Peace and Humanitarian Initiatives



The Joy of Being Alive

People say they want peace. Then they ask: “How will you bring peace?” They forget where peace is. Peace has always been within us. What we have been searching for is how to access that peace. But in search of the tool, we went further and further away from the fundamental reality of where peace exists, where joy is, where fulfillment is.

When I say to people, “What you are looking for is within you,” it often comes as a surprise. They realize they knew that, but they have always looked somewhere else.

The idea that it is within has become alien to us. We think: “It can’t be within me. Something has to happen. Someone has to come along. Some book has to be read. Some pilgrimage has to be made. Some seminar has to be attended. Something like that has to happen, and then maybe I can get peace.”

I often give the analogy that, to understand the value of water, you have to understand thirst. If you don’t have thirst, it is very hard to understand what water is all about. These days water comes in many different kinds of bottles. There are companies that promote their brand of water—water from the mountains, water that is good for you, water in a blue bottle, water in a green bottle, water in a white bottle. None of this is what water is all about. Water is not about blue bottles and green bottles. Water, as it relates to me, has the possibility of quenching my thirst. This is what is most important.

In Europe, when you go to a café and ask for water, they will ask you, “Do you want it with gas or without gas?” When you are not thirsty, you think about it. You might ask, “Do you have French water? Do you have Spanish water?” But water is actually about quenching the thirst as it relates to me. It has other uses—in rivers, in dams, in the ocean, all of that—but what I am talking about is the water that has the possibility of quenching my thirst.

We get caught. Our focus becomes: “Will this thirst be quenched by cold water? Distilled water? In a green bottle or a blue bottle? French? German? English?” And all of the conversation that inevitably ensues is because people have forgotten—they really have forgotten—what water is all about.

Everywhere you go there are people just like us. They are living their lives, just like we are. They are looking outside for answers that are on the inside, just like we are.

Go back to the simplest of possibilities, the simplest of understandings—understanding about you. So many people say, “You talk about peace, but this world is so crazy. How can there be peace in this world?” I agree that the world is crazy, but the subject here is not the world. The subject is you.

The issue here isn’t the world; the issue is you. The issue isn’t the rotation of the earth. The issue is the coming and going of the breath in this vessel. The issue isn’t the thirst on the outside. The issue is the thirst on the inside.

It is individuals that matter. It is you that matters. It is in you that the gift of breath comes. It is in you that there is consciousness. It is you who can see the good and the bad. In you lies the ability to appreciate. In you lies the ability to enjoy.

Wherever you have been in the journey of your life, you have always carried a huge box inside full of joy. This is the joy you can get in touch with. And if you want to do that, it will be your personal journey. You can’t take it with anyone else. It is too personal because it is a journey inside.

There is a joy, and it is the joy of existence—not what is happening in existence. They are two different things. There is the joy of existence, and then there is the joy of what is happening in existence. What is happening in existence we try to control and manipulate.

Sometimes things go our way. Sometimes they don’t.

But then there is another joy. That joy has been there through all the years of your life, waiting to be discovered. And that joy will be there for as long as you live. It is the simple, simple joy of being alive.

In my life, there are good days and there are bad days. The days I call good are the days when everything goes according to my plan. The days when things do not go according to my plan, I call bad. Yet every day that I have been given is above and beyond being good and bad. Each one has its own meaning and its own beauty. And I can get in touch with that beauty. My plans will change. Sometimes the days I call bad actually end up being good. And some days when everything looks like it is going according to my plan turn out to be a disaster.

Good and bad. Life is not just about good and bad—it is beyond that. When we begin to understand that, we begin to understand that it is a privilege to be alive. It is a privilege for which this heart needs to be filled with gratitude. What we have been given is far more precious than all the good and the bad put together. All of that is transitory.

We can know that which isn’t transitory, that which will be here as long as we are alive. That is our solace. That is our harbor. That is where we need to be when the storms come.

☆ Prem Rawat

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