Everybody I know has something within them — ember-like and glowing — that is completely capable of flaming up at any given moment.
This “something” has been called many things by many people throughout the ages, but it does not need a name to give off light.
Primal, elemental and pure, it is the innate potential every human being has to be fully alive.
What fans the flame of this unnameable ember varies from person to person, but its essence is the same: the power to ignite a transcendental sense of wholeness, goodness and joy.
I happened to hear a radio discussion this week about the nature of life and God. It was held between the chief rabbi of England — a much respected and compassionate man — and the equally reputable athiest Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. They covered the usual territory. Does the theory of evolution contradict religious beliefs? The dear rabbi affirmed the opposite. Is the sheer beauty of the world around us something that we need a sense of a 'creator' to appreciate? Not at all, replied the great atheist — appreciation does not need any acknowledgment of a divine being. And of course that hoary old chestnut, "Does life have a purpose?", which they both danced gingerly around without delivering a knock-out blow.
At one point, the rabbi pointed out that the word for 'universe' in Hebrew is the same as the English word 'hidden', and that this means a loving god is indeed ever present, hidden within the creation he has caringly brought about.
It struck me that such discussions have gone on throughout history, either between great men like the rabbi and the atheist, or friends chatting cheerfully in the local pub. And the shelves of any local bookstore are heaving with countless tomes addressing these weighty topics.
I sometimes feel isolated and lonely living in modern society. I may not be alone in that feeling. The tribal connections of our long gone ancestors are something we are wired for but those wires are frayed by our busy lifestyle, our goal-oriented agendas and our gadget-enhanced self-reliance. We forget to acknowledge each other and we don't take pleasure in being in each others' presence, it seems to me.
The gift of Knowledge actually has many gifts and one that I have been feeling a lot lately is the connection between me and my heart. Every breath is a call and response. There is a feeling there that I enjoy — wanting to be content and finding that solace, wanting to be happy and feeling that inner smile, wanting to enjoy the fulfillment of this life and feeling that excitement of being here.
A few months ago I went on a road trip to the West Coast. The train went through the desert of western Texas, the high mesas of New Mexico, past the mountains of Arizona and arrived finally in the urban jungle of LA. My trip replicated the journey that many of my American forefathers took to reach the fertile valleys of California. I thought about that as I sat on the train. We are living the dream of our pioneer predecessors, who themselves were living the dream of their immigrant ancestors, who themselves were playing out the dream of untold generations before them who had ventured out to new lands and new lives.
When I travel by plane, the ritual is roughly the same: after having found my seat, put my things away and briefly met my neighbors, all that remains is for me to fasten my seatbelt and await that very special moment that is takeoff. Then it’s the journey to the destination, which will end — and who wouldn’t wish it — with another very special moment: the landing.
I've never really been afraid of flying. I knew that it was statistically the safest method of transportation, even though my chances of survival were much slimmer if I should one day find myself on the wrong side of the stats. In order to make it easier on myself, I voluntarily began to ignore an important ritual that can't normally be avoided when one takes a plane: the video broadcast of the safety instructions.
How many times have I watched that video with rapt attention, trying to memorize what seemed to be essential but always with the strange feeling that, in the event itself, things would happen so chaotically that trying to anticipate them was practically pointless. Nevertheless, it seemed better to give myself the best chance of survival by paying attention. These instructions were there to help me protect what I hold most dear through a condensed list of practicalities:
The following is a letter written by an ex-inmate who discovered personal freedom during the time of his incarceration at the Dominguez State Jail in San Antonio, Texas, thanks to TPRF's Peace Education Program.
My name is Rene Chapa. In 2009 I was sentenced to the Dominguez State Jail for one year. Before then, my life had become chaotic and unmanageable. I wanted answers. I wanted to know why my life had been the way it was.
In prison, I attended classes, church, and AA. But I wanted more. Then I heard about the Inner Peace class [part of TPRF’s Peace Education Program in prisons]. I had no idea what it was. I just knew I wanted to be okay.
I started listening to Prem Rawat’s message. It connected me to what I had been reading—the Bible and other material—and to a feeling of peace.
I did not understand at first what Mr. Rawat was telling me. How could he help me? But I knew without a doubt that this was what I wanted. I wrote a letter about peace and read it in the class. I knew that this would work for me when I got out nine months later. I told Roberto and Chantal, the people who brought the videos of Prem Rawat’s message of peace to us, that they would be my friends when I got out.