Young, modern-thinking Indians: are you ashamed of your Family? – 23 Dec 14

A while ago, I was contacted by a young Indian man who had some questions for me. To sum it up, he wanted to know how he, a modern, open-minded Indian from a young generation should cope with the traditional lifestyle and outdated views of his family. I know that this is not only this man’s problem and so I wanted to write my answer in my blog.

The man described what I have seen with many other young people as well. They go to study in university, often in a bigger town, get to see a lot of things of the ‘modern world’, read a lot and are exposed to international media, may have contacts with non-Indians and get to know more about views outside of India. When they return to their smaller city, or even village, they are different people than when they left. For many the same process happens while they are at home! The internet nowadays offers such a huge possibility to get to know more about this world that you don’t even have to go out for that!

So these young people develop their thoughts while their family does not move in that direction. The young girls and boys have friends who are like them, advanced and not attached to the old religion with its many limits and rituals. When they are at home, they see their family follow all that and they realize that their close relatives, the people they love, are highly superstitious. That they believe in the caste system, something that they now strongly dislike. They follow all those bad traditions that we have in India regarding the treatment of women!

They try to argue in their homes but to no avail. They are a minority there – and after all they love their family members, so they don’t want to insult them either! But they feel a bit ashamed. They avoid talking about their family to their friends. They get embarrassed when only thinking of bringing their modern friends home and have them meet their family. What impression will they have of their family, of the people they live with?

You know, I would first of all say not to feel ashamed for your family. You are not responsible for them and their actions, belief or thoughts. Tell them what you think, explain them why you don’t believe in the things they believe and don’t want to follow their traditions either. Talk, so that even if they don’t seem to understand, they know about it. You may have to repeat and explain yourself again but in the end, it is your family. They love you and you should find a common base on those grounds. Be tolerant about each other – they should not force you to take part in ceremonies you don’t like or adhere to traditions or rituals you find wrong. In the same way however, you can just let them do what they are doing, after having told them why you think it is wrong. It doesn’t hurt you if they pray or fast, does it?

As far as your friends are concerned, I would suggest the same: talk. Tell them about your family and your feelings. I am sure you won’t be the only one! Just talk about it and let them know. Real friends won’t see you any differently just because of the belief of your family. On the contrary, they will be able to better understand you and where you are coming from.

There are some issues with different belief however that you cannot just tolerate and ignore. Sometimes, there is a limit when you say a belief or tradition actually harms or insults you or your friends. That’s another topic though and I would like to write more about that tomorrow.

Don’t hide the Changes of your Life! Your Past is a Part of you! – 13 Sep 12

Day before yesterday I mentioned that I have done the Parikrama, the ten kilometer pilgrimage way around town, not only in walking but also with lying down after each three steps. I also said that I think I was crazy in that time.

I have received some feedback on this diary entry and before about previous ones, too, noticing how much I have changed, congratulating me for having come out of religion and also remarking that I accept this change and openly talk about what I have done before. Reading those mails and comments I thought it was time to write about changes in our lives again – and about how we see our lives before that time.

You know that I am very open to talk about my life – be that my past or my presence. I honestly tell about the big change that I have gone through from being a guru and a very religious person to being a non-religious simple businessman, blog author, husband and father. I write about how things now but I am also not afraid of telling of that time – and of the lessons I have learned.

Unfortunately people too often get ashamed of their past when they have made any big change. They think something completely different now than they did then and they now consider others who do the same as crazy or stupid. They actually think that they themselves were stupid, too – but they would not admit it. Instead, they hide their past. They try to remove all evidence of what they did, with their friends they have an unspoken agreement never to talk about that time or those actions and they stand there, a perfect person.

They are afraid that others could think the same as they do themselves – that they were crazy, naïve, a little bit stupid or maybe even fully stupid. They want to present their surrounding the image of a perfect person, without any mistakes, who had a past that was just the same as everyone else’s. They want to be perfect and are afraid that others could judge them. It is of course again a matter of lacking self-esteem. You are you and you are a product of your past, why do you want to hide a part of who you are?

You need to realize that everyone has learned from his past. For some of us the lessons were life-changing and have turned life into a completely different direction. Every single one of us has some event in his past that shows how much he has changed. And I am sure the big majority of people has done something in his past that he would now call stupid.

If we all have this in our past, why can’t we admit it openly and honestly? Why do you have to be ashamed of your past? Just accept it as it is, don’t fight and struggle with it and don’t hide it. You obviously don’t have to go around and tell it to everybody but if the topic comes up, why do you lie and hide? If you just show the facts as they are, you are honest and others will know it. If you hide it and it comes out anyway, you will look very ridiculous for trying to cover up your past.

You should not hide what you have done and how you have changed your life. There is especially one further reason why you should even share what you have experienced: if others can learn something from listening to your story, if they can understand why you changed from one mindset to another and also think different, get off the wrong way or are prevented from doing something stupid, it was well worth it!

Overweight Problems even if you are not? – 28 Jul 09

There are lots of issues around the body, for example that someone doesn’t feel beautiful and feels like the own body is not good enough. In this world many people are focused on the figure and so they feel ashamed which can even result in depression. And it is not always like this that people really have a reason to feel that they are overweight. I have met many people who ‘feel fat’ but would not be called overweight by any doctor, scale or with any calculation. But they still have this feeling that they are not thin enough.

I always say to everybody that you need to find the weight that you yourself feel comfortable with and then you have the power and the possibility to keep this weight. I see many times that someone eats a piece of chocolate and afterwards feels guilty. This is a concept that I don’t understand. If you eat something, please enjoy it and then feel good about it. And if you know before that it won’t be good for you, don’t eat it. And again, beauty is not about physical appearance. We are not only the body, there is a soul and for me a beautiful soul is much more important than figure, colour or shape.

Many Faces that you show the World – 2 Jan 09

Today we had the first Darshan of the year in Mindelheim. I told the concept of this meditation and that I want to give the participants training for their minds to live in a natural way. You need to accept yourself and your personality, your emotions and feelings just as they are without being ashamed. Let the feelings flow.

I told how confusing it is if you are one person at home and become a fully different person when you go to work. Often we can see how many different faces a person has: one when you are at work, one when you are shopping, one at home when friends are there, another one when you are at home fully alone. This can only create problems for you and for others. It will be difficult for you to understand yourself. And if other people do not understand you it is really no wonder. How can you complain about this? You have created so much confusion in your energy that there is no transparency, no clear information about who you are.

I said that there is no technique, method or specific discipline in this meditation other than going inside yourself and being honest. Bring out whatever you have and accept yourself as you are. Respect your feelings and emotions. Then you can grow love for yourself and the universe.

The donation box of the vegetarian Indian restaurant Zimt and Koriander in Wiesbaden was again full before my friends Thomas and Iris came to India so they brought the donation of the guests and today’s food of the children at the Ashram was sponsored by them again.