Do Hormones really make Teenagers yell, scream and insult their Parents? – 18 Jul 11

I would like to continue the topic of the last week and keep on writing about teenagers, children and parents as well as their relation to each other.

A very big problem that I see especially in western culture is the lack of respect in this relation. In my opinion respect is very important and every child has to learn it. If they don’t know the meaning of respect, if they just never learned it, they don’t have respect for anybody or anything. They won’t respect their parents, they won’t respect their surroundings and they won’t respect themselves either! So many teenagers don’t respect themselves as they are and they don’t respect and value what they have got in life. They have security in a family, they have their parents and they are loved by them. This all cannot be respected if a child never learned respect in his or her home.

I have been travelling and working in the west for more than ten years now and I have met thousands of families. One thing that always surprises me and which often makes me sad and disappointed is how children and especially teenagers talk with their parents in the west, lacking every possible respect.

I come from a very different culture in which I have learned to give respect. I am very thankful and proud that I have learned it. I never spoke in the tone and language to my parents as I hear teenagers talk to their parents here. They use an abusive language that I could never imagine any child to use in front of their parents! Which words they use and in which tone they speak! They just abuse their parents with the worst words of their vocabulary, screaming and yelling at them! Before I saw this in the west, I could never have imagined that this is possible and I would never expect anybody to talk to me in this way.

Worse however and an even bigger surprise was the response of the parents. They seemed to accept it as normal! Many parents don’t even react. It seems that it has become a normal talking tone and normal vocabulary for them. They accept it. In my opinion this acceptance encourages the child to get wilder and talk to them in an even worse manner. It is not right to make them feel that it is okay what they are doing.

When this happens in front of me, parents sometimes feel ashamed that their child got so aggressive, loud and disrespectful. In those cases I have often heard a great excuse: ‘That is the hormones in this age’. They try to convince me but also themselves that their child’s behavior is fully normal. In puberty and teenage, it is normal to behave like this. Every child does this because of the change of hormones in that age. I really wondered a lot about this explanation. I have also passed my teenage and so have my siblings and friends but I never behaved like that and never saw any of my siblings or friends act in this way. We have had many children at the Ashram for whom we are the parents and I never heard any of them speak to us like that. If the reason really were the hormones, wouldn’t everybody have that, regardless his country of origin or culture?

In fact, this is the worst excuse I ever heard but I know where it comes from. Parents don’t want to admit their mistakes and don’t want to realize that it is also their fault. Their children lack respect and just didn’t learn how to talk properly to their parents. Their parents in turn try to justify this. Let me tell you however, if you do this, it is another mistake! If your children hear you justify their behavior and if you think it is normal, they will get more and more wild and will not stop insulting you in ever worse ways! They can also say ‘It is the hormones’. You showed them that you approve of this explanation, so it doesn’t matter if they are disrespectful, smoke, drink and do what they want, no matter what you think about it.

Those situations occur especially in developed countries where manners have a very big value. People often think of Indians as a rural population, like tribal people, wild and without proper manners but I don’t see this there, I see here, in the west, that children just get wild and parents accept it! Nobody makes an effort to change them! How come? What about their manners? You teach them how to use cutlery properly and when to say thank you and sorry but you are not able to teach them how to behave and talk to their parents? Why can’t you give a clear guideline on what you want to hear in your home?

Set limits! Be strict about them! Teach your child respect! You have to make clear that certain vocabulary, a certain tone and also a certain volume should not be used in any kind of discussion with you and in your home. If they are warned and know that there are consequences, they won’t do it. If you accept it and give excuses and justifications, they cannot learn it.

Of course you are not supposed to give them the wrong example by talking to or about your own parents in this way. If you do this, you are in no position to control your children because they learn it from you. If that is not the case however, and the child learned this language and behavior from friends or in school, you have the possibility to stop them. Give them a clear and strict limit and don’t make exceptions.

If you have difficulties being strict in this point, realize the consequences of this behavior. Maybe you can bear it because they are your children but what about the people around you? Your children do not learn to have respect. They don’t respect the love you give them and what you provide them and they will not respect anybody else either. They take things for granted. Whatever you have provided them, whatever they get from anybody else, their own comfort, their own security, love, happiness and more. Children without respect are not thankful, also not as adults. Additionally they don’t even respect themselves. They start having psychic problems, don’t love themselves and don’t respect their body and feelings. Sometimes they even start hurting themselves. And there is nobody to stop them and set them limits. If they are not nice to you, why would they be nice to themselves?

See these consequences and realize that you set those limits and are strict so that your child has a good future. Children need to learn respect.

Why is it good and necessary to be judgmental – 10 May 11

In a recent comment to one of my diary posts, a person told me I was being judgmental in many of my diary posts. Maybe this was supposed to make me feel as though I had done something wrong and maybe that person wanted me to change my way of writing. I however do not feel at all that there is anything bad if I write in my blog about what I believe is right or wrong. Another question: when you say that I am judgmental, are you not judging me in turn?

I know that in the ‘esoteric scene’ and among many spiritual people, it is seen as a virtue not to judge anybody or anything. People would feel insulted if someone said them they were judgmental. Let me explain you why I believe that we should judge and that it is good if we judge.

The very first point is that you are human and have been born with the ability to make a difference between right and wrong. You are not an animal, only directed by your instincts. You can use your senses, see, hear, feel and then decide for yourself. Is it right or is it wrong? Should you do it or not? You have the possibility to think about it and to listen to your feelings. So why not use it? If God, or whatever power created this earth and humans on this earth, gave you this possibility to think about right or wrong, why should you not use it?

Another point is that there would be no development if nobody ever judged. You would always accept everything as it is. You could never see that something is bad and could be improved. People could also never change. If you see that someone is corrupt, if someone cheats, if someone simply does something very wrong, and nobody judged about it, they would never stop doing wrong. We need to judge.

Additionally if you made it your habit not to judge anything and anybody, I think you would get psychological problems as you would not be able to make independent decisions on your own and would never know which way to go. You actually judge always in your daily life. You cannot even avoid it. When you go into a supermarket, you judge which product you want to buy. When you hear that a woman was raped in the night in town, you will judge and say it is wrong. If a child is abused, you think it is wrong. It could have been your own daughter or son, so of course you judge about this.
In the consequence it is necessary to write about it, too. It is necessary to spread the message so that other people can also think about the topic concerned. I don’t say that they need to agree with me but it is good if they get the impulse to think about something that is not going well or give their support to something that is really great.

Another question is why people are reading my blog or any blog at all. It is interesting to read the writer’s opinion on different topics. When is such an opinion interesting? Surely not, if the person just looks around, tries not to think about what is going on in the surrounding and tells that everything is okay, not good and not bad. If I only wrote such diary entries, I would soon be the only one to read them. It is simply boring and has no conclusion which makes it only a waste of time – both reading and writing in this way. People want to know who you are and where you are standing. If you say it clearly, they can think about it themselves, reflect on some new point of view which was brought to their attention and then either agree with you or not.

Judging in this way does not mean condemning everybody’s little actions in your every day’s life. It also does not mean denying and refusing anything that is new or different. You should never judge before having seen or experienced something.

Real judgment, which I am talking about here, is when you go deeper, analyze, make an experience and in consideration of all those factors present a conclusion. There are some things where it is easy, such as saying that murdering someone or stealing an old lady’s purse is wrong. There are other things where you need to consider more and make your conclusion more with feeling. In any way however, you have a right and often also the duty to have an opinion.

Finally I want to add that the sentence ‘You should not judge’ is often used by masters and gurus to keep their disciples and followers from questioning what they are doing. You should not judge the master’s action. It is obvious what they want: nobody should look behind the curtains and maybe uncover some not-so-nice secrets. Sometimes it just shows that they are no holy God-men as they want their followers to believe. And so they tell them not to judge and best, not to think. The guru is always right and what he does is always good. Just don’t think about it.

This is why I say that judging is good and necessary. Use your general knowledge, your mind, your intelligence and also your feelings. You can ask experts, research on the internet and find out more if needed. Get an opinion and don’t be afraid of others criticizing it. Maybe this fear prevents people from judging, too. Have self-confidence and say what you think is right and what is wrong in your eyes.

Journey from Holy men to Charitable Businessmen – 3 Mar 11

Last year I was talking with one of our organizers just generally about some programs and after some minutes of talk he said ‘Swami Ji, I see a businessman in you.’ and he laughed. I felt good about this. I can imagine that some of you frown now and wonder how this can make me happy. Some may even think this statement should have insulted me. Yesterday I already started explaining to you why it did not.

What is business? For me the definition is something like this: First you make an investment. You then put effort and work in it and in the end you harvest the fruits. In this way you earn back what you invested and hopefully some more.

Before my time in the cave I was used to live as a guru. I was celebrated as a holy man, worshipped by others. In that time I was not really doing any business. I see it like that because I did not do any investment, I only got the fruit. In business you earn should earn your investment and some more so that your money or bank account numbers increase. A spiritual person who claims detachment from material is actually not supposed to do business and if you say this to some of the biggest gurus of this time, they would probably feel insulted and get angry. I might have felt this way, too, if you had called me a business man 15 or 20 years ago.

Now however I don’t. In 1997 I went into the cave and my whole life changed in the years afterwards. I made a journey from being called holy man to being called businessman. I like to learn and do business and my mind and path is developing in the right way with all the activities that we offer and our charity projects which seem to be growing and making progress every day.

Now there is just one small difference to the regular businessman: I do not want to put my profit into my bank account! I want to do charity with it. We work very hard and give our best in whatever we do. Sometimes people who see our website wonder and one person said to me ‘I never saw a charity website that has a shop! You offer so many things to your visitor!’ And I told him yes, this is what I want to do. I want to offer retreats, activities and even items in our shop.

There have been many experiences with running the Ashram and offering all these activities, a mix of sweet and sour. Through all this my idea about being a businessman has become very clear. And my reward is not the money. My reward is these children's smile!

Breaking Children or Letting them Run Wild – 14 Jan 11

I get a lot of different reactions on my diary entries. That is obvious, as every person is different and thus will have another opinion. Many people appreciated also yesterday’s diary and what I was writing about. They said it was even an understatement to say it is not easy to deal with teenagers, on the contrary it can be really difficult. Another person however said he or she thinks you should not break a child but you cannot let them do whatever they want without any discipline.

I really agree on both of these points, even if the author might be surprised about this. You should never break a young spirit. In older times and in many countries in this world, including India, parents still beat their children and this of course serves one purpose: breaking their will! Domestic violence is unfortunately still very frequent in India.

The opposite effect can be seen in many countries, also like Germany, where I have seen children without any respect, discipline, manners or however you would like to call it. They smoke, drink and take drugs although their parents tell them not to. Sometimes even in front of their noses, just where their parents can clearly see them. They talk to their parents in a language that you cannot imagine, full of insults. This, too, is not the right way.

What we want are strong children with a strong will but with knowledge of what is right or wrong. I have written several times about problems with alcohol, cigarettes and even drugs. I always encourage parents to see why their child is doing this. A 12-year-old boy who smokes feels adult because he has the cigarette in his hand. A 14-year-old girl who gets drunk on a party and wildly kisses several of the boys around, does that because she feels adult through this. Think of your own youth. You may have done something similar, maybe in another way because it was another time, but something to show your parents that you are adult.

You should not let your child run wild without any rules or discipline. No, you need to set rules and teach discipline, already a few years before. But when you are at such a point, you need to look out if, in some way, you can reach the core of this young boy’s or girl’s heart. If he or she can feel comfortable to talk with you and tell you what is going on within them, you have a possibility to reach and softly prevent them to get seriously harmed. To lock them in their room on the weekends so that they cannot go to any party is not the right way. And they would not care too much, they would simply have their own party any day of the week after school. You cannot stop them from getting older and making their own experiences. All you can do is to help them and that is what is your role, once your little child becomes a teenager or young adult.

Arundhati Roy: Kashmir Is not Part of India – 27 Oct 10

I am sure you have heard and read about the difficult situation in Kashmir, the state in the North-West of India which is just on the border to Pakistan and China. There have been problems, discussions and many violent outbreaks and conflicts about the question whether that area should belong to Pakistan or to India. There are even people who are called the ‘separatists’ who wish for Kashmir to become a separate and sovereign country. The government however does not allow groups that spread ideas against the unity of the nation, which want to separate the country because they spread hatred and create fights.

A popular Indian writer, Arundhati Roy, who has won many prizes, among them a Bookers Prize, for her books, has given a speech that created big controversies and a national outcry. In that speech she gave the statement that Kashmir has never been an integral part of India and should be its own country.

Both, the governing party and the opposition, show themselves shocked that this author made such a statement. They want to take action against her and she could as well face a sentence in jail but she refers to freedom of speech and says she just voices what many people in Kashmir are saying every day. The government also sees that it has to be careful not to give this debate and the separatists more fuel by taking strong action against Roy.

Well, in a way she is right, what she said is nothing new, we have heard this from politicians like Geelani and know that there are people in that region who believe that it would be a solution to have a separate country. Now however a popular writer expressed this opinion and used words destined to incinerate anger and hatred. Everybody should have and use his freedom of speech but you need to feel responsible for the effect of what you are saying!

You say this is the voice of people but how can you hurt and insult the whole of India in this way? If you say Kashmir has never been a part of India, then no state has ever been a part of India. Before India’s independence, there were many small separate states, so either none of the states was a part of India or all of them! Kashmir is an area loved by many people, people who live there, people in India and people all over the world. With these words you hurt them and you spread hatred.

Additionally you should think about what Kashmir would do as a separate country without the support of India! The world has seen that when small countries split off from big ones, they often are in a very bad state because they are suddenly fully on their own. Kashmir is now part of the world’s biggest democracy, India, but if they break with India, they will have difficulties surviving! They will be in a very difficult economic situation. It is a really beautiful country but this is not enough to survive!

Arundhati Roy has in the past already given statements that supported such causes and organizations, among them the Naxalites, a terrorist group. You may be a great writer, you may have won great prizes, but this also means that you have to take more responsibility for what you say. I expect this from a popular writer who has a voice and to whom people listen. Think of your responsibility and act accordingly.


Strange Opinions on Freedom of Women – 13 Mar 10

In newspapers and on TV news channels here the exposure of a row of fake gurus is still very much discussed and yesterday by chance I heard a few statements of other gurus and swamis which I did not like at all. They were talking about the scandals and said that women needed to be controlled more. They said that to any program or event, a woman should go with her brother, husband, father or a group of friends. It was a very insulting talk towards women. They even gave proof from religious scriptures where it is written that you should not give freedom to women, they need to be controlled. This is really disgusting talk to me. With this kind of arguments they actually say it is the women’s fault that these Swamis are involved in sex rackets or just generally in sexual activities. Don’t you think men should be able to control themselves, too? Why should you not control men? Did they forget how much respected the same woman is in the same religion if you just look into another scripture? How will man exist without woman? You yourself are born from a woman, your mother was a woman, otherwise you would not be here!
Today was the birthday of a remarkable young lady, our friend Celina. The children of the school, the Ashram and all of us wish a very happy birthday!
Click here to see pictures of today’s food for a day

Arranged Marriages in Earlier Times and Now – 15 Jan 10

I know I have written about arranged marriages last year, too, and I explained a little bit more about how it was in former times. I believe, just how I wrote before, too, that the basic idea behind arranged marriages is not wrong: love can grow with time. So now there is just a very big difference between what is happening nowadays and what was going on then.

When people were living in their villages in former times, they already decided early who would be the future spouse of their child. And then the children grew up together, developed love to each other and one day married. Their love could grow. But the parents were not choosing like nowadays by looking at the skin colour or anything like that. It was not this insulting process of choosing like now. And I do believe that love can grow.

We were talking about the question if this means taking away the freedom of the children and that is one point that I do not appreciate because they do not keep their freedom in this, it is true and I see and have seen this realistically. The main point however that I want to make is that what is happening today is wrong. You cannot make the choice of a partner like a contest of who is most beautiful. Yesterday I mentioned the factors of physical closeness and devotion without ego and I think I will write more about this in the next days.

Key for Successful Relationships: Physical Closeness and Devotion – 14 Jan 10

The other day I was writing about arranged marriages. Many times it is like a business: the girl’s father spends so much money to ‘buy’ a good boy for his daughter and they fix the marriage without really knowing each other. It is no wonder that in these marriages there are often many arguments and a lot of disagreement, if they don't end in divorce, which is rather unusual.

On the other hand you can ask yourself if the concept how people in the west want to get to know each other, have regular dates and meet many times really is successful. So what is really the key?

You see here in the East that arranged marriages don’t really work, wife and husband cannot stand each other or she has a problem with his parents with whom they are living. In the west you see how people try to experiment, get hurt often and many times it doesn’t succeed despite all efforts.

In my point of view the main factors are that you are physically close and devotion without any ego. If this devotion is not there, they will be far from each other even if they are physically close, sleeping and living in the same room. Then they cannot understand each other and in these cases relationships sometimes break even after a very long time like 30 or 40 years. No, devotion to each other is very important.

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

Being Direct is Normal in India and Insulting in the West – 11 Nov 09

I was talking about knocking before entering yesterday. This is of course only a question of manners and I believe most people will understand that this is just not usual here in India. Another thing which can create more difficult situations is that people here are often very direct. For me, this is a good thing and it is much easier to be direct if you want to say something than beating around the bush or trying to find a way to say it indirectly.

I have experienced that in the west many people have difficulties in saying if they don’t like something. It is pretty usual and they don’t want to say it because they believe it could hurt the other person’s feelings. And funnily enough it also does!

The other day a friend of my father made stove out of bricks and mud which should be used in winter for cooking chapatis on the open fire. When he was done he asked my grandmother if she liked it and she said that this was the ugliest fireplace she had ever seen. We all had to laugh and the builder of the fireplace admitted that it was aesthetically not beautiful at all.

He didn’t mind her saying this. And he shouldn’t because he asked for her opinion. In the west I often feel that people are too careful to say it if they don’t like something and then they pretend to like it. In my opinion this only makes problems and it doesn’t help the other one who wanted to know an honest opinion. If he only asked for getting a compliment then you helped him but if he finds out two years later that it is actually everybody’s opinion from the beginning that what he is doing is nonsense, it will make him feel much worse than if you say your opinion from the beginning.