I recently watched a 2002 interview of Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura — she wore red on the Starship Enterprise, and her kiss with Captain Kirk was the first interracial smooch on TV in the United States) where she was speaking warmly of Star Trek, saying that infinite diversity and infinite combinations are what make the world beautiful.
Indeed: what if there were only one color, one sound, one season, one kind of flower, or one kind of animal? Nature has made grains of sand and snowflakes, not to mention all the stars in the universe. And of the trillions of each, no two are identical. Seven billion people huddle on this planet, and without a doubt each one of us is unique. Even if our genomes were the same, what boggles my mind doesn’t necessarily boggle yours.
What’s diversity if not an expression of tolerance? Life accepts all. Whatever works can stay for as long as it works. And as long as I exist I have the opportunity to uniquely savor the endless variety — that beautiful spice embraced by life.
As I age, I notice the increased necessity of staying in shape. Diet and lifestyle are no longer taken for granted, now that I have to take them seriously. And more than ever, I'm conscious that my body has its own language. It does not speak English. When I listen to it and try to understand what it’s saying, a conversation arises. When I respond, it replies. The conversation flows especially well when I’m having fun and being active. That’s another thing I’ve learned.
The same is true of my heart. It has its own language. It doesn’t speak English or French or any of the other hundreds of languages that human beings have invented. It speaks in its native language because what it wants to say does not fit into any other language. It’s a beautiful language: it’s the language of feeling.
I don't know you. I don't know your name. But I do love you because you are a human being. That is sufficient for me to open up my heart and bring forth to you all that I know.
When people ask me who Maharaji is, I usually describe him as a ”teacher.” Which makes me, I guess, his student — though he has no school, no curriculum, and no exams.
What he does have is an extraordinary knack for accelerating a person's education. About what? About life. And how to get the most out of it.
A clue about Maharaji's approach comes from the word itself.
”Education” comes from the Latin word “educare” — meaning “to bring out.” That's what a good teacher does — brings out, from the student, the desire to learn — the thirst to know.
When Prem Rawat first arrived in the West, it was a time of fear about nuclear war or some other great destructive catastrophe. Seeing him as some kind of authority in such matters, people often asked him, “Will the end of the world happen in our lifetime?” He would laughingly reply in his high-pitched, adolescent voice, “Don’t worry, you will definitely see the end of the world,” meaning that for us, the world — our world — does end. It ends when we do. When the questioner, after a moment’s shock, realized what he meant, there was a palpable sense of relief — possibly misplaced.
Of course the world will end one day. If we have not self-destructed or been hit by an enormous meteorite, we can rest in the certainty that the sun will, millions of years into the future, finally burn itself out. But that will not be the end of time or, necessarily, of human beings. Maybe our distant descendants will have traveled to a faraway galaxy, finding another solar system that could potentially host life. Or maybe another “human race” could evolve elsewhere, taking up the baton and continuing life as we know it. Whatever the circumstances, time — like its bedfellow space — has no end, whether there are humans around to observe it or not. Sadly the phrase “until the end of time,” so beloved by poets and songwriters, does not literally mean what it says.
Whenever I hear people recall stories from their childhood I feel awe at their ability to remember all those details. My own childhood is a blurry vision on a screen. Not much can be seen clearly, but I know it happened and can intuit some of its details by noticing subtle nuances in who I am now — kind of like how physicists can map out the existence of subatomic particles by tracing the results of high energy collisions in a super collider.
There are a few moments, however, that I do recall with great clarity. They were invariably moments that held the feeling of exaltation and discovery, or of pure freedom.
I remember sitting on the front porch of my home in Fowlerville, Michigan when I was four and covering a piece of lined notebook paper with scribbles (I was “writing”). I remember running down the sidewalk and leaping into my father’s arms when I was about six, feeling safe and content. I remember buying my first pair of football shoes with my dad in the big city and feeling the aspiration for greatness. I remember picking apples in a friend's orchard when I was in high school and walking home after spending two weeks up in the trees. A feeling of elation and freedom washed over me like a waterfall as I walked.