When Religion limits Freedom of Choice, Opinion and Expression – 16 Sep 15

After having written about Islam yesterday, explaining why I am definitely no Islamophobe, I had a few more thoughts about what I like and dislike about religion. One very big point is that I don’t want to tell anybody what they should think as well as I don’t like being told what I should think. I believe in freedom of expression, freedom of opinion – and religion often thinks very differently about this!

You all know that I am an atheist. I have been very much in religion and now have come fully out of it, so much that I don’t even believe in god anymore. But you know what? I have absolutely no problem with you practicing your religion! Pray to whomever you want, don’t speak, eat or work one, two or three days a week, sit or lie down for your prayer ten times or a hundred times – I really don’t mind or care. Religion anyway says it is just for you, so you could just keep your religious practice within your four walls! Just don’t try to make me believe what you believe in! And one more thing: don’t try to stop me from saying my opinion!

I live in a democratic country, I believe in democracy and, as mentioned, I believe we all should be free to say whatever we want to say. It doesn’t matter if we disagree, we don’t even have to argue about it! I have a lot of friends all over the world of all kinds of religions and I get along very well with each of them although many of them know that I have a very different opinion than them on the topic of their belief!

We could very well live like this with the freedom of choice, opinion and expression for everyone, as long as we don’t harm or bother others – but unfortunately religion does not usually agree with this or act this way!

Just look at all those missionary actions several religions do in different countries of the world! Of course, Christians were the biggest missionaries at one time, converting people all over the earth and if they didn’t change faith and get baptized willingly, they forced them to. Don’t believe that this has stopped though!

Here in India, it is still happening, where Christian, Hindu and Muslim missionaries compete with each other! People in need are lured with the promise of food, shelter and work but with one condition: they have to convert. There are a lot of people who have changed their faith several times in their lives already – because they had to! They wanted to survive and were offered a way. Religion was not important enough for them to die for it!

That’s how many people in areas of crisis may feel about the IS as well, although Islam gets much more extreme here: they have an agenda that everyone of different faith has to be converted or killed! It is not easy to be of the exact same faith as an extreme fundamentalist. You have very high chances of falling into the category of those who have to be killed.

And that’s where religion is not tolerant for others, brutally murders people and forces others to change what they believe in.

No, thank you, I prefer atheism and democracy instead!

Friends with different Belief – how it works – 4 Nov 14

A Muslim, a Hindu, a Christian, a Jew and an atheist walk into a restaurant. They have fun, share a good talk and enjoy their evening before going home to sleep.

I read these lines somewhere and had to laugh. You would think that this combination of people, all from different beliefs, including one with no belief at all, is an explosive one. It is not true however – we can all live alongside each other well, as long as we don’t try to convince each other! That is actually what I prefer in my private life as well.

I really never want to convince anybody. Yes, in my blog or on social media, I write down my thoughts. Nobody however has to read anything he doesn’t want to read! I cannot and don’t want to force anybody to read my words or listen to what I am saying. If you are interested, open and would like to read or hear another point of view, you are welcome and we may have an interesting conversation. If not, fully fine, I don’t need to talk to you about religion or belief!

I have some friends who are religious. I can sit together with them and just spend a nice hour or two, talking about family, business and what is going on in our lives. I don’t even need to start the topic of religion. I would actually be annoyed if they did because we all know very exactly that this conversation won’t lead anywhere.

Yes, it is true, my talk cannot go very deep with someone who has very strong religious sentiments because we will have fully different opinions for so many topics that it would not be much fun going in detail. But if there is love and friendship, it can exist even with that difference in opinion.

In any case, I would never try to convince another one or even start a fight. If you ask me for my opinion, I can give it to you. If you want to know more, I can tell you why it is like this. If you are open, I will do this all with pleasure. If you are fixed on your point of view and just ask me because you want to oppose and start an argument, I am not interested. I will get quiet, maybe nod sometimes and in general just not be very happy to continue the conversation. I tell you my views only because you are interested and have asked me – please don’t tell me yours until I am interested and ask you.

Believe what you want to believe or don’t believe anything but do it without disturbing others. Don’t disturb yourself by reading my words if you don’t like them – and don’t disturb me with the wish to fight because of them!

God is not against Condoms and Contraceptives – 24 Nov 10

While writing yesterday’s diary, I had another thought. Doctors here in India also let people know that a woman’s risk of cervical cancer gets higher with each birth. A woman with seven children is thus a lot more likely to get cervical cancer than a mother of one. It thus increases the risk of dying. The Holy Father said it is okay to use a condom to prevent spreading of HIV, it is okay if you use a condom in order to save life instead of preventing life from coming into existence. So would it be fine to use a condom to prevent cervical cancer, too?

Well, I guess not, if you think of his model solution for preventing AIDS infections altogether: celibacy! Yes, if you don’t want more children, just don’t have sex, don’t waste your sperm and don’t kill unborn – and un-conceived – life through birth control. As I said yesterday, this might also be the solution to India’s population problem wouldn’t it be such an impossible thing to do. You just cannot teach celibacy to people who sign with fingerprints and couldn’t care less about how many people there are in their country. What about the relation of an educated Western couple who got married, has two children and doesn’t want to have more? Again, the answer would be abstinence, right?

Apart from the fact that I see celibacy as a fully wrong concept that suppresses a very natural urge, I have to say that I strongly oppose the idea that God would not like us to use birth control. Do you really oppose God’s creation if you use condoms or the birth control pill? I don’t want to go into the discussion if those hormones are good for your body or which contraceptive is most natural. I want to ask the Pope, the Catholic Church or just everybody who is of that opinion, do you really think that you can oppose God’s creation? If He wants life to come to this world, do you think you can do anything against that? How powerful do you think you are?

Isn’t that an extreme over-estimation of yourself? God is the one who gives and takes life, not you. Even if you use a condom perfectly, it is only a 98% guarantee that you don’t get pregnant. Most people even only get a 85% guarantee because they don’t use it really properly. So what do you think, if God wanted a life to come, He would not find a way? After all He is the one who is behind the idea that we should reproduce. By the way, He is also the one behind the invention of birth control measurements, so don’t believe that He didn’t want people to start using them.

No, you cannot convince me in this way and you cannot convince millions of people who would like to enjoy the natural sexual urge of their body in a healthy and safe way.

Everybody Stupid but Me – 6 Oct 10

Humans seem to have a special characteristic trait which I notice again and again but of which I am not sure if it helps humankind to survive or why exactly nature created it. Why is it that everybody seems to think the people around him are at least a little bit stupid?

Teachers think their students are stupid while the students believe they themselves are clever and their teachers are stupid. Employers think their employees are stupid and their employees themselves believe that their employers are stupid. You can even see it in children! Their parents think – in a loving way – that their children are still stupid, they need to learn but look at that child and how it looks at the parent who just told him off for not listening or for running across the street. Don’t you think that child has a thought in its mind ‘I saw that car and I know it was still very far away…’. Everybody believes he knows everything and everything better. So tell me, does nature want to save us from our own stupidity by convincing us that we are the most clever ones on earth?

I remember a joke related to this topic:

Two business men who both run their own companies have a talk. One of them says ‘Oh, my employees are just stupid! And most of all my personal assistant! Wait, I will show it to you!’ He calls his assistant into the room, hands him a ten-dollar note and says ‘Go and buy a red Mercedes from the car dealer down the road.’ The assistant takes the money and leaves. ‘You see, he did not even object, he thinks he can buy a Mercedes in ten Dollar!’

They both laugh but then the second business man says ‘This is nothing compared to my assistant!’ He calls him and gives his order ‘Go to my home and ask my wife if I am home already.’ ‘Yes Sir,’ the assistant says and leaves. ‘You see, I am sitting here but he will go and ask my wife if I am there!’ the business man laughs.

Down on the street, the two assistants meet. The first one shows his ten-Dollar note and says ‘See, I told you my boss is stupid! He thinks I could buy him a Mercedes in 10 Dollar!’ The other one objects ‘But have a look at my boss! He is sitting in there and I have to run to his wife to ask if he is there! Really, doesn’t he see, there is a phone on the table, just call her and ask!’

Cosmetic Business brings Women to not feeling Beautiful – 15 Jul 10

When I write about Make-up like yesterday, I know that there will be many people who do not agree or are not convinced with my ideas. And obviously, if you use make-up, why would you? Many people come to me who use make-up and also many of my friends use it. I already mentioned the reason for most of them: they want to look beautiful.

For me, it is not their skin that is beautiful, not how their eyes are coloured and not how long their eyelashes are or how red their lips are. I see through the make-up and see their beautiful heart. Beauty does not depend on all these things.

There is a general ideal of beauty but why do we fix this? Who has made this? Another shape, another figure, other colours and different shades of hair are beautiful for different people. In India people see fair skin colour as beautiful while people in the west think of tanned skin as beautiful. What exactly is beauty? It cannot be the skin colour or any of the other attributes that you can ‘make’ by using powders, lotions, sun tanning or fitness training. Otherwise everybody would think of beauty in the same way.

This idea of making yourself more beautiful with help from outside has been there for ages in all cultures and now the industry of beauty products and cosmetics is so big. If TV and media did not present this ideal picture of beauty, how would it keep on growing? It has to change all the time so that they can always sell and promote different things. They show you what beauty is and if you want to achieve this, you need to buy their products. You see, it is not about beauty, it is about business.
Unfortunately this business leads to it that some women don’t even feel beautiful without make-up. They depend on this so much that they do not see their natural self as beautiful.

Of course, there are side effects of using make-up, too! It is not good for your body, your skin cannot breathe and some cosmetic products can even cause cancer with all those harmful chemicals. So you even damage your body while trying to be beautiful in an artificial way!

Always remember: Beauty comes from within you. You are beautiful as you are, your soul and heart are beautiful.

Showing off Spirituality and Religion – 9 Feb 10

I said yesterday that some people like to show off spirituality and even religion. Why would you do that, for what? Let’s see again the example of going for shopping with your mala in your hand and while you are saying your mantras you choose something to buy and wear.

So why exactly did you take your mala? Okay, if you told me you want to pray on the way to the shop because you have to walk for half an hour to reach there, I would understand that you took your mala for praying on the way. However why don’t you put it away when you enter the shop? Is it because you want all the other people in the store to know that you are spiritual or religious? Why do you need to show that off?

I sometimes have the impression that especially the ‘spiritual tourists’ that are coming to India have the feeling that they need to show everyone that they are spiritual. However if you are really comfortable with yourself and your spirituality, you don’t need to let others know about it all the time. I anyway don’t think that you need to convince others of what you believe. It is your thing, your belief and if they ask you can talk about it but if nobody asks, if you are just going to the market to go shopping just like everybody else, it is okay if you just do it in the way that others do it, too.

Isn’t that your ego saying that you want the shopkeeper to notice that you are different, that you are devoted and connected to God? Do you think they would think better of you then? Does that make the others less spiritual because they are not praying while shopping?

Spirituality is something very personal and individual. You don’t need to connect with a sect or join a group for living your spirituality. Unfortunately you nowadays have to make this comparison of deeply felt spirituality and show-off spirituality. Be natural about your spirituality. This means that if you really have this feeling of love and devotion, then pray. Or take your time to only pray to get back into this feeling. Don’t do things by halves. Fully be in your prayer, in your meditation.

Spiritually Confused People – 4 Sep 09

Today after dinner we had a nice conversation with Jeremy about belief, religion and some people’s need to convince others of what they themselves believe in. I don’t tell anybody what I say is right. You can believe what is right for you.

I know many people are spiritually confused. They read thousands of books and mix all theories together. And when they meet another person they are trying to tell this person what they read and claim that it is right and only that is right. Often people are narrow-minded in this way. Why are you not open to accept that somebody else has another belief? You are actually not sure about your own belief but afraid that you could be wrong.

If you meet someone who is convinced of what he or she believes and who is stable in that, this person will not have the need to convince you. She knows what she believes is right for her and if you tell her that you believe in something else, that is okay for her, too. People who are not sure about their own belief are those who want to argue about it. And they keep on looking and searching and reading many books and going to many different workshops and seminars.

Why do we need all these complicated philosophies? We just need to learn four letters: LOVE. It is that simple. Everybody will agree that you need love in your life. Live in love, believe in love and share love.

Why are not all Children displayed on the Webpage? – 15 Jul 09

Today when I saw the pictures that Purnendu sent from today’s ‘food for a day’, I was really amazed how many children are sitting there and eating. I knew that there are now 130 children who are going to school but when you see them all together at lunch, you can see how much this number actually is.

There are still not all of them registered on our website and Purnendu still needs to take some pictures of them. But when we asked Purnendu today if he would do that soon he told us why it was not done until now: There are many children who came for the admissions and were noted down for this school year but then they came only for a few days. After that they did not come anymore.

I have written before about this kind of problem in India and about the problems that we especially face with these families who are not really interested in education. They would like their child to get a free warm meal and clothes but they are not interested to teach the child reading and writing. And this is how some children just don’t come anymore after a while. We talk with the parents and try to convince them but some of the children do not come anymore. And then we need to take them off the website again.

This is how it is always something to do and Purnendu will wait until he can see that those children who are coming to school will also stay longer. I like to write about this because it gives a clearer picture of the situation there and how much we want to work to make a change so that in future each mother and each father wants to send all of their children to school.

See pictures of today's food for a day

Do not Try to Convince Others of your Belief – 12 May 09

I do not try to convince anybody to believe what I believe. I simply tell how I feel and what my experience is. Then you can feel yourself. Whatever your belief system says will be right for you. And in this way I have said before that if someone comes to me and tells me that he doesn’t believe in God I do not try to convince him that God exists. I tell him to believe in what he feels because maybe someday he will experience something which makes him believe in God.

Not any belief is good or bad, no person is good or bad and no place is good or bad. If one place is not good for you, there will be somebody who likes the place. Maybe you don’t like a person but maybe that same person is just perfect for someone else. You cannot say anybody is good or bad, it is only your perception. And you don’t need to convince anybody of what you believe in because their belief is just right for them.

We had a very nice last day in Wiesbaden today and a wonderful evening with Thomas, Iris and our friend Pawan and his children. We also packed so that we have everything ready to start tomorrow to Lüneburg to Michael.

Gurus Telling you what to Believe – Why this is never right – 9 May 09

While we were having breakfast we had a nice conversation. I said: ‘I don’t understand why anybody would want to convince somebody else that they should believe this or that. In my opinion everybody should believe what they experience and feel. Everybody is unique and everybody has his own consciousness, intelligence and perception and this will suit him and be good for him.

From this point of view nothing is wrong or bad. It is only the perception. Here in Europe you can go into church with your shoes on whereas in India you have to take off shoes outside. With time situations, atmosphere, people, places and the definition of good and bad changes.

But religious teachings and gurus and masters are preaching and telling you what you should believe. This is the concept of gurus, I have written about this before already. It is easy and you don’t need to take responsibility if someone tells you what to believe in.

But if I have a look at my own life I see so many changes. I don’t believe in things anymore which I believed in 15 years ago. Instead of that I believe in things which I did not believe 15 years ago. I had this situation that I believed in something, the next day something happened and then I did not believe this anymore. And maybe after two, five or ten years it will change again and I will believe what my consciousness will tell me then. How can I guarantee this philosophy? So how can I try to force someone to believe what I believe in now? If I say this today and tomorrow my belief changes, how will I say this person to change his belief, too? And if I don’t say that my belief changed it wouldn’t be honest.

I have seen so many preachers who live this dual life with double beliefs. They don’t believe in what they are teaching themselves. And this is the reason why their voice doesn’t touch the people’s heart. It is not coming from their heart and it is not their own truth.

Today we were invited to the birthday dinner of a very nice new friend. He is the director of the school for handicapped children where Thomas is working. He is connected with children and in July he will come and visit the Ashram and the children there. We had a really nice time there and he had prepared wonderful food.