A letter received by TPRF from a lifetime prisoner in Argentina who has been watching videos of Prem Rawat's addresses as part of TPRF's Peace Education Program. She met him when he spoke at her prison in Ezeiza.
I fell in love with Prem Rawat’s message in prison. The message is about the right a human being has to life, to dignity, to the knowledge of oneself.
Before hearing this message, my life was so cruel, so hard. There was no reason to feel thankful, happy, or good. The years went by like this until I ended up in prison with a life sentence. I went through many things in prison. I was against everything and everyone — against life, against myself — feeling so guilty, carrying a heavy burden.
One day an inmate gave me printed material from the workshop on peace. Then I started attending it myself. From the first day, Prem Rawat’s message reached my tough heart, and that was not easy! I continued listening. Then I started inviting inmates to this wonderful workshop and talking about Prem Rawat to everybody, including the staff. Week after week I attended, and I was feeling better every week.
When I was around ten or eleven-years-old — during an accident that could have cost me my life — I realized that I had been living in a haze.
We were on a family holiday at the seaside of Vendée on the French Atlantic coast. My sister and I were playing in the shallows when, roughhousing, I was shoved into a German shepherd that we hadn't noticed. The animal pounced on me: bit me first on the head and then on the arm. I tried to flee but, panicked, I began to swim out to sea rather than head toward the beach. The beast rushed after me. I could hear his heavy breathing behind me and I felt his claws tearing at my calves. I went deeper until I could no longer feel the sand. I was soon exhausted.
I later learned that this drama lasted only a minute or so: the time it took my father, who had been alerted by my sister, to rush to my aid. But in my panic, it had lasted much longer — to the point where I knew that my last hour had come.
Time suspended and an odd mechanism turned on. I saw my short life like an open book, inexorably moving backward in time from the present to my more distant past. In that moment I saw everything that I had been through in startling detail. I was transported to an unknown region of my consciousness where my perspective instantly reversed. I discovered a harmony to my life that I had never known.
Being of the Jewish persuasion, I'm not exactly the kind of person given to confession, but allow me the ecumenical luxury of confessing at least one thing in this first paragraph of what may well turn out to be the Mahabharata of blog postings:
Writing about Maharaji and the gift that he offers is not easy.
It's not easy for a few reasons.
First off, what I want to say existed long before words — long before nouns and verbs and the leaky vessels we construct to float our shaky boats of babble.
Secondly, words are approximations of the real thing at best. Like menus, they indicate something's cooking in the kitchen, but they are not the food itself.
And thirdly, the dog ate my homework.
As Prem Rawat once reminded me, an average lifespan lasts seventy years, a measly 25,550 days. Some of us have spent 75% of that already. Younger ones hopefully have a bit more. All of us, whoever we are, sleep almost half of that time and, all in all, it's tempting to bemoan the brevity of human life — the proverbial three score and ten of our earthly sojourn.
When I want to remind myself of the preciousness of life, the urgency of living it well, I often think of it in terms of experienced summers (or winters, springs or autumns). If you're thirty years old, then you're only thirty summers old. If you're fifty you've passed fifty summers already (and of course fifty springs, fifty autumns and fifty winters). If you're seventy, then you've experienced 280 seasons in total. Just 280 seasons! That really isn't much, is it? For me, thinking in these terms gives me a reality check. Most of the things I worry about get thrown into the minutiae basket — along with worrying too much about time.
That same kind gentleman who reminded me of the length of a lifespan taught me another way of looking at time. He showed me an inner and constant metronome — one that measures my life from the inside instead of by external (and arbitrary) cut-off points like years or seasons. Prem Rawat has shown me the metronome of my breath. There is nothing more intimate than that. And every time it comes, it measures my time.
In his prime, Jean Shepherd hypnotized audiences for hours with stories about the landscape of the United States during the 1960s and '70s. His subjects included Nixon/Agnew bumper stickers, Alka Seltzer TV commercials, Green Stamp, and the hallowed Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
Like most great discoveries, I found Jean Shepherd purely by accident. Sunday nights after my 10:00 p.m. bedtime presented a daunting challenge until Jean came along. I wanted something to keep my weekend party swinging. I was deathly afraid to close my eyes, because an instant later, the sun would be pinching my cheek. It would be Monday morning, the beginning of another week of Junior High School.
The situation was not unlike the premise of the sci-fi flick “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” If you saw the original 1950s version or the remake, you’ll know what I mean. I needed to push Monday morning as far from me as my sleep-deprived brain would permit. My pre-Jean Shepherd strategy involved rock and roll music played quietly on a radio underneath the covers, so my parents wouldn’t know I was up way past my bedtime. One night, while switching from one rock and roll station to another, I found “Shep.”