INNER JOURNEY: A "Spirited" Conversation About Self Discovery
Burt Wolf & Prem Rawat
During 2004 and early 2005 Prem Rawat was "interviewed" by Burt Wolf, an obscure TV presenter based in Seattle. At that time the resultant DVD created by TPRF represents the latest attempt by Prem Rawat to garner as much respectability as possible by trying to associate himself with public figures, albeit minor public figures. One presumes that followers of Prem Rawat were able to convince Burt Wolf to provide his talking head to allow Rawat to present himself as depicted in the interview by paying him a fee over and above his usual earnings. The questions appear to have been written by followers of Prem Rawat.
Q: A person in your position will be described or defined by many people. How would you describe yourself?
PR: I'm me. I am a human being. Many things have been said about me. Many of these things have come from people's own emotions, good or bad. I'm proud to be a human being. I am very happy that I have this life. I am also happy that I can feel joy and pain like everyone else. I'm happy being me. Some people would love to put labels on me, but I am just me.
Q: What motivates you to do this? Why are you spreading this message?
PR: I have been given a gift. I have had this gift since I was very young. I used to speak before my father would come out to begin his talks. Other times, my father would ask me to get up and speak, and as he looked at me he would become very, very happy. This gift has been there for a long time.
Q: What qualifies you to be this messenger, to deliver this?
PR: What qualifies me? The heart. The people who listen. They're the ones. If I'm able to deliver, then I'm qualified to deliver.
Q: What solution or help or hope do you bring?
PR: We don't need to be in dire straits to need to feel hope. On a perfectly beautiful, sunny, clear day when everything is going just right, you can still use hope. That we are able to be content within is the most hopeful message there is. That we can find that one thing the heart has searched for, for so long, is a very hopeful message. That's the message I bring. And that brings people hope. That is what is important for all of us: that hope, that idea of self-fulfillment, that idea of being able to have Self-Knowledge in one's life.
Q: What is your role in this process?
PR: I am here to help people along as much as I can. I give my message that people can listen to or read, I show these techniques, and I am here to provide inspiration and guidance.
Q: It is a very human impulse to combine the message with the messenger. With Self-Knowledge, what is the difference between the message and the messenger?
PR: My analogy has always been: someone points to the moon with their finger and says, "Look how beautiful the moon is." And everyone looks at the finger and forgets about the moon. Follow the finger. Look where it's pointing, and move on to the moon and appreciate its beauty. When the messenger tries to make himself more than the message, he's no longer a messenger. A messenger is a beautiful thing, but the message is far more important than he or she is. It is the message that makes the messenger a messenger, not the messenger that makes the message.
Q: Philosophers from Socrates to Schopenhauer have been saying, "Look within." Are you a philosopher?
PR: I'd like to be far more practical than that. I am not just saying, "I think what we are looking for is within inside of us. I think we will find it within." What I am saying is that I can put you in touch with the simple beauty and reality that is inside you. I have the means to do so.
Q: Many people offer messages of hope and inspiration. What do you offer that is different?
PR: It is not just a question of a message, but of actual experience. Through Self-Knowledge one can get in touch with that place within. I don't just say, "Everything is wonderful." I show a way to be able to appreciate every breath. I'm not just talking about thirst. I'm talking about a way of fulfilling that thirst, once the thirst has been discovered. And I give the water, too, if you feel thirsty enough. Self-Knowledge is what I give to people. That is what is remarkably different about my message. It is not just words. There is something more. There is an experience to be had, a feeling to be had within. And I offer that, as well.
Q: Can you describe this experience in ways that a person who has not had it can understand it?
PR: It's just like the fulfillment of the thirst. All you can say is, "Ahhhhh. Beautiful, incredible." But it is something you have to feel for yourself. It's a feeling. I could say it is like a dream of a thousand nights that is fulfilled. But that doesn't mean anything because, unless you have felt it, you don't know what I'm talking about.
Self-Knowledge makes it possible to go within and feel your sanctuary, your inner beauty, to hear the silence of each breath, be in the most silent of places, feel life pulsing through you where quietness and noise become one, where joy comes from. And then a smile comes because something is fulfilled, because the thirst has been quenched.
Q: This sounds like what meditation claims to offer people. Is Self-Knowledge the same thing as meditation?
PR: You could say this is the meditation, but it's not meditation because it's so far beyond that. It is not about trying to control something. It is not about trying to conquer something. It is appreciating something. And there is a big difference in that. So, it is like meditation and it is very unlike meditation.
Q: Why would anyone want to seek Self-Knowledge?
PR: In every person, there is a thirst. Whether we have discovered it or not remains another issue. But there is a thirst. And it is, in fact, that thirst that causes people to search for Self Knowledge.
Q: Can you describe what you mean by thirst? It is one of those elusive concepts that may be difficult for some people to grasp.
PR: If you start to analyze it, it becomes elusive. But thirst is fundamental. Everyone has felt a thirst for water. When you feel that thirst for water, there is no research to be done. You want to find it and drink it. The beauty of this thirst is that the water people are looking for is inside of them.
Q: What kinds of people are most receptive to your message?
PR: People who are truly free. Free in what they think. People who are encased in concepts and ideas about how everything should be and how everything works have a much more difficult time understanding what I'm talking about. People who have a fear of listening to other people will not be able to understand my message. But those who feel freedom and feel at ease with themselves are the ones who are able to come and listen to me.
Q: How does one best prepare for receiving Self-Knowledge?
PR: Become simple. Become who you are. Don't come with your curiosity. Just say, "Here's something that has something to do with me. It is already within me." Start accepting that life is a gift. Start accepting that every breath does hold a tremendous amount of joy. Feel it. Once you begin to feel, you're well on your way to preparing yourself to receive Self-Knowledge.
Q: Does Self-Knowledge require an effort?
PR: It does. To say: "Yes, I take the responsibility for this breath. I take the responsibility for enjoying every single breath," takes an effort. That effort is sometimes more challenging than climbing Mt. Everest or trying to find the lowest point on the ocean floor or the furthest point in outer space. It's a challenge. And it's wonderful.
Q: I realize that people are different, but how long does it usually take people to prepare to receive Self Knowledge?
PR: Everyone has their own journey. It is in your time that, like a fruit, you will ripen. It is in your time, like a seed, you will sprout. It is about you. This is your journey. There have been some who have known right away: "This is what I'm looking for." And I know of one person who came a long time ago to hear what I had to say. It didn't impress him too much, and he went on his way. Then recently, one of my videos was playing on a cable channel he was watching, and he said, "I know this man." He listened again to what I had to say, and this time he wanted to pursue it.
Everyone has their own journey. I push no one. I'd rather have everyone proceed at their own pace and enjoy the process of discovery.
Q: What do you recommend to people who are not quite sure? What advice would you give them?
PR: Listen to the message some more. It is a very good sounding board to see where your thirst is, where you are, and what you want in your life.
Q: When a person says, "I'm ready to receive Self-Knowledge," how do you know that person is truly ready?
PR: No one can know if a person is truly ready. I have to trust them. A lot of people come to me and say, "Give it to me now." And I say, "No. Go and think about it. Don't jump into this. Feel the thirst and live with the thirst for a little while. See what it's like. When you feel from your heart—not out of curiosity, but from your heart—that the thirst is very real, then ask to receive this gift." At that point, I just have to trust the person. They have to trust me and I have to trust them. From my side, I am really hoping that the person is going to take full advantage of this gift and practice it, appreciate their life and appreciate every breath. I am hoping that they will let the potential of being alive—all of it—come true in this existence, in this lifetime. It is about enjoying. That is what I am hoping they will do, and that is what I trust they will do. It's based on trust.
Q: Is there any kind of self-appraisal that one should go through to have a better understanding of how thirsty one really is?
PR: Just be sincere and the answer will be there. Life requires sincerity. Knowledge requires sincerity. Joy requires sincerity.
Q: Is there some sort of required time of quiet in order to receive Self-Knowledge?
PR: You just need to be free from distractions so that when the techniques are being taught, you can learn them. And to practice, then, yes, you need to have about an hour available every day when you can sit down quietly to do that.
Q: What is it like when someone learns these techniques of Self-Knowledge?
PR: I sincerely hope that it's wonderful, that it's nice for them. You know, they're very simple techniques. You don't have to be an athlete to do them by any stretch of the imagination. They're very, very simple techniques. And the more people use them, the more they enjoy them.
Q: What happens after a person receives the techniques?
PR: They can practice, enjoy, grow in this life, keep in touch, and take full advantage of what is being offered.
Q: If you don't practice these techniques every day, do you start to lose the experience? Is it something that needs to be honed on a regular basis?
PR: The day you didn't drink water, you stayed thirsty. The more you practice, the more you can be in touch with yourself. It's a question of enjoying the place that is within inside of you. You carry that with you wherever you go. Practicing the techniques is a very enjoyable time to go within inside and feel that tranquility, that beauty.
Q: You've had this Knowledge for a long time. What is it like to enjoy Self-Knowledge to its fullest?
PR: I can't really answer that question because I haven't reached its full potential. Every day that I am alive, a new door opens and a new potential is presented. It is truly infinite. I haven't reached the pinnacle of it. Thank heaven I haven't.
Conversation with Prem Rawat about peace and success
A person in your position will be described or defined by many people. How would you describe yourself?
I'm me. I am a human being. Many things have been said about me. Many of these things have come from people's own emotions, good or bad. I'm proud to be a human being. I am very happy that I have this life. I'm happy being me. Some people would love to put labels on me, but I am just me.
What solution or help or hope do you bring?
That we are able to be content within is the most hopeful message there is. That we can find the one thing the heart has searched for, for so long, is a very hopeful message. This is the message I bring, and it brings people hope. This is what is important for all of us: hope, self-fulfillment, being able to have contentment in one's life. We don't need to be in dire straits to need to feel hope. On a perfectly beautiful, sunny, clear day when everything is going just right, you can still use hope.
What is unique about your message?
Some teachers say, "Let's see what you can accomplish. How can we make you a success?" I focus much more on the person. Rather than show people what they could do, I say, "You have been given the gift of life. You have been given a treasure within you. Why don't you address your own treasure? Why don't you address your innermost feeling?"
What are your needs? Not the needs of society, but your needs? What is your aspiration? There is a fundamental aspiration true to every human being regardless of who they are, where they live, what they do, or what they think. Every being has an innate desire to be content. What I offer is a practical way to address that deepest desire common to us all. It is an individual process for personal success in enjoying life, independent of circumstances.
What qualifies you to be this messenger, to deliver this?What qualifies me?
The heart. The people who listen. They're the ones. If I'm able to deliver, then I'm qualified to deliver.
What motivates you to do this? Why are you spreading this message?
I have been given a gift. I have had this gift since I was very young. I used to speak before my father would come out to begin his talks. Other times, my father would ask me to get up and speak, and as he looked at me, he would become very, very happy. This gift has been there for a long time.
You are known as a leading voice for peace. What do you mean by "peace"?
Peace is innate. It is within all of us. But before we can actually feel peace, we need to feel the thirst for peace. This is something we can do–open ourselves to feeling that thirst. Once that thirst is felt, it becomes simple, and it becomes easy to understand what peace is. Otherwise, my words are just like many words we have used for centuries about what peace is and should be. Peace can only be understood once you have understood the thirst that is already within inside of you.
Can you describe what you mean by thirst?
It is one of those elusive concepts that may be difficult for some people to grasp.If you start to analyze it, it becomes elusive. But thirst is fundamental. Everyone has felt a thirst for water. When you feel the thirst for water, there is no research to be done. You want to find it and drink it. The beauty of this thirst is that the water people are looking for is inside of them.
How do I know when I've found peace?
It is like drinking that glass of water and quenching your thirst. First you need to feel that thirst from within. Slow down a little bit. Try to experience the call from within you. What is the cry of the heart? What is the request of the heart? What is within inside of you that has been knocking again and again and again? Listen to that knock.
Does a person need to renounce this world to find peace within?
There are people who actually say: "Go and live on some mountain, in some remote place where you're not distracted." I don't think it works like that. Your commitment to listening to the inner voice can be done in the noisiest city in the world; it has nothing to do with what goes on outside. The two have nothing to do with each other. The focus that you need in your life within is not going to compromise the focus on the outside. The outside focus is very loud, clear, colorful. It will always distract you–it'll be there. The inner focus is much more silent, much more quiet. It is much more simple. And the attention needs to be paid to the inner focus.
What gets in most people's way?
Themselves–preconceived ideas of how this should be. You are you. You are so different from everyone else in this world that you would be shocked if you really sat down and started to look at that. You are such an individual. That is hard to imagine because you want to be like somebody else: "I want to be like that person." Your path, your smile, your understanding, your ideas, your way of looking at things are unique to you. It is the same for everyone, and yet, it is so unique and so different for each person.
Can we count on people finding enough inner peace to create world peace?
What other choice do we have? All the institutions in the world are not able to bring peace. Peace starts not with governments or countries–it starts with individuals. Peace has to come from within people. It has to be people who bring that peace. Peace is a wonderful, wonderful ideal to have. As human beings, with all our intelligence, with all our technology, with all our ambitions, this is one ambition we should have–and always have. It is realistic. It is as real as every person on the face of this earth crying out for it. Somewhere there is a voice–maybe that voice has been smothered–but that voice is saying, "Peace. Peace now."
Does finding peace within mean that problems go away?
Finding peace means that you feel beauty inside of you, that you feel joy inside of you. It has nothing to do with problems. Problems will come; problems will go. Remember, you are more important than your problems. You are more important than the sum of all the things that are happening around you.
Would you say, then, that self-discovery may be a luxury that a person can afford only after they have secured all of life's basic necessities?
That certainly would not be my observation. I have seen people from one end of the spectrum to the other. It doesn't really matter what you are doing on the outside, you can always have inner peace–regardless of where you are on the ladder of success. I have seen people who are very poor, and I have seen people who are very rich; I have seen people who have retired and people who are just starting out. Each one of them has the potential to be fulfilled. You don't have to wait till you have taken care of all those necessities because, in a way, you will never end up taking care of them. There will always be a new necessity, a different kind of necessity. So to feel inner contentment whenever you can is the best avenue to take.
Most people lead very busy lives. Does finding this inner peace and beauty take a lot of time and a special environment?
No, it takes neither a special environment nor a lot of time. What it takes is a lot of understanding and learning. And that's very enjoyable. Anybody, regardless of how busy they are, can do that because having understanding does not mean you have to pause everything. It doesn't require a special room. Understanding–that light bulb going on–can happen anywhere, whatever you are doing.
This is really understanding about yourself, what you have been given. And feeling that beauty inside of you, feeling that joy, and feeling that peace inside of you. This is what it is all about.
Many people speak of inner peace and contentment as distant and somewhat vague possibilities.
Is there something practical a person can do to achieve the inner success that you describe?
What I offer is as practical as a glass of water to a thirsty person in the desert. I offer a way of connecting with the peace and contentment that is within each of us. It is like a bridge from the outside to the inside. It is not meant to fix anything; it is for those who, out of their free will, want to enjoy peace within inside of them. This is as practical as it can ever get. If a person wants that, I can help.
It is a very human impulse to combine the message with the messenger. With what you offer, what is the difference between the message and the messenger?
My analogy has always been: someone points to the moon with their finger and says, "Look how beautiful the moon is." Everyone looks at the finger and forgets about the moon. Follow the finger. Look where it's pointing, and move on to the moon and appreciate its beauty. When the messenger tries to make himself more than the message, he's no longer a messenger. A messenger is a beautiful thing, but the message is far more important than he or she is. It is the message that makes the messenger a messenger, not the messenger that makes the message.
In your view, what makes a person's life a success?
Well, the first question is, what is success? We can be successful in business, in our professions, in sports; we can become whatever we want. In the eyes of the world we could be perfect. But which competition can we truly win? There is one ultimate competition in which we don't compete with anyone but ourselves–the competition to succeed in making our life complete. In this competition we succeed when we have understood the value of this life and have found fulfillment. That is when we have real success, and that is a challenge. It is not just a matter of believing in fulfillment, but of experiencing it for ourselves.
If you do not feel successful within yourself, then it doesn't matter how successful you are on the outside. There is always going to be a distinction between the two. Once you draw the distinction between you and everything else, it's very easy to see that outward success is not what really matters.
Is it difficult to convince people that inner success is as important as success on the outside?
It's not really a question of convincing them. Once you accept that success begins with you, everything else becomes secondary. People have to experience this fundamental shift for themselves, and then, rich or poor, it's very easy for them to start grasping that what they are really looking for lies within them.
So you are speaking about inner achievement. Could you describe the distinction between inner and outer achievement?
On the outside we are very much like a hat rack. We have so many roles: parent, employer, brother, sister, worker. First there is one hat and then another and another. All day long, the hats are coming and going, all different sizes and types. That is what we are on the outside. But on the inside, there is an unchanging self. The hat rack is always changing, but on the inside our thirst to be fulfilled, our inherent desire to find peace, our quest for satisfaction, has never changed.
In our lives, we learn to be responsible, to take care of our problems, but problems come and go and then come back again, like a wheel that keeps turning. When we understand the nature of the self, then we can begin to understand how beautiful it all is. Life is not about all our problems. It's not about guilt or fear, or right and wrong. It is about an incredible response to the innate desire to be happy.
Does that mean that outer success is not important?
Not at all! We can always be more successful. Whatever we have achieved, we can do better. We are more important than our successes. And we are also more important than our failures. We are more important than everything that happens around us and everything that won't happen; we are more important than the histories that will unfold, the wars that will be fought, and the peace that will be made. The sum of all of that is less than the existence of each human being. And we need to become aware of that.
What type of people are most receptive to your message?
People who are truly free. Free in what they think. People who are encased in concepts and ideas about how everything should be and how everything works have a much more difficult time understanding what I'm talking about. People who have a fear of listening to other people will not be able to understand my message. But those who feel freedom and feel at ease with themselves are the ones who are able to come and listen to me.
What would you say is the first step for a person who says, "OK, I acknowledge there is something beautiful within. Where do I start on the journey of self-discovery?"
Well, the first thing is that we have turned up the stereo on the outside so loud that we can't even hear what is being said on the inside.
One of the things that has to happen is to turn down a little bit of that stereo on the outside so we can start listening to what the quest of the heart is. The quest of the heart isn't about many things. The quest of the heart is very singular. The quest of the heart is to be fulfilled–to be in that joy, to be in that peace. The heart really doesn't care about all the other trappings. It cares about reality. It cares about sincerity. And it cares about an understanding that you have that gratitude. This is what the heart wants to feel–the thankfulness and the joy of that thankfulness. And so it really begins with turning down the outside volume so you can start to hear the other spectrum. Once you can do that, you can begin to appreciate the simpler, more fundamental things in life. And that is one of the most basic and most beautiful steps that anyone can take.
If a person succeeds in the process you are talking about, what would he or she have to show for it in the end?
They may not have anything to show on the outside, but they certainly are going to know about it themselves. Knowing that you are satisfied is something that you will know yourself. Maybe our attention really needs to turn from seeking approval of the world to seeking approval of ourselves as well. This is where peace becomes very, very important. To seek approval of ourselves, the request that comes from the heart has to be fulfilled, and that request is to be content, to be in peace, to be in joy. If that can happen, maybe you won't get a certificate, but you will get something much more valuable. What you will get is that inner smile, that inner joy, that inner twinkle that a person can have in their life.