Nationales Atheisten-Treffen in der religiösen Stadt Vrindavan – 6 Okt 16

Bis jetzt habe ich euch noch nicht von einem Programm erzählt, auf das wir uns nun schon seit einer Weile vorbereiten: am 14. und 15. Oktober haben wir hier im Ashram eine Zusammenkunft Gleichgesinnter organisiert. Ein Atheisten-Treffen inmitten des religiösen Vrindavan!

Meine treuen Leser erinnern sich an eine ähnliche Veranstaltung im letzten Jahr, als etwa hundert Leute im Juli 2015 in unserem Ashram zusammenkamen. Wir haben über Religion, Gott und Atheismus gesprochen, hatten ein Programm mit Gedichten und Musik, hatten gutes Essen und, vor allem, teilten unsere Gedanken und Gefühle. An dem Tag wurden Freundschaften geschlossen, die sehr tief gingen, da die Teilnehmer eine gemeinsame Grundlage hatten: sie alle glaubten nicht an Gott oder hatten zumindest Zweifel daran, ob er wirklich existiert oder nicht.

Da es im letzten Jahr so ein großer Erfolg war, beschlossen wir, auch in diesem Jahr ein solches Treffen zu veranstalten, wofür wir Leute aus dem ganzen Land eingeladen, zusammen zu kommen! Wir haben ein kleines Programm mit einer Diskussion und Frage-Antwort-Gruppe, einem Theaterstück und natürlich auch leckeren Mahlzeiten zusammengestellt.

Als wir die Idee hatten, machten wir die Veranstaltung online öffentlich – und bekamen sofort super Reaktionen! Ohne jegliche Werbung, nur dadurch, dass wir es online stellten, begannen Dutzende und dann Hunderte von Leuten, sich anzumelden! Wir erwarten nun mehr als fünfhundert Leute am 14. Oktober!

All meine Freunde hier in Indien: wer jegliche Zweifel an der Religion um einen herum hat, wer von einem imaginären Gott enttäuscht wurde, an den er mal glaubte und wer das, was ich schreibe, für richtig hält, der ist mehr als willkommen! Ich kenne jede Menge Leute, die Zweifel an hinduistischen Traditionen haben und sich einfach nicht trauen, etwas anderes zu tun als das, was nun schon so lange eben so gemacht wird. Sie wollen ihre Familie nicht enttäuschen und zögern, einen Weg zu gehen, auf dem sie sich vielleicht alleine wiederfinden würden.

Du bist nicht der Einzige und du kannst Freunde finden, die gleich denken! Komm und schließ dich uns am 14. und 15. Oktober hier in Vrindavan an!

National Convention on Atheism in religious Town Vrindavan – 6 Oct 16

Until now, I have not told you yet about a program we have now been preparing for quite a while: on 14th and 15th October, we will have a gathering of like-minded people here at our Ashram. An atheist meet in the middle of religious Vrindavan!

Those of you who have been loyal readers may remember a similar event last year, when about a hundred people came together at our Ashram in July 2015. We discussed religion, God and atheism, had a program with poems and music, ate good food and, most of all, shared our thoughts and feelings. Friendships were formed on that day which went very deep, as the participants were connected by common ground: they all didn’t believe in god or at least had doubts whether he existed or not.

As it had been such a great success last year, we decided to make another event this year, inviting people from all over the country to get together! We created a small program with a discussion and question-answer group, a play performed by a theater group and of course tasty meals as well.

When we had decided on our idea, we published the event online – and immediately got a great response! Without having done any advertisement, only by putting it out there online, dozens and then hundreds of people started telling us that they would come! By this date, we expect more than five hundred people to join us on 14th October!

All my friends here in India: if you have any doubt in the religion you see around you, if you have been disappointed by an imaginary god you believed in and have found my writings to be true, you are more than welcome! I know a lot of people who have doubts in Hindu traditions and just don’t dare to go against what has been done for so long. They don’t want to disappoint their family and they feel hesitation in going down a path they might be alone on.

You are not the only one and you can find friends who think the same! Come and join us on 14th and 15th October in Vrindavan!

I love spontaneous Surprises! – 3 Sep 16

Today I received a phone call which made me very happy: Michael and Andrea have booked their tickets to come and visit us!

I was going to phone my first German friend today anyway because they had reached back home in the last week after their holiday trip. I expected us to talk about their past holiday but Michael and Andrea completely surprised me: they had arrived home from Italy, still completely in holiday mood and had felt the urge to come and see us in India! Some areas of Italy had reminded them of India and they have not been here for a while now – so they decided to check for flights! They found a very good offer and just as I like it did not hesitate: they will be here at the end of November!

I love it – surprises like these are the best! I love the spirit as well, being spontaneous and deciding to enjoy when you get the chance and see an opportunity! And of course we are all looking forward to having our friends here again! There are so many new things to show them with the restaurant being a big factor that has changed our lives!

Oh, I know they will love having a coffee and a piece of cake in the afternoon, they will enjoy our pizza and pasta and we will have them try all our Indian specialties as well!

It will be a great time!

Joy of meeting virtual Facebook Friends in real Life – 9 Jun 16

I already told you several times how incredibly our life has changed. I saw this yesterday and today again: in earlier times, I was best available in the evening time. During the day, I was very busy working on the computer, this website, on social media, replying requests, emails, messages and more. Now – well, I am too busy in the evening for doing anything but assigning tables, serving and helping at the restaurant!

Yesterday, a facebook friend came to visit who has been connected online for a really long time already: Ashutosh Kumar, professor at Delhi University. He came together with his wife and I was really very happy about their visit. It is great to see someone finally in person whom you have been communicating with online for several years!

They arrived in the late afternoon, so that we showed them their room and then they had dinner at the restaurant. By the time they were finished, the restaurant was full and we were enjoying serving and hosting our guests. We only had a small talk before they went to sleep.

In the morning however, we met for breakfast and had a long talk. I showed them around the Ashram, school and restaurant, showed them our projects and progress and enjoyed sharing with them.

Isn’t it funny how life changes? But don’t you worry, if you come to visit me, I may be quite busy in the evenings and also during daytime, I obviously have things to manage – but I will always find time to spend with friends, to talk and of course also help if my advice is needed anywhere!

Talking to Restaurant Guests – another Dimension of Conversation – 25 Apr 16

I yesterday started telling you about our days at the restaurant and in the next days, I thought I would give you some more insights into our new life as owners and waiters at Ammaji’s Ayurvedic Restaurant. Today I would like to write a bit more about how different this work is.

Previously, I have worked in several different ways. I was the performer on stage in front of thousands of people. I gave individual sessions and consultations. I performed workshops and led meditations. I worked at the computer. I still welcome guests in our home for retreats. And now I welcome them in our restaurant. This work brings a fully different relationship to people than I had before!

I always made a quite deep relationship with the people I met and worked with. A lot of these people became friends. They often came to meet me and we had long talks as well. Now I still meet a lot of people – but they come for a different purpose and that’s how the relationship I develop with them is quite different as well.

My conversations with people these days are shorter. They have come for food, are hungry and want to choose what they will eat. They want to sit in a nice place and eat well, which is why they have come to our place. And they are interested in our concept, our ideas and our food. So to most people I explain about the Ayurvedic values of meals and how we have placed signs for each dosha with the dishes in our menu card. They appreciate the concept of eating healthy and something which will be good for their belly as well, aside of tasting great.

When I am asked how we got the idea for this concept, I tell them about my past work in Europe, America and Australia. Well, as much as I can in the limited time. It is like a five-minute summary of the past sixteen years of my life!

Of course people also get interested in our retreats at the Ashram as well as our cooking workshops – who wouldn’t after eating such delicious food? Finally, when I tell about our charity work, everybody appreciates it a lot! Their meal at our restaurant supports the education and food of our children as well!

In the end, people take along a card and leave theirs, take our phone number and tell us they would come again for a meal, they would call or sometimes that they would come for a longer talk and meeting in the next days. That is however not a serious commitment. They were here for food, not for making friends. Maybe they come, maybe they don’t. I remember or maybe I don’t.

One thing however I know for sure: they enjoyed their time here, their meal and their talk with me. That makes me happy and is finally something this work has in common with all previous ones: I am fully happy because I can help people and satisfy a need while supporting children in need!

When old Friends travel the World to be with you – 18 Feb 16

These days we have two very special visitors at the Ashram: one of Ramona’s oldest friends, with whom she was in school together from the age of ten, and her boyfriend. Veri and Chris decided last year that they would like to come and visit us on their holiday in February – and we are very happy to have them here!

Obviously, we are having a great time together! Ramona has already shown them parts of the town, they have seen our school and of course they have got a tour through our restaurant, which is about to open really soon!

As Chris is a chef himself, we have had lots of fun talking about different concepts, our idea of providing healthy but tasty food, the work situation in German restaurants and differences that might be here – and of course we were able to give him and Veri a taste of the food we would provide at our restaurant!

Not having been so closely together for the past ten years, my wife and her childhood friend have a lot of things to talk about, remember fun together in the past, talk about common friends and acquaintances and share details about their life right now. Ramona was excited to show her how we live here, as it is of course a completely different world which is difficult to describe!

In order to show them a bit more than just Vrindavan, we took a trip to Delhi yesterday! We didn’t do too much of the sights because we didn’t only want to walk around in between ancient walls. Instead, we took a quick stop at India Gate and then went on to walk and go shopping in Old Delhi, visiting Chandni Chowk and of course Khari Baoli, the spice market! In the afternoon we went towards Connaught Place and enjoyed strolling around the shops there. Followed by a great dinner, we came home with lots of impressions of the capital!

On the weekend, we are planning another highlight: we will take a trip to Jaipur, the pink city and capital of Rajasthan. Of course they will also still visit Agra and the Taj Mahal, too. Together with visiting children’s homes in Vrindavan, visiting some more of our small town, baking and cooking at the Ashram and playing with Apra, we will have another full week before they leave towards Goa – and we are already looking forward to the fun we will have!

Does it stress you out when everybody is relaxed? – 17 Feb 16

I yesterday told you about a certain flexibility that you need when you are in India and make any plans in India. You may get stressed about it – but it is so much easier to just relax. Going away from the example of only India however, I would like to elaborate a bit more on a certain habit that people have: they get stressed when others around them are too relaxed!

This is something I have seen a lot: there are people who can only relax when there is someone else stressed in their vicinity. Their own level of stress rises when nobody else around them is stressed. This means that they actually seem to need the stress!

I have seen people like these react fully calmly in situations that were extremely stressful. Everyone around them is about to freak out, getting so nervous that it is difficult to find a solution to the problem. In these situations, they shine. They are able to keep a cool head and take control, calming down the others, often taking leadership and leading them out of that stressful frenzy. Obviously, they are appreciated in companies for this ability – but they react differently when they are around people who are relaxed!

If you put this same person into a situation of no or little stress, they get nervous. They enjoy situations of hectic around them so that they can focus on being calm. When there is nobody creating stress, they feel like something cannot be right. As if there is something everyone should be stressed about! Probably, someone is forgetting something. There must be an important issue nobody is taking care of! There will be something we need to get done as quickly as possible!

Even if there is no obvious reason for getting stressed, these people get stressed anyway. They need the stress for feeling good and if there is no reason, they create it themselves. For themselves as well as unfortunately for others.

This is where it gets important: you may feel that this description fits on you. If so, please try to change as soon as possible. The people around you obviously like to deal with normal life in a calm way and you are creating stress for them. Nobody wants to be stressed from outside and that is something that will fall back on you in a negative way! You have to relax and whenever you feel you are getting stressed out, think about where this stress is coming from! Is there really something to be stressed about or are you actually creating it yourself? Calm down anyway – this stress is not good for your health and your relation to the people around you either!

If you know someone in your surroundings who acts and reacts like this, stay calm. If you are in the position to, you can nicely explain them what is happening and that there is no need to be that much in stress. If you are close, gently show the problems that can arise from this. If you are not – try to stay calm anyway and not get annoyed.

Stress is not good for any of us! Let’s try to avoid it and relax ourselves – we will all be able to solve problems much more easily!

It’s not all fake – when social Media brings Friends to real Life! – 16 Dec 15

My last two blog entries may have sounded like I don't like social media at all. Well, that's not quite true. It has brought a lot of positive change to the world and as a modern person I appreciate its benefits. There is however something that I notably prefer: real life.

I love technical progress. I have already early been fascinated with new gadgets – for example cameras. I was among the first in our town to have a digital camera, when we got a phone, a lot of neighbors came to us to receive or make phone calls, the first mobile I got was like a huge brick, because it was one of the first and that's how they were in that time! I believe that technical inventions can help us immensely. I have been using the internet a long time and of course also started with social media networks one day.

I have to say that it is today a way of communicating with people that is incomparable to any other previous method! A lot of people whom I know in real life have connected with me there and I can write to all of them at the same time. Simultaneously however, there are even more people – people whom I don't know at all and who have never met me – reading my words, maybe liking them and getting interest in knowing more.

I can connect with so many people at the same time and everyone can choose whether he would like to read more or not! They can make their settings in a way that they either see my words whenever I write them or not at all! I believe it is a wonderful possibility for people to choose what they want to do.

This far for getting in touch. After that, however, I believe there should be one step more. Bringing it to real life. If you have the feeling of being connected to someone online, it can be a very one-sided feeling! You read the words of the other one all the time. You see pictures and you may even ‘like’ them on Facebook. The other one however may not even notice that you are so close in this way. For that, you need to send a direct message, email, make a phone call or pay a visit.

And here we go: I have made a lot of friends online who have come to visit me here. Indians who like a different approach and way of thinking have come for a day visit or over the weekend. People from all over the world have joined us for Yoga and Ayurveda retreats from a few days to several weeks and even months.

This is when I know that social media is actually good for real life: when someone tells me that they read about me online, then went to read the blog and found help for his or her life. When someone found me online, then went to our charity pages and started sponsoring a child. When someone read my posts online and travelled across India to talk to me in person. When someone sees photos of our retreats and decides to join us here for a yoga holiday.

I believe in a real connection and social media is only a tool, an instrument to reach there. I believe in keeping it real – offline and online as well.

Another Celebration and a Surprise for the Children – 19 Oct 15

Yesterday I told you about my birthday party on Saturday. Actually, this party was supposed to start in the morning already with a big lunch of the children and a surprise for them. On Saturday however, there were local elections in an area of Vrindavan and as a lot of our children come from that part of town, they got a holiday on Saturday. This is how we got another chance to celebrate again and in this way we even could celebrate another occasion: Thomas and Iris’ 10th Indian wedding anniversary!

The children arrived this morning, thinking it would be another usual day of school. They we surprised when they were called for lunch and we and our guests were sitting there already, waiting for them to join us and start the meal! We all ate together with them and afterwards, when all were full, we got together once more for the surprise: all children got new school bags!

This was my family and friends’ birthday gift for me! They had a bag made for each child which we could now distribute. The biggest gift are the beautiful smiles of our school children! How they took their bags, turned them in their hands, examining them carefully and opening each zipper to check how much space they had in the new bags!

My birthday was not the only thing we celebrated like this however! Today is another very special day: it is Thomas and Iris’ 10th Indian wedding anniversary! We can hardly believe that it has already been so long but really, ten years ago, Thomas and Iris came to our Ashram for the very first time. It was in 2005 that we got to know each other in Germany and they then travelled to India and came to us. Here, they had their Indian wedding ceremony – and of course we had to celebrate that as well!

So it was like a third birthday party and an anniversary celebration which we shared with the children!

I am happy to have such a wonderful family and beautiful friends – and it is great that I can share this all with you in this way as well! I hope someday you will join us for one of our celebrations, too!