El comandante Elmer Arrieta con representantes de la ONU
Marian Masoliver es una cineasta que ha viajado a Colombia, con Simon Edwards, para documentar el efecto que el Programa de Educación para la Paz (PEP) tiene en los excombatientes, las víctimas y en otros grupos que han sufrido una guerra de cinco décadas que está llegando a su fin. En este blog relata su viaje al pueblo de Santa Lucía y su encuentro con miembros de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), el grupo rebelde más numeroso del país.
Nos levantamos a las cinco de la madrugada y viajamos casi dos horas, por un camino de tierra, para adentrarnos en las montañas de Colombia.
Santa Lucía tiene unas 30 casas muy humildes, dispersas a lo largo de un cañón muy profundo de unos 9 kilómetros. Es esta zona viven, además de algunos campesinos, 250 guerrilleros de las FARC, que, si se lleva a cabo el acuerdo de paz, entregarán sus armas a las Naciones Unidas. Supervisa el proceso el gobierno colombiano, líderes de las FARC y representantes de las Naciones Unidas.
Contenedor de la ONU para recoger las armas de las FARC
El jeep va muy rápido por el camino rural y Simon, Rodrigo (el periodista brasileño que nos acompaña) y yo, tenemos que sujetarnos con fuerza. A ambos lados nos rodean montañas de densos bosques.
Carlos Andrés, nuestro guía de la oficina colombiana del Alto Comisionado para la Paz, nos precede en su motocicleta.
En un momento dado se para y nos sugiere fotografiar el cartel que anuncia que entramos en territorio de las FARC.
Poco después, paramos en un control militar para mostrar los pasaportes a unos jóvenes soldados que anotan nuestra entrada al campamento.
En la base de la ONU una amable oficial chilena nos da la bienvenida y a continuación, junto con un capitán y un representante de las FARC, nos explican las normas del campamento, mientras tomamos un «tinto» (café dulce).
Simon tomando imágenesSubimos al jeep y recorremos 9 km hacia el interior del cañón. Carlos nos enseña las tiendas en las que viven los guerrilleros, y nos dice que se está construyendo un nuevo campamento porque dejarán este muy pronto.
Cuando llegamos a la entrada un grupo de guerrilleros nos da la bienvenida con otra taza de «tinto». El ambiente es muy tranquilo y relajado. Les pregunto si pescan en el río y empezamos a hablar de la fauna, del tiempo, intentando romper el hielo, y la conversación pasa, de modo natural, a su vida en el campamento. Es una entrevista muy informal, todo sucede lentamente y tenemos la sensación de estar pasando un día en el campo.
Más tarde, Carlos nos dice que podemos entrevistar a Elmer Arrieta, «El flaco», comandante del campamento. Primero le entrevista el periodista brasileño y luego nos vamos a comer: arroz blanco, huevos fritos y carne, acompañado de un delicioso jugo de banana. Hablamos con Elmer de política y todos hacemos bromas.
Al terminar de comer bromea y nos dice que solo nos concede dos minutos. Aunque no tiene muchos años, parece cansado, lógico tras 25 años de guerra viviendo en la selva en condiciones inhumanas.
Comprendo que la entrevista no será tan larga como pensaba, así que reviso las preguntas y decido que el único tema será la paz. Le hablo de la Fundación Prem Rawat y del Programa de Educación para la Paz y conversamos media hora. Él me dice cosas como:
«Me parece muy interesante lo que me cuentas de la Fundación»
«Hay que construir la paz desde el corazón, hay que desarmar los corazones».
Añade que saben que han hecho cosas que están mal y piden perdón por ello.
«Cuando ves que se abre la puerta al perdón y la reconciliación, te dices: Se acabó la guerra en mi cuerpo, a partir de ahora mi corazón late por la paz».
«Estoy convencido de que la mejor opción es la paz, que debe acabar el odio para dar paso a la reconciliación».
«Esperamos que muy pronto haya paz en Colombia, y depende de que nos involucremos, y de que la comunidad internacional nos siga apoyando como hasta ahora. Que podamos hablar como seres humanos civilizados y lleguemos a un futuro muy distinto que ayude a la humanidad».
También entrevistamos a una guerrillera de 22 años. Me sorprendió su alegría y energía y, al acabar, nos enseñó el campamento.
Un día muy especial que ha dejado claro que todo el mundo quiere la paz.
Paisaje desde el cañón
Representantes de las Naciones Unidas
Un niño jugando
Una familia de Santa Lucía
Tiendas de los guerrilleros
La «chiva» (autobús) de regreso a Ituango
En su próximo blog se puede leer sobre su visita a Colombia.
Prem Rawat is an internationally respected speaker, with a unique perspective on peace.
Lively, compelling, thought-provoking and dynamic, his public addresses are an opportunity to experience his message in person. Unscripted and unrehearsed, he speaks to the audience from the heart.
Events take place all over the world by popular demand and can vary from an open-air address to a talk in an intimate auditorium or large capacity stadium. Each one is unique. Events are usually around 1.5 – 2.5 hours in duration. Prem Rawat gifts his time and receives no fees for speaking at events.
There is a saying, “If you don’t get what you want, you’re not happy.” It’s true! If you don’t get what you want, you’re not happy. “If you get what you don’t want, you’re not happy!” You didn’t want it, and you got it! And even if you get what you do want, you are not happy because you can’t keep it, because it changes.
You don’t want things to change, but things are going to change. You are changing, and you are changing all the time. Sorry. Everything around you is changing, and changing, and changing, and changing, and changing, and changing. Why? Because that is what it does.
But, because of this change, here we are today. Because of this change, here we are. Either love it or hate it, but change is here to stay. And this change is changing. Not only this earth—this is the entire universe—it’s in the grip of change.
Constant. And there is a change in you! But for right now, this change is the coming and going of this breath. And it’s powerful! And it brings the gift of life.
Somebody once asked me a question in one of the interviews: “You’ve been traveling for fifty years; you have met a lot of world leaders, a lot of important people. Could you tell us about who made the most impact on you?” So I said, “Certainly.” So I told them what happened to me once.
I said…I was driving in India, and they had packed a lunch for me, but forgotten to pack any water. So of course, I had lunch, and after lunch I got very thirsty. So as we were driving along, we saw a man, a very poor man, pulling water from a well.
But he’s standing there; he’s pulling water from the well, and we said, “Sir, could you please give us some water? We’re thirsty.” And he said, “Oh, sure, sure, sure!” And he dumped the water he had pulled, and he went in there and got the freshest water from the well that he could, and he brought it up and we had water!
And then, we had our fill, and we thanked him. And then he said, “Listen, I have a little hut, not too far from here. I have last night’s bread and some pickles. I would be honored if you came to my hut and accepted that.” So, of course, we said, “No, we have had lunch. Thank you, and thank you so much for…for this water.” It was his pleasure, he said.
So, of course, the interviewer was looking at me like, am I nuts? I mean, the world leaders I have met, and all these important people I have met, and this is the person I remember? I can’t forget. I cannot forget his generosity. He had nothing to offer, but he offered all that he had. And in that, he has made himself immortal.
He would have never imagined leaving India, but he did, here. Here, he left India, and he has traveled around the world. And I don’t even know his name. I never did ask him his name. But his generosity touched me.
And I’m here to tell you that, regardless of what the report card of the world is, generosity will never go away. It is there…it is there inside each one of you! And this is your blessing. Kindness is your blessing.
There’s no monopoly on compassion. This is the beauty. Compassion can be exercised by a person who is poor or who is rich. Compassion can be exercised by a person who is illiterate or a professor with the most degrees possible. Anybody—whoever wants to exercise this compassion—can exercise compassion—because that is right.
Michel Klamph, who volunteers as producer of the Peace Education Program (PEP) monthly broadcasts, recently interviewed Scott Polenz for The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF). Scott resides in Fresno, California, where he volunteers as a PEP facilitator. He is a psychotherapist maintaining a full private practice who enjoys writing, art, music, and baking in his spare time. A cancer survivor, Scott reports that he tries to live each day to its fullest and, “If the feeling of gratitude is relatively close in proximity, I feel I am heading in the right direction in my life.”
Here are excerpts of their conversation:
How did you get involved in PEP?
I was on my own, and I could not find anyone else near me who could help. So, Sally Weaver, a volunteer PEP facilitator from Thousand Oaks, California, touched base with me and said she was coming up my way because she had already made contacts at some of the state prisons in the Fresno area. This was the boost I needed to get the Peace Education Program started! We met with community resource managers at several prisons. I was fortunate enough to pick up the ball and start running with it.
I began the first PEP in September, 2015 at Valley State Prison, Chowchilla. Shortly after that I started one in Pleasant Valley State Prison, Coalinga, and then Avenal State Prison. An intern who has helped me facilitate PEP classes since 2015 is also enjoying the workshops.
I have been asked to do a special PEP for veterans imprisoned at Chowchilla. And I’m also starting a PEP for the larger community on Sunday evenings, too.
In Chowchilla, the PEP classes are rotational. Once we complete the 10-week course, we start over again. There is a long wait list of people who want to get into the class. The word has gotten out. It has been fun. There is no shortage of participants, which is great.
What has been the response of participants to the PEP workshops you are offering?
It has been amazing. There are always going to be some who come to get a prison credit for attending. About the fourth or fifth week you can feel a shift, where people start to realize the workshop is about something valuable. They become enthusiastic and eager. They are already lined up when I get there.
There’s a tone that starts the first night. It evolves over the ten workshops. The inmates have the whole week in between classes to contemplate, read the supplemental articles, talk among themselves, and talk in the yard—part of the word of mouth that is going on.
I have had participants tell me, personally, how much the PEP is affecting them and changing them in practical ways. They give specific examples of how their behavior or response to a situation is based on what has been expressed in the workshops, and what they hear Prem Rawat say in the videos (on topics such as inner strength, contentment, self-fulfillment).
The inmates are taking it to heart. It’s contagious. In the classroom, there’s a reflections segment, where they have an opportunity to talk about their understanding. Hands go up, and then more hands go up. Before you know it, there’s a lively discussion among the participants. I love that. The less I say, the more they get going. To me that’s what it is about. It‘s cool.
Is there any advice you’d like to give people interested in facilitating a PEP?
I’m not one to give advice, but I’d say try to be clear on your own intention and commitment to what you are doing. Be aware of the impact this can have on the different individuals hearing about the possibility of inner peace.
At first, I wasn’t comfortable being a facilitator, talking in front of a class of 50 people. But it gets easier as time goes on. Be real, if that makes sense.
Thank you for sharing this with us.
It was my pleasure. As a psychotherapist, I work with a lot of people who struggle with problems, and deal with that during the week. In contrast, the PEP is very different and lighthearted, so I’m appreciative and grateful for the opportunity to spread a little good cheer and a little love.
When the reality shines in your life, you don’t need crutches; you don’t need walking sticks. Because reality is shining. Reality is there.
The reality is that even though you have the capability of not knowing, you have the capability of knowing. You have the capability of being confused, and you will always have the capability of being clear. Always! Always. Always. Always!
There is a quote from the Gita—and I’ve heard it; I’ve seen it presented in different ways—and the quote goes: “Even in your darkest hour, I will not abandon you.” So—exactly! I thought it was incredible. And so on…..
So, one day I started thinking, “How? How?! I mean, are you really a person? With two legs, two arms? A body, two eyes, nose, mouth? You really look down at everybody and go, ‘Uh-huh … write his name down.’
“Or are you this infinite energy that made this entire creation of the universe, of this universe, and unknown universes, and known universes, and beyond all that, possible? And, as that infinite energy, as you pulse through me, do you even know I’m having a hard time?” (I mean, excuse me, what is a ‘hard time’?)
“So how—how? Is this a valid statement, ‘Even in your darkest hour I will not abandon you’—because it sounds so good. And it gives so much hope!” And that’s when you need it—“Even in my darkest hour I will not abandon you.”
So, you know, of course I’m thinking about it, and so then I got it: this energy makes it possible that, even in my darkest hour I will not be abandoned—by placing in me, not only sadness, but joy. And never one is taken away over the other. Both exist, equal parts.
That even in my confusion, there is a clarity. That in my despair, there is a hope. Always! Always. Always. No matter what happens in my life, what I go through, this will be there. And because this will be there, I have every reason to have hope in my life—as you do. As you do.
So, for me, the emotion of “I will not abandon you; even in your darkest hour I will not abandon you”—for me this remains intact. Because this is how it has been made possible for it to remain intact.
So, wherever you go, whatever you do, you are not abandoned. That beauty will be always in you; that clarity will be always with you. And the hope will always be with you.
I always say, “What is the most important thing about reading a map? You need to know where you are on the map. And you got to…. If you have figured out where you want to go, but you don’t know where you are….
Have you been to a supermarket or one of those big shopping malls, and they have those little maps that nobody can figure out? At least they say, “You are here!” But you need to know that.
What do you think a GPS actually tells you? A satellite constellation that is out there actually just calculates your position—your “current position.” That’s all it does. After that, it’s the rest of the algorithms and this and that which figure out, “You need to turn left, right.” Da-da—that doesn’t come from GPS. That’s all in the software in that little unit.
All the GPS really does, it just tells you, “You are here.” Have you figured out, “You are here”? Where is that “here”? Here. What’s taking place here?
Life is taking place here. This breath is coming into you—here. This is where you are; you are here. And here is this breath, coming into you and bringing you life. And you are alive.
And what does that mean? Everybody is busy trying to escape their problems. And it doesn’t matter where they go; the problems come—follow them. Have you been to Mauritius? Beautiful place. There’s a British Airways flight that goes from England, so a lot of people from England hang out there.
So like, and well, why do the English come here? It’s a pretty place. Oh, when people get divorced or something like that, or their boyfriend dumps them or something, they come looking for romance, and they come to Mauritius. I’ve seen them on the beach; they bring their problem with them.
So, people go all the way to Mauritius and the problem is still there. People go to Australia. The problem is still there. So we try to run away from our problems, but we can’t run away from our problems.
Have you tried that one place where it says, “You are here”—to see if your problems go there too? Because that’s one place your problems don’t exist. Only you do. Only life does. Only life. Only this moment—its pure magic of being alive, being able to feel—the joy. The greatness, the beauty of existence. Existence!
This is the realm of the heart. A lot of people will go, “Well, where is the heart?”—right? And rest assured, there is a place inside of you—somewhere; doesn’t matter—where the courage in me resides—the courage to be in that place called, “You are here.”
So, of all the things that we do in this world, we put emphasis on what we do, but we don’t put the emphasis on the result of the things that we do. We keep repeating things that bear us no result. We keep doing things that do not make the fruit. But now, it has just become a ritual.
So we look at our problems, and we say, “Oh, we have this problem. We should resolve this problem.” We don’t look at how this problem came to be—because we’re doing the same things again and again and again. Einstein said, “Craziness…lunacy is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result.”
If you want to improve the quality of all the human beings on the face of this earth, then you have to understand that you’re a human being—and how can you improve yourself? Do you know who you are? And I’m not talking about spirituality here. I’m not talking about philosophy here. I’m talking about something very, very simple.
That, in you there is good, and in you there is bad. This is what I’m talking about. And if you perpetuate the bad, the bad will get strong; if you perpetuate the good, the good will get strong. That’s all.
Every single human being…every single human being has to take responsibility for watering the good in them. And this is so incredibly important.
I was sitting one day on a balcony, having my lunch. And this hawk came by and flew pretty close. And he was slick. Graceful! And he came in, and he did a turn—I mean, a sharp, ninety-degree turn—and it was something to behold.
These birds, they fly thousands of miles without polluting anything. Nature did that—no exhaust, no depleting of fuel, no noise. Silent, beautiful, spectacular, compatible, sustainable.
So, what is life to you? Do you understand its nuances; do you understand its beauty? Do you understand its possibilities; do you understand its potential? We have the possibility to be in clarity. We have the possibility to be in peace. We have the possibility to enjoy ourselves on this earth, for as long as we are alive.
Because that’s what it means to be alive, to have aspiration. To recognize what it means to be alive. That, at the same time that I understand the vulnerability of my existence, I also understand the strength of my existence.
So why am I telling you all this? I’m not here to put fear of death in you. That’s not what the story, my friends, is about! If the story was about death, then what’s the point of talking for over an hour about life?
The only thing that remains is the celebration of being alive. And in that celebration of existence, of that joy, of that beauty, that love, the love for being alive becomes everything.
It takes courage to have hope. Many people in their lives, they see things not going their way; they start losing hope—and the next thing you know, calamity.
But it takes courage to have hope; it takes courage to have clarity. And when there is that courage, (ha!) this is what’s beautiful.
If you get angry, you know what you will be rewarded by? Anger. Just think about it, right? You get angry, you’ll be rewarded by anger. What is the reward of anger? Either you will get more angry…. Maybe you begin by being angry with your friend, and the next thing you know, you’re also angry with yourself, for being angry at your friend.
Anger rewards anger. Anger begets anger. Fear rewards fear—you get afraid of being afraid. And that’s when it really sets in. It’s more than the boogeyman in the closet. Now you’re afraid to be in the room; you’re afraid to be alive. “Oh my God….”
But what is the reward of hope? It brings you more hope. What is the reward of joy? It brings you more joy. What is the reward of happiness? It brings you more happiness. What is the reward of knowledge? It brings you more knowledge.
What is the reward of being content? It brings you more contentment. What is the reward of knowing? It brings you more knowing. This is how it is.