A Process of Discovery
Conference on Multiculturalism, Tolerance & Peace
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I would like to just say, it’s a great honor to be here. And it is great to be in the company of those people who are interested in peace.
Because when things happen in this world that are not conducive for us to go on, (wars, the refugee problems, the destruction of natural resources), we have to ask one question. “Why?” I know that I read in the newspapers, “We have a problem; we have a problem; we have a problem; we have a problem.”
But of course, I have to ask, “Why do we have this problem?” What’s wrong here? What’s wrong in this picture; why do we have these people who are called “refugees”—who have left their home where they were raised, their families, their assets—and they have to go somewhere else to a new land, to a new place, to be able to survive. Why? Why do we have these wars? Why do we fight?
And I know, around the world, everybody has an explanation: “Oh, we’ve been fighting for a long time, so it’s okay.” Really? That’s good enough?
I mean, can you—just do it someday when you have some time—sit down and make a list of how many things we have that just divide us. This is how we see each other—“division, division, division, division. You are from India; you are from Australia; you are from England!” Come on.
The truth of the matter is, all of us, ninety percent, ninety-nine percent of us are made out of the same thing. It’s oxygen, carbon, calcium, hydrogen, nitrogen, and phosphorus—all of us. Man, women, child, educated, non-educated, rich, poor, we’re all made out of the same thing. These are the elements we are made out of.
And as human beings, we have a desire for peace. Why? That’s very simple too. We’re very vulnerable. Peace is something we actually need. Why are we vulnerable? We don’t have claws. We don’t have claws like lions do. We don’t have those big fangs like the lions do. We are not well suited to fight—you know why?
Because our most vulnerable area (that all the other animals protect) is completely wide open. We are an open invitation, “Come and kill me.” And not only one way—“Ah, let me show you quite a few different ways that you can do it. You can try here; you can try here; you can try here; you can try here, you….”
I mean, we’re vulnerable. Peace is something we have sought out in our situation. But we have fallen victim to greed. We have forgotten our passion. We have abandoned our passion for compassion—and we have adopted a very strange logic.
When I say “peace,” people ask, (I’m sure, and they don’t say it. But I know this is going on in their head), “How do you propose—how do you propose, Mr. Rawat, to bring peace to this world? And how do you propose this? With the world in disarray, with the problems in this world, how do you propose…!”
Ah, so let me explain something to you. This is how I “propose….” Peace—is already inside every single human being. And because it is inside every single human being, nothing actually needs to be done. Nothing needs to be created—nothing! It is a process of discovery, people discovering peace within.
To have a war, (because of our vulnerability, not being very good at fighting at anything)…. I mean, if we punch too hard, we’ll break our hand—I mean, this is how bad we are at fighting.
So, what do we need, to fight? Do you know what we need, to fight? We need trillions of dollars to fight. We can’t fight! We need trillions of dollars to fight; we need armies to fight; we need machine guns to fight. And you know that to fight, everyone has to be trained? (Even if you’re going to punch somebody, you really have to be trained?)
This is how bad you are. All this idea, the logic of fighting, the logic of actually declaring a war, you have to be taught! But peace is inside of you. Always was. No teaching is required. No teaching is required. All you have to do—it’s like Socrates said: “Know thy self.” And when you get to know yourself, you understand that this peace that you are looking for is inside of you.
We are not understanding the potential of the human being. We are saying, “Oh, human beings make mistakes.” But human beings, for other human beings, have the biggest heart. They can love—and when they decide to share kindness, it’s unparalleled. Unparalleled.
In the past three interviews now, people have asked me, “You have met a lot of dignitaries. Who do you remember?” And then I tell them a little story.
The one I actually remember wasn’t a dignitary. It was this person…. And one day I was in India; I was driving in my car. And they had packed a lunch but they forgot the water. And so we had lunch—and go, “We’re very thirsty.”
So, we saw a farmer pulling water from the well in a musk. So we stopped the car; went over to him. And he asked—we asked him, “Could you please give us some water?”
I remember this man as clearly as I’m looking at you today. (This happened quite a few years ago.) He said to me—he said, “I don’t have much. But my hut is right over there. And I have some bread from yesterday and a few pieces of pickle. If you are hungry, it would be my honor to offer you this.”
Generosity—yes! This is all he had. We took the water; we had the water. We thanked him. And to this day, that has made a mark on me. And I will never forget. I’ve traveled the world many, many times; I have met a lot of people—but I don’t forget him ever. Why? Because of his kindness.
This is the level of humankindness that there can be. This is the level of a human achievement, to walk with peace. These are all possibilities—and demonstrated in this world.
This is our possibility. This is our possibility. This is our understanding; this is our moment; this is our chance. But as mankind looks at its achievement, then all I can say is that “Man’s, human being’s finest achievement will be peace.”
And that the humanity looks back—and say to each other, to say to their children, to tell them a little story, not about the three bears. But you know, to be able to say this: “Do you know, we established peace.” In perhaps the most impossible odds, “We established peace.”
The thirst for peace unquestionably crosses every single barrier there is. I have seen that. It crosses language; it crosses religion. It crosses all that long list of differences we have—it completely bypasses them. And the thirst for peace is in every human being.
Could we understand the dynamics of that effort that that baby makes, that each one of you made, by the way, by the way…? That baby once was you. And you got up, you got up and you fell! You fell—and the kindness to give you encouragement was there.
This is about us. This is about us understanding—and us making the effort, and us making it possible to have peace in our lifetimes.