How our Ashram changes People – only if they really want to – 13 May 14


I yesterday told you about two staff members with whom we recently parted. As I said, we tried to make a change but were not able to. Sometimes, it is just not possible to help another person change, even if it would be for their best.

Just to make one thing clear from the beginning: I never attempt to change anybody because I would not like any attempt by another person to change me. It happens however that your behavior, your talk, your actions and just what you are, are the reason for a change in others and especially within the Ashram family, we have seen this a lot.

At our Ashram, we all live together: my family, the boys whom we raise because their parents cannot afford it and the staff who doesn’t come from this area but from further away and thus lives with us here at our home. The atmosphere is thus family-like, especially as we don’t believe in creating a difference in between them and us. They eat what we eat, when we buy sweets or snacks or anything else which is not on the daily food plan, it is for everyone. When there are celebrations, we all work together on making it a great event and we all get to share and take part in it. Everyone, except those who are too shy or don’t have fun in it, gets onto the dance floor together and cutting the cake, singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and then finishing the cake off is a group task.

Obviously, while living in a community like this, everyone changes, at least a bit, and normally to the better. We have seen shy young women open up and enjoy a dance. We have seen young men learn to take responsibility. We have seen elderly people get inspired by the young.

Changes are necessary and good. We always have to change for the better. If there is no change, there is stagnation, like a small death when nothing moves forward anymore, nothing lives. I have the great example of myself and the many changes I have gone through, so I believe that everybody is able to change – but only if there is a certain wish and readiness to actually go that way of change!

Sometimes, there is not. If I see yesterday’s example, I know that we have given this couple so many chances to change but they did not. We tried to talk to them and make them understand, we spoke with polite words and added pressure as well. It didn’t help. They obviously did not want to change.

There is a Hindi saying: Even if you keep a dog’s tail in a pipe for twelve years, it still won’t be straight when you take it out of the pipe!

You cannot change other people, if there is no wish from their side. You should not expect change to happen and not be disappointed if you try and fail. If they don’t seem to care about their own future and don’t agree with you on what you think is best for them, there is no way they will change.

You just need to leave some people be in their way. If this means that you cannot go along with each other, that you have to part ways physically as well, then so be it.

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