“Perhaps our main mistake is the belief that happiness is found outside of ourselves”

Sri Prem Baba is a vegetarian, but worked in a slaughterhouse; he led an eclectic religious life, created a monastery in India and became a spiritual master known to followers all over the world.

“Perhaps our main mistake is the belief that happiness is found outside of ourselves”

20 Feb, 2017

Sri Prem Baba is a vegetarian, but worked in a slaughterhouse; he led an eclectic religious life, created a monastery in India and became a spiritual master known to followers all over the world.

Born in the neighborhood of Aclimação in São Paulo, Janderson Fernandes de Oliveira connected to his spiritual seeking from an early age. Raised by his grandparents and a fan of Bruce Lee, he found peace in yoga. “One day a friend told me about a practice called yoga, in which you learn how to dominate the body through the mind. This inspired me a lot and I wanted to try it. After that I fell in love with the practice and started to dedicate myself completely to it.

At 32, he had a vision that transformed his life. An old man with a white beard called for him to go to Rishikesh in India. He took the dream as a sign and decided to visit the place. There he found his guru, Sri Hans Raj Maharaj ji, and after some time transformed into Sri Prem Baba. Prem means ‘divine love’ and Baba ‘father’, in total “Father of divine love”. After that he became enlightened.

With a worldwide following, among them Brazilian celebrities like Reynaldo Gianecchini, Isis Valverde, Marcio Garcia and Giovanna Antonelli, the spiritual leader recently launched the book ‘Propósito – A coragem de ser quem somos’ (Purpose – The Courage to Be Who We Are). In this book he addresses and gives direction to the search for a meaning in life, rescuing the source of our motivation and enthusiasm that allows us to live in peace.

Prem means ‘divine love’ and Baba ‘father’, in total “Father of divine love”

Prem Baba is a bit of everything and wins people over wherever he goes. A Brazilian, he became a psychologist and an Indian by affinity. Beyond being a father, he is an incessant spiritual seeker. He is a guru in the midst of the West. In India, where he lives, he spoke to A GAZETA.

Why write a book about ‘purpose’ at this point?

I perceived that the general crisis that we are passing through is due to the lack of consciousness about the purpose in life. People are increasingly disoriented, without knowing how to deal with the challenges in this moment. Many are completely lost, without knowing what to do with their lives. They let themselves be influenced by the beliefs from society and their families and end up disconnecting completely from themselves.

What are your expectations about this book?

That it may be a beacon to illuminate that path for those who are searching for meaning in their lives. That it may serve the greater purpose of awakening the collective consciousness that is so deeply asleep. That it may help everyone who is suffering without knowing what they came here to do, even if it just helps them to get out of bed in the morning. That it may illuminate the remembrance of who we are, because only this can save us from a collapse.

Have we reached the limit of our model of society?

I feel that we have sufficient proof that the model of society that we chose for living doesn’t work anymore. Maybe it has served a purpose at some point in our history, but it has reached its expiration date. I am referring to the materialistic model, based on competition, on the frenetic search for money and social recognition.

This despair arises precisely out of forgetting who we are and what we came here to do. We live running after money, but, many times without even knowing why. This distortion has led us to failure. We have become frustrated and tired, both as individuals and as a society. We want more than mere survival, and the way out is to return inside of ourselves and seek for happiness in the right place. True happiness is only born from what is real.

And what is real is born from inner fulfillment. Fulfillment is when we feel complete in being what we are and, as a consequence, realize our purpose. This is true success.

What is the biggest issue for people who come looking for you?

People are looking for a meaning in life. They want to know what they came here to do. They desire joy, freedom and prosperity. They want to make money from something they enjoy doing, but many of them don’t even know what they enjoy doing. Some have attained material realization to a certain degree, others haven’t even started yet, but they are all looking for a meaning, for a reason for living.

Do you think human beings are losing their ability to connect with one another?

In a certain way, yes. I see that human beings are less and less inspired to connect with one another, and it happens for various reasons. This tendency is part of the deconstruction of this failed model of society. We are giving new meaning to everything, even to the way we relate to one another.

Humanity is gravely stressed and traumatized by so many eras of suffering, in the form of war, abuse of power, betrayal, corruption and by the infinite consequences of egoism. But in spite of this tendency of not connecting being a product of these traumas (that has created images and beliefs that became deeply rooted in the collective unconscious), I see that actually, one of the main reasons for it is our inability to deal with technology in a healthy way. We are still in the beginning of a technological era, learning how to live with the innovations of communication.

The internet is revolutionizing human relationships in all areas of life. In this moment, we are still very dazzled, or even hypnotized by this novelty. And the whole system is built to hypnotize us further and further. We are losing our time and our presence, which is what gives us our ability to create affectionate connections with other human beings. I believe that need more time to learn how to use this technology without damaging our humanity.

You say that parents create walls that separate their children from the purpose they came here to fulfill. How can we prepare new generations to face the world?

I feel that only a great reformation in education can improve this situation. But this reformation needs to start now, by reeducating the adults – parents and teachers. Education is fundamental in shaping the personality and in the process of expanding the consciousness of humanity. Therefore, it can either help in this process or hinder it.

For education to be helpful, it needs to contain self-knowledge. This is so because we liberate ourselves from our limiting beliefs according to our own level of self-knowledge. Thus we become capable of supporting the sustainable development of the child’s personality, which includes not to project our miseries on our children, but to support them in revealing their vision and wisdom to the world. We first need to heal our own illness in order to educate our children properly.

Each one needs to do their part. We have developed a teaching method that is already being practiced in some schools in São Paulo. This method aims to introduce a new way of educating, which is based in humanistic and spiritual values, that encourage the children’s natural expression of their gifts and talents and, as a consequence, the manifestation of their purpose in life.

Where are our mistakes as a humanity?

We have made an infinite number of mistakes, and this is why we are on the verge of a general collapse. The mistakes are many, but maybe the main one (the one that is the root of all others) is the belief that happiness is found outside of ourselves.

This is a distortion that opens the gate to a series of internal and external conflicts. Because of this belief, we have stopped taking responsibility for what happens in our lives and consequently we’ve also let go of the reins of our own destiny. This has put us in the position of victims: of the government, of our bosses, of our neighbors, of society, of life! From this point the whole game of accusations and war is born, be it between individuals or between nations. I feel that this is the root of our suffering.

How can people find their purpose in life?

A simple, but very powerful way of starting this process of finding your purpose is to ask yourself: “If I didn’t have to worry about money; if I didn’t have to please anyone, what would I do? Where would I be in this moment?” The suggestion, in other words, is for you to allow yourself to get in touch with your dreams and find out what you really want for yourself. Allow yourself to remember your childhood, especially the happy moments, when you could be yourself. What did you want to be when you grew up? Who were the people you admired? Who were your heroes? Then see if this, in some way, has anything to do with the dreams that you have today or with your current life. There is certainly a connection.

I’m not trying to say that you should be irresponsible and quit what you’re doing. I’m just suggesting that you start to map out your life. Do a check-up in all the areas: relationships, professional, money, health, friendship, family and spirituality. Evaluate these areas and identify what you would like to be different, what is bothering you and creating anguish. Little by little, you will be able to identify what is preventing you from fulfilling what you want to fulfill.

You will get in touch with your limitations or beliefs that are inner voices telling you that you can’t do what you want to do. You come in touch with your ‘nos’, and as a result with your inner contradictions: on one hand you want it, on the other hand you can’t do it. There is a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ acting simultaneously in your system.

You were born in São Paulo and raised by your grandparents. What did your parents do?

I met my father when I was 18 years old. My mother was a broker; she worked in the commercial departments of different companies. My grandmother was at home and my grandfather worked in maintenance for a film company. They were very simple people.

When you were 14, you worked in a slaughterhouse, even though you were already a vegetarian. This seems a bit contradictory. How was this period of your life?

This was my first job, the only one I could get at that moment. I really needed to work, because I didn’t want to be financially dependent on my family. On one hand it was a very difficult period. I came in touch with the cruelty with which animals are treated in this world, and this strengthened my compassion for them as well as my belief in vegetarianism. On the other hand, I achieved the independence that I desired. I learned a lot about the world. I am very grateful for this experience.

When did you become a guru?

To become a master is not something that you decide to be, it’s something that happens. Everything that happened in my life brought me to where I am today, because this was the program of my soul, my purpose. And, as I said before, my master made a master out of me. He appeared to me in a vision when I was a teenager, when I heard a Hindu mantra for the first time, and he appeared again later to remind me that I needed to go to India when I turned 33 years old. So, when that moment came, I went. And after a pilgrimage to different ashrams, I found him in Rishikesh. He guided me through the experiences that I needed to have to free my mind and anchor presence.

Do you have any message for this year?

I feel that this year is about aligning with the greater purpose. So I pray that we may commit to that. That we may remember who we are and what we came here to do. That we may fulfill the program of our soul, to finally become links in the chain of happiness and prosperity. That we may become channels of love.

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