The inspiring speaker and writer born in India, visited Madrid to present Hear Yourself, a book in which he stresses that the peace and well-being you are looking for are inside of you. More than a thousand people filled the Calderon Theatre in Madrid to listen to Prem Rawat's peaceful message.
“We leave filled with human divinity, so spread it through the streets” said Anne Igartiburu with sparkling eyes and a broad smile, while on the stage of Calderon Theatre, the venue chosen to welcome the writer in Spain. The warm welcome given by the expectant audience, (who had purchased all the tickets for the event in approximately 3 minutes), moved the Basque presenter, who confessed before the auditorium to being a little nervous regarding the interview.
“Despite experience, one is not used to being before such an inspiring person. I have never seen anything like it. Book launches normally have a total attendance of 12 including the journalists,” she joked in the Hear Yourself event. This is his second book (published by Aguilar, 360 pages, 17 Euros); in 2018 the same author presented Splitting the Arrow in Caja Mágica before an audience of 3,000 people.
In this new work, the author delves into the understanding of inner peace, and what connecting to it means in our lives.
In this brief yet intense visit to the capital, TELVA has had the opportunity to chat with this man, who has a metaphor for each situation, and who does not align himself with any political party or religion.
“I am a human being that speaks from the heart. Peace is inside of us, not in things. It is people who create war. Practice peace, and peace will be the greatest achievement of humanity”.
Question: You were a talented speaker precociously. Encouraged by your father (Sri Hans Ji Maharaj), you began to address audiences on the topic of peace when you were only four years old. What memories do you have of him? And what is the most important teaching he imparted on you?
Answer: I was very young; most of the time I would fall asleep while listening. I believe his most important legacy was that peace is inside everybody. He always said we all have to look inside. I have shared these memories in this book.
Question: The Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg is currently one of the youngest leaders. Are you familiar with her message? Do you think she is a good example and model for youth?
Answer: She's fantastic; she's very powerful and strong. I have heard her message on television, and I definitely believe we need more leaders in the world who are not afraid to tell the truth. We have to wake up from this sleep of greed we are in, stop buying and buying things without taking into consideration the disastrous consequences for the environment. It is essential for the future.
Question: You take part in conferences that are translated into 75 languages; you are invited to universities and attend prison and business forums; you travel the world; you write -- and on top of that, you are a pilot with more than 14,000 hours of flight time. How is a day in the life of such an international peace ambassador?
Answer: When I get up in the morning, I hope that my day will be nice and that time will be well spent. Because I understand that this day is never going to come back again. This is the message that I want to share. Today is important because we do not know how many more ‘todays’ we will have. It may not return, so we should enjoy it.
Question: In just a few minutes all the tickets for your book launch event were sold out. Why do you think your message reaches people so deeply?
Answer: It comes from my heart and it is for their heart. I try not to get into politics; I help them enjoy their existence. So, the time that we spend here is quality time.
Question: You are a hero for many people. Does it make you feel uncomfortable to be a guru? Who do you admire and what messages inspire you?
Answer: Idols, philosophers or heroes can confuse and mislead. The important thing is that you be your own leader. We should figure out the world by ourselves. My father always pointed out that I should focus on me, that I should be the source of my own inspiration. You are the angel that you have always been waiting for.
Question: Your book is entitled Hear Yourself. Can you give us some tools to do so?
Answer: The first step to opening that door is seeing ourselves as being able to achieve peace. If we do not become an active part of that equation, we will go to a mountain or a monastery to find happiness -- though in truth, we ought to realize that the happiness that we are searching for outside is in us, inside of us.
Question: What do you mean when you say that people are at war with themselves?
Answer: It may seem like wars are among people, but the first war is ours; it is a war with ourselves. If we do not stop this, we will be at war with everything. It's like a fire; it will reignite if it is not put out completely. This is what happens in this world. The Peace Education Program that I have set up for prisons and universities is proof of this. When you speak with an inmate, they blame the judge, the system, the police... We try to help them look at themselves. That is our power. When you can change this, it is a wonderful power.
Question: You use social media to spread your message, and it's a very interesting tool because it reaches many everywhere in the world. Nonetheless, don't you think that technology is dehumanizing? We seem to be focused on sharing a photograph of an event, rather than on enjoying it.
Answer: The positive thing is when we rule technology, not the other way around. If technology rules you, it is impossible to manage. We have to use technology to our benefit. In fact, the internet was conceived for good purposes: to share information, research, studies; -- not to criticize or push people to commit suicide or towards negative things.
Question: What message would you like to reach people?
Answer: ‘All the good that you are looking for is inside of you.’ This is a message that is repeated throughout this book. We have an invaluable gift: life. It should fill our hearts with gratitude. What is important is to love our family and enjoy the little things. Not love everybody else and forget who we have next to us. Sometimes we say good morning to the world on social media, and do not say it to our own mother.
Question: What is the message that touched you the most from a person that went to one of your conferences or read one of your books?
Answer: When I visit prisons, they say ‘thank you, because you have put me in touch with myself’.
Question: You do not talk about politics. Yet, what is your opinion regarding the United States -- a superpower -- having just announced their new 750-billion-dollar defence budget?
Answer: It is as simple as manufacturing a glass and wanting the whole world to buy it. We want there to be death so we can sell more weapons. If we focus on that, we cease to care for human beings and their basic needs. Governments should represent people, yet countries do not focus on investing their money in preventing death by hunger. We are ready to travel to the moon, (and by saying this, I do not mean technology is a bad thing), but are not ready to take care of people and their basic needs. We must change that mentality, so we no longer earmark funds for weapons and can avoid the vicious cycle. It is important that we be reminded of this. United States has a budget to build walls and separate families, -- and we forget who we are.
Question: Do you believe that evil and toxicity exist? Have we stopped empathizing?
Answer: We constantly forget about our humanity. When a child falls, the mother might tell it off, yet at the same time, also gives it love. We have forgotten to understand and pay attention to other -- instead we use threats and fear. We need empathy. Understanding others is absolutely necessary.
Question: The desire to improve ourselves that we have in the New Year, why do we forget it after a couple of days?
Answer: Do you want to conquer the world? The strength that you are looking for is in you. The good that you are looking for is in you. The joy you are looking for is in you. We buy self-help books because we think they make us cool, but we do not know what to do with them.
Question: In Spain, there is a self-help literature boom, millions in turnover and bookshelves filled with best-sellers. Are we not creating a new religion with the message of ‘love yourself’ everywhere? Are we forgetting the rest and feeding our ego?
Answer: What you say is true and very interesting. If you think about bottled water – we all drink it now -- it began to be fashionable because it appeared in advertisements and drinking from them was cool. Self-help books are as cool now, as having the latest smartphone. We buy self-help books because we think they make us cool, but we do not know what to do with them. We place them on shelves, hardly reading them. I do not label this book as a self-help book. I want it to be a guide for you to reach your heart, because what you are looking for is inside of you. Socrates said it. We have been trying to know ourselves for a long time!
Question: Why do you think hate speech is so attractive nowadays, when there is so much information available?
Answer: People do not face the consequences of their actions! In the olden days, when you insulted a person, they could hit you back. Now, - with technology and social media, - you can insult thousands of people and not feel the consequences. It is misuse of technology. If you cannot add anything positive, at least, do not hurt people; stay out of it. We have to empathize and start listening to others again.
Question: We do not know our neighbours; we do not give up our seat for a pregnant woman on the Underground; we walk by a beggar without looking. Why have cities become so uninhabitable?
Answer: Unfortunately, humans are becoming robots. We have two eyes that were made to look before crossing the street, yet we have them focused on the smartphone and end up walking into a lamp - post. We use our ears to listen to music, instead of for analyzing where the car that could run us over is coming from. We are distancing ourselves more and more from who we are. We no longer focus on love, or on helping our neighbours. This distance dehumanizes us and has very negative consequences.
Question: Why is it so important to know yourself?
Answer: So that all these problems can be fixed.
The original article in Spanish can be found here.