Vrindavan Population Doubting ISKCON because of Acquisition of Land – 23 Feb 11

When I mentioned yesterday that local people would not like Kumar Swami to build another temple, I really talked about the feeling that many people of the town have at the moment and which you can hear and read about on newspapers and online.

In the last years and decades, Vrindavan has grown a lot. I have expressed this many times when writing about Vrindavan and telling how different the town was when I was a child.

Today there are many new and very big temples, around the temples there are guest houses, hotels, some restaurants and of course many shops. Whole buses of pilgrims come and among them are also a lot of foreigners. This development actually started with the growth of ‘ISKCON’ in Vrindavan, the ‘International Society of Krishna Consciousness’.
The organization was founded by Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, who came from West Bengal and lived in Vrindavan. He was a preacher, travelling in India and in the west and in the late 60s he founded the organization ISKCON. I remember his death when I was six or seven years old. They carried his body past our house through the streets towards the Yamuna river.

In our childhood, this organization’s temple was a small, simple temple in the outskirts of Vrindavan. Although it was far out of the town, quite a way from where we were living, that temple was a center of attraction because there were some foreigners worshipping there. We sometimes took a walk to there and since that time the temple is popularly called ‘Angrejon ka mandir’, the temple of foreigners.

Later on, the organization started getting more and more famous and more people came to Vrindavan from other countries to live here, chant, worship, pray and sometimes live for longer time. Foreigners brought money and the temple grew to this big marble building that it is today. For local people and pilgrims it is now a tourist attraction rather than a place of worship. They go there to do sightseeing, to see a nice temple and also to see foreigners, people with fair skin, doing pooja and chanting there. It is something you don’t see every day and definitely worth a visit. If they want to worship however and say their own prayers, Indian people go to the old temples in the center of the town.

Of course the people of the town were also happy that the foreigners who came brought some of their money with them and this is how many local businesses were able to grow their shops in that area and in the original market. Lots of money entered Vrindavan in the last decades and local businessmen were happy to get their share.

After some time however some doubts started to grow in peoples’ minds, too. The organization grew and grew and they started buying more and more land in the surrounding of the temple, building their own guesthouse, restaurant, living areas and a school. Soon a lot of property was in their hands and in the hands of people connected with them and many local people started changing their mind towards doubts and fear. Will they keep on buying land in Vrindavan until they own the whole town?

Shortly ago, they saw themselves justified in their worry because of this organization. The city of Vrindavan has lately made a lot of changes on the roads of Vrindavan, to install a sewage system and to make the streets broader. In order to do this, they tore a lot of buildings which were standing too much into the road. A lot of houses had to tear down their front wall and rebuild it further back because they had illegally extended their buildings onto government land. Many walls were broken and even some whole shops just destroyed. They had to move. ISKCON however, whose gates and outer walls were also quite a way into the new, broad street, remained unmolested and as they were.

This is why locals had been protesting in the last weeks, writing letters of protest to the city government and even going on hunger-strike in Mahatma Gandhi style, demanding that their outer wall has to be shifted, too. They accused officials of having taken bribes for not destroying their building while they were removing so many poor peoples’ houses and shops. And really, one man did not eat until he got the official confirmation last week that the fences of the ISKCON property would have to move to the back, too.

This is not the only reason for locals to complain about the big organization and I will dedicate tomorrow’s diary entry to explaining more of them.

Today the food of the children of our school was sponsored by the friends and family of our dear friend Sonja Kling. She celebrated her birthday on the last weekend and asked her guests to donate instead of giving presents. Thank you for this initiative to help our children selflessly!

Click here to see pictures of today's food

Choosing a Spouse for an Arranged Marriage – 12 Jan 10

Yesterday I wrote about the concept of arranged marriages. I said that at the first meeting of parents and possible future spouse the parents look at the boy or the girl trying to find any mistake. They believe they are doing best for their child and think of course, my son would like to be with a beautiful girl. But what can you say about that girl’s character?

Everybody’s measurement of beauty is different, what are your parameters for this? And then how do you know if that beautiful and fair girl is not lying with every word she says? In India the girl will usually live with her husband in his parents’ house, so they need to get along with the one spouse they choose. And the other way around, maybe that young woman whom they rejected because her skin colour was too dark, has the most beautiful soul and is a very kind and loving person. How do you know?

Another question: what do you think how this girl feels like after being rejected with the reason of not being beautiful enough? It could hurt her so much that she might have this doubt for her whole life long! This is not only about girls, it can happen also that a girl’s mother doesn’t find the proposed boy tall enough. Another ‘mistake’ that you cannot change, where this young man can really get a problem. This is one of the reasons why I do not appreciate arranged marriages at all. Think about it, it is one of the craziest concepts that I know!

Since yesterday we have two guests, Bonnie and Warren from the US. Warren is the father of Ria, who came by at the Ashram last year. Bonnie had a surprise ready for Warren: she had sponsored the food for the children in his name to give him this surprise and the joy to help in cooking and distributing. It was great to see how they enjoyed helping in this meal. A beautiful idea for a present!
Click here to see more pictures of today’s food

Searching for Truth – 16 Dec 09

Yesterday I said you need to have a stable opinion. I was yesterday mainly talking about having your own opinion which doesn’t change with everyone you meet. But it is also a very common thing in the ‘spiritual scene’ that people change very quickly and are not at all stable in their opinion. This, too, is the effect of it that they are not sure, there are always so many doubts.

And of course they are searching. They are searching for the truth. They go to someone or something, an organization or a master or guru, someone who knows the truth and who leads them towards it.

I like it when you are looking for the truth but I would like to say: the truth is nowhere outside. This is why you always got disappointed and couldn’t find it anywhere. Your truth is inside you. Search in your love and in your honesty, there you will find truth.

Magic Healing, Writing with Ghosts and more Cheating – 12 Jun 09

I heard from somebody that some people even claim that they can make statues bleed. I said ‘why do they only make them bleed, can they make the pee, too?’ It is so funny that people go to them. How come people believe in these fake things? Because they are looking for a miracle. They want to change their lives like magic. And this is why they always expect magic.

I know that people also turned away from me when they got to know that I do not believe in this kind of wonder. I believe in wonderful love. I do not appreciate it when people claim to do this kind of miracles or wonders.

I have seen healers who always have a group of people with them like a theatre group. Wherever they go, the members of the group go, too. Depending on the status of the healer, the size of the group is between 10 to 1500 people. They have a full setup. These group members go to a program in wheelchairs and on crutches, sit in the audience at different places and when the healer comes to them and ‘heals’ them, a miracle happens and they start leaving their wheelchair and their crutches and walk through the room, displaying the greatest amazement and wonder about this miracle. It is impressive for the rest of the audience and later on the whole group will move on to another place, just like a circus.

I was on a fair and especially on these occasions you meet so many people like this. You also hear from some who say that spirits are working for them. On the name of this spirit they do everything and it is very easy: you are not responsible and have a good excuse for everything. I even heard people claim that a spirit wrote a book through them. And this is very good, the spirit has done the work and the profit of selling it goes to them. I know what I am talking about. Some people come from India, some are from here and they create doubts and confusion in other people’s minds. I know also that they don’t like me and don’t wish me well. But I will say what I feel. For people, for honesty and for love.

Learning to Say Yes – 8 Jun 09

Yesterday I wrote that people tell me they need to learn to say no and it is really many people who say this. But today I want to say from a different perception why don’t we also learn to say yes? Why do we always live so much in doubts? I believe if our attitude is positive, it can change everything and also the way of living. If we say ‘yes’ to life, to love and to laughing, enjoying and having fun, we can change our life.

But unfortunately most of the times all our doubts and negative thoughts are too much and we are not able to say ‘yes’ and enjoy and have fun. And if we have fun and enjoy we often feel that others don’t enjoy with us. They want to make us feel guilty about it, that we are having fun instead of living in doubts.

I want to invite those who are worrying about learning to say no. Please come, take a step out and say yes! Open your heart and say ‘Yes, I am ready to embrace love’ and see how beautiful life is. You have a right to be happy and you deserve to have fun! Don’t care about people who try to make you feel guilty. Nobody knows how many days are left in life. Come, enjoy it and celebrate it!

Our friend Jürgen drove us to Erkelenz today where we will stay the next week with Sonja and her family.

Today’s food was sponsored by the students of the Yoga Teacher Training. Thank you all!

Help for Letting Go after a Separation – 28 Feb 09

Once a woman came to me for a healing session and told me she had problems in letting go. She said ‘I am going through a separation with my boyfriend. A few weeks ago I found out that he is involved with another woman. I feel betrayed because we had the agreement that we would tell each other if someone was seeing another person.’

I did not quite understand what she meant with the last sentence so I asked her ‘In a relationship you do not usually have this kind of agreement, do you? Was it an open or more casual relationship?’ She said no, they made this agreement when they separated five months ago. ‘And we promised each other that we would tell if there was someone new. But he did not and I feel betrayed.’

I asked her ‘How long have you been in this relationship?’ The answer was for three and a half years. She said: ‘I was always the one of us who was in doubts. I did not know if it was right for me. He was the one who was confident about our relationship. I feel like I was not good enough and could not give him enough love and that is why it did not work. He was positive but I was doubtful and that is why he fell in love with another woman.’

I said I am trying to analyze your situation. You are sad and you are still saying you are going through a separation. It is five months ago. The sun daily rises new. Why do you feel betrayed? You are saying you have problems letting it go and actually you are fully right, this is the problem. You said you always were in doubt, maybe now you can see the situation from this perception: I knew this, it was not for me. Then you can be happy that you are in a new life now and start new. You left it. Now you know that he broke the agreement, but this is just another reason to see that this was not the right person for you. And do not create this guilt to think you were not good enough. That would make one more problem. You have to create this kind of atmosphere inside yourself which helps you to let it go. You should have more confidence.

She was very happy already after this talk with me. She was relieved and said that she would see things from this perception from now on and she was confident that she would be able to let it go. Now the chapter is closed so to bring her out of this emotional chaos, I gave her this suggestion to think that he was not right for her. If she had not been doubtful maybe it could have worked out, that is true. But now it is definitely over and there is no sense to stay in this guilt.

Spreading Negativity – People Telling what they do not Like – 3 Feb 09

I spent some time with a person who constantly kept saying: I don’t like this, I don’t like that and I don’t like that. I always heard that from him and once I asked him: Why is there so much negativity inside you? Please watch yourself and count once how many times you tell in a day to you and others what you don’t like. And then count how often you say what you like.

If you always say what you don’t like, this negative energy is spreading in your mind and in your surroundings. You attract what you have and of course you are spreading this negativity. I really wonder why people want to create this negativity and fears or live in these doubts. Many people live in fear and that is why they create fear for others. What they have is what they are spreading for others, too. They live in fear themselves and create fear for others because they think it has to be like that.

Another type of people creates fear in the mind when they have a personal interest of their business with them. Don’t be negative and don’t spread fear. Maybe you need someone to tell you this once but then please watch yourself that you attract and spread positivity.

Today here was a Darshan. It is a new place for me; I am here for the first time. So all people in the Darshan saw me for the first time. My friend Regina who organizes the program here and invited us told me that for most of them it is the first time to be in a meditation. I then told the people that they should not worry if they are in a meditation for the first time. I said that you do not need any certain technique. They just needed to be honest, natural and themselves. It is the best meditation if you manage to be who you are. The people were very touched and it was a very nice meditation.

Click here to see pictures of today's Darshan

Disciples Following like Sheep without Taking Responsibility – 29 Mar 08

Ramona and I brought her family to the airport in Delhi last night and came home at six o'clock in the morning. Their flight departed at seven o'clock in the morning and they are still travelling now. David and his friend also left the Ashram today to spend their last days in India in Rishikesh. It is a steady coming and going here.

Somebody asked me a question which I hear very often: which tradition do I follow? And I always give the answer that I do not follow any tradition or religion and that I do not want to make followers. I know that many Gurus and Swamis are successfully making disciples and that thousands of people are being called their followers. But I will say that most of them are following like sheep are following in a herd. They have not thought about the decision of following that Master and maybe they do not even know what exactly he or she is teaching. No, they are followers because thousands of others are doing the same. There is no or vey little own thinking. Sheep also do not know where they are going and why they are going there but they go because all others are going.

These people do not want to take responsibility for their own actions. This applies to all aspects of life. If all those other people are doing that, it must be right. But still, there is always some doubt, there is always the question if they are doing right or wrong. Sheep will always be in doubts. And this is what I do not want to create. I want to make people think and take responsibility for what they are doing. I do not want any blind followers who don't know what I am talking about. Maybe those people who like to be followers do not feel well with me because it is not my nature to have followers. My aim is to give love to people and bring them into this love to themselves that they can decide on their own what the right way is for them. Then they can go their way without any doubt.

Respect others Unconditionally how they are – 09 Mar 08

Trust can easily be destroyed by doubts. We have a saying: there is no cure for doubts. And if doubts destroy the trust, the base of love is damaged. There is so much talk about unconditional love but actually unconditional trust and unconditional respect are the ground, the fertile earth on which love grows and can get strong. Doubts however destroy this ground. If there are doubts, there is no trust. As I said it is either trust or no trust.

But today I want to say more about the unconditional respect which is just as important. We hear very often from divorces and both, husband and wife say "It did not work out." They tell that there is still love between them but somehow the sparkle is gone, something changed. Love never really finishes, you know. But respect can finish easily and very often this is the reason for breaking up. Love is there but not the necessary respect. It gets lost very often after a wedding. You have a certain role, the other one is your husband or your wife. And very often this position gives the feeling that you own the other one. He or she is mine. And the respect is lost. Respect is frequently in the same way like love connected with expectations: "If you do this I love you, if you do that I respect you." It is your own perception, values and attitude with which you decide to respect someone or not. It is your imagination of how a person should act. If he acts according to this you feel good and he has earned your respect.

I have also experienced this. People have a certain image from how I should behave and if I would go out to a disco now, which I already did a few times, or if I play Billiard, then this doesn't fit with the image of a Swami. But I want to live how I am, what I feel, who I am! In this way everybody should respect others how they are. We have to be aware of this and should not lose the respect for others for this kind of reason. On the other hand we also need to see that we do not make others lose the respect for us through our actions and behaviour. Always stay yourself, do not act. Respect will be honest when it is for who you truly are.


Trust in Relationships – 30 Jan 08

As I said yesterday it is sometimes funny how relationships are started here. The source of a relationship is important. In which consciousness have you started it? How has it grown up later on? With fear or without? And again there is the question of trust. Trust is really missing here. People have doubts before anything even started. Some still have this question even when the relationship is already years old: How long will it last? Many people are living with this kind of fear. However like this a relationship does not have a good basis. Build your relationship on trust and love. This is the way.

Ramona brought the second part of yesterday's movie to watch it today. I do not really remember the movie. I know I liked it but somehow I do not remember any details. It is just not important. There are things that happened twenty years ago and I could tell you exactly each word that was spoken. But I do not remember the story of yesterday's movie. My mind works like that.