One 2 One, No. 11 – The Experience Machine

“Every human being on the face of this earth has this incredible thirst to be a better person.” —Prem Rawat

Prem Rawat:

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.”


Once upon this time there lives You.

NO. 11

Prem Rawat:

Hello, everyone. So, I’m here in a new country and I had to take everything down, set everything back up. And, you know, that took a few days just because, very hard to get parts, you know, a little part here, little part there.

Anyways, I’m here—and I want to talk to you about being a better person, (because that’s a lot of the requests that have come in); it’s, “Could you talk a little bit more about being a better person?”

So, I’d like to put it in a particular context, and the context is this: that, of course, I’m not going to tell you what it is to be a better person; you know, what exactly you need to be: “You need to have this, that, that, that”—I’m not going to do that. And the reason why I’m not going to do that is because….

And maybe the analogy that I will give you will explain why it is—that we need to have an understanding of what that means, rather than definitions and what specific things are.

So, here is the analogy—that you have a car. And of course, the car has headlights, has indicator lights, has wipers—and has a lot of these accessories, has horns, has radio. Has maybe, heater, heater fan, electric windows—a lot of these things.

So, one of the most important things that a car has is an engine—and that engine runs because of fuel. So, let’s say it’s a gasoline engine and it runs because of petrol or gas, gasoline. The car also has a battery. And the battery holds enough electrical charge for you to get in and crank the engine, try to start the engine. And provided that there is fuel, the engine will start.

And when the engine starts, it runs an alternator or a generator. And that generator has sufficient power in it to be able to power your headlights, to be able to power your wipers, to be able to power all those specific accessories—and to be able to charge the battery.

And so, after a few minutes of driving, that electricity that was taken out of the battery to start the car is then charged back up and now the car is ready to go again.

So, here’s the point of it. Say, you run out of gas; you run out of petrol, and the engine won’t start. So, of course, the consequences of that are going to be that—no headlights! If you ran the headlights, after a little while it will deplete the battery and there’s nothing there to charge that battery up.

So, eventually, well, the headlights will go away. Eventually, the indicator lights won’t work. The radio won’t work. The wiper won’t work. So all these things—the horns won’t work.

So all these things that were happening because the engine would run, (because there was gasoline)—and now that the engine doesn’t run, the battery doesn’t get charged. And there is a limited time that these particular devices will work, and far, far shorter time, provided that there was gasoline available to run the engine.

So, how does that actually apply to being a better person? So let me also take a sidetrack here, and for some of you, maybe listening to this particular broadcast, One 2 One broadcast, you may not even understand why, “Why am I talking about being a better person?”

Well, this is a story from Ramayan. And Lakshman has been wounded. Indrajit, who is one of Ravan’s sons, has wounded Lakshman. And the doctors have said that “unless there’s a specific medication, an herb, sanjivany—that unless that sanjivany is found and brought and administered to Lakshman before the sunrise, that Lakshman will die.”

Now, Ram is, of course, in dire straits over this because he’s feeling like he couldn’t protect Sita—and now, Lakshman, it looks like he might die—and this is terrible. Well, Hanuman to the rescue; always, Hanuman to the rescue. So Hanuman says, “Okay, I’ll go, I’ll go fetch it.”

So he gets a pretty good description of what this medicine is, what this herb looks like—and he takes off. And he’s there in the South—and it is in the mountains, up in the Himalayas where he will find this herb.

So he starts looking. And he can’t find it—you know, it’s just, he’s, he’s flustered too, because Lakshman is waiting for him and so on. So, he just picks up the entire mountain—and he’s going to take the whole mountain back.

And he realizes that, you know, he only has till the morning time, the sunrise—so, so that the sun won’t rise, he takes the sun and he sticks the sun under his arm. So it’s quite a sight. And there is Hanuman flying through the skies with this mountain, and chanting “Ram, Ram, Ram.”

It just so happens that he is overflying the place where Bharat has made his little cottage. (And Bharat is one of Ram’s brothers.) And this is what Bharat’s mother wanted, was Bharat to become the king and Ram to have the exile—well, Ram has been in exile—and Bharat really hasn’t seen him in a long, long time.

But he sees somebody carrying a mountain, flying through the sky and chanting “Ram, Ram, Ram,” so Bharat gets like, a little concerned—“Is this person going to hurt Ram? I mean, what’s going on here?” So he shoots an arrow and it hits Hanuman, and Hanuman, with the mountain, descends down.

So, Bharat asks him, you know, “And what, what are you doing? What is this, well…?” And so, Hanuman then explains that “This is what has happened; that Sita got stolen; that Ram has had to go to Lanka and rescue her, and this is the process that they’re in and they’re fighting. And Lakshman has gotten wounded.”

And so Bharat then realizes and he says—he introduces himself and he says, “I am, I’m his brother! I haven’t seen him, and I’m so sorry I shot you down. But tell me something; why do you follow Ram?”

And it’s a very beautiful answer, a straightforward, I think, very elegant, very to-the-point answer. And the answer is “Because,” Hanuman says, “he makes me a better person.”

And to me, that’s very elegant, very beautiful. That’s all. You know, not that “He does this, or he does this, or, or, you know, he takes away my….” Because, look—as human beings, we’re going to get confused. And if somebody undoes our confusion, we’ll then again get confused.

So, there are no guarantees of stability—that’s what Marcus Aurelius said; that, you know, “the change is inevitable; change is going to happen.” And we, we don’t like change; we don’t want change.

So, here’s the issue. And when Bharat hears this, he says, “Okay, be on your way.” And Hanuman says, you know, “You’ve wasted so much of my time; now I don’t think I’ll be able to get there in time to save Lakshman.” Bharat says, “Don’t worry—and get on my arrow and I’ll shoot an arrow and this will get you there really quickly.”

And so, just, this happens and, you know, Lakshman gets the medicine; he wakes up; everything is good. He, in fact, ends up killing Indrajit….

 So, there, the idea of “being a better person.” So then, the analogy—so you can say that a car, when everything is working; the headlights work. But now that there is no engine, then there is no charge in the battery; it’s, the headlights don’t work.

Well, you could—you could take two flashlights and put them where the headlights are. I mean, what would be the point, I don’t know. Because the car isn’t going to run. The basic objective of a car—to be able to take you from point A to point B—has temporarily been defeated. It’s not going to happen.

So you could take a radio—somebody, borrow somebody’s radio, transistor radio and put it in the car: “So, well, that, look, the radio works now. The lights work!—because I have taken two flashlights and I have taped them to where the headlights are.” You could get a blinking light and you could put that where the indicator lights are.

So, you could break down the function which happens automatically when the engine runs, when the car is healthy, when there is gasoline—and as a consequence of that, all these things work…. You could break being a better person or being a good car or being a healthy car into these specific functions: “That a healthy car will have headlights working.”

If you break the functions of the car into these particular things—and then try to take away the deficit that the lack of gasoline and the engine not running has produced—then it still doesn’t really work.

So, how does that apply to a human being? Somebody can say that “I want to be a better father. I want to be a better brother; I want to be a better mother; I want to be a better friend. I want to be a better employee; I want to be a better employer; I want to be a better government, you know, minister; I, I want to be a better citizen; I want to be a better this and a better that.

“I want to be a better cook; I want to be a better”—so we can take and break a human life down to these chunks—and say “These are the betterments that we are looking for.”

And a lot of people do that. There’s no shortage of it; there are so many quote-unquote “gurus” out there that that’s exactly what they do—“We’ll make you a better communicator. You will be able to communicate better; that’ll make you a better person.”

And then if that’s what you’re going to do, then I think you missed the point. Because what does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to be content; what does it mean to be in peace? What does it mean to have the joy in your heart?

That you have been given an experiencing machine—and that if you experience the most beautiful, that you experience the infinite that is within you—that all of those aspects on the outside will have some affect, some change. 

A lot of people are like, “Oh, yeah, anger management—I don’t want to get angry.” And yet, so much of that anger comes from fear. And so nobody is fixing the fear—but they want to fix the anger.

So then, you know, the trick becomes, every time you feel that anger coming, (which happens all too quickly)—and then it’s like, “Oh, count to two; count to three; count to four; take a sip of water; take, you know, take a gulp; take, think of this or think of the….”

So, all of a sudden, it just becomes—your life, your existence itself becomes this piecemeal. And it’s like your—you know, there’s a whole another way that these headlights should be working. And they’re meant to be working that way; that’s how the car was engineered!

But you didn’t recognize the lack of gasoline; you didn’t recognize that the engine isn’t working—and you just want the headlights to work. And so, of course, they’re not going to work, so you take two flashlights and you stick them where the headlights are and say, “Look, now we have headlights, so we’re making progress.”

That’s not progress. You have to look at what the root is. If a tree is dead and you go and staple mangoes to its branches—if a plant is dead and you take some flowers and you staple them to that plant and you say, “Well, look, it’s working. It’s happening—look, and look, look, there are flowers on the plant.” Well, flowers on the plant, yeah. But they’re stapled, not naturally there! 

So, being a better person then really is an issue that you understand what this is all about, what life is all about, what existence is all about. That you, somewhere out there as a speck of dust—and it wasn’t you; you had no personality; you did not have a name and you didn’t have a this and you didn’t have a that.

And one of the examples that I give…. And I know that at home when I read a newspaper, (and sometimes when I am traveling I read a newspaper, but most of the time, I do this electronically, so you don’t exactly come to that one page or two pages), but when you’re reading a real newspaper and you look, and there’s a whole obituary column.

And it’s like, “So-and-so is gone; so-and-so is gone; so-and-so passed away; so-and-so died.” But there is none of “So-and-so came back; so-and-so is back; so-and-so is back; so-and-so is back; so-and-so is back.”

I know—I, look, I know the idea that “That’s it” is too much! It is very, very hard to swallow that. And it’s like, always, “There’s got to be more. You know, there’s got to be more; I’m going to get another chance at this. I’m going to get another chance at it.”

Because otherwise, life will start feeling like you have wasted so much time. And so much of it goes into pacifying other people…. That you really didn’t get that one thing that you could have gotten from this life, so something was missing.

So on one hand, there is a design. And the design is exquisitely beautiful. That from that infinite, you come. So, you come from the infinite—but you’re not the infinite. But the infinite is inside of you.

And then? You’re going to go back and join the infinite again—but not as you. Everything dismantled. And why, why this little exceptional time—that you are placed in a machine, in this body—to experience? That this can experience? It can experience joy; it can experience pain.

You know, it is so easy for all of us—if painting was all about “paint by numbers.” You know, you’ve got a list: “Okay, eight, eight is purple; purple goes here; blue goes here; green goes here.” And, wow! You could paint.

And that’s the way the world describes this life: “Paint by numbers; do this; do this. You’re, now you are here. Now you are here, and now you are this; now you are that.” And off we go—trying to accumulate the list of those paints in our life, and then go, “Okay, yeah, I’m going to very accurately paint by numbers.”

And at the end of the day, if that’s all you keep doing—that after a little while, you will have a dotting of some information or some knowledge—and what that will be is that “This is no way to paint! This is no way to even learn how to paint.”

And if that is the realization of a person, that “What did I do here? I mean, okay, here I was, and—I did this and I did that, and….” But, you, you’re there; you—it’s just you!

And the understanding. The understanding—that even, where does this desire come from to be a better person? That this isn’t just a fancy that was flying across the air. That this isn’t a subtle message that somebody put out. No, every human being on the face of this earth has this incredible thirst to be a better person.

That whatever scriptures that have been written—that whatever—these beautiful people on the face of this earth put out a message. And all of these have been so that you can be a better person.

I mean, I know people kill each other over, you know, “He said this and he said this and he said this and he said that.” But it’s really all so that you can be a better person.

And to begin to have that is going to require that you take a look—of what’s really going on, have some understanding and acceptance.

I hear people saying, you know, “And, and oh, yeah, that person is gone, and, and they’re going to meet their loved ones.” The thing that recognizes the loved ones, the eyes, are here! And so, can you really take a look at what a person is without their body and recognize them? Because the body is here!

And I don’t want to make a big point of it; I know it brings a lot of people a lot of comfort. But the true comfort will come when you take a look at this realistically and realize how beautiful this is—“That I will go back to that from where I came from. And then, so far I am here in this experiencing machine, that I can experience the infinite.”

And in that process, in that process of experiencing, this is when the whole plan comes to fruition. No need to be stapling the flowers on the plant. No need to be stapling the fruit on the tree. That as a natural consequence of something being correct, of something being right, it happens. And what happens is beautiful. Because this is, this is the story of a human being. This is the story of you and me.

What do societies want? You know, are societies supposed to serve us, or are we supposed to serve the societies—I don’t think that has even been clarified yet. And sometimes the society says “No, no, no, serve us. Serve me”—the society. And sometimes people say, “No, no, no, I want to be served by the society.”

And here we live! And today, it is very, very obvious. One thing that is very obvious is that this whole structure can very quickly break down—of what we think is our foundation, what we think is so ultra-important, so quickly can break down.

So, understanding that being that “better person” is in fact, a very beautiful, simple, and a profound thing. That that betterment that you’re actually looking for is inside of you. That indeed, if those headlights are not working; if the wipers are not working; if the indicator lights are not working; if the horn is not working, that this a consequence of something not being right.

And all this will be correct; all this will be right when that one fundamental thing is happening—when that gasoline is present; that engine is working; the alternator is doing its job; the electricity is present; the electricity is being supplied—you lay your hand on the steering wheel in the middle or in the corners and the horn goes off and it all works.

That all of these things, the compartmentalization of “a better human being” is not the way to even become a better human being. Because these are just the consequences of the things.

And every mother knows that. That when the child, when the baby is hungry, the baby might cry. You want to satisfy that baby; you want that baby not to cry? Very simple: feed it. Don’t give it a lecture. Feed it. And when the baby is full, when the baby is satisfied, baby will automatically stop crying.

If something ails the baby—I, I know, well, I have seen mothers looking for, you know, “What’s wrong; what’s wrong?”

And, you know, they go—they will sometimes, will look at, “Under the diaper; is that okay, and there’s, the socks okay, and the clothes are okay and everything is okay?” And then, “Oh, maybe you’re still hungry.” Because they know that when whatever ails that baby has been satisfied, that it will go to its state of being content.

And that’s, to me, in a nutshell, what it is about. And you have to really backtrack on this; you have to look at the whole picture, not just one part of the picture.

Because so many people, you know, they would, they’ll call me up or they’ll send me a question, “You know, my boss doesn’t like me, yeah….” I had that question one time. And the issue really becomes, it’s not about the boss; it’s about you; do you like yourself? Because you liking yourself—with humility, with humility—then the boss has no option except to like you.

But when you feel that you are missing something, that something is wrong, then that’s going to propagate; that’s going to go out. And it isn’t just, you know, that “You’ve got to fix this and you’ve got to fix this, and you’ve got to fix this, and you’ve got to fix this.” It isn’t just about that. But it really is about something within you.

And when that is full, when you have that contentment…. When, (hah-hah), when you are doing what you are meant to be doing—experiencing the joy, experiencing the beauty, experiencing the peace in your life—then all that is put together right. And life takes on a different meaning.

And there are people who are like, “I don’t want to have anything to do with this world, and I’m going to go and become a monastic,” and they go and find a remote place and live there; there are people who live in caves….

So, but the thing that has the problem is in you! The solution is in you and the problem is in you. And unless you put it together, put it, put it right, it’s not going to change. It’s not going to change.

So, you really want that to happen—that you become a better person…. Not the best person. Interesting, right? Not the best person but “better person.” To always take that next step, and always take that next step, and always take that next step. The deeper that understanding gets, more gratitude that is in this heart, the yearning for all this will be there.

So, what does it mean to be a better person, I’m not going to tell you that. But I can tell you, very simply, that when all is well, being a better person will happen naturally, automatically.

So, take care of yourselves. And I will see you soon.

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