Satish Kumar - Dialogue

[The following is the transcription of Satish Kumar's Dialogue. It remains unedited at present, but will be updated shortly]

How is everybody this morning? You have all good sleep? You know the importance of sleeping? As I was coming this morning, I was telling a story to my fellow travellers in the taxi. The story is - the Emperor of Persia asked his sufi master, what is the best thing to do? His answer was, my lord, sleep as long as you can. Sleep as long as you can. So the Emperor was surprised. "What do you mean?" I have so much to do and so little time. I have justice to perform, messengers to meet. I have functions to attend, I have parties to go, and you say sleep? What do you mean? He said "My Lord, the longer you sleep, the less you will oppress!"

Now, our modern, industrial societies, like America and Japan, like in Germany and France, and England where I come from, that is.. We are like Emperors of Persia, at this moment. Our societies are so rich - we live like Emperors. In comparison to the rest of the world, and therefore we are oppressing like the Emperors of Persia. If people in Japan and the U.S. and in Europe slept longer, did less economic activities; if the stock markets were closed down from their hours, if wall street was closed for longer weekends, they will pollute less, they will destroy less, they will oppress less. Therefore, my friend who will speak after me, he was saying in the time to have economic rest. Now I'm speaking to a mostly young audience - you are young. But I was young once. Now I'm old. You are young now, but you will be old.

When I was young, about 26 years old, I read in the newspaper, that a great philospher, Bertrand Russell, in England, was put in jail, beacuase he was protesting against the nuclear weapons, at the age of ninety. When I read this news I said "here is a man of ninety going to jail for peace in the world, and I am a young man of 26 sitting in a cafe drinking tea and reading a newspaper? Who is old and who is young?" I reality, not in age but in true reality, in deeper reality, Bertrand Russell ninety years old is young, and I, 26 years old, was young, sitting here, doing nothing, while the world is going to flames. nuclear weapons around the world. That shocked me! I was so inspired that I decided with my friend that I had to join Bertrand Russell, the peace movement, that I would go walking, on foot. I would go to Mosocow, to Paris, to London, and to Washington D.C. to protest against Nuclear Wars. So I wrote a letter to Bertrand Russell, and I said "I have decided to walk for peace, like you are". And he wrote me back a nice letter, saying "what a good idea, that you want to walk to London, and Moscow, and Paris, and Washington. Please walk fast, because I'm 90 years old and I want to meet you. I might die, so please walk fast." So I did try to walk fast. It took two and a half years to walk around the world, and I decided to go without any money. Then I felt young.

Now for the young, in this morning session, I want to say three words which I'd like you to remember - the first word is we need to learn "caring", the second word is we need to learn "sharing", and the third word we need to do is be "daring". Do you understand the meaning of "daring?" What is "daring?" What is the Japanese for "daring?" Be courageous. Daring is to be courageous. Be adventurous. If you are not adventurous when you are young, you are not young. You may think I am only 22 years old and I have beautiful hair on my head, but you are not young if you are not daring. If you are not prepared to be courageous, if you are not prepared to take risks, go on adventures -the sign of youth is to be adventurous. So, first the caring - we need to develop compassion in our hearts. Compassion for the earth, which is the source of all life. The earth, the environment, the ecology, the animals, the plants, the rainforest, the rivers, the mountains, the land, the soil.. If you are self-centered, and you are studying so that you can be successful, that is not the sign of the young. Thats the old ways of doing things. When you get old, then you become obsessed with life, and jobs. When you are you don't need to be obsessed with money. You are studying to take care of the earth. If you are preparing your life to take care of the earth, take care of people, take care of the poor, take care of the sick, take care of the children, take care of your neighbours and friends, and not just take care of yourself, not just myself, then that is the beginning of your good life. Then of course if you want to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself. Because if you are not healthy, if you are not strong, if you are not happy, then how can you take care of others. You cannot. Therefore you take care of yourself, so that you can take care of others.

So caring is the first message, for a good man, like me. To be young, at the Millennium. When you are able to care, then you will be able to share. Particularly when we are priveliged, we have so much energy. We have ideas. Share your ideas. If the west we have this idea of personal property. Intellectual Property. You know in the Western world train? and the western ideas you have the idea of copyrighting - intellectual property rights, we call them. Intellectual Property rights. Intellect has become a property. What a demeaning, a debasement, a downgrading of such a wonderful thing as intelligence. We have turned it into a property. We have turned intelligence into a comodity. We have turned ideas and intellect into something like a piece of property - to own, to possess, to say "this is my property." In my work field, the more ideas you share, the more they grow the in the creative mind. So when you make a point, don't put copyright on it. Let it flow free. If you like a painting - make a painting, don't put copyright on it, don't allow your commercial agents to sell Van Goghs painting for forty million dollars. Do you know Van Goghs painting was sold in New York market for forty million dollars. The commercial interests are expoliting Van Gogh who died more or less without any money - starving. And now, we are cashing money on his paintings.

So, share your ideas, share your love, share your time. Keep your door open always, for anybody who needs you. Share your time. I would never say - "oh, I haven't got time to see you today." If you are poor with time, however wealth you have, how many cars you may have, how many hi-fi's you may have, television sets you may have, all the other gadgets in your house maybe, but if you are poor with time, you are very poor. My mother used to say "when God made time, he or she made plenty of it." Never a shortage of time. This is a western madness of an idea - that we are short of time. Time is running out! My friends, time is coming. Time is always coming. This eternal time. This eternity of time. So when God made time, he made plenty of it. So never have a shortage of time. Don't be fooled by the industrial mindset, which says time is money. Time is money. You take the money - I will keep the time. So share your time, share your heart, share your life, and then, you will also be able to share your priviliges and your wealth. And the more you share, there is more there.

Mahatma Gandhi, whom we have talked about a lot in this session, had a very beautiful phrase. He used to say: "there is enough in the world for everybodies need, but not enough for anybodies greed." Do you remember this very simple phrase of Mahatma Gandhi? "There is enough in the world for everybodies need, but not enough for anybodies greed!" So simple. You don't need to be complicated. So simple. Mahatma Gandhi's way of communicating was so simple. The truth is simple. Any fool can make things complicated. But it requires a genius to make things simple. Mahatma Gandhi was that genius. He simple said there is enough in the world if you share. You plant one seed, you plant one handful of rice, you throw like Fukuoka? I was talking in natural farming??? And a whole field grows from that handful of rice. From one little pip of apple tree you put in the soil, that apple tree grows. And becomes a great apple tree. And year, after year, after year, for 20 years, 30 years, 50 years, that one little seed of apple, that gives you hundreds of thousands of apples, year after year. And you good little apple tree??, you think, you eat, you share, and still you look at the tree, and the tree is full of apples. And I know this because I have an apple orchard in my garden. There is never a shortage of apples. An apple tree never asks you "have you got some money in your pocket? You are going to take apples?" Free! Free apples. There is enough. Nature is abundant. But, our consumerism is making things scarce. You want to own, you want to possess. Property rights - you want to possess. And you want to own the land. You want to own the countries. We go with our machinery, and cut down the forests, to make comercial objects. So it's the consumerism- it's that kind of thing which is creating scarcity. If we live simply, like Mahatma Gandhi did, of we live simply, like St. Francis lived, if we live simply, like Martin Luther King lived, if we live simply, like Mother Theresa lived, we could live very happily.

So, caring and sharing - these are the two first words. The third I started with is "daring." If you are young, and I'm particularly addressing this talk to the young, becuase you are all delegates and participants. Fear is the greatest step. If you have a fear in your heart. When I started my journey around the world, inspired by Bertrand Russell, walking, I came to the border of Pakistan, and, at the border, many of my friends, and my family members, came to say goodbye. And one of my friends, gave me some packets of food, and said "Satish, you are going to Pakistan, we've had three wars with Pakistan. This is enemy territory. Muslim country. How are you going to walk in Pakistan without any money? My heart goes out to you. At least you should take some food with you. So I brought some nice packets of food to take with you. So at least you can find you way around in Pakistan, this Muslim enemy country. That was the fear in his heart. I listened to his very kind message. I thought about it for a minute. And I said to my friend that you are very kind, that you have brought food packets for me, to take with me on my journey to Pakistan. But, I'm sorry to disappoint you - I may not take them. These packets of food are not packets of food. They are packets of mistrust. They are packets of fear. What am I going to say to my Pakistani hosts that I did not trust you, so I brought my own food with me. And I went into Pakistan, without any food, without any money - so-called enemy country, Muslim country, so-called country with which we had wars. And as I enter, the first person I meet, like a miracle (you never believe in miracles) I did not believe in miracles until that day. This first person meets me and says "are you Satish, and my friend manam?? who are going to Moscow, and Paris, London, Washington for peace?" I said "yes, we are - but how did you know - cause we know nobody in Pakistan? We've heard of no-one, we've no contact, written nobody a letter, and you are here asking this question. How do you know? He said "a few days ago, I heard from a traveller, who saw you walking in India, who passed by. And by the way in discussion he mentioned that two Indians are walking to Moscow for peace, and I was excited. As I am for peace I wanted to meet these young Indians." I've been coming to find you, yesterday...the day before yesterday and I'm a bit afraid have I lost you, have I missed you, but I'm so glad to find you. My friends, just imagine that situation. Five minutes ago, my friend was saying that "you are going to an enemy country, you are going to a Muslim country, we had a war with this country. You are mad and crazy to go without money. You are mad and crazy to go walking." And five minutes later I am face to face with this so-called Muslim enemy, who says "I welcome you with open arms - I am also for peace. Please come to my home, stay with me, have dinner with me." I tell you this story - my own experience.

This story is not from the bible, this story not from the Koran, this is not a parable, this is not from Krishna Mahayana??. This is a story of my own very experience. May that be I said - trust, and fearlessness, and courage, to go in the domain of the enemy, in Pakistan. And meet the Muslim without any arms, and say "I am not your enemy. what my government does, what my military does, what my media does has nothing to do with me. I'm not an Indian. I am a human being. I'm not a hindu, I'm a human being. I'm not a Muslim, I'm a human being. And you are a human being. We meet as human beings."

So we need to have that sign of youth, in our hearts. If you are complacent, if you are just seeking a nice cushy job in a nice government office, or a nice Mitsubishi office, or a nice somewhere - you are not young. You may be 25 years old, but you are not young. You are too already comfortable, and you are looking for a nice cushy job. So that you can have good money, and can marry a nice husband, or a nice wife, and you can have a nice garden, and you can have a nice house, and you can have a nice pension, and you can have a nice coffin to die in. That's not young. That's not young. The young is to be daring, to be courageous, to go in the camp of the enemies, to go as ?? to Mitsubishi, to go as ?? to Sony, to go as ?? to Montesanto, arrogant Montesanto - they say "we will feed the world!" There is already a surplus of food in the world. There's no shortage of food. India is that poor country. India, which as starving people is an exporter of food. India exports meat to the middle east. India exports tea to the world. India exports spices, basmati rice, lentils... The list is long, and it's own people are starving. They are not starving because there is a shortage of food. They are not starving because they don't have Montesanto in their country. They are starving because there is no justice. They are starving because young people have become old, and are not standing up for the truth, and they are seeking cushy jobs. They are starving because of this injustice.

So our work, and this is the conference which inspires me, and for our work together, is to raise our voice. And be daring. And say that we will begin today. We cannot change the world overnight. the world is such a big place, we cannot change the world overnight, but we can make a first step towards the change. And so, let us begin to think in our minds "How can we make small difference?" You know, it is better to light a candle, than curse the darkness. No good criticising only. It is better to start a good project, and when my friend Adam speaks after me, he will tell you he has started a good project. And I also started one or two good projects, like Schumacher College, and a small school. So start something which is fundamentally good for the world. And if you do something good for the world, the world will do something a hundred times more good to you. You will not be deprived of goodness. But if you just self-seek or put value on yourself, ?? ?? ??

So this morning three words, this mornings three mantras. These are the mantras of modern times. The mantra is caring, compassion, spirituality. Caring is a spiritual value. I started with spirituality, not with realistic values, spiritual values. Sharing and Daring - if we can have these three mantras. I think we can make a beginning. Thank you very much.

[This was followed by several questions from the audience and delegates. Click here to continue]

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