touch it to metal, it’ll turn the metal into gold—the alchemist’s metal, the alchemist’s stone, the famous stone.)
“That that’s within you too, and the pearls are within you too, and the one who understands the value of these is also within you.” The appraiser is also within you. “[quotes poem in Hindi.] Within you resonates the silence. The silence. And within you springs the spring of hope, of joy, of knowledge, of wisdom.”
So, don’t underestimate me. When I say “an unopened gift,” don’t underestimate me. I am talking about the gift of all the gifts.
That peace that you seek is within you. The Divine that you seek is within you. The truth that you seek is within you. The clarity that you seek is within you.
People call Kabir a “mystic”—and that’s exactly who he is not. Like me, he’s tactile—no mystery, none whatsoever. The only problem is they don’t get him; I do. Because when I read these couplets from Kabir, you know what I say? “Yes. Yes!” Yes, my friends, these are the gifts you have in you. These are the gifts you have in you.
One more couplet of Kabir, just to put it in context: “[quotes poem in Hindi.] A drop resides in the ocean.” (Right? Many, many drops.) “[quotes in Hindi]. Everybody knows that. [quotes in Hindi.] A whole ocean is in a drop? Only a few know. [quotes in Hindi.] Only a few know.” With this, I’m going to wrap up! Because you are the drop in which the ocean resides.
Nobody understands destiny—but everybody believes it. What is destiny? Do you want to know what destiny is? I’ll tell you what destiny is. This is what destiny is: every human being has a gift. Every human being has a gift. Find your gift—and pursue it to no end. And when you do, that’s your destiny.
The Value of Knowing Yourself
Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre, Pretoria, South Africa
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to be here to talk to you. And what I have to say to you may come off as a little bit different. And the reason why it would be different—because I want to focus on you—not what you do. Not what you do—but on you. Because, who are you? What are you? First of all, you’re a human being—a human.
Now, I must preface that—most people think that human beings are no good. That’s why we have Superman, right? What created Superman? Because we don’t think human beings are worth anything.
I disagree! I disagree. We have in us good—and we have in us bad. This is how we were created. Through millions of years of evolution, this is how we are. There’s good in us; there is bad in us. What we have been given is the choice. Is the choice.
So, I’ll tell you a story. There was an encampment, and in this encampment, one day a little boy came to the chief—and said, “Chief, I have a question. And my question is, ‘Sometimes people are good. And the same people who are good, sometimes they’re bad. How can this be? I mean, either we are good or we are bad.’”
And the chief said, “No. Inside each one of us, there are two wolves—and these two wolves, one is a good wolf and one is a bad wolf. And both these wolves fight.” So, the boy thought—and he looked at the chief and he said, “Chief, which one wins?” And the chief said, “The one you feed. The one you feed gets strong.”
You like that story? [Audience: Yes.] Do you? [Audience: Yes.] You think it’s a nice story? Can I ask you a question? [Individuals: Yes.] Which wolf do you feed? [Individuals: And we have to think about that.] Which wolf do you feed? [Individuals: Which one—we thought about this.] Really? [Individuals: We thought about this, yes!]
I ask the same—I tell this story and I ask the question in front of thousands of people. Not just in prisons. People who are supposedly free—but they’re not.
Because they are incarcerated by the prison of fear, of doubt, of anger.... And they cannot break free. They cannot break free of that prison; they cannot break—the bars of fear are so strong that they cannot cut them; they cannot budge them. Doubt is so prevalent, so prevalent that they cannot even move. And this is the condition of the whole world.
You have to make a choice which wolf you are going to feed. When you become angry, which wolf did you just feed? [Individual: The bad one.] Good one or bad one? [Audience: The bad one.] When you become disappointed, which wolf did you just feed? [Individuals: The bad one.]
You know, they asked me today on the radio interview, “What are you going to say?” And I said, you know, one message is very, very simple for anybody in this world. Most of us in this world do—and then we think. Right? [Individuals: Yes.]
And that’s why you are here, thinking. Because you did—and now you’re sitting here thinking.
What you have to do—is you have to learn how to think—and then do. Are you making that habit? [Individual: We’re trying to, yes.]
You know, also, by the way—and this is not just for you. This is for the whole world; I say this to them too. Because there’s a whole world—first they do; then they think. Then they have the press conferences; then they have the debates; then they have everything else.
And what is happening in the world? What is happening in the world? People are destroying each other. Yesterday I had an event in Soweto—and I said to the people; I said, “The problem in this world, you know what the problem is?”
A few years back there was a scientist—he was an artist, scientist, and he wanted to do an experiment. So he bought a huge mirror, huge—and he put it in the jungle.
And when the gorilla came in front of the mirror, it freaked out. You know why it freaked out? Because he saw a gorilla! And this gorilla was big. This gorilla was strong. And every time this gorilla showed his teeth, so did the other one.
You know who the other gorilla was? It was him! But he could not recognize himself.
Socrates said, “Know thyself.” That’s the value of knowing yourself. When you growl, the growl you hear is of no one else but you.
So, everybody’s waiting for an angel to come—and what if I told you, “The angel has come”? And you know who that angel is? You.
I’m not talking about heaven and hell. I’m talking about now. There is—you are the angel that can save yourself.
And you know why you can save yourself—because you’re the most qualified to save yourself. Because you know exactly what’s going on, which wolf you just fed––and which wolf you have been feeding.
And the idea isn’t to beat the bad wolf. Beating the bad wolf is not going to feed the good wolf. You have to feed the good wolf, not feed the bad wolf—you don’t have to hit the bad wolf; you don’t have to beat him with a skin; you don’t have to try to skin him; you don’t have to try to bark at him—nothing.
Feed the good wolf—just, that’s all you have to do is feed the good wolf—so that that wolf can be strong.
This is your life. This is your life. You have been given this. Try giving your breath to somebody else. This is what I say: “If, if people could give their time of life to somebody else, nobody would be poor.” You know why? All the rich people would buy that—and give a lot of money for it.
But you can’t. This is yours. You can be a flower in God’s garden—a flower that looks beautiful, a flower that smells beautiful, a flower that enhances this—or you can be a weed. Which one do you want to be?
And the choices that you made got you in here. The choices you make will see you out of here—and the choices you make will keep you out of here.
I know a lot of you are very tough—and to you, it’s like, you know, somebody says something nice and you shake your head and you listen and you go.... “In here; out here,” ckchwkch! Am I wrong?
Because all your life, you have been right. It was the world that did you wrong, right? The world drove you to this, right? Well, that’s what you thought. And this is why you need to know yourself—that it has nothing to do with the world. It has something to do with you—of how you see it, how you perceive it, how you understand it.
What don’t you have? Do you not have wisdom in you? Yes, you do. Do you not have kindness in you? Yes, you do. When was the last time you exercised it? And on whom? On whom?
Your life that you have been given as a gift—why? Accept it. Give thanks to be alive. (It’s called “gratitude.”) What is gratitude? It’s not to say “thank you.” That’s something the world teaches us; I don’t know why. But they don’t teach us understanding gratitude; they just try to teach us to say just, “thank you.”
But what is gratitude? When somebody does something for you that makes you feel good—then that goodness that you feel, you take a little bit of that goodness and give it back in return. That’s gratitude.
There are three things that happen in a man’s life, (I mean, in a human being’s life). First is birth—it’s already happened. (Right? I hope. That’s why you are here.) That’s a big one. And there’s going to be another one at the end, and it’s called “death”—and it’s guaranteed. You don’t have to make an appointment. It will happen.
For millions of years, you were nothing—nothing. For millions of years, you will be nothing. This is the exception. Whilst you are alive it is the exception. Your job is to make this exception exceptional.
You want heaven? Make heaven here first. Make heaven here first! What is missing; why isn’t it heaven? Is the Divine not everywhere? Is the Divine not everywhere? Is the Divine not here? Is the Divine not in you? That’s the goodness. Ignorance is the bad wolf.
Feed knowledge; feed understanding—it’s up to you. It’s completely up to you. You have that power. Understand it. Peace is inside of you. Peace is inside of you—always has been; always will be.
Peace is not a word. Peace is a feeling. Peace comes when you understand you. Peace comes when you start feeding the good wolf. Peace comes when you understand that you are responsible for what happens in your life.
Your Real Strength
Prem meets with prisoners at Malmesbury Prison, Malmesbury, South Africa
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, it’s an honor to have this opportunity to address you. And I will make it very simple—because I know this is one place you don’t want to be at. You want out.
But you’re here. And well, how can I help you in your life so that you can understand who you are? We have schools, universities, training how to learn languages, how to learn how to speak, how to learn how to write, how to do math. But there is no education in this world in how to be you. Nobody teaches you that.
You find yourself—circumstances are against you—you find things that are not going the right way. You end up being locked up—and what do you do? You blame everybody else: “He did that; he did that; he did that; he did that....” But first of all, you are responsible for what you do.
You have in you, good—and you have in you, bad. You must understand that. How much good; how much bad? Exactly fifty percent. Not fifty-one/forty-nine—exactly half-good, half-bad. It’s up to you who you make friends with—the good or the bad. Who should you do this for? [Individual: Ourself.] Who should you do this for? For your family? [Individual: No.] Who should you do this for?
Okay, listen—you’ve got to answer this question. I’m not going forward.... [Individual: For yourself; you do it for yourself.] Okay, so one person said, “For themselves.” What about the rest of you?
Are you going to do it for yourself, or you’re going to—who are you going to do it for? [Audience: For yourself!] How can you be so confused about this? [Individuals: For yourself. For yourself!]
Has to be for you! Has to be for you—because you matter! You know why you matter? Do you have any idea why you matter? Because of other people?
Is it that all your life you have spent for other people? Compared yourself to other people, tried to win the respect of other people? And you did whatever you did for other people? Well, where are those other people? Are they with you? [Individuals: No.]
This is who you did it for—and they’re not even here! Mistake number one—when you don’t live your life for yourself, but live it for somebody else.
Who does this breath come into? You? It comes into you! Can you give a minute of your life to somebody else? [Audience: No!] If, if people could sell five minutes of their life, you think there would be anybody poor in this world? [Audience: No!] All the rich people would buy that and give them a lot of money.
But you can’t, not—you cannot even give one minute of your life. So, who are you living this life for? Life is living itself for you—and you are living it for somebody else.
When there is a hole in the pot—when there is a hole in the pot, there isn’t enough water in the ocean to fill that pot. Do you understand? [Audience: Yes.] You can put the whole ocean into it, all the seven seas—and they won’t fit in that pot because of a little hole. (This is not the size....)
What you have, you have been given. It began the day you took your first breath. What were you given that day? When you were born—and you took your first breath, what were you given; what do you think you were given—you were given an opportunity to be. To exist.
What does existence mean? What does existence mean? What good is a pot if it has a hole in it? You cannot say, “Oh, it’s not very big.” It doesn’t matter. It can be the size of a pencil and the ocean won’t fit in it. It can no longer hold anything.
You have an opportunity: you have the possibility of truly being alive—what does “alive” mean? What does “alive” mean? You have the possibility—but first, you—you, as a human being, have to be filled. And only when you are filled will you be able to help other people.
You want to be a good father? First, you have to be a good human being. You want to be a good brother? First, you have to be a good human being. And what does “good human being” mean? What does “good human being” mean? The good human being is the human being that understands what his heart is.
And what is the heart? Heart is where the courage resides; heart is where the wisdom resides; heart is where the clarity resides; heart is where the Divine resides—doesn’t need an address. (Some people don’t need an address.) Heart does not need an address. Heart just is a place that is inside of you.
And do you feel that? Do you feel that, the kindness in you? Every human being has the same amount of kindness as they have anger—as they have cruelty.
Two things are certain—the day you were born, and one day you have to go. And you can’t change that. You can’t change that—but every day between those two, you can. That’s what it means to be alive. That’s what it means to be a human being: the one who knows and understands “that every single day it’s up to you.” It’s up to you.
You look for peace? Where is peace? Yesterday a lady asked me this question, “You know, you speak of self-Knowledge. How do I get in touch with that? What do I have to do?” And I said, “That peace, that self-Knowledge is inside of you! Stop searching; start feeling.”
Peace is inside of you! And when you start to understand that you have a heart; when you start to understand that you are a human being; when you start to understand that you have this opportunity and that you are alive, you immediately are lifted from that hot, boiling soup—to where you say, what? “Thank you. Thank you; thank you for this life.”
You stop counting all the wrongs—and start counting the rights. How many rights have happened in your life—and how many wrongs have happened in your life? Do you know? Okay, let me put this in context for you.
I know there are quite a few bad things that have happened in your life—right? But every time you took a breath—that was good; that was right. It brought you life. Right? [Individual: Yes.]
So, now that you know that every breath that you took was right—how many rights have happened in your life?—and how many wrongs have happened in your life?
There have been a lot more rights in your life, and continue to go on—but are you aware? Are you understanding; are you going with it? Are you going with the right, or are you going with the wrong? Are you letting a little wrong stop all that that is right? And if that is the case, what’s going to happen?
You have to weigh the right and the wrong, good and the bad—you have to weigh. And there is a lot that is good. Embrace that. Understand that.
To understand—that for you, right now, something is keeping you alive. You don’t need to know its name—because something that is keeping you alive, and that thing that is keeping you alive is doing you a favor. Is giving you a gift.
When you receive a gift—and it is an important gift; it is a valuable gift, what do you do? Huh? [Individuals: You must treasure it. Treasure it.] Appreciate it? [Individuals: Yes.] Be thankful for it? Are you? [Individuals: Yes.]
What is the price of life? You cannot sell it; you cannot give it away. Are you appreciating it? Are you thankful for it?
These are the opportunities. This is your strength—this is your real strength. Not some fancy ideas—I’m not here representing any religion to you. I’m not here to represent any religion—no philosophy. All this I say to you is from my personal experience.