Dance Star Apra gives spontaneous performance – 9 Nov 15

Once a year, there is a fair in our town which people started organizing when I was a teenager. It is called ‘Bal Mela’ and schools of the whole town participate to have art competitions, performances of dance and theater and more things which make a beautiful show.

When I was in school, we also participated and I remember that I have several times performed on that stage. Adolescents were also encouraged to make stalls at the side of the grounds. One year I sold chai and snacks which my mother had prepared at home. Another year, I had my camera with me, took photos of people against an advance and sold them, bringing them by their homes once they were developed.

As I mentioned, our friend Melanie from France is here at the Ashram as well and she has come to stay for a long time. In the evenings, she has been contributing to the entertainment of our guests and us by performing her fire dance, with burning poi that she swings all around her. It is spectacular to watch and knowing that the Bal Mela was coming up, Purnendu talked to one of his friends who happens to be the organizer to this event. Wouldn’t it be a great start for the evening program?

Additionally, we have our group here and wanted to show them a bit something of our town! So Purnendu went and took them all along – Melanie, our guests and of course the Ashram children including Apra.

Once there, everybody had a great time! As usual in India, the dance program started much later than previously announced but the audience was rewarded for their patience with Melanie’s amazing fire dance on the big stage. When she saw this, Apra immediately also wanted to come on stage and perform as well!

Spontaneously, Purnendu talked to his friend once more and soon it was time: the anchor announced our little dance star! She came out onto the stage and danced to one of her favourite songs which she had already learned a dance for this summer. She got enourmous applause and came home proudly with a medal and a cup which she had won by participation!

Before they left, the organizers asked all of our guests to come to the stage as well. We had a lot of fun still this morning at the breakfast table when they told how they all walked up the stage as honour guests of the event!

Oh, and now here we are, two proud parents who cannot help but admire their daughter who gets up on a stage in front of hundreds of strangers, performing a dance without previous preparation for this occasion, in the clothes her mother had quickly dressed her in before leaving! She had great fun and I am proud to say she is my daughter, the daughter of a performer as I have myself already been in young age.

Our little energetic Perfectionist Apra – 18 Nov 14

It has been a long time that I have written about Apra and when I was playing with her today, I had the feeling to write about her again. It is just as much a joy to write about her as it is for me to think that you will enjoy reading of my little one and imagining her to be reading all those blog entries in a few years!

I have told you about the week that Apra’s German family spent with us here at the Ashram. It was a wonderful time with her, full of games, time together, talking German with many people, listening to new stories and going on adventure trips.

Her grandfather also remarked how energetic Apra was. She doesn’t usually take naps in midday anymore, with the occasional exception when she miraculously gets tired in midday. Normally however she is up and running the whole day long! Literally running, jumping, playing and most of all talking the whole day long. The benefit of that is that she falls asleep quite early – meaning about nine o’clock in the evening – and then sleeps through the night until about eight o’clock in the morning. She never used to wake up a lot during night but it happened that she took a long time to fall asleep in the evenings.

She is a real talker, our little one. We used to joke that this is no wonder: talking is her father’s profession after all! Apra talked very early and my mother always said she would make her talk lots. Ammaji only had eleven months but she succeeded: There is hardly a minute that Apra spends in silence! She now tells so big stories in Hindi and German that, as a parent, you cannot help but be super-proud!

Of course she also uses her voice and language to convince us and the people around her that things should go the way she wants them to. It is not always easy to set the limits when this little girls stands in front of you and argues, suggests compromises and pleads with you. It is necessary though, in order to keep her from screaming around and throwing a tantrum. That’s just part of parenting I guess but it is nice to see a success in this as well!

What she tries with us, she obviously also does with her friends while playing and by shouting, laughing, screaming and just talking very loud, she often manages that her throat is hoarse by the evening.

Apra is also a half-German perfectionist. Small things have to be always ‘the way they should be’ for her to be content, be that the way her shoes are fastened or how her colour pens are stored. While talking to one of the boys at the Ashram today, a staff member’s four-year-old son, she got quite annoyed. She wanted to teach him the correct pronunciation of her name: ‘A-p-r-a!’ she kept on saying. ‘Apla’, he answered. This went forth and back, Apra getting more and more upset, until she finally gave up, saying ‘You are too small, you don’t know how to talk properly!’

She reminds us daily of the fact that we already have quite a big girl – but that we still have many years of fun ahead of us, raising a young lady with strong willpower! 🙂

Fake Pride doesn’t let Parents see the Damage of domestic Violence – 10 Mar 14

Last week I wrote a lot against hitting and beating your children. I gave tips on how to raise your child in a loving, non-violent way while setting limits and I expressed the hope that this might help some people go this non-violent way which they know is right. I know however that in India, it will still take time until one can say that most children don’t get beaten at home. Why? Because of the pride that people feel for having been beaten as a child and for beating their own children.

What may seem unimaginable to those who have grown up in countries with very low domestic violence is a normal feeling for parents here: people are proud that they were subjected to violence when they were small. They tell with a laugh and a shine in their face how cruel their father was, how they hated his belt, his stick or whatever he was beating them with. They remember their mother and say ‘She was a tough woman and she had a hard hand. I can still feel it burning on my cheek!’ – and they smile.

They truly believe it made them better humans. They honestly believe that they only turned out so great as they perceive themselves because their parents were so brutal. The more they got hit, the more they tell of it, the better they feel. The consequence is of course that they hit their children as well. And are proud of it because the more they hit, the better a human their child will be, they think.

One of our employees told with much pride how she had beaten her children and that they were more afraid of her than of their father – until she learned that we were not in favour of this violence! It is just the stupid thought that this would be the best thing you could ever do to your child which makes these children suffer.

It is not also a question of education: it doesn’t matter how many degrees a person has, they can still be of this opinion and I would then say that their minds have not developed until that point yet, no matter how many times they have heard about non-violent education. They stubbornly insist that their parents were right in beating them. The biggest problem here is that they don’t want to accept that their elders were wrong. They hesitate to refuse an ancient – and outdated – method simply because they are attached to everything that is old and comes from the past. Just like people refused to accept that the earth is not flat but round…

You cannot say that your elders were wrong and you claim ‘They used to hit me and I turned out fine!’ I oppose that. You didn’t turn out fine. It has created a whole lot of psychological consequences that you are just not aware of: fear, insecurity, problems with respect and most of all the readiness for violence.

If you continue the violence, your children will one day face the same problems. Don’t. Let go of the old and finally get ready to accept something new! It may be difficult in the beginning but you can do it and make a change in your life and the life of your children!

You can fall in Love – but only within your Caste or Community – 18 Sep 11

I was a bit shocked about the proposal of the woman and it made me think. She was an Indian woman but in London. How does a couple marry there? I was not shocked about the idea of arranging a marriage, I was very used to that from India. But how does this all work in London? I thought people in the west choose themselves whom they want to marry after falling in love. Is that how it normally is? Someone proposes in this way and then they marry?

I was in Europe for the second year. I met many people and had already made several connections in London but it was still a fully new world for me. London Indians, white people, comments about Europeans made by Indians, there were a lot of new impressions. One of these impressions was that the Indians in London are very proud of their culture. I had by then visited many people’s homes and with this interest and idea of learning more about them, I experienced many things that made me understand their behavior and way of living better. It is not that long ago, 2002, and I believe not much has changed until today.

This pride, which I have experienced very early and found strong, was of course also prevalent in the matters of relationships and marrying. They were Indian families and in the Indian culture of their parents and forefathers it is normal to arrange the marriages of your children. They live however in London, a city in a western country with a fully different culture where people choose their partners for themselves. I got to know that there is a kind of middle way. These parents may want to stick with their culture but I have experienced that they are also open to adapt to a more modern, western lifestyle.

They do give their children the possibility to have a love marriage and it happens, not only rarely but quite frequently. There is however one criterion that the parents want their children to take care of: find someone of the same caste. If that is absolutely not possible, at least find someone of the Indian community. Don’t marry a westerner, stay within our community, those whom we know, their relatives, people with the same cultural background.

This is how they adjusted to the western world. You are allowed to fall in love, that is fine. You can choose a boyfriend or girlfriend to marry yourself, that is also fine. But it has to be an Indian boy or girl. You have a certain amount of freedom and at the same time some restrictions. Young Indians take the possibility and matches are made in this way. I had thought in the west everything is free but the reality is different. You can choose, but stick to the rules!

If someone is however not able to find someone in this way, parents feel it is their responsibility to get them married and so they start the matchmaking process. They tell some people whom they know that their son searches for a wife for example. These people tell their relatives and friends or already know someone eligible. I have met several families who then went even to India or other countries where the Indian community is big, to find a suitable partner. If they approach a family in Africa for example who is in some distant way related to them and tell them that they would like to marry their son to the daughter of the family, the Indian family in Africa will be happy. Their daughter will live in London, that is everybody’s dream! The wedding can be arranged quickly once a decision is made. One can marry in Africa and then bring the woman back to the UK. It can be vice versa as well. I tell you, everybody is happy with this solution, too.

The point is that this way seems to them even more ‘Indian’. It is more traditional and someone in an arranged marriage in London can be very proud of the fact that they preserved their roots in this way, even if it is difficult to understand for their British co-workers or friends.

For westerners it is easier to understand a love marriage, even if there is the condition that a partner has to be Indian. And many people also find their spouse in this way. Their parents encourage them to go to evens such as my program or bigger religious events to find like-minded people of the same age, interested in religion and of the same culture. It is just like other people who like art go to a museum opening in the hope to maybe meet someone there. Others go to a club to find someone who also likes to dance. This is how I always also had young people in my program and I learned that many hoped to maybe find a match for them there.

Made a Mistake? Turn Around! – 28 Apr 09

In the feedback that I got, the person wrote about western people that they do not turn around and don’t change even if they are on the wrong way. This happens because of ego. Somehow in this culture life is often all around ego. People are living not for belief, feelings or love, they are living for their ego. That is why, because of their ego, they often disrespect their own love, belief and feelings. They cannot go back if they go with their ego, even though they know inside, what the truth is and that they are on the wrong way. Because of ego they are forced to follow their ego.

Of course nobody can change love, feelings and belief in one day. When it is changed very quickly and only on the surface, then it was not feeling, belief or love, it was only playing of a role. When someone is playing a role, then they are definitely not honest. It is as if they are working in a theatre, acting in a way which they are really not, playing somebody else. They pretend one thing but in their heart they have something else. Real belief, feeling and love cannot change like this.

Playing a role in a theatre is okay but if you do this in real life you will one day get in conflict with people and with your own truth. That is how the western culture is and this is the reason why people are suffering very much from psychic problems and this kind of mental sickness. They suffer their whole life because they did not follow their inner truth, belief, love and feelings but their ego. Then they live with this guilt which makes them more ill. You do not return even though you know it was the wrong way.

My belief is that we all are human and not God, not complete. Human can do mistakes. If you accept your mistake and leave your ego, it will not create guilt. More guilt will be created when you do not accept your mistake. You know it is the wrong way and because of your ego you go this way but it will make you feel guilty.

If you accept your mistake and go the right way, it will make you more honest and you can live the rest of your life with pride. But what I have seen in this culture it mostly did not happen in this way.

This person also wrote that people have difficulties turning around. They do not accept their mistakes because of ego and then do a much bigger mistake which makes life more complicated and creates more guilt. Then they live and suffer their whole life with this because they are not standing with the truth.

Unfortunately many times it is very difficult to change the situation. People are not ready to accept and live with honesty. Human is social, they are connected with each other and depend on each other’s support. It is the most sad thing when, because of somebody’s ego, many people get hurt. This happens but you cannot change it because it is not in your hand, not in your control.

Compromising with your Honesty? – 27 Apr 09

On my diary entry of the 23rd April, I have received another comment. This person said about compromising that everybody has to do a compromise in this world, otherwise you cannot meet but you will go apart from each other. I respect and fully understand what she means with this but this is not what I meant when I said that I do not want to compromise.

When you do this in love, for me it is not a compromise but it is respect for this love. When you are in love you enjoy everything. Of course, you have to do some things but if it is in respect and love, it is not a compromise for me. Of course we live in this world and society and we need to go together with people. We have to respect other people’s feelings.

When I say that I don’t want to do compromise, I mean something else. When you compromise with your heart, your principles and the values that you want to live with or when you sell yourself and your values, then you compromised with your honesty. If you do that, if you compromise, you will have a bad conscience for your whole life.

That is what I say about being honest. The compromise will always make you feel guilty. And in this way, if you do not compromise and are honest, you will maybe have less material things but you can live with pride and when you will die you will not have any regrets.

The comment is in German but it is published as an article on our website and you are welcome to give a comment to it yourself.
Click here to go to the article page

Study what you Enjoy without Competition or Pressure – 27 Aug 08

A young girl was here for a healing session. She said: “Swami Ji, I am lost. I don’t know what will be my future, I am studying but I don’t know for what. What will be the outcome? I don’t feel secure with these studies. I don’t know what I will do after finishing. I don’t know if I chose right. Sometimes I have the thought that all this time, money and energy of these five years was wasted. I don’t know my way.”

I said her that I see this very often these days and with many young people who are in the same situation. They are studying but have doubts if it is good what they are doing. Why is it like this? Many of them want to be the best but there is a lot of competition. They compare themselves to others and don’t find themselves good enough. It is an inferiority complex and whatever they do they think it cannot be fine, it cannot be okay.

This is one thing. But of course the surrounding and the society have a big influence on this feeling. Here everyone has to prove himself; everyone needs to be the best. This is how these complexes develop. And then some find themselves in studies which they did not want to do, which do not match their nature and which they only chose to show to the parents, themselves or the society that they are good and they can achieve and manage this.

Others chose studies which suit their nature but they feel that it does not seem to be good enough in other people’s eyes. In both ways you can change something. Be proud of yourself. You are unique and wonderful and when you know this, the world will see it, too. Please do what you enjoy. Enjoy your life! It is too short not to enjoy it. And you can have the trust that even if you do not know what it will be good for in your future, if you stop worrying you will see that there will be the right thing at the right time for you.

We enjoyed the day. Ann and Chris, who are here from Ireland, spent the afternoon with us and Eleonora came with Stella, her nine month old baby. Maybe you saw the last picture of her in the diary in February. She is much taller now. It was a nice afternoon and in the evening Yashendu had a Prem meditation at Sabine’s house. On the way back they picked up some ice cream which made our evening sweet.
I also talked with Purnendu and he said that the water is going back now, which is really great.