Death Penalty – Punishment or Sentence of Freedom – 14 Nov 10

The UN recently had the 192 member states vote on a resolution on stopping the death penalty. In the news we read that India as well as China, USA, Iran were among the 38 countries that voted against it. 36 countries abstained and 107 votes were in favor of abolishing death sentences.

In India the law prohibits the execution of pregnant women and children and they make a point about it that they only apply the death penalty in the ‘rarest of rare cases’. In 2007 the General Assembly accepted a similar resolution and since then the number of positive votes and abstentions increased. So the trend is towards more and more countries abolishing the death penalty which is many countries anyway already happened.

I am very much in favor of abolishing death penalty because I believe you cannot take what you cannot give. You cannot give life, where do you take the right from to take it?
I was thinking more about this and I feel of course death penalty is given in rare cases and not for a small offence. If you see those criminals however whom you put in this rare category, such as terrorists that have the aim to kill and murder, terrorists who become suicide bombers, you will notice something: you don’t really punish them with a death sentence!

They themselves have the intention to be killed. If you look at the 9/11 terror attack on the world trade center in New York, USA, or if you look at the 11/26 attack at the Taj Hotel and other places in Mumbai, India, those who were responsible actually had the wish to die! When killing themselves these terrorists wanted to take as many people with them as possible. If you find such terrorists, place charges on them, give them a trial and decide to give them a death sentence because they are in the category of the rarest of cases, they don’t really care!

Then they are dead but what exactly did you do? You fulfilled their wish, that’s the only thing they wanted from the beginning! Where was the punishment? They are not afraid of dying! When someone becomes a hard-core criminal, they have already reached the conclusion that they can die anytime. There can be any police man’s bullet and it is over. They know that this is the extreme case that can happen to them at any time.

If you see it from another point of view, death also frees you from everything. Once you are dead, you are dead and you don’t need to care anymore. Just with one injection, one pull of a trigger, they are dead the next minute. Maybe what you consider the worst of all punishments actually makes them happy. They get free from everything. If you are not afraid of death, why would you not be happy to die?

It may be more difficult for them to be imprisoned for the rest of their lives. With death you make them free from pain, from guilt, from any responsibility. If they get a life-long sentence and feel that there is no possibility for them to get freedom from prison for the rest of their lives, it will be a better punishment.

If someone is executed because he is a murderer, doesn’t that mean you follow the rule ‘an eye for an eye’? And isn’t that exactly the rule followed by those who actually commit the crime?

Another – very big – argument against the death penalty is that there have been many cases in which people have been exonerated, often even after being executed. It was found that they were actually innocent! If there is even a tiny little doubt about a person’s guilt, how can you murder him or her saying that this is justice? There have been cases in which there was a serious doubt of guilt but still the accused was executed.

Seeing all this and considering again that we are not the ones authorized to decide about life or death, I think the countries that voted against and the countries that abstained from voting about the abolishment are wrong. Not even in the rarest of cases you should become a killer yourself.

Today is my best friend Govind’s birthday which was once again a nice reason for us to bake a cake. We celebrated and had a beautiful evening.


Physical Punishment as Excuse for Sexual Harassment – 2 Nov 10

I recently saw some numbers about education in India which are quite shocking. According to a study by Plan International, an organization that works for children’s rights all over the world, more than 65% of children in India experience physical punishment in their school.

Since 2000 there is an official law against physical punishment but unfortunately this is still happening in India. Children are beaten with hands and sticks, they stand for hours, sometimes even in the sun and in the report it is even mentioned that children are tied to their chairs so that they sit still. It is incredible but unfortunately it is the sad truth.

They interviewed more than 12500 children all over India and found that the state with the most violent punishment is U.P., Uttar Pradesh, the state we live in. Separately from physical punishment they found that more than 50% of children experience sexual harassment by their teachers.

Teachers who were asked about this subject say that they have a lot of responsibility. So they believe they have to hit and that it is good that they do. I believe they take out their frustration which has nothing to do with responsible behavior. Many teachers hit brutally and no matter it is boy or girl, old or young, strong or fragile. This is the reason why we hear again and again of children who had to be hospitalized after being hit by their teachers.

I have also seen teachers who, with the pretense of physical punishment, have touched girls in a way that no watching person would have called decent. It feels sometimes as if they want to realize some sick fantasies. It felt disgusting to me when I was young and it feels disgusting still today. Young minds and hearts are hurt, get wrong impressions from this world and who leaves this imprint? Teachers, those, who should prepare the young souls, equip them with everything they need to explore and develop in this world.

It is sad and we will keep on working against it.

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Religion and Spirituality – What is the Difference? – 25 Oct 10

What is the difference in between religion and spirituality?

I have in the beginning of my life followed a religion and was even spreading its message. My grandfather was doing it, my father was doing it and so I also did it. I learned what was written in scriptures, I learned all the traditions and rules.

Religion has so many rules. It shows you exactly which way you are supposed to walk. It tells you which step to take and where not to go. Religion tells you if you do this, you will go to heaven and if you do that, you will go to hell. Or something similar, like God’s punishment or another way to make you afraid.

Even when I was preaching and living my guru life, I was a little bit different. Even in that time I liked to rather spread a message that makes you feel good. I liked to help people follow spirituality in their lives instead of only the hard rules of religion.
Spirituality does not have rules. It makes you feel good and gives you real joy. You know what you do and you do it because you love it. You do it because you enjoy it. You don’t do it because of some kind of fear or because a rule but because of love.

Religion is a firm and strict structure whereas spirituality is soft and flowing. Religion presses into clear and edgy shapes whereas spirituality makes round and soft. I believe religion comes from the mind and spirituality from the heart.

Does Religion Allow Men to Hit their Wives? – 20 Oct 10

News have reached us which shocked us and made again clear that there are so many places in the world where courageous people are needed to change the minds of many which will in the end hopefully change laws and religions, too.

In the United Arab Emirates the supreme court gave a verdict that a man is not allowed to beat his wife severely so that she gets marks or bruises. Of course this means in the same way that any man is allowed to beat his wife as long as he doesn’t leave any marks or bruises.

In the UAE the Sharia, the Islamic law, is not as strictly enforced as in other countries with a majority of people believing in Islam. In some gulf countries women cannot leave their house without a man. They cannot drive cars or walk on the street without male company. And of course men are allowed to hit their wives. The religious law says that a husband is allowed to beat his wife in order to keep discipline in his home and family. The Supreme Court says it is too much if she gets bruises. But what about daily domestic violence?

It is not allowed for a father to hit his daughter after she has had her first menstruation. Her husband will be the next person who is allowed to beat her if he thinks she needs to be more disciplined.

Does this really feel right to people living in the 21st century? I hardly can believe it. I have not studied religion or Islamic law but I want to ask those who did and those who believe in it, do you really think this is right? What is your definition of discipline? When exactly should you beat your wife? If she forgot to clean your shoes? If she looked at the neighbor and smiled? If she expressed her own opinion which did not quite match yours? Do you really think that these can be excuses for hitting someone? Because with this kind of law men will be allowed to do this! They will be allowed to ‘discipline’ their wives for any of such causes and law will be on their side as long as they don’t bruise!

To me it does not feel humane. It cannot be a healthy marriage and family if any of the family members feels the urge to beat another one. And if this is right by law, it will just start violence at home that can spread everywhere. You cannot stop violence in your country if you permit it in every home.

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I thought Jesus is not angry or short-tempered? – 16 Oct 10

Yesterday I wrote about the funny ideas that some people have about yoga and how they associate it with occult rituals, sex and tantra. It is always interesting how people who don’t know something first of all are afraid of it and dismiss it as something negative or even dangerous. Maybe even singing ‘om’ in the beginning of a class could give some narrow-minded people the impression you are summoning the devil.

Think of this one time: Why do people like that Christian blogger then talk bad about something they don’t understand? It is often the first human reaction but he should think of it that there are many positive aspects that he just does not understand yet. He may not know that making this sound from the depth of your body stimulates your nerves, vibrates in the whole body, makes your vocal chords smooth and opens your lungs for more oxygen.

This is not the first time in history that things are rejected and only some people saw its benefits. What about hypnotherapy? This, too, was not accepted in the beginning but nowadays it is widely accepted by western medical practitioners and successful psychologists have used it to help people get over their traumas. Would that be occult practices, too? When I work with psychotherapists all over the world, yoga and meditation practice is everywhere highly appreciated and together with experienced psychotherapists I have seen many people get benefit from these techniques. If you did not call it ‘hypnotherapy’, what other name would you put? Meditation. That’s just what it is in its root.

Again I come back to the question why you have to make people afraid? A person tells that yoga is not compatible with Christianity and people get afraid, afraid they have something against their belief and afraid of some kind of punishment! This fear of punishment in Christians is very bad and the reason why people turn away. They don’t want to be afraid. I can guarantee you, Yoga is not teaching you anything wrong and Jesus won't be angry with you. I also heard he is not usually an angry or short-tempered guy. He, too, believed in love instead of punishment.

Have some trust in your own feelings and experience. If it feels good for you, there is nothing wrong.

Christian Yoga Practitioners can Relax – 10 Oct 10

Yesterday I told that Albert Mohler, a Southern Baptist theologist, wrote why yoga should not be performed by Christians. I have read some of his articles on his website to get to know more about why he actually says this and to read a bit more of his opinion. I definitely disagree with him, as I already wrote yesterday, when he says yoga is not compatible with Christianity.

There are several points in his articles where you can see that there are misunderstandings and where he does not have the right information about real yoga. Nevertheless he has understood one thing that I also often mention, both in my diary and in person in workshops and seminars:

…a significant number of American Christians either experiment with yoga or become adherents of some yoga discipline. Most seem unaware that yoga cannot be neatly separated into physical and spiritual dimensions. The physical is the spiritual in yoga, …

I absolutely agree on this point. Mohler has received thousands of mails in which people tell him that they never do meditation, they do not do any spiritual practice and they do not think about yogic philosophy but they practice hatha yoga, merely physical exercise. I would also say, if you do this, then you are not really in yoga, you are just working out, doing training for your fitness.

Why do people who do yoga write like this? Are you afraid of the judgment of a minister or religious leader? I can assure you that God will not be angry with you if you do meditation! God will not punish you if you do yoga! If you have accepted yoga in your life, why are you so fearful or confused? You do not need to give a justification for what you are doing or, more importantly believing in. Yoga is food for the unity of body, mind and soul and how is this something wrong? You should not justify why you, as a Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jew or Hindu are doing yoga or not. Don’t be afraid of the judgement of a priest, preacher, guru or bishop or minister. Yoga is not something that you have to confess in church on Sundays. Be confident about what you do. If you feel yoga helped you on your way, that is it. If you feel yoga brought you even closer to your religion, then keep on doing it. I have met many Christians who told me that after accepting yoga in their lives, they felt more connected to Jesus. Don’t lend your ear to those who say that this is wrong, listen to your heart.

In any way, there is no reason to justify your yoga practice by saying it was only physical. Yoga is more than just movement of body and you know that! Your feelings and experience tell you whether yoga is right for you as a Christian or not. Enjoy, feel and feel free.

No Religion, no Guru and no Sin – Just live Life – 26 Feb 10

I was writing about religions and would like to write a bit more about how religions talk about sins. It is in many different religions, not always using the word ‘sin’ but always with this message: If you do not follow our rules, God will punish you. I do not like this because it makes people afraid. Why do you need to make people afraid? If the rules that you put up make sense, you don’t need to make others afraid, they will understand it on their own and follow them!

But unfortunately this is what happens with the course of time in most religions and especially when you have religious leaders as heads of these religions. They often develop the ego of being the ones who tell others what to do. In my opinion religion and spirituality don’t need a guru. It is the way that you go and what you accept in life, it is nothing to learn, it is just implementing your honesty into life. You have to walk on this path, it is not like studying business management or learning a language. It is love and you don’t need to learn love. If you are in love and you are honest, you are already spiritual.

You do not learn any philosophy, do not need to learn any scriptures and you just need to follow your heart. And in your heart you will know that God will not punish you. Why would He? There is nothing you can do wrong, no sin to commit. Just be simple, honest and in love. That is all.

Rules of Religion and Fear of Sin – 25 Feb 10

I mentioned already that rules can lose their sense and become rituals which are just like a duty of which you do not any sense anymore except for keeping those happy who expect you to do this ritual. I already talked about getting up before sunrise. This was what you were told here by religious people and just how I already mentioned that religions gave suggestions for leading a good life, this is something good.

It is here in India a healthy time to get up. In winter and also in summer sunrise is around six or seven o’clock so it is a nice time to get up and start the day. It is healthy not to lie around much longer than that. But if you now forget the reason behind that and just see this rule: ‘Get up before sunrise’, then I believe that it may be good doing that in India but not in other places. In other countries the sun rises already at four o’clock in the morning in summer time or even earlier. Why would it be beneficial for you to get up that early in the night? And in winter it doesn’t rise even until late into the day.

So if people still do that although they moved to another country, it just shows that they are doing it for the ritual itself. This itself is also not bad. It just becomes bad when religion starts saying it is a sin if you do not follow their rule. Then the reason for doing the ritual is just the fear of doing a sin. Then the real reason, the science behind it, is forgotten and people just follow religious law.

There are so many examples: you should not steal, you should not lie, this all has become a sin. The only reason not to steal is then that it is a sin and you might be punished by going to hell or being reborn another time. If you follow the rule on the other hand, there is something that you can get, be it heaven or liberation. It may have made sense in that time when not everyone had access to education but nowadays you can see the scientific reason for this kind of rules yourself, understand it and follow it just from your free will and mind.

Our friend Angie also arrived here and enjoyed her second day, the first day of Holi in Vrindavan. In the next week the town will be full of colours and fun.

Anger of Parents if Child broke something – 29 Jun 09

Today Ramona and I were talking about an issue which we see sometimes in society and which I have seen in any culture, here and also in India. Something happens to a young child by mistake, for example if something broke or they lost something, did something or something happened which should not happen, if it is by accident or because of carelessness. Imagine especially a case in which it cannot be reversed, something is gone or broken. In these situations some people get very angry, make their own mood bad, the child’s mood bad and sometimes even hit their child.

Once I was sitting in a person’s home and the six year old son went for shopping and lost a few Rupees. When he came home he was already afraid. He told his mom that he lost some money and I saw how his mother slapped him. What could he do, he just started crying. I felt very bad about this and said the mother also that it is wrong to hit a child.

I heard about another incident. A little girl broke a chair by accident while she was playing. She knew that something happened which her parents wouldn’t like and she went to her father saying ‘Promise me that you won’t get angry.’ He asked what happened and when she told that it broke, he got angry.

I just want to ask these parents: What did you get from this? Did you get the money back or was the chair repaired by it? Or did the child get any lesson from this? You could only make them cry and give them hurt and pain. Maybe they could learn it in a much better way if you gave them more love, didn’t get angry and say that it is fine. You could stroke their head full of love, tell them ‘okay, that happened, but now you know how to take care of things better!’ This would be a better lesson for the child from which they could learn something.

Forgiving can be the biggest Lesson – 27 May 09

I always say that we should express our emotions. Even if it is sadness or anger which is normal and often comes with disappointment. But another great quality of human is forgiveness. We need to learn to forgive. Anger can only burn you from inside, but if you want to have peace, you need to forgive. And this you also have to start from yourself.

Many times and in many situations we don’t even forgive ourselves and even punish ourselves. But we often also want to punish others. You can imagine what kind of lesson you can give the other one if you forgive. You punish because the other one ‘has to get a lesson’. But forgiveness can be a much bigger lesson than any punishment.

In many religions God is shown and imagined as a judge who punishes but I see God as full of love and compassion. He has the great quality of forgiveness and always forgives us even though we do mistakes. He loves us, embraces us and forgives us. You should also learn to forgive yourself, then you will be able to forgive others. Because you can see that if you were in that situation, you would also forgive yourself. Why would you not be able to forgive others then?

Today's food was sponsored by Golshan Raj Dawoodarry. Thank you!
Click here to see pictures of the food