How lots of Sex can become a dry Ritual – 2 Dec 15

In the past two days, I explained you two reasons why open relationships often don't work. Behind both scenarios which I explained, there is one basic reason for failure: people see sex as a technique, an action which is entertainment from which you get a certain thrill – and they forget about love!

There are a lot of people who are fascinated by the idea of open relationships and when they try it, they have lots of sex with lots of different people. They change their partners sometimes so frequently that they don't even remember whom they slept with! The feeling is missing. Then sex is only physical, a ritual to go through, there is no love anymore!

After a while, they start missing something. They realise that they don't have something they were once looking for: the deeper meaning in a connection. The possibility to connect on a level that goes so far deeper than just physical touch can! They miss love.

It cannot be! If sex is only a ritual for you to go through, when it doesn't matter much with whom or even if you select your partners but you change them frequently, you cannot bond in the same way that you bond in a one-on-one relationship. And you cannot share the same feeling that you originally had with that one partner with whom you started this original experiment with each of your sexual partners.

You can share sex, physical contact and a ritual but you cannot share the same affection, feeling and love. Love is the adhesive which keeps you and your partner together. People often think sex is the glue – but in reality it is love.

Sex is important, too, I think! Oh yes, it can intensify so much in a relationship and plays an important role in bringing two human beings really close to each other. But only if there is another connection than just the physical one. You can have an amazing night with someone and even regular sexual experiences which satisfy every physical need you have and still feel like there is missing something.

This something is love. And in my opinion it is impossible to share this deep love and bond with any other person but one!

Preparations for the Event ‘Life after Death’ – 23 Jul 15

We are in the middle of our preparations for an event which will take place this weekend, here at the Ashram. We have invited people to come and sign up as body donors. They will agree that after their death their bodies will be given to hospitals so that they can be used for the progress of medicine!

Every religion has its own rituals and ceremonies for the time after death. Some religions burn the bodies, other religions bury them. All of that is done for the benefit of the soul, to get to heaven and to reach similar goals. What should someone do who is not interested in all of these ‘benefits’ because he doesn’t believe in them?

I believe it would be much better to give your body to medicine instead. If any organ can be used to save another person’s life, wouldn’t that be great? It is for me not the thought that you could live on but the idea that even after death, you can help another person to live! Even if you are very old and your organs can really not be transplanted anymore however, medicine can still take benefit from it! Yes, there are so many medical students who need to learn what they will be working with – and they could learn on you!

A long time ago already, my father asked me to find out where and how it is possible to donate his body after his death. You may be surprised but my father is really a very open thinker and has appreciated this thought for a long time!

Finally, on this weekend, he will be able to fill a form confirming exactly this. I have some atheist friends whom I have met over social networks and together we are arranging this meeting on Friday and Saturday. We will get together with more atheists – as religious believers will usually not go this way – and inform them, have talks, meet, get to know each other, make some new friends and help further lives as well as science in this way!

We don’t know how many people will finally come. Over sixty have confirmed their plans but you know how it is in India – it could be a lot more as well! That’s how we are in full preparations for food and accommodation, for making the Ashram nice and ready and of course excited and looking forward!

I will give you a full report on the event on Sunday!

The hilarious Report of non-Hindus urged to take Part in religious Ceremonies in India – 26 Feb 15

I told you many times that we enjoy having guests at the Ashram very much! It is really nice when you have people of different countries at one place, everyone sharing their thoughts and their opinions. Of course, they also tell us what they have seen and experienced in India – and a recent report didn’t only make us laugh but also gave us a few thoughts on people performing religious rituals, trying to make others participate.

Two of our Ashram guests had gone to Keshi Ghat, which is the place in Vrindavan where stairs lead into the river Yamuna. Currently the river has very low water but that doesn’t keep people from daily performing a fire ceremony for pilgrims to worship the river. The couple went to see this ceremony – and really, their report was first of all hilarious to watch.

Usually, people sit on the side and watch what is going on from a certain distance. They came to the place and were still wondering where they should best sit, when some pilgrims came and made movements for them to come along. They followed and soon found themselves in the middle of a crowd, doing things that they were told to do, in order not to hurt anybody’s religious sentiments and of course also to make this unique experience.

And unique it was! They told how they got pieces of dough to throw into the river, how they had to hold burning ceremonial candle holders, swing them around in the crowd while taking care not to burn their neighbours and even place little candle boats into the shallow river with the help of a long stick that they had to somehow balance on the way. At one point they were given a hollow horn of some kind which was then filled with milk and which they were told – with gestures – to hold over the river to let the milk pour in there. It was a balancing act, trying to hold the horn far enough out so that the milk would reach the water while trying to not fall over the barrier themselves! They were relieved when it was finally empty – and shocked when someone came by twice to refill it!

Back at the Ashram, they imitated the actions and caused big laughter among everyone. Obviously, they enjoyed and said they had been really involved but at the same time they were exhausted. It was a lot of noise, the river was not flowing and rather stinky and they had to do a lot of unusual movements. And they also made a little fun of those actions. And it is obvious: they did not really know what they were doing, what the logic or symbolism behind those actions was!

While I believe they have a great deal of memories from this experience and while we always recommend people watching the ceremony to feel the atmosphere, I also think they should not have been pulled in.

Really, if you are performing your own, obviously Hindu ceremony, and a person comes who is very clearly non-Hindu, so who doesn’t know your rituals and traditions, why do you try to get him to follow? If it is to show him your religion, it would not have been necessary to make this guest do all these things he didn’t understand. He did not get to know your religion any better through this! Do you want to show off your own religiosity? Again, for that you would not need to make another person do what you are doing! Or do you only do that to get a donation in the end? A religious farce for money?

Then again, I had to think about those Hindus who participate in the ritual. Many of them in reality don’t know either what they are doing! They just follow the actions which they priest does and which their parents and ancestors have showed them and repeated with them over and over again. They don’t know the symbolism or the implied sense behind it. So in a way, it is for them also just a game. A game with the benefit of a possible divine blessing.

I can understand that you would like to share the fun of a game with a foreigner. But let me tell you that this also exposes you to getting ridiculed, made fun of – and I know for sure you would not like that! So why can’t we just do it this way: if someone comes and actively shows interest to participate, let them. If not, just let them watch! Don’t force anybody and just do your thing.

And most of all, when you have a bit of free time, think of that river, its pollution and other problems and what a nonsense you are actually doing there! 🙂

Young, modern-thinking Indians: are you ashamed of your Family? – 23 Dec 14

A while ago, I was contacted by a young Indian man who had some questions for me. To sum it up, he wanted to know how he, a modern, open-minded Indian from a young generation should cope with the traditional lifestyle and outdated views of his family. I know that this is not only this man’s problem and so I wanted to write my answer in my blog.

The man described what I have seen with many other young people as well. They go to study in university, often in a bigger town, get to see a lot of things of the ‘modern world’, read a lot and are exposed to international media, may have contacts with non-Indians and get to know more about views outside of India. When they return to their smaller city, or even village, they are different people than when they left. For many the same process happens while they are at home! The internet nowadays offers such a huge possibility to get to know more about this world that you don’t even have to go out for that!

So these young people develop their thoughts while their family does not move in that direction. The young girls and boys have friends who are like them, advanced and not attached to the old religion with its many limits and rituals. When they are at home, they see their family follow all that and they realize that their close relatives, the people they love, are highly superstitious. That they believe in the caste system, something that they now strongly dislike. They follow all those bad traditions that we have in India regarding the treatment of women!

They try to argue in their homes but to no avail. They are a minority there – and after all they love their family members, so they don’t want to insult them either! But they feel a bit ashamed. They avoid talking about their family to their friends. They get embarrassed when only thinking of bringing their modern friends home and have them meet their family. What impression will they have of their family, of the people they live with?

You know, I would first of all say not to feel ashamed for your family. You are not responsible for them and their actions, belief or thoughts. Tell them what you think, explain them why you don’t believe in the things they believe and don’t want to follow their traditions either. Talk, so that even if they don’t seem to understand, they know about it. You may have to repeat and explain yourself again but in the end, it is your family. They love you and you should find a common base on those grounds. Be tolerant about each other – they should not force you to take part in ceremonies you don’t like or adhere to traditions or rituals you find wrong. In the same way however, you can just let them do what they are doing, after having told them why you think it is wrong. It doesn’t hurt you if they pray or fast, does it?

As far as your friends are concerned, I would suggest the same: talk. Tell them about your family and your feelings. I am sure you won’t be the only one! Just talk about it and let them know. Real friends won’t see you any differently just because of the belief of your family. On the contrary, they will be able to better understand you and where you are coming from.

There are some issues with different belief however that you cannot just tolerate and ignore. Sometimes, there is a limit when you say a belief or tradition actually harms or insults you or your friends. That’s another topic though and I would like to write more about that tomorrow.

My German Friends’ Wedding at the Ashram – 14 Jul 13

Today I will report you about an event in 2005 that I personally did not actually witness but which was reported to me many times and of which I have seen pictures and videos: two of my German friends got married at the Ashram! But let me start telling you this story from the very beginning.

These two friends had told of their idea to make a journey to India. The man had visited India several times before but it would be the first time for his wife. They had heard about the ceremonies and rituals in Indian weddings, had seen videos and were fascinated by them and when I invited them to come to our Ashram, they had the wish to have an Indian wedding. I told them that this was of course possible and they made their plans. Somehow though this was the point where we obviously had a small misunderstanding.

They arrived at the Delhi airport in October and were welcomed there by my brother Yashendu whom they had already met when he had been in Germany. In happy anticipation they came to the Ashram, expecting to hug me at the doorstep – but I was not there! My brothers explained that I had gone for a program in Ireland! They were very surprised, to say the least. They did not really know Yashendu well and did not know my second brother Purnendu at all but most of all they had one question: what about their wedding ceremony if I was not even there to perform it?

I got to know much later that they had not known I wouldn’t be there. I believed that I had told them and I had of course told my brothers about their visit. My program had been fixed before – but we had obviously had some miscommunication! In the same way that they did not realize I wouldn’t be there, I had not realized that they expected me to perform their wedding ceremony! I understand why they may have thought I could do that: I knew the holy scriptures and knew of course about all the rituals of any kind of occasion, as they are described in the scriptures as well. They did not know however that we have a different type of priest for performing all those ceremonies! I had never in my life wed anybody nor have my brothers or father! We were preachers, interpreting, reciting and explaining the scriptures and we usually did not perform the rituals. We did know priests who did though and that’s what I had on my mind when I had invited them to marry in our Ashram.

So there they were, a bit confused and even ready to skip the wedding and just travel on. Purnendu decided that it would be time to talk to me and simply handed them the phone. Funnily, I cannot remember that they told me even then that they had thought I would be there. In any case, I told them that my family would do everything for the wedding and that they should not worry but relax and enjoy their time.

Luckily they agreed and my family started the preparations for their wedding on the 19th October 2005. My brothers and my sister arranged everything. They got the wedding clothes, prepared the fire place for the ritual, all the things that are needed for the wedding, asked the performing priest to come, helped our friends into their clothes, told them when they would need to do what and took pictures and videos. It was an unforgettable evening for everyone and it connected them deeply with my family and the Ashram.

Although I was not there, I am very happy that my friends had their Indian wedding in our home. They even stayed for the Diwali celebrations not much later and enjoyed the festive dinner in our home. Until today they tell how it touched them to be welcomed like family, taken care of by everyone without any expectations.

I am happy that we could welcome these two special friends many times more after this first visit to the Ashram. My family and I have been welcomed in just the same way in their home with the same love. And today I can say with much joy that they married in our home and my wife’s and my own German wedding took place in their home.

When lots of holy Milk flows down the Drain… – 24 Mar 13

Thinking back on my time in 2005, I have to say I was still in a big process of change. Of course your whole life is a change but after I had left the cave in December 2000, so much was changing in my life that it was still noticeable years later – and the change would still go on! Away from the life of a guru and with that of course also slowly reflecting on religion and what is behind all that ‘guruism’ that I had left. I very well remember a funny situation with a friend in Germany which on one hand made me laugh but on the other hand made me question the sense of some religious rituals.

I had been making friends all over Germany while I was working there and of course there were a lot of alternative practitioners who had come to my lectures, programs and individual sessions, too, and among them some who became my friends. One of them was a man who expressed a big interest in organizing my program as well. I happily agreed and he thus invited me to come to Heidelberg where a friend of his had a center. While I worked there, we had some talk and I got to know that my new friend was building a new house not far away in a suburb of Heidelberg. The house was about to be finished in a few weeks and he asked me whether I could join their inauguration party and maybe even do a ceremony to bless the house. I agreed – that was nothing new to me and I thought I would happily do this for a friend.

This is how we gathered with several friends at the newly built house once it was ready. It was a nice group of about 30 people, several of whom I knew. We did a traditional way of blessing with Abhishek, which is a ritual in which you wash the statue of god with milk, honey and some other ingredients, asking for blessing. Everybody participated in the ritual and thus became a part of it while I was reciting mantras. In the end of this ritual, everybody normally gets to drink a glass of the milk with the other ingredients. It is tasty and of course it is believed to be blessed. A holy drink that gives you some of God’s energy, strength and good luck.

So when we were done, someone passed the bowl with the milk to my friend and he got up and walked out with it. The whole room was waiting, some of them knowing what would come now, in expectation of this nice drink which was supposed to be filled with positive energy. When my friend came back into the room though, he did not have many glasses full of this holy drink in this hands – no, he was carrying the empty bowl! What had happened and where was the blessed milk?

He had thrown it away! He had just not known what was supposed to be done with it and had poured it down the next best drain! Some people were seriously shocked when he said that – had he thrown away all the holy milk? When I saw his face however I had to laugh – he was obviously feeling guilty about it but he had just not known that it was holy and supposed to be drunk! With several of my friends I can still today laugh about this story – it was just too great how everyone was waiting for the holy drink which he simply poured there where you would pour dirty cleaning water!

I told you however that this sparked another thought: what is the meaning of holiness when the person doesn’t know about it? You do a ritual and you think the result is a holy drink but the next person, who has never done the ritual, thinks it is a mix of funny ingredients, nothing special. Does this ritual really make sense? Is it a blessing for the house even if it is now flowing through the pipes underneath it? Some people would even say it is the opposite – you poured holy milk down the drain, that must be bad for the house!

I actually never believed that a ritual could have a negative effect on you, no matter if you didn’t do it the way ‘it was supposed to be’! So wasn’t it all just a psychological effect?

It was a thought that came up, something the remained inside me. It may not have had an immediate effect on me but was a small piece of the big puzzle of change inside me.

Superstitious People – Type 3: The successful, rich Businessman – 13 Mar 13

After the illiterate villager and the average middle-class person, I will today describe the third type of superstitious persons:

The superstitious, successful Businessman

I know this type very well because I have been in touch closely with many of them in a previous part of my life, when I was a guru in India. When I gave lectures and was preaching, there were always many rich people present and they were often also organizers of my program and this is how I got to know about the mindset of successful businessmen with lots of money who are at the same time religious – and thus superstitious.

Again superstition comes hand in hand with fear. The bigger their success, the bigger the fear that it could really be true, that the right time and date can have an influence on your success and thus your financial situation! That would mean a bad timing for a big decision could mean failure! Maybe even complete bankruptcy – the equivalent of the end of the world for this person!

So the superstitious businessman does full-fledged business but at the same time takes care to schedule important meetings on the right dates or, if it is not possible, to perform ceremonies to balance the problems of an inauspicious timing! With time he becomes convinced that his success is built on this superstition and is just horribly afraid of doing something wrong and thus losing it all! If their success is due to some higher power, a blessing or an energy, they feel it can leave them at any time if they do something wrong.

What does this actually mean? It is simple – they don’t trust in themselves or their abilities. They have low self-confidence and decide that it was not their work or talent that brought them money and success but some mysterious force. Obviously this makes them insecure, as they never know when their luck could leave them. As they don’t have any confidence in their own abilities, they have to keep on following superstition, trying to find out how they can persuade their good energy to stay with them so that they remain successful!

If you don’t believe that really successful businessmen can be that superstitious, I have the perfect example to prove you wrong: Mukesh Ambani, who is with a fortune of 27 billion US-Dollar India’s richest man and the ninth richest man of the world, built a 27-story-home in Mumbai for one billion US-Dollar. Before he moved in however, he found out that according to vastu, which is like the Indian feng shui, the house was energetically not good for the family and thus the whole family did not move into the house for months! Only after a long time and probably a lot of ceremonies and rituals to fix the problem, they could finally move into the house. So you see, even India’s richest man, who was criticized a lot for building this expensive house, waits for his priests, astrologers and other quacksalvers to give their blessing for him to move in!

Nobody goes to Heaven by doing Rituals – says my Grandmother – 3 Jan 13

With all the things that happened in the past month, one thing is very sure: my family and I have been strengthened in our non-religious approach on life – and death. People may not have asked directly but I know that there was a question in some readers’ minds: what did my father and my grandmother say and think about the decision not to do anything religious after Ammaji’s death. After all, I had sometime written that they were more religious than us children.

Of course, my parents and my grandmother have all spent their lives very much in connection with religion. It is normal for every regular person here, especially in Vrindavan, but even more so for my father who, like my grandfather, was a preacher and thus earned money by bringing religious texts closer to the people. My grandmother still today has an altar in her room and prays every day.

With the changes that have come in me and us brothers over the course of years however, they have also changed a lot. It was a long process for me from being a religious guru and preacher to who I am now. I am, and have always been, a very open person and although I always take care not to hurt my parents’ religious feelings, I was always able to talk to them and explain them why my thoughts had travelled the way they had. As my reasons for this development are clear, logical and comprehensible, not only with the mind but with the heart, too, they were often nodding along, agreeing on many points and accepting the fact that I thought in this way.

It is thus not very surprising to me that my father had no wish to follow any rituals, neither when his daughter died in 2006 nor now, when his wife died in 2012. He said the light had gone from his life, what would it help now to light a fire for a ceremony? It was his wish to do nothing but a simple cremation, a goodbye in the family.

As far as Naniji is concerned, I was not completely sure as to how much she would actually still believe in all those rituals and religious traditions. When her relatives came by, we obviously had some talk about the rituals that we did not do, as everyone was asking. One day however, after such a conversation, she called me in her room. Naniji, a 90-year-old woman, who has spent her whole life as a religious person, said: ‘Son, my hair didn’t turn white in the sun. Nobody goes to heaven by doing great rituals. Nothing happens with that. The most important thing is what you do in your life. Do good and live in truth.’

I can only say that I never agreed more with my grandmother.

Religion says: don’t die the wrong Day or five Family Members will die, too! – 2 Jan 13

The time after Ammaji’s death until now was very intensive. There were obviously lots of emotions on the inside which I have already written about. Additionally however there was lots of input from outside, too, lots of things that stirred thoughts which I wrote down in notes so that I can elaborate on them in my diary whenever there is time. Of course, there is a lot to write about because death is one of the biggest miracles of life and people have always created lots of stories around it, religion embraced them and in this way customs and traditions were formed. Today I want to write about another Hindu concept that becomes important for people when someone dies in their family: Panchak.

Let me explain you what Panchak is. In the Hindu calendar, everything is calculated according to the moon. In its complete cycle, the moon goes through all zodiac signs and in the end it goes through the signs Aquarius and Pisces. In one zodiac sign the moon stays for about two and a half days, even a bit less. The period of Panchak is while the moon is in Aquarius and Pisces, thus nearly five days long and occurs every month.

According to Hindu belief, if someone dies in the period of Panchak, in those five days, it means a lot of bad luck. That much, actually, that another five people of the same family will die. They can only be saved through a special ceremony that the family has to perform.

At Ammaji’s cremation, we were asked by someone if we had checked the timing and had seen whether Ammaji had died in that Panchak time. I said we don’t believe in this and we don’t need to even check. Even if we got to know that it was in that time, it would not mean anything to us and we would not do any ritual to save ourselves.

It is true, it doesn’t mean anything to us but obviously it means a lot to a lot of religious people! They get scared and afraid and are thus forced by their fear to perform another ritual. Many people have said in the past that I saw religion in a very negative light. Please tell me, if this idea of Panchak does not make an already troubled family unnecessarily afraid, what does it do? A family has lost one of its members, they all are sad and heartbroken and then you tell them that five more of them will die! That is heartless and cruel. To me, it is just another proof that religion is based on creating fear in people.

What happens in small families? Where maybe only three members are left? Will they just all die? A complete family eradicated by a bad timing of death. This tradition is complete nonsense which can be proven simply by the fact that nothing happens to people who have no idea about the concept of Panchak. In their families, nobody dies – or does such a thing only apply to Hindus?

Being reminded of this religious superstition only convinced us again that we did not want to do any rituals or ceremonies but simply mourn our loss and remember Ammaji with much love.

Hindu Traditions 13 Days after Death – celebrating and showing off Money on Tehravi – 28 Dec 12

In the past days I have been writing about all those religious customs and traditions that Hindu families usually follow but which we refused. At the side I mentioned that there is a tradition of a feast on the 13th day after a death in a home. It is called ‘Terahvi’.

Religious people anyway spend the days after a death in their home with lots of rituals and daily a priest comes by to have them to one or the other ceremony. This day however is the most important one because it will end their state of impurity. There are rituals to do, again according to the instructions of a priest, and the main and most important thing to do on that day is to organize a feast.

At first you feed 13 Brahmans, give them clothes, give them money, pots and other household items. They are the most important guests and they get a whole lot of gifts along with the food. That’s not it however! Apart from that you then need to feed as many people as possible. People feed 50, 100, 500 or 1000 people, according to their social stand and financial position.

That is where the problems start for many people and why this practice is not only unpopular with unreligious people like us: this feast has become a kind of competition on who can feed the most people for the death of their loved ones. The more people you feed, the more you loved the person close to you. What however should people do who cannot afford that much? People who have taken loans even to just marry their daughters because they had to give high dowry? Imagine their situation when suddenly someone dies and they are expected to invite the whole town! It would completely ruin them!

Although there are people who are now opposing this tradition, it is still very normal and people were surprised when we told we would not do anything. For some people this obviously meant that they could boast with their feasts. One man told he had fed 900 people when his wife had died! Well, fine, what do you mean to say with that? That you are better in mourning than we are? If you like, you can show that off … We knew however that we would not want to organize a feast, a celebration, just 13 days after Ammaji’s death.

This is what these feasts often feel like! A celebration and people are happy that they are now not impure anymore. No, we would not have been able to do that and we don’t see why we would feel like inviting a lot of people and show others how much money we can spend on this occasion! We are not keen on showing off, we don’t believe we were impure in the complete time and we don’t do any rituals.

When people then ask us when they should come for this feast, we tell them that we don’t do any. Babbaji’s friends, too, who had heard of his old friend’s visit, asked and Babbaji denied, we would not do anything. In the end, none of this circle of people came at all and we are fully happy with that.

At the end, there is only one thought that remains: if the ceremonies of that day make you pure again and we did not do them, will we remain impure in religious people’s eyes? Will they never come again until we have done that ritual?

An interesting thought but I don’t think people will go to such extremes!