Lying, Excuses and Delays – Dishonesty is not a professional Attitude – 19 Apr 15

In my Sunday’s posts, I said I would tell you about my personal life and what is going on at the Ashram, with what my days are occupied when I am not at the computer or playing with Apra. For many weeks already, it has obviously been our Ayurvedic restaurant ‘Ammaji’s’, which we are planning to open soon. Interior design and furnishing is going on but these days I feel I am just more and more resenting the way many people behave professionally here, causing delays and just never sticking to their words!

People are just not honest! They say ‘I will come tomorrow’ while they already know that they are lying, that they cannot, in any way! They are shamelessly lying into your face – and don’t even care about the fact that you know it, too!

I give you our biggest example for this: our bamboo contractor. After many delays, the first truck of bamboo has arrived at our place with some workers as well. Now, the second load is supposed to come so that they can keep on working. Their contractor, whose responsibility it is to bring the material here, has not shown up yet – although he was supposed to be a week ago!

The thing that makes me wonder most is the attitude that these people have! First of all, he is never sure and says things like ‘I will come on 12th, latest on 13th’ but then, after fixing one day with him, he doesn’t show up on either date! He will postpone, giving us two further dates when he might come.

Obviously, there is always an excuse as well: once he claimed to be ill himself, another time it was his wife, once the truck for the bamboo broke down and needs to be fixed and another time there was an exhibition that he absolutely had to be present at – and which obviously appeared out of the blue as he couldn’t plan that before! He even told once he would be here by one in the afternoon, then sent a text message at two o’clock that he was on the way but then never turned up! Another time he wrote they were on the way, so I called our interior designer – but they came hours later when she was already gone again…

You know, if this kind of thing happens once, it is absolutely no problem but when it happens each and every time, every single time when he says he will come, you know that it is only excuses, lies, nothing real! And then you know already that this person is not even sorry about delaying everything.

It is a problem with the attitude and the fact that people with such an attitude don’t care about honesty and the value of their words!

How travelling helps you redefining right and wrong – 6 Nov 14

I wrote yesterday that there is no right and wrong when it comes to lifestyle and most decisions in life. While I generally suggest being confident about what you do, I would also recommend not to fix yourself too much on your ideas, limiting the possibility that others could be right as well. Remain open and flexible!

You get your ideas of right and wrong first of all from your parents, then from your immediate surroundings. There are other people’s parents however who actually teach them other things for what is right or wrong. And that is something that you have to stay open for. Other places, other homes, other countries and other cultures – everywhere there are different perceptions of right and wrong and if you are not too fixed on yours, you can find out more about theirs! Maybe you will realize that you could as well adjust yours a bit.

Travelling really helps a lot in this regard. Obviously I am not speaking about a one-week-holiday lying at the beach, staying at an all-inclusive hotel. That won’t bring you anywhere close to another culture, as the organizers of such holidays try to get your culture into their hotels and onto their beaches so that you feel well. No, you would need to stay a bit longer to really see, experience and understand the differences!

These start with small things. In your country you would welcome a stranger with a handshake and maybe a kiss on the cheek. That would be considered as right and correct. In other countries physical contact is not as frequent and usual. You could even insult the other one by this closeness. At the table, while eating, you would call it wrong to eat with your fingers, lick them or burp. In other countries the cook would appreciate these signs of you having enjoyed the food and filled your stomach.

It is not only about table manners and welcoming gestures though! Once you get to reach deeper and really get to know another person, another attitude and another view on things in life, it helps you to open your mind. Your own life will be put into relation by the events of another person’s and your attitude, your views and your thoughts may change when experiencing those of others.

Even if you don’t have the money to go far away, to travel to places like India, you still can widen your horizon through journeys! Do light travel, by train or bus, go out to another city, a bit further than you usually go – other cultures are not as far away as you think!

Dear Doctors, an uneducated employee is also human, treat us all equally please! – 31 Oct 13

In yesterday’s blog entry, I told you how difficult it was for a less educated employee of ours to get an abortion at a local gynecologist. Ramona was with her and while the difficulties that she had were quite surprising for her, she told me about something else that made her feel uncomfortable in this whole situation: the way how the doctor talked to our employee.

To clarify the situation, it was not a village doctor with no experience. We are talking about a woman with a clinic who has completed her medical studies and has even worked in big hospitals in metropolitan cities of India. She was able to lead a whole conversation with Ramona in English as well and also didn’t lack any eloquence when they shifted talk into Hindi – as long as it was directed at Ramona. Once the turn came to talking to the woman whom Ramona was accompanying, her patient, tone and expressions changed.

Not too long ago I told of my visit at the eye specialist and how I was not explained what they were doing. In that time I told how many doctors did not actually explain anything about their diagnose and treatment but could even excuse them a little bit by looking at the fact that many of them have a majority of fully uneducated patients who don’t know anything about their body and don’t care very much either. They just want to get healthy as quickly as possible. This time however Ramona felt it was different.

She knew that our employee was not very educated and had very little knowledge about pregnancies, contraceptives, medical treatments and all those things. She knew that this woman would not be able to understand the medical terms that doctors often use and might not know the full meaning of even some commonly used words. Nevertheless however this woman was now there, a paying patient of the doctor, a human person who deserved to be talked to with respect and dignity! No matter how uneducated your patient is, she doesn’t pay less than any professor that comes to you and you have given an oath to help anybody who comes to you!

You are not only supposed to heal their bodies but also help their feelings! These women come to you with an issue that is dear to their heart! We are not talking about a fever, a flu or a broken arm! It is a matter of life, of their offspring, for some of them their purpose of life! They have their own opinions, emotions and ideas and although these may seem strange to you in your world, they have a justification in theirs. You can and have to explain what you are talking about, be polite and give them the freedom of choice that other patients get instead of ordering them around and trying to force them to do what you think is right. Yes, you do have a certain authority to give advice – but you have to consider their emotions as well!

It made Ramona truly uncomfortable to be treated on a higher level than the woman sitting next to her. She told me how she again and again tried to turn the conversation to the actual patient, explaining her calmly and in detail what was going on, talking to her on the same level, not down from a higher point.

Dear doctors, your knowledge and experience is why people come to you and puts you in a higher position – don’t misuse this position and stay aware of it that anybody who comes to you is a human being with wishes, emotions and dreams!

Charities and their Display of Misery – why we do it differently – 12 Apr 13

Running a charity is something wonderful! You give a big part of your life, your efforts and your money and of course have a lot of work with it but in the end you feel that the love that you have put into your project comes back thousandfold! When you see the smiles of the children, when you hear them laugh and realize how much they have learned with your help, it is a great feeling! There are some moments however when I have to clearly say that our work is different than what other charities do and thus maybe not as attractive to some people.

You probably know that Germany is like a second home for me. I have travelled a lot there, I have many friends and my wife is also German. We have our German charity organization, too, which was created to support our projects in India and to organize our workshops abroad. Friends and supporters can thus tell others that there is an acknowledged German charity to which they can donate. In this way, a friend was recently contacted by a friend of his, whose company wanted to donate something for poor children. It is a big company with an annual amount that goes to charity. The particular organization that gets the money is selected in a kind of competition. The employees have to submit pictures and descriptions of the project they would like to support. The administration or managers would then decide who would get the funds.

Our friend anyway always has examples of pictures with him, our flyer, the website and some pictures of food for a day that he and his wife sponsored. When he showed them as an example, his friend’s answer was ‘Oh, these children wear so nice clothes and look so happy – that will never win! You should send pictures of children in torn clothes, who look sad and look like they are miserable!’

When my friend came to tell me this, he was already in an emotional confusion and I believe I could clear it by just making a very clear statement ‘Tell them, if they only want to see such pictures, they can take their money anywhere else! I will not take such pictures of my children!’

I am serious about this! I don’t want to have your money! I know exactly where this thought comes from – all big charity organizations post pictures of starving children, sitting in the dirt, wearing barely any clothes, their bones sticking out, their faces covered with flies, tears in their eyes! They use these pictures in their advertisement to melt the hearts of people. They show the worst of the worst, the most horrible scenes.

There are such horrible scenes in this world, I won’t deny it but anybody who has ever worked in such an organization knows just as well as I that these are the extreme cases but that they have lots of other, very important work to do, too. But the pictures of that work would not make someone cry.

I am serious about it when I say I don’t want to take such pictures of my children. No, I don’t want to see them like this and even less want to display them in this way! These are my children and I take care of them as I take care of myself. I give them good clothes to wear, good food to eat and I teach them in air-conditioned classrooms! For a donation I will not do anything different. These are my children who are just like me – happy, playing and laughing!

A refused Volunteer Application – Example of a wrong Attitude – 11 Apr 13

Here at the Ashram we are always open to welcome visitors and guests. There are times when we have our retreats, like the Ayurveda Yoga Holiday, when we are mostly full with participants but apart from those times there are people with all kinds of interests who come to the Ashram. There are some who ask us to design an individual journey for them, friends of course, who just come by to visit, normal visitors who are interested in seeing Vrindavan or our Ashram and charity projects and also volunteers, guests who help us by working part-time at the Ashram for the duration of their stay. Today I would like to tell you about an inquiry for volunteering that made Ramona respond in a sharper way than she usually does.

When we get an inquiry for volunteering, it is mostly after people have read our volunteer page and often also my previous blog post on volunteering at our Ashram in which I explain that we welcome people to help us with computer work. By helping for four hours a day, they can lower the cost of their stay but we still ask them for a nominal amount that helps us cover the costs that we have through their stay. That leaves them enough time to explore the town while they are here, play with the Ashram kids, hang out in the garden, do yoga, take a massage or do whatever they like to do.

Ramona is used to explaining this to people who inquire and people who are comfortable with computer work are usually very happy about this concept as it leaves them time for themselves and to do what they came to India for. Not the one whom she replied this time though! This was the part of her reply that made Ramona sit down for a lengthy answer:

“That doesn’t sound too rosy. I understand that you don’t want to make any loss but it seems there is no place on this planet anymore where people help each other without charging money.

It is a pity but that’s how it is and I have to come to terms with it.”

I want to just copy and paste Ramona’s answer here as it completely expresses my thoughts on this when she told me about it:

 

Dear Julie (name changed to protect the woman’s identity),

I just would like to make things clear for you: here we do help people without charging money for it – 150 children come to our school every single day, learn here for free, eat here for free, we buy all their school supplies, their books, their uniforms, pay their teachers etc. These children could not otherwise afford going to school and they might remain illiterate if it weren’t for our school.

A part of the expenses for these children is covered by donations, the rest from the income of our business. So we use the money, which we earn here for these children instead of saving it for ourselves.

And here you are, writing me in your mail that there are no charitable people on this earth anymore, nobody who is interested in doing charity and helping others.

We help the poor children here, whose parents are happy that they at least don’t have to worry about lunch for their kids because they get it at our school. So if we ask our guests, who can all afford approximately 700 Euros and more for their flight and can also afford to take holidays for a longer time, which means not working and earning money for that period of time, to pay at least the money for their water, electricity (air conditioning, light, mobile, laptop etc.), their food and whatever else they use here, we are accused of not being charitable but only looking for profit. Accommodation and food however should be according to European standards!

Yes, it is how it is and I believe we are not the right place for you.

Maybe you can think about my words before you write something similar to the next charitable organization whose members everyday work hard to help people survive and have a better future.

I hope you find a place that is exactly that what you are looking for.

Much love,

Ramona

Can you be honest while feeling guilty? – 23 Nov 12

In the past week I was writing much about inner peace, finding oneself and everything related to reflections about one’s attitude, feelings and thoughts. When we received an email this week inviting us to take part in a survey – I think it was about consumer behavior and environment – Ramona decided to take part. When she told me about some of the questions, I was imagining what people would answer – and as it is related to this week’s blog entries, I decided to share my thoughts with you.

Usually I believe that your answers for any kind of survey are different if they are given anonymously or if you have to give your name for your answers. This is one of the reasons why creators of surveys often decide to go for the anonymous version – it gives much more honest results! The reason is easy: everybody knows what they ‘should’ answer.

If the question is ‘Do you switch off the lights when you leave the room?’, everyone knows that they should be doing that. If people have given their name in the survey, they most probably decide to tick ‘Always’. In an anonymous survey however, they might decide being more honest and tick ‘Mostly’ and some maybe even ‘Rarely’.

Are you conscious about not throwing food away? Do you separate your garbage for recycling? Do you save water when possible? Do you try to use alternative energies? Do you buy locally and avoid imported goods or vegetables that don’t grow in the season?

You want to shout out ‘YES!’ and I know many of you can honestly say ‘Yes, always’ to most of these points. There are many people however who would only do that if their name was written there. If they were really honest, they would have to answer differently though.

Why is that? Are you ashamed that you are not as environmental-friendly as you should be? It is not only about the environment, it can be any survey about any topic! You know what is right – so why don’t you act like it? You know all of this but when you read the question you feel guilty that you cannot honestly choose the right answer.

Whenever you are in such a situation, make a change. This is the right point to reflect about your behavior and realize that you are not doing what you know is right. There is no question that you want to do the right thing, too, but maybe until today you were too lazy to do it. Life as it is was just too comfortable for a change, you did not bring up the energy to change or it caused you too much stress.

Don’t let any of this prevent you from making a change now! Don’t let the issue fade away again but actually do something so that the next time this question comes up, you don’t need to feel guilty, ashamed or like hiding behind the anonymity of the crowd.

Do what you feel is right. That will make you happy.

Attachment to Diseases – Emotional Surgery needed to heal – 23 Jun 11

One can notice often that people who suffer from a disease for a longer time have a negative attitude towards their own health situation. Have you ever met a person who didn’t seem to have the wish to get healthy? They are negative about their healing process, say that it will never happen and that they will have to live with their problem.

I have met many people in this situation and always have the feeling, that they started to love their disease. When there is an illness, cancer for example, which remains in the body for a long time, people unconsciously establish a relationship with it. It is after all a part of their body. This relationship makes them feel that they don’t want to be without it – even if they don’t know it consciously or say it.

They don’t actually think it is good that they are ill. They know that their disease is bad for them and that they would live a better life without it. They don’t like this illness but they nevertheless don’t want to leave it.

In this case people have become attached to their problem. It has become an important part of their lives. They don’t like their disease but they like thinking about it and somehow enjoy feeling bad about it. If they really got rid of this disease, what should they think about? They get afraid of this life after their disease.

In many cases people even feel subconsciously special about their disease. After all, this is something that not everybody has and it always is a topic that ensures you the attention of others. People who need attention and who have low self-esteem can act like this. It is their way of getting attention without showing anything off.

These all are feelings that are not very open, that they could be aware of but would normally not pronounce to anybody. Everybody would declare them as crazy, wouldn’t they?

The problem is that getting rid of your disease emotionally is also a kind of surgery. When the doctors decide to cut the affected tissue out of your body, you also need to cut out your disease emotionally. You need strong willpower to do this surgery and to make this decision. Your wounds will take some time to heal completely but they will. Don’t be afraid but let go. Once you have done this surgery, you will notice that life is lighter and easier.

Rape in India connected with Suppression of Sexuality – 22 Jun 11

You know that while I am in Germany I keep on reading Indian newspapers online and stay informed about what is going on in India. In the last days I have noticed that there are so many really bad news about one topic that I thought I would like to mention it here, too. Here are some of those headlines:

Father rapes minor Daughter and shares her with 100 Others

Minor Girl gang-raped four Times in one Month

Teenage Girl raped by Father and Brother

Brave Woman exposes Father as Rapist

Daughter kills Father while keeping him from raping her

Women pulled off street into Van and gang-raped inside

Eleven Police Officers rape and murder 14-year-old

Field Working Woman attacked and raped

Schoolgirl kidnapped and raped on Way Home

Woman gang-raped and burnt alive

After unsuccessful Rape Attempt, Woman’s Eyes gouged with Knives

You could keep on writing this list with more and more similar news. When I read all these, it pains me and makes me very sad. What is happening? We claim that this country has a great, ancient culture, that it is the most god-conscious country, that it has brought some of the greatest saints and philosophers of all times and that still today, it is the place on earth where you can find spirituality everywhere. We have great women in the history of our country. We praise the strong family relations where everybody takes care of each other and nobody is ever alone. But still, the safety of women and girls is obviously so little ensured that there is more than a full page of news of how they were raped and sexually abused – by relatives and complete strangers alike.

This happens everywhere and in every other country but in most countries not as much as in India. Obviously, India is a very big country and has a big population but if you take the average and just look at the ratio, India has a high rate of sexual crimes against women and girls.

We may hear of those cases in which women and girls are actually raped or murdered but the newspapers don’t write about the sexual harassment that is happening every day. Women are touched inappropriately in public places and at home. They walk on the street and men shout vulgar lines to them, insulting them or prompting them to have sex with them.

What happens in those cases? There is a man who sees a female being. What comes in his mind? He does not see her as a human, as a respectable person. He sees that she is a soft woman, an easy target to satisfy his sexual urge. If it is a child or teenager, it seems easier but in the end it does not matter whether it is a one- or two-year-old baby or an 80-year-old woman. Such a man’s inner attitude towards women is reduced to their own sexual urge and so they see women as an instrument which they can use.

How come they have such an attitude towards women that they actually only think of her genitals when they see her? They imagine how it would be to have sex with her. I believe that in India we have a great problem of suppression. The whole topic of sexual intercourse and any kind of sexual activity is so suppressed that there is nothing else that these men can think of. They don’t have any natural outlet for their thoughts, feelings and natural urge. It is so taboo that they are not even supposed to think of it. What happens is that they don’t think of anything else. You cover and you hide, you don’t talk about it. Men who don’t have strong willpower and have experienced this suppression of their natural feelings a lot can commit this kind of crime. And there is not the question whether that man was educated or not – rapists come from every background.

We call India an enourmously spiritual country and in this complete religiosity we hide that there are such issues that need to be addressed! If someone has sex with another person without being married, it is such a big issue, the worst sin that you can commit. If that person was from another caste, honour-killing can even be the consequence. Still today, there is not enough awareness about this topic, people are against sexual education, they don’t even want to mention to their teenage children that something like sex exists. They curse the open sexuality of the west and tell that there, everyone has sex with everyone else. They don’t see that this is not true and that there is more awareness about such crimes in western countries. There are not that many men who act like evil. Controlled and suppressed sexuality explodes in this way.

I don’t advocate adultery or having sex with the next-best person you can find but Indian people need to relax a bit when this topic is concerned. And religion plays a major role in this suppression. If you don’t allow sexuality to be suppressed, it will not explode in this way that much anymore.

Sex Education for Girls saves them from STDs, Abortions and Death – 11 Apr 11

Last week I wrote about the benefits of sex education for boys. For girls, sex education has even greater benefits which are in my opinion so important that even old-fashioned societies should no longer ignore them. Women are taught to feel ashamed about their sexual organs and everything related to them. Contraception, conceiving, giving birth and everything around those topics, including their own health, is nothing one should be talking of. If this attitude could change, if these women could all regularly go to gynecologists and have check-ups done, how many cases of cervical cancer could be prevented? How many other diseases could be diagnosed, treated and healed? Ultimately, how many lives could be saved?

I don’t want this point to be underestimated. Young people these days also have sex, often before their marriage but without any kind of sexual education and of course hidden from their parents and surrounding. What do you think they do when they discover they have any kind of sexually transmitted disease, probably received because they were not taught properly about the use of contraceptives and protective measurements? They have nowhere to turn!

In the same way, what do girls do, when they discover an unwanted pregnancy? In their despair they go to some chemist, in a town where nobody knows them and ask for abortion pills or some kind of medication so that they can get rid of the life growing in them. I have seen advertisement in newspapers for ‘Mensurole’, a pill that will ‘start your interrupted menstruation’. They will not say clear that it will intervene in the development of the fetus, because that would be illegal, but that is what it means. You don’t need any prescription, just take it, on your own risk. Other young women, especially when the pregnancy is already further advanced, go to ‘doctors’, charlatans with no license and have an abortion made there, often with the most primitive instruments, in unhygienic situations and far away from their family so that nobody may know what they are doing. It is risky and many have died in an attempt to save their honour or that of their family.

If they had been educated, they may not have faced this kind of situation. In the west, too, all these situations have been there, people have seen and heard of those stories but through sex education and a more open relation to one’s sexuality, those cases are now rare. People learned and they taught their children. There it is unimaginable that you get pills for abortion through a newspaper advertisement and without a doctor’s prescription.

You can save your children from guilt, shame, disease and abortions if you have a more modern, open view on sexuality and sex education. Your daughter will know her body, feel good about it and will know how to take care of it. This much for today. Tomorrow I will write more about the moral aspects, also in countries like India.

Relax every Day, not only on Holidays – 2 Feb 11

It is nice to be back at the Ashram again. I talked to some friends, who of course had been reading the diary, too, while we were on holiday. They were happy that they could go to the South with us in this way and told me that I looked even more relaxed on the pictures than I usually do.

I had to laugh about this and told them that it was a really relaxing holiday. At the same time however I know that if I look at myself, I am always able to relax, also when I am working. I liked my holiday, I would love to go for holidays somewhere in the next year, too and I am not against the concept of having a holiday but I am convinced that I am not more relaxed in my holiday time than any other time. I believe that you have to relax also when you are not on holidays!

If you need a holiday to relax, it means that you are fully exhausted throughout the rest of the year. In western countries I have heard this kind of exclamations, like people saying ‘I badly need a holiday now!’ You need to have holidays in your year. For some people the standard is one holiday, for others it is even four holidays a year. They say they need it badly and this just shows that they are exhausted and don’t enjoy their usual life anymore. Tourism industry loves the idea to promote this attitude: you are definitely exhausted and need a break!

I believe this is a western concept of holidays. People are stressed and exhausted, they don’t enjoy their work and how their life is and so they feel like running away from it. They need a break because there is no fun in their normal day for them anymore. It is understandable in today’s time of ambitions, competition, stress and pressure. They have to earn more money, survive while everything gets more and more expensive and additionally they have problems in their relations with others. People don’t enjoy their life, they are not satisfied and they are simply not happy. Holidays are good but they should not be the only time of the year that you feel good!

If you ask a normal person here in India, someone not very poor but also not very wealthy, how many holidays he had in their whole life, he might name his honeymoon but probably not much more and many people don’t even go to make a honeymoon. Here people don’t think ‘At least twice a year you have to get out!’ They don’t go on holidays once, two or three times a year, often because of financial reasons. But even if they cannot go on holiday, it does not mean that they can never relax!

When people say ‘I do yoga once a week’ or say ‘I did not have much time for spirituality lately’, I think they should integrate yoga and spirituality always in their everyday lives. When they say ‘I go on holiday twice a year to relax’, I think the same thing about their relaxation! Why don’t you relax every day?

My work is my fun. I enjoy my life daily. If I look into myself, I have the same consciousness and the same state of mind now as I had before my holiday and as I had in the time of my holiday. Even though we had a holiday now after two years without, I never felt that I was much less relaxed than now. I never have the feeling that I badly need a holiday but of course, I will be happy to go on such a beautiful trip again.
And even though I am writing this all here, I know that my friends, who saw my picture online, were just simply happy to see me enjoying, relaxing and having fun, also while not working. I am very thankful to have such friends and I realize it is their love and their friendship which is talking there and which would like to send me on a holiday again.

See Pictures of our Holiday in Kerala