Interview with Prem Rawat, also known as Maharaji

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? (about inner peace)

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, (to go within) 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.

Copyright © 2002 The Prem Rawat Foundation — All worldwide rights reserved

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