The corrupt System of Religion – when Money can get you closer to God! – 10 Sep 16

I yesterday mentioned how money can bring you further in healthcare matters. That is not only a matter with doctors and in hospitals however, it is something you can see in nearly every sector and field of industry! In the religious industry, too!

Yes, the spiritual industry has not remained untouched from business either! Especially here in India, if you are rich and have sufficient funds, your money brings you a better treatment with any spiritual guru! Those religious godmen will grant you an appointment much faster than they would to any ‘regular’ devotee that does not offer any extra notes or coins! You also get closer to that guru if he feels you are worth it. That worth is measured financially however and not, as you may think, in spiritual terms! You just get a much better treatment.

Even temples offer this kind of system: in the so-called ‘place of god’, it is not hidden what is going on: there are printed tickets of different price classes. Those which are more expensive, let you access the holiest of places quicker and you are allowed to get closer to the deity. Ordinary devotees have to wait and see god from far!

So your pocket decides how close you are allowed to get to god. Some kind of skeptical person similar to me once made a joke: if I pay a bit more, maybe I can ask god to come to me instead! Why do I go towards him? He can come to me instead – maybe I have to just pay a bit more. And if I pay much more, he may even come to my house himself, personally. Then I don’t need to go!

Why not? If you can bribe god into forgiving all your sins, why would he not get bribed into coming to a rich devotee’s home?

God and religion – it is anyway all just business!

Religions praise Suffering for suppressing and exploiting People further – 5 Sep 16

I yesterday mentioned shortly that one reason for criticizing Mother Teresa is that she believed in pain and suffering as the way to god. She actually promoted that poverty is a sign of closeness to god. You can imagine the consequences – something which you can read about in many places: in her hospitals, painkillers were not distributed properly and not everybody received the medical help they would actually have needed. Due to a philosophy which exists in all religions but which is only a way for religion to suppress people further and exploiting them!

Yes, this is exactly what I think this idea is. Religions across the world use this thought, from Christianity to Islam to Hinduism: if you are poor, it is what god wants for you. We can help you use god’s wish in the right way so that you get better. But if it doesn’t work, that is god’s wish, too! You may need to give some more donations in our temples, mosques and churches, you may listen better to our priests and you may need some more of our brainwashing scriptures!

Suffer, cry, enjoy your pain – a sign of god’s love to you? I just always wonder how anybody can believe in such a cruel god? Why would your imaginary friend want you to be unhappy? Why would he be joyful and happy about that? And why do you deliberately enjoy suffering like that? It is your choice! You could just be happy instead!

I have a completely different philosophy. I don’t believe in god at all – but I believe in happiness. I believe in joy, I believe in love, in laughing and having fun. I decide that any cause of unhappiness in my life can be changed! If I suffer, I make a change. If I am unhappy, I make a change – on the outside or the inside!

It is in my own hands, not in the hands of some being that doesn’t even exist. I refuse to believe in any such thing. And I find it horrible to think that nurses and doctors who have the possibilities to end or at least alleviate such suffering don’t do it because of their faith in a cruel god!

No, remember that it is your choice to make a change, your choice to be happy!

Choosing in between feeding hungry Children and Monkeys – 23 Aug 16

Yesterday, it was the birthday of a dear friend of ours from Germany. Her name is Susanne and she has been supporting us for several years already. She has been here with a group of natural hair dressers and we had great workshops, sessions and also beautiful private time together in the past. She sponsored the food for the children on her birthday – and gave some extra, so that we could buy bananas for them as well!

Just a few hours later I was at the restaurant and looking outside at the traffic, when a car stopped in front of our building. The passengers opened the windows and started throwing bananas out of the car. In no time, there was a big crowd of monkeys, all trying to catch at least one banana, if not two or three! They were fighting for them and finally, when there were no more coming, they ran away with whatever they had been able to snatch. The car moved on.

I saw these two distributions of bananas and I wondered: why would someone distribute this food to monkeys instead of children?

It was the most beautiful thing to see the joy about a banana in the kids’ eyes! We distribute fruit from time to time, whenever it is in the season and we can get it easily in high quantity, so that the children get some vitamins. We know that they don’t have a lot at home because fruit is expensive buy! So giving them fruit – or food in general – is something that doesn’t only fill their bellies but our hearts, too, knowing that we helped these families to feed their children and that in a way that will help them grow.

Those who like feeding the monkeys – and that was not a single occurrence today, it happens more often – have another idea. They believe it is something that god approves of. Many of them will be the ones worshipping monkey god Hanuman and believe by feeding the monkeys, they are directly serving god.

If they serve god, god will be nice to them. They will get good health, luck, success and so on. They feel satisfaction after feeding the monkeys because in the end, it will benefit them. It is a selfish wish that makes them distribute those bananas.

For residents however, this means there will be more monkeys on the roads and in the area. More monkeys is nothing anybody here would appreciate. Not only do they go on rampages in your garden, breaking your plants but they are actually dangerous! In the city, people fell from their roofs and died because monkeys came in clans to attack them – for whatever food was in their hands or simply because they felt it was their ground. The government has made various plans to take care of this problem – catching and castrating them, bringing them to jungles outside of the town and more. They come back and they keep on creating problems for the people living here. But religious people believe it is a virtue to feed them.

Now tell me what makes more sense: distributing fruit to hungry children and feeling good about it or feeding it to wild animals and thinking that a fictive being would reward you for it?

Surprising Reactions of Restaurant-goers when I tell I am an Atheist – 29 Jul 16

After having opened our restaurant, I have had several situations in talk with people in which people assumed I was religious. There could now be the question whether I correct this assumption or not. We are in Vrindavan, a lot of our guests have come here for pilgrimage and they are very clearly religious. I tell you that I have, nevertheless, told in nearly every situation that I am actually not religious at all. That I am an atheist.

We all wondered what kind of effect that would have on people. In Vrindavan this is definitely not a common occurrence – and people were surprised. I had thought some people might react in a negative way but here the surprise was on our side: I have not had even one person whose reaction was anything else but interested!

Really, most people express their surprise but are then interested in getting to know more. How come a person in spiritual clothing, born and grown up in Vrindavan, has turned into an atheist?

There are also others who may not approve of the thought of atheism – but they are actually not disturbed by that! And really, why would they be? It is not really any of their matter whether the owner of the restaurant they have come to eat in believes in god or not!

Here I can see one thing: people online, when they act and write from the safe distance of their homes, from in front of the computer, can be rude and insulting. They can write bad things and use language they would never use in person. And that’s something people don’t do in person! Maybe we also have nicer people here in our restaurant than there are generally online – but it is definitely clear that I have had only positive feedback on the news that I am an atheist.

And this gives me hope: even if there are a lot of people who would never dream of leaving their belief in god, they are ready and intellectually advanced enough not to see a problem in the lack of god-awareness of others or the straight-out refusal that there might be a god at all!

Why I feel good about the non-Existence of God or a higher Power – 27 Jul 16

I was recently asked what I, as an atheist, thought about opportunities in life. As I don’t believe in God, I would obviously not thank any divine being for me being able to do things I was wishing for or for my life going in beautiful ways. No, I would not. I can, however be nevertheless thankful and happy!

I have heard a lot of times how religious people called those who don’t believe in God ‘unthankful’. They think everyone should be thankful to God for whatever he or she gets in life. If you are not and anything good happens to you, you commit a sin in their eyes. Obviously however not in yours because you don’t believe in any such being.

I don’t believe that any higher power provides me or anyone else with opportunities. Most of those opportunities are created by yourself through your hard work and your way of seeing things in life. You work towards certain goals in life and you look out for the chances you get. With your effort you create chances and you see them especially because your view is on these topics.

There are other opportunities which simply come into existence by others being kind or things that you have no influence on – and then it is coincidence, nature or another person’s goodwill. That’s it. Yes, things like coincidence exist. Without any god.

This may sound sober, even boring to you but I am generally a very rational person and if there is no higher force for me to bring people into trouble, there is also none that can give you possibilities in life. Of course, that takes the magic out of it, it removes the possibility that someone ‘looks after you’ but you know what? It also answers the question whose fault it is when unfortunate, unstoppable events happen: nobody’s.

To me, that feels good. There is no higher force that wishes for children to die of hunger or for fires to extinguish the base of living for so many people. It is nature, it is the consequences of human actions, it is everything but not some mean kind of omnipotent force that does evil for his own amusement!

I think we are better off without the thought of god – but of course that is everyone’s own decision and thought!

Why Children should not be influenced by God and Religion in School – 25 Aug 15

If you have read yesterday’s blog entry, you already know that we are teaching the children of our school equality and now meet weekly for talking to them about different topics. Obviously, one of these topics is atheism, or rather, showing them in how many ways religion does mistakes and is even harming us. It gives them a different point of view and while there are a lot of schools that teach religious and traditional values in many ways, I believe religion has no place in school at all. Unfortunately, there are a lot of teachers that see this differently – and even textbooks that support religious teaching!

Last year, we noticed that in several of our school’s textbooks, god was mentioned a lot of times. Especially the books of the subject ‘Moral Science’ were all about what god would approve of and what he would not like you to do. This was a reason for us to change our publisher for this year!

Now we have books which mention god only minimally – and we told the teachers to skip those chapters. There is for example a prayer in the subject Hindi and one in English. Usually children have to learn these by heart and are asked for them in their exams. One paragraph had to be cut out which mentioned that part of your day should be your prayer and worship and that good children pray to god.

I don’t know whether there are textbooks available here in India at all that don’t contain these things. I would love not having to tell the teachers to skip such things! Instead, I would be happy if there were some critical articles about godmen and their practices instead! If any of my atheist friends knows of any such textbooks for primary school, I would be very happy about the information!

I want our children to have a possibility they would never otherwise have: to learn how to think critically, to ask questions, to be open and explore without the restrictions that religion creates. I believe, over the course of time, the cloud that belief and tradition has put over their minds can be lifted and they can start thinking in different directions as well.

This includes that they have the possibility to see that god is not almighty and that you can be a good person even if you don’t pray to god every day. They will understand that moral behavior is not something reserved for religious believers! One day, these children will be able to see that they don’t depend on god’s approval for doing well in life.

I have already told you of my idea that after opening our own restaurant and supporting our school with it, we could open more restaurants linked to schools in the same way. These schools would be free – and they should as well be promoting this seed of rationalism from the very beginning.

For this to become reality, I also believe we will need rationalist teachers. Otherwise it will be difficult to explain science and logic and the lack of both in religion to children – because religious people themselves believe in that!

At the moment, our resources are limited and I cannot yet take all the steps I would like to but with time and in future, I am sure that I will even go further in teaching children not to fall for god, religion and tradition.

Sorry, I just can’t be an atheist Guru – 6 Aug 15

You have already read that I have absolutely no wish or intention to found an organization for atheists. Yesterday I explained that the risk for this to turn into a religion was too high and that we should not stick to traditional ways of defining atheism. Today I would like to tell you about another reason: I just don’t like the structure that such an organization would require!

You already know that I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting of so many atheists at our Ashram. I will also in future like to invite atheists to our Ashram to bring them together and provide a space where such meetings can happen. I love talking to them, be it online or in person, to tell them of my views, listen to theirs and help them with their issues if I can. But I don’t want to found an organization for all of this!

There have been a lot of personal requests for this and that’s why I think I should also reply to exactly these people who asked for it: you want to have a system into which you can fit your atheism. The point of atheism is however that it is against the existing system!

One reason for many people to be atheists is that they don’t like the hierarchy that religion provides! I would not enjoy being the head of such an organization because for many years, in my youth and young adulthood, I was something very similar: a religious, spiritual guru! I was the one telling religious people what to do. I have left this behind, among other reasons because I wanted to be equal! I wanted to be able to have a normal conversation with another person without him or her kissing my feet!

So if I now started an organization, I would be head of it. There would be other directors. There would be people managing it, who would be one level lower, the second-highest in this organization. And it would go further like this, making some people higher and others lower. I believe we all are humans and we should all be the same. Such structures may be necessary in companies in order to run business properly but I would hate to see this among my atheist friends! Because that is one of the things that is so horribly wrong in religions all over the world!

Why do you need someone to tell you what to do or where to go? Why are you even looking for such a person or group? I think you can spread the message better if you believe in yourself and your individual experience! Why can you not tell others about atheism without an organization?

I don’t want this. I think if we did that, we would be in no way better than organized religion and believers are.

So believe me when I say I will never found such an organization. I find it funny when someone jokingly calls me ‘the atheist guru’ but I cannot really be one!

Why I won’t found an Organization of Atheism – nor a Religion! – 5 Aug 15

I have told you about our atheist meeting at the Ashram and wrote some of my thoughts to the topic of atheism into my blog. At that meeting as well as afterwards on social media, I was asked several times whether I would now start an atheist organization. The whole experience has actually confirmed me in my previous decision to never do such a thing!

I believe that the risk of such a venture turning into a full-fledged religion someday is just too high! You all know what I think of religion – and I would never want that! Oh, people said it would not be like a religion because I don’t believe in god! If you think of the beginnings of Buddhism however, that is exactly what happened there as well! Buddha said you should be your own light – today Buddhism is called the fifth world religion!

Not every religion is necessary based on the belief in god. There are many people, sects and also religions that do have a concept without god. They believe in a lot of different nonsense however! For me, atheism is not only the belief that god doesn’t exist. I refuse all superstition and with it ideas of reincarnation, heaven, karma and everything similar.

Some people told me that the Vedas, old Hindu scriptures, already contain verses which seem at least agnostic, doubting the existence of god. Especially the Rig Veda tells that we don’t know who created this world. I replied that you may not know who but it still feels as though there is at least ‘someone’ who created, right? Some people say that the concept of a world without god has existed for a very long time already, referencing several other old scriptures as well.

I just don’t see why we would need these examples! The people who wrote those scriptures, no matter how long ago, were just people like you and me. They had thoughts and they wrote them down. If you take their written words however and study them, trying to prove or find truth, you will go the same way that all religions went. You are trying to make these scriptures an anchor to hold on to, a guideline that tells you what to believe.

In my eyes, atheism can never be that. It is not something to lead people’s thoughts completely from zero for simply one reason: it is reactionary! It is not a path that you decide from step one but a way that you choose to take when you refuse the way of religion! It goes against the fake illusion of god, a rebellious thought against the order of religion. You are reacting on religion, superstition and the fictional image of God. If there is no theism, there cannot be atheism. A child that grows up without religion or the impression of god won’t be an atheist. He will just be natural.

Atheism is a reaction. And that’s why I want to tell all atheists who read me: please don’t try to find an atheist scripture for an atheist religion. Atheism does not follow a tradition, it is completely individual. Talk about your own experience, about your feelings and your thoughts. Talk about now, not age-old writings! It is about you.

No organization can bring all these different individual feelings together and create rules or a framework for them all. That again would force people to comply and not be themselves. And that is religion. So no, I won’t create an atheist religion!

Can we make the World a better Place by spreading Atheism? – 4 Aug 15

I yesterday explained why the question of atheism and belief is more important in India than it is in the west. People just care much more about god and religion here! I mentioned that I believe the world will be better when more and more people leave religion and become atheists. Today I would like to illustrate this statement a bit and explain why it is not your belief or non-belief in god that will make the difference!

I want to make this clear once more: I don’t actually care much whether you believe in god or not. I can be friends with you either way – and I might not be friends with you either way. Only the fact that twenty, hundred or a thousand people say they don’t believe in god will not make the world a better place either. It is not really this belief that I am against, it is the exploitation of people, the manipulation of their minds and the incredible cheating that happens with this belief!

This is why I also don’t only limit all my thoughts and words to Hinduism and India! I think they are relevant and important for all other religions and beliefs as well, as people are exploited in so many ways when it comes to their faith! I want to explicitly include esoteric practices and ‘spirituality’ in here!

It is all the same: a group of men who write a book which becomes a scripture that others should follow. The head of a religion that publishes rules that others should follow. Gurus that tell their followers what they should do. Sect-leaders that guide their sheep-like devotees. Clairvoyants that claim to see what the future will bring. Psychics that reveal believers what their dead ancestors want them to do.

When I say I am an atheist, I also don’t believe in ‘the universe’ or any higher energy that directs us all. Others may think different. Only from the fact that a person doesn’t believe in god or any similar entity, the world won’t be a better place.

When I say however that I will do what feels good for me and which brings good to others, not harming anybody and not manipulating anybody and someone tells me he recently came to the same conclusion, I think this makes the world a better place!

As there is so much manipulation in religion and also spirituality however, the chances that this happens when you leave religion and god are high. I tell and write down my thoughts so more people may reach to the same thought and not have others exploit them anymore!

Impact of Religion and God on People’s Lives – comparing India and Western Countries – 3 Aug 15

I have been writing a lot about atheism in the past week and I definitely still have a lot of ideas and thoughts for this topic which I would like to share with you. At this point however, I have to think of my readers in the west. I know that for many, the discussion whether there is a god or not is actually not really important. And this is something that I would like to explain my Indian friends while simultaneously telling my western friends why it is an explosive topic here in India.

It is really a difference in culture: in the west, I have a lot of friends of whom I am not exactly sure whether they believe in god or not. In India, I will very quickly know this. In the west, I have a lot of friends who see themselves as belonging to a religion, mostly Christianity – but we are nevertheless of the same opinion on so many topics! That’s something that doesn’t really work well in India.

It is a fact that for a whole lot of people in the west, religion and god is not very important. They may grow up in a religious frame, be baptized, then celebrate a Christian ritual in puberty, the confirmation, and then also marry in a church. They may also go to church on Christmas and Easter. Apart from that however, their lives do not include the question of god and religion very much. In their daily life, they may not think of god at all, no matter what their basic attitude is.

That’s how, when two such people meet, their belief is not a question. They don’t care much whether the other one believes in god or not because they don’t think it is important. In a family, parents can easily accept if their son tells them he doesn’t want to go to church anymore or only wants to marry in court, not in a church. A daughter may, in the same way, just go along to church on Christmas, even if she doesn’t believe in anything the priest says.

In India, it is very different. Here, the question of belief separates families! Belief plays a huge role in daily life and the more traditional and religious people are, the more your whole childhood has been divided into religious festivals, celebrations, ceremonies and rituals. There are days and weeks to fast, there are days to go to temples and there are others when you don’t. You have to remember certain rules as to what you can wear at certain times and which gestures and words you should use so that you don’t hurt religious feelings or make god angry. There is a deep belief that your soul’s wellbeing depends on all of this!

So when a son announces that he does not believe in God, parents get worried, confused and angry. Friends cannot understand it and common activities stop because nobody wants endless discussions and even fights! People end up cut off from their old lifestyle and surroundings, having to search completely new social circles.

That’s how this discussion is so important here. It is about your daily life, not only about two holidays per year. It is about the basics of your attitude. And that’s why I feel I have to talk about it – because people are afraid of it!

I have also turned from a believer to an atheist. I feel that many of my Indian friends have become more distant or our friendship even broke. With my western friends however, I have not made this experience – with most of them, I feel like it doesn’t matter at all! It seems as though the person is more important than the belief!

I have said before that the world would be a better place with more atheists. This is not actually much about the question whether you believe in god or not. And that’s how it is important for people all around the world! But more about that tomorrow.