Religion – a Dictatorship with inflexible outdated Laws – 22 Jun 12

I already wrote about the development of religion, how it was created out of fear and ignorance and how people needed it to explain the inexplicable.

In order to bring an order into society, religion created different rules which are noted like laws in the scriptures. Religion is like the law-giving power with the scriptures being their books of law. They tell you what you can do and what you are not allowed to do. That does not mean however that those laws are all just and right! Religion did not want to lose its power and control though and this is how those who were in power made another rule: these laws cannot be changed or corrected. Scriptures are holy and should not be altered in any way!

When you speak of laws, you automatically also speak of politics. They are closely connected. And if religion has made its laws, too, religion also has its own politics. But religion is not a democracy. Religion has always worked like a dictatorship, exploiting people, using fear to let them accept the rules without asking. Just like a dictator, religion doesn’t want you to be happy because it would make you difficult to control. He makes the rules and you have no way to change them.

The reality is however that you cannot make any law for eternity. What you say now may not be applicable anymore in twenty years from now. Or maybe not even in one year! So when religion did not want to be flexible and did not give any freedom to change, there were rebels, like Buddha or Luther, trying to raise a revolution. They were expelled from the territory of the dictator. And with some corrections on the laws, these rebels started their own religion. And with each span of time that passed, a new religion was created.

But in the end, they all are the same. Everybody made his own laws according to his own comfort. Many types of religion, ways of living and different branches developed. They are breaking apart, spreading and creating new ones. This happened in the past, is happening now and will happen in the future.

So while we still have the Gods of old times in some places of the earth, other people in other places have found another way. This is how there is such a huge variety – small Gods, big Gods, Gods that have statues and Gods that are not in pictures at all. Some talk about religion without a God and some say they don’t believe in anything.

I personally like the God of nonbelievers more than the God of believers. He is a thought, a good thought, is in my heart and in my mind. I made him myself. I created him how I wanted him to be. He is mine. That is why I love him and why I also believe in him.

For me it is difficult to believe in a God who sits in heaven, whom I cannot see, who doesn’t talk to me, whom I cannot touch, who is adorned with silver and gold in the temples and decorated with flowers, who sometimes gets stolen by thieves, which he cannot do anything about. If he cannot protect himself, how would he protect me?

Nobody likes dictatorships but when people believe, they don’t realize that they are in a dictatorship. I cannot believe in laws that were made thousands of years ago. I like democracy, the rule of the people, I like change and I like freedom.

Don’t try to convince others – they have to make their own Experience – 15 Jun 12

In the last days I wrote a few articles that illustrate my opinion towards religion, scriptures and all the nonsense that comes with it. Sometimes that nonsense is not only funny but can turn dangerous as well, regardless which religion you are talking about. I had expected these diaries to be criticized and that is exactly what happened. People are in denial, they blame insertions and translations and they just don’t want to see the truth. I mostly don’t argue and discuss much. I state my point and I let people make their own mind about it. Why? Because I don’t think that I can actually convince someone if I argue about it.

It was never my nature to fight and to argue, to stick with my point and defend it against endless attacks from the outside, trying to prove it from every different angle with the effort of making another person understand. I don’t tend to persuade people and I really hardly have an argument with anybody. It may have happened a few times – online or in person – and I mostly regretted wasting so much energy once the argument was over. It was a clear waste of time because the other one had not moved even a tiny bit from their stand, nor had I from mine.

If you see it realistically, how should you be able to convince someone with one page of your writing? Or with some comments on a social networking site like facebook? Even in real life, out of the computer, talking to someone who is sitting in front of you, a discussion of half an hour is hardly ever going to change the other person’s mind.

Just one example: I talked to a friend and I pointed out the different bad effects of religion. After some time he said okay, there are many bad ones but there are more positive ones! I asked him to name them but he could not find even one. Nevertheless he did not want to accept it. You can also talk as much as you like about the injustice of the caste system – if someone believes in it, you won’t get him to see that it is wrong!

The reason is that people have to make their own experience in order to change. Discussions are good for learning. You can find out different points of view, you can practice presenting your point but you will hardly be able to convince anybody.

It is kind of obvious, too: how could you, by writing a few lines or talking a few minutes, erase ideas which have been created over the course of many years or were learned while growing up? Change takes place only when a person is ready and really wants to, otherwise prejudices and previous opinions are too strong. The other one may even understand your arguments and your point of view may feel right to him but he will not accept it, especially when it comes to his belief. It doesn’t matter how great you are in discussing and how nicely you are able to put your argument, the other one will not change only because of your words.

So this is why I don’t even try it. Better don’t waste your time and energy. You can state your point of view, tell what is your opinion and make clear why it is like this. But don’t argue or defend yourself. If someone wants to think differently, it is fine. And whenever the other person will make an experience like you, something that makes him realize what you have seen before, he will think of your words and there will be room for him to accept what you had told. If you argue and insist, his ego may stop him from accepting the truth. If you just lay out your points, display them and show them, he can choose to believe in them whenever he is ready.

Do not stubbornly stick to Opinions and old Patterns – Be open for Change – 7 Jul 11

In one of my old diary entries I recently read the following paragraph:

“…everyone who really loves you wants you to be happy and strong and stable in your happiness. It is difficult to have stable happiness if you cannot have a stable opinion because all the time you actually worry in which direction you have to change your opinion now!”

I read these lines and I still agree on them. It is very important to be stable, to know what you want and to take your decisions accordingly. At the same time I thought however that there are times when people keep their opinion not only stable but solid and stubbornly stick to an opinion which has often been formed decades ago.

This is also not the right attitude towards your opinions. Don’t form an opinion and make it a tradition. Whenever this happens, all flexibility is gone. Maybe you know this kind of behavior from older people. As a teenager the neighbor girl may have been wild and in that time your grandparents have formed their opinion to never trust her to take care of their plants when they are gone. Now, thirty or more years later, they still think of this woman as a wild girl, although she may now be settled and happily married, living a calm life. The old people may however still hesitate and not be able to trust her.

This is an easy example but such opinions and the stubbornness that they could not change go much deeper. We often follow a certain pattern and don’t want to leave it. We know it is not right and not true anymore, times have changed, but because we have done it always in this way, we stick with it. I have believed this for so many years, how could I change now? How could I stop believing this? This thinking does not make you happy. If you know the truth and you don’t change your opinion, you are not honest with yourself.

If you experience something, don’t be shy to change your opinion, even if it is the opposite of what you thought before. Change if you believe it is necessary to change, otherwise it will cost you your happiness. If you change when it is right to change, you will see that new doors open for a better future.

Flexible Followers of Multiple Gurus – Confused Sociable Salesmen – 10 Jun 11

Flexible followers of many gurus at once

The opposite of strict followers, who I described yesterday, are flexible followers who don’t mind having several gurus, no, who love having as many gurus as possible. They actually follow whomever they can find. They have hundred pictures of different masters on their altar and they buy every book of every guru.

Flexible followers have a clear advantage here: they can take the positive parts of every guru’s message and just forget what does not fit to them. They can pick the good lessons only and don’t need to go too deep into the dubious rests of every philosophy.

It is easy for them to mingle with all kinds of followers. It doesn’t matter whom the others are following, flexible followers have something positive to say about every guru. The other person obviously likes that and so they keep every other follower happy, too.

Sometimes people who do business in the esoteric scene are this kind of followers. It has many advantages for their business because they can sell their stuff to anybody, irrespective of whom they are following.

One disadvantage is however, that they easily get confused. Each and every of those masters uses different words, sees things in another way and tells his followers different things. If you read a hundred books about enlightenment, you can find a hundred different ways to get there and mixing them up does not always help.

While strict followers of one guru sometimes have problems of intolerance and narrow-mindedness, flexible followers have problems of too much choice, a variety of possibilities that is just too big. They find it hard to find a common factor with all those gurus and cannot really decide which way they should go. They try everything a little bit and unfortunately often get very confused in the effort to follow everyone at once.

Why it is not good to hold Yoga Poses for long time – 21 Mar 11

We have had a wonderful celebration weekend, with Ramona’s birthday on Saturday and a big Holi party on Sunday. It was lots of coloured powder, lots of coloured water and lots of fun! Everybody enjoyed it very much. Yashendu also gave the yoga workshop to the participants of the Ayurveda Yoga Holiday and in that time I remembered another incident that I wanted to tell you about.

Once in a healing session, someone asked me about a certain yoga practice. He had heard that one of his teachers was able to remain in each yoga pose that he did for a complete half an hour.

‘But when I try this, I start getting pain so quickly. I bend forward in Paschimottasana and my back hurts, I sit in Padmasana, the lotus seat and my knee hurts, I am in the shoulder stand and my hips start aching. What can I do to reach that level?’

As he asked me for my opinion, I did not hold back with it. I told him that I thought this idea was completely wrong, simply a wrong approach to any physical exercise and definitely a wrong way to practice yoga.

First of all, there are many poses which are physically harmful if you hold them for such a long time. There are postures for example that hurt and injure your joints after a certain time because they are twisted in an unusual position which is not how your body is meant to be. Inversion postures, such as the shoulder stand and the head stand, should never be performed longer than ten minutes. These poses are beneficial for you because more blood flows towards the head due to gravity but if you keep it for a long time, this same fact can harm the blood vessels in the head due to the increased blood pressure. What is good for you for a short time is harmful if you do it for that long.

Even if you practice a posture that is medically fine to hold for such a long time, you should never ever exceed the limits of your body. It is not any miracle if someone can do this. The human body is very flexible and you can practice and train it to do nearly whatever you want. But it is wrong. Why would you give pain and hurt to your body in order to force it into an unnatural position for a long time? Yoga is meant to be enjoyed. It is not a competition and it is nothing that is goal-oriented. Feel the benefit of a pose when you are in the pose, no matter how well you can perform it.

Don’t give pain to your body or cross your own limits! Listen to your body and what it tells you, it knows best what is good for you.

Living in Yoga is more important than doing Yoga – 1 Nov 10

I have been writing about yoga teachers who want to be perfect in doing the Asanas. In the west those people who are then really flexible in the yoga poses and can bend their body wherever they want are called yoga masters or experts. They may be practicing yoga postures several hours daily in order to be more perfect. I have been writing about perfectionism but what would that really mean for yoga?

The main point again is that yoga is not only ‘doing yoga’ but it is ‘living yoga’. In the Western world ‘being good in yoga’ means the asanas, it means discipline and counting your yoga practice in hours per day. Most of the times I see yoga teachers teach much but are less in yoga. I would like them to be more in yoga and teach less.

Whoever comes to the Ashram – be it for learning yoga or just for enjoying being in India – experiences a very different kind of yoga. You may be doing yoga and practicing the yoga poses but for really living yoga you don’t need to count any hours, you just need to be in love. First of all you need to love yourself, then love those around you and include really your whole surrounding. Accept whatever happens, even if it doesn’t seem to fit into your plan. Don’t attach yourself to the things that you ‘own’. Don’t think you are perfect, you can always learn, so be open to new lessons. Feel your body, listen to the signs of your body and take care of it. Accepting this attitude will change a lot in your life. You don’t get exaggerated enthusiasm that might disappoint you and you don’t fall into depression. Keeping your body, mind and soul healthy makes you more stable, more satisfied and much happier.

People who come to India often get to know that here people may not be able to do a lot of yoga poses but that many live much more in yoga than many of the yoga teachers they know. Living in yoga has nothing to do with perfection. It has everything to do with love, with being in the flow of what is happening and with accepting the limits of your body. Being perfect does not mean that you can get both legs behind your head and then walk on your hands. It just means living in love with yourself and all that is around you. Living in yoga is more important than doing yoga.

German Qualities – Punctual, Proper and Everything Planned – 9 Jul 10

I was telling about the typical German way of wanting to have everything ‘proper’. Everything has its right order. This can sometimes be very nice. I already wrote sometime that you can usually rely on Germans, they are punctual and if they say something, they do their best to keep their word. A stereotype of a German person is correct, tidy, punctual and also direct, you do not normally have to guess what they mean, they will let you know. I like these qualities, they give you something steady and makes it easy and nice to be with them. In other places I have not found these qualities that much. That is how I also love Germany and feel like my second home here.

There are however also some things that I have to laugh about from time to time. I always tell one story to explain a German character trait: A German drives in a car. He has three different maps in his car with the way already marked in them so that everything is very clear. He has planned exactly when he needed to start so that he will be five minutes early for his appointment, so he is happy because everything goes just as he imagined.

Then, suddenly, in front of him there is a wall. Just a wall on the street. He cannot keep on driving on his lane, so he stops the car in front of the wall. Confused, he grabs his maps, searches for his location on the map, finds it but sees no wall! He looks in the other two maps but also there, no wall! He starts getting nervous. What does this mean? He gets out of the car and stares at the wall. He cannot believe it! It is just there, in the middle of the way!

I always have to laugh about this story. A German person might not think of just looking left and right of the wall or drive around it, he will spend much time, staring at the wall, not comprehending that it is there. He will get stressed out, his stress will increase more and more with this one question: why is this wall here? That might even result in him giving up his plan and driving back home because he is not spontaneous enough to change plans so quickly. It was not going according to plan and that confused the whole system!

Well, what I would like to say to all Germans who sometimes get stuck in this kind of situation: be flexible, relax, there is always another way! It is good to have a plan but keep it flexible! The plan may not work out as you thought but the solution for the problem might prove much better than the original plan! I know some people get very stressed when the original plan doesn’t work out. They sometimes try not to show you their stress, they know that they should not feel this however you can see and feel that they cannot deal with the change of plan. But you do your best and then see what comes out of it. I promise you, if you can relax and just watch where life takes you, you will enjoy the journey more!

We had great ice-cream close to the Rhine river today on our last day in Wiesbaden together with Thomas and Iris.

Flexibility of Hinduism: Biggest Quality and Biggest Drawback – 21 Oct 09

Yesterday I said that Hinduism is very flexible and that there is always a solution in the scriptures. Hinduism always cites the scriptures as the base for everything. And if for example in a ritual you don’t have one ‘ingredient’, you will find a substitute. And if you don’t find the first substitute, you find a substitute for the substitute. If you cannot do it in this way, you find another way. This is how I believe Hinduism is more flexible and this is its quality and how it could survive.

It is however also its biggest drawback, the biggest disadvantage because you never really reach a conclusion. You don’t really get a clear solution because in many scriptures you will find contradictory arguments. So if two people have different opinions they can often base their opinions on different parts of the scriptures and they can have a big argument about who is right. And in the end there is no conclusion, nothing is clear. This is how I believe its flexibility is the biggest quality and the biggest flaw of Hinduism.

Flexibility of Hinduism even when Suppressed by other Religions – 20 Oct 09

Our friends went to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort and they came back with many impressions of how the life of the Moguls of that time was. We were talking about that time and also about the religion. The first religion of India was Hinduism but under the rule of the moguls and later under the rule of the British, Hinduism has been suppressed for 1000 years. But still it is here. It is still such a strong religion in India and has spread all over the world.

I was talking a little bit about the reasons for this. I believe that Hinduism is very flexible. There is a saying that when a storm comes, the strong and high trees which are not bending get hit by the storm and fall. The slim and flexible grass at the rivers and in the fields just bend with the wind and survive. And this is how I compare Hinduism. Although people have tried for 1000 years to kill Hindus and extinguish this religion, it survived. The ‘rules’ in Hinduism are not as strict as in other religions and there is always another way, always a solution to be found in the scriptures. I anyway left all religion but this is a very interesting topic and I think I will talk about it further in the next days.

Description of a Typical German Character – 5 Jun 09

Yesterday we had dinner with friends and we were talking. All my lovely German friends were sitting there and asked me ‘Swami Ji, what do you think about people here in Germany?’ I said ‘Oh, I love them and living here, being here and spending much time I know very well how generally the thinking goes.’

I gave an example: A German man is driving the car. He knows the directions because he looked it up before on his map. But suddenly he sees a wall on the street in front of him. It is just built fully across his lane. Fully confused he stops, sitting there and just thinking in shock ‘Why? How come there is a wall? There was no wall on the map!’ He doesn’t know how to handle this situation. And you know, he doesn’t look to the right or the left of the wall. There is a way around. His problem is: he is not flexible. It is just impossible for him that there is a wall.

If something suddenly happens, it is for Germans sometimes difficult to handle a situation and hard to accept that it is like this. Exceptions can be anywhere of course. But you know what I like about this? Germans will go with what they decided to do. You can rely on them, they decided this way and they will not go left or right. You can trust. Everybody laughed about this picture and we enjoyed the evening very much.