In the peaceful village of Sondrio, Italy, in the foothills of the Alps, government officials and townspeople alike gathered to honor Prem Rawat's efforts to encourage world peace: a peace that begins with each individual.
On the invitation of the Sondrio Town Hall and under the patronage of the Province of Sondrio, the Lombardy Region, and the Ministry of Justice, Prem Rawat arrived in this northern city on June 22, 2010. In a private meeting of the Sondrio City Council, officials graciously awarded him the title "Ambassador of Peace in the World" and presented him with a symbolic gift from the nearby city of Tirano as well as a plaque from Lombardy adorned with the official symbol of the region, the Camuna Rose.
Later on, over 600 people gathered in the city square to listen to Prem Rawat speak. In a brochure announcing the event, Mayor Alcide Molteni of Sondrio had expressed that, "Prem Rawat speaks right to people's hearts, inspiring them to undertake a journey that begins with the consciousness of one's self and the ability to feel grateful for the very fact of being alive."
True to the Mayor's words, Prem Rawat's talk offered an encouraging perspective on world peace beginning with each person. The audience listened intently as he spoke. "We all want the manifestations of peace on the outside," he said. "We know that if people have peace, then there will be prosperity. But how do you begin to manifest peace on the outside if it is not on the inside of each individual human being?
"Peace begins with every individual," he continued. "Begin with yourself, looking for the answers within you. If nothing else, you will have taken the first step. And the journey of a thousand steps begins with the first one."
Journalists who followed the event for the local press were impressed by Mr. Rawat's charisma, his wit and irony, and his straight and effective way of communicating that could reach "even the driest heart."