On June 17, Prem Rawat was bestowed the first-ever “Key of Avalon” award by the Council of Glastonbury at a ceremony held at Glastonbury Town Hall. What follows are excerpts from his acceptance speech.
Your Worship, my Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, today is in many ways a journey back for me. Because this morning is the day I would have arrived from India. And there was so much uncertainty then that I didn’t even know if there was going to be a place where I could change.
I actually had two sets of clothes on. On the outside, I had a suit and tie. And underneath it, I had my Indian clothes on. I was happy when I found a bathroom because I could take off what was on the outside and I arrived with my Indian clothes.
There was uncertainty, “What’s going to happen?” “Would anybody even give me the time of day to listen to what I have to say?”
When I came to England, it was a shock. When I turned on the TV, you could have lifted my chin from the ground because the TV was in color. I had never seen color TV before. Only black and white. And I could not understand, how did they pull that off?
There were a lot of ideas that people had. Even today, there are a lot of ideas that people have.
I go around the world and I mention the word “peace.” And immediately, people spring to it as though they are experts at peace and know everything about it. But they don’t — not even a small pin-drop of it. The only time they have experienced peace is when they put on their earplugs.
But you will not find a mention of earplugs in any scripture, nor any prophet saying, “Oh, yeah, we all need earplugs and then we will have peace.”
Because peace isn’t just absence of noise. Peace isn’t when every little child has a smile on their face. Children can be quite ornery. I know; I have children of my own. I have grandchildren. They may decide not to smile that day, just be serious; what are you going to do?
But there is peace. And that peace is not something we will find by searching for it on the outside. That peace is inside of us. Each human being, regardless of who they are – how low, how high, how successful, how unsuccessful they are in this world – if they are alive, they have peace inside of them.
Not that long ago, I was in Zimbabwe where I had been invited by the Commissioner General of Prisons to address the inmates who were going through the Peace Education Program.
When hope is removed from a person’s life, things become so dark that you cannot make sense of what is happening. You cannot make sense of life. And yet in that moment, there is a light shining bright in the heart of every single human being.
This light, those inmates felt. Yes, nobody removed the darkness; they were still in prison. But they saw the light in their heart. They saw the light that beckons them to come forward and join the realm of something that is so exquisite – the realm of peace.
What is so special about Glastonbury? What makes it a special place? Is it because of all the things that happened there? Is that why it’s special? Or was it because it was special that all of these things happened?”
But whatever happened, it has touched people’s lives. And so far it continues to, that light continues to shine bright. And people will find that hope and peace in their lives – without changing anything! That’s the beauty of it.
When you can see the light, you don’t have to change your eyes. If you’ve been traveling in a dark, dark ocean, and all of a sudden there is a lighthouse, you don’t have to change your eyes. You don’t have to change the ship. You don’t have to join a different ocean. All you have to do is open your eyes and look, and you will see.
Those eyes, my friends, that are capable of seeing darkness are also capable of seeing light. The same human being that is capable of experiencing turmoil is also capable of experiencing peace.
We look at the sun. And especially in England, we like the warmth of the sun. But do you know that the sun can kill you? It’s called “sun poisoning.” Get too much sun – and next thing you know, you’re in the hospital, fighting for your life.
Water is so wonderful! It has the power to give life. But it also has the power to remove life.
Fifty-one years ago when I sat down on that Pyramid Stage, this is the message I wanted to share: “There is something inside of you.” And in fact, I have a poster in my office that has that exact quote: “‘There is something inside of you that will never perish. And I can show you that.’ Glastonbury.”
Is history repeating itself? Yes and no. Because a moment gone is a moment gone, and it’s gone forever. But another moment comes. And it presents something incredible.
When I came here all those years ago, I never thought I would be in this hall today, talking – the mayor graciously welcoming me. I didn’t think this was ever going to happen. But it is happening. It’s not the Glastonbury stage; it’s another kind of stage. People are listening to the message we are talking about this evening.
And who knows? Maybe somebody will hear this message and their lives will be transformed. You never know which day is your lucky day.
Could be that one day will be your lucky day where everything makes sense and something clicks, where you understand and life is no longer a series of questions with no answers, but in fact, there are more answers than questions. The day you figure that out, my friend, that is your lucky day.
When I came out on that Glastonbury stage, there were a lot of “ifs” for me! We arrived, but nobody was ready for it. Everything was brought to a halt and a chair was put out for me and I got my few words in. I said what I said. Then somebody unplugged my microphone.
To this day, I’m pursuing the same thing. The only difference is that the uncertainty I came with when I left India is now all but gone. Because now I am sure that every human being can benefit from the message of peace.
So, in a way, it’s my lucky day. And whoever can hear this message, it is their lucky day.
Testimonials from 15 People Who Attended the 1971 Glastonbury Fair