Let’s go and worship the Penis – what’s wrong with that? – 18 Feb 15

Yesterday I told you a story of Shiva and how Hindus started worshipping his penis in the form of Shiva Lingam. There are however Hindus who just don’t want to accept that this is what they are doing: worshipping a penis.

The story which I wrote to you yesterday is written like this in the scriptures. It is Shiva’s penis that falls down and people agree to worship exactly that part of his body. Now if you say that this is a penis statue and you like to see it as a symbol for the universe, fine. No problem. You cannot however say that it is NOT a penis. Yes, there are genitals in the scriptures and in your daily worship and if you are religious, you should accept this.

There is another story about Shiva and his most private parts which you might like:

Once, Shiva saw a beautiful woman, no, an angel from heaven. He immediately got aroused and ran towards her. She saw him, was shocked and ran away but had no chance of outrunning him. He caught up with her, grabbed her and tried to embrace her. She struggled hard to get away from him, to save herself and get out of his arms. Miraculously, she managed and ran away!

In this short but intense struggle however, Shiva had, well, ejaculated. Yes, and wherever on earth his semen fell, it created gold and silver mines.

For all those who already started asking for proof in scriptures, you can read this in the Shrimad Bhagwat Maha Puran, 8 / 12 / 24-34.

When I told these stories to my wife, she really laughed and told me it sounded like bad porn stories, not like scriptures, and something that would make good comic material. It is true – and in the time when it was written down, it was of course what people’s mind and imagination made them write! It was what they wanted to hear and they added God and religion into their favourite stories!

I don’t say that this is wrong! I don’t say there should not be sex in scriptures! The problem is that religious people want to be ‘pure’ and pretend that their religion has nothing to do with sex. Accept that this is part of your religion, part of your scriptures! You cannot make genitals a taboo when one of your main items of worship is a penis!

When I was religious myself, I knew all the scriptures and had studied them. I knew that it was a penis – and I never found that strange. I grew up in this and while I today laugh about it when telling it to a non-Hindu who never heard of it, I was 100% aware of these stories in the past, too.

I have heard and seen photos, too, that in Japan and Nepal there are also people who worship the penis. Wonderful – we need more of that! Life-embracing and focusing on the important parts of life – and the body!

Just don’t claim you are not worshipping a penis – that’s hypocrite!

My Friend who teaches Religion but doesn’t believe in it – 17 Jul 14

I have a friend in Germany whom I meet each time when we are here and who is a religion teacher. In Germany, religion is a subject at school with the option to take either catholic or protestant Christian education or the non-religious subject ‘ethics’ instead, if you don’t want your child to learn either. As I knew that my friend was not really a religious person, I asked him this time: ‘Do you only teach religion or do you also believe in it?’

His answer: ‘Oh, I only teach, I don’t believe!’

I found his explanation of this fact quite interesting and thought you might do so as well. The main point was, he said, that he didn’t see the bible as a holy book but as a collection of old, religious texts. According to him it is not, as some people believe, literal notes of the words of god but rather a compilation of stories, written down by different people, even at different times with the intention of conveying a message by examples and symbols.

That’s what you have to realize when you look at the bible. It is all full of symbols and metaphors, as people in older times needed that to understand and really get the message. You cannot take this literal, you have to find out what they wanted to say. And you have to discover whether that message fits into today’s time or not.

The interesting thing, according to him, however is more scientific: in today’s culture and life, you can see the influence of religion, of those texts and the values that they conveyed already thousands of years ago. They are historic documents that show us the development of our societies! The values, behavior, language and lifestyle of Europeans is influenced by Christianity!

There are other religion teachers, even at my friend’s school, he told, who really do take the bible literal! They believe in and teach those old texts word by word! It is obviously ridiculous and students know that, too – but there are all kinds of people and that is why, in my opinion, you should not have something like religion class: the chance that a crazy Christian sect leader tries to lure in your children is just too big! This field is just too full of claims you cannot prove and possibilities of fanaticism that only a pure scientific approach makes sense to me.

I thus understood it when my friend said ‘I am a scientist, not a cleric. We both studied theology but that is a fully different way!’

Liberate yourself from Religion and be happy instead of waiting for Liberation after your Death! – 16 Jul 14

Do you know people who always seem to be negative and miserable about their lives? I recently remembered a religious reason that at least Hindu people have. A justification for being miserable: according to Hinduism, you start your life in sin.

The Hindu religion believes, as you probably know, in reincarnation. According to the philosophy of their scriptures, they also believe however that whenever a human is born, it is the fall of a soul.

When a good person dies, Hindus believe that he has good Karma left. Due to this, he is allowed to go to a temporary heaven. When he has ‘used up’ his good Karma there, he has to go back to earth because he has unfinished business there. He is not liberated yet, otherwise he would not have come to heaven in the first place – his soul would just have been free and united with the big creating soul. The whole religious effort of a Hindu is thus to achieve liberation and not come back to life anymore! He doesn’t want to be reborn, doesn’t want to be reincarnated anymore!

The concept is thus that your reincarnation is something bad. You always have a wish: if you were not reborn, if you were not in this universe anymore, if you were just liberated! Practically you are saying: if I was just not born! So now you do every effort you can imagine to get rid of this curse of reincarnation. You pray every day several times, you do pooja, worship of deities, you go to the Ganges to take a dip in the holy waters and you make pilgrimages every year.

You are a sinner from the beginning of your life. How could you ever expect to be happy?

I have heard the same theory exists in Christianity, too! I don’t know it very much in detail but they believe that we all are only on this world and not in paradise because Eve, the mother of all humans, didn’t obey God’s rules and ate an apple from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For your whole life you now have to try and be a good person, love God and pray to Jesus so that Jesus – who died for the sins of all men – will save you.

Religion wants to keep you in a feeling of guilt! Guilt for a kind of sin that you don’t even know about, that you have not committed yourself! You were born because of this sin and cannot change this fact!

So you should live your life in this feeling, do everything for receiving grace from an imaginary god. How would you ever be happy in your life if this is what you believe in?

Religion tells you how you can be liberated after your death – but if you really want to be happy, you have to liberate yourself during lifetime!

My five-Year-Review in 2005 seen from the end of 2013 – 29 Dec 13

Just as the year is ending now and we all are looking back, I was looking back at the past years when the year 2005 came to an end. The change of years gave me the occasion to think back on the five years that had passed since I had left the cave. How much had happened and in which way I had developed!

When I came out of the cave, I had obviously just completed a long time of retreat just with myself and I knew that the changes that had taken place within me in that time would reflect on my life – but how? I knew I didn’t want to go on the way I had lived before but I had no idea in which direction my life would turn, what I would do. And where I would earn money from to support my family!

I changed. Out of India, into the world. I started new projects, new work. I gave yoga workshops, individual sessions and counselling. I connected with people in a different way and enjoyed it. I had left behind the role of a guru and had made friends.

While I had started in the west by working within Indian communities, obviously closely connected to religion and thus the work I had been doing before, with time that changed as well. I made connections outside the Indian communities of the countries I was travelling in and I worked with people who had very little or no relation to Hindu religion or scriptures. I was happy to free myself from those texts which I slowly realized were not reflecting what I felt inside. I was further away from religion than I had ever thought I would be.

But I had survived. My family had survived. No, more than that: we were flourishing! The Ashram building was growing and we were able to support more and more people, members of our staff and their families, who lived on the salary they got from us, young Sanskrit students who lived with us during the time of their studies and those many children whom we were now supporting in primary schools in the surrounding.

What did I do when I realized this? I thanked God from the depth of my heart. I believed it was him who provided all of this even when I didn’t give lectures about religious scriptures anymore! Who blessed me and my family in spite of all the change that I had gone through in the past five years.

In that time I would have never thought that another five years later I would call this same God a fictional character and that I would not get the idea to thank this creation of the human mind for the fruit of my own work and effort.

People change, thoughts change and beliefs change, all with time!

Telling my personal Guru that I was no Guru anymore – 17 Nov 13

I told you last week how my friends and former disciples slowly got to know about the changes of my thinking and philosophy. I was not anymore a guru and by 2005, most people in my surrounding were aware of that, at least in part. Of course, also my family realized what was going on – and I wanted to share my feelings with them! I was not sure however what they would say, especially my father, who had spent his whole life as a guru.

My transition phase from being a very religious guru to being the non-religious, normal person that I am today was quite long. It is normal – I had devoted thirty years of my life to religion and the life of a guru! Change didn’t come from one day to another but there was a point in the year 2005 when I looked back and realized how much I had already changed and that changes were still taking place! There were so many feelings and experiences – and I wanted to tell my family about them.

I had started travelling with my father at an early age. Already when I was very little, I would come to his programs and when I was nine years old, he let me share the stage, recite some mantras and thus contribute in his program. He taught me everything, gave me room for my own interpretations, encouraged me to use new ways and implement my own ideas when presenting the ancient content of those religious scriptures. He was not only guru to thousands of people but also my personal guru, the one from whom I learned everything.

When I was thirteen, I started giving my own lectures and as a teenager already started travelling on my own. I gained popularity and I was always aware that this success was based on what my father had told me. What would he say if I told him I was leaving this all? That I was not stepping away but that I had already brought quite a distance in between that past guru life and myself?

After I came out of the cave in 2000, I was spending lots of time abroad and while they thus did not see my daily routine too often, the members of my family had definitely felt and seen some of the changes already. They knew I had not been doing my daily fire ceremony anymore after I had broken my leg. They also knew that I didn’t give any programs in India anymore. They knew that I was hardly in touch with any of the disciples who had frequently come to visit before and even during my time in the cave.

As we were always very open within our family, I was not worried though – nevertheless, I did not know exactly, what my father would say. Would he be disappointed? Would he understand? What would he feel about these changes?

Next week, I will tell you about our talk.

Why do you want a Guru to take charge over your Life? – 22 Jul 13

Today is Guru Purnima, Master’s Day in India. It is a day on which every disciple honours his guru. Even if he doesn’t think of him the whole year long, he will come on this day, wash his guru’s feet, show his devotion and give a present and some money. Even if he is far away, he will call him to greet. I have played the role of a guru myself and know this scene very well. I have changed and I changed so much that today I completely refuse exactly that what I was recommending years ago. With it the principles of guruism.

I was believing and preaching what was written in the scriptures: without a guru, you cannot reach liberation. Liberation is what everybody should strive for – so everyone should find a guru who can lead him to liberation.

Today I feel that this kind of condition is the reason why there is so much corruption in this field. Innocent, gullible people come and you teach them three things:

1. You can only find liberation if you have a guru.

2. You can only have one guru, just as you can only have one father.

3. You have to devote everything you have and do to your guru. He will take your responsibility and in turn you have to do what he says.

From the moment you take your guru’s initiation, you devote all your rituals to him. You follow his advice and do your prayers with him on your mind. You willingly and happily become a puppet of this master with his promise that he will take you out of this world of illusion. Obviously these gurus like this power and everything that comes with it. This is why they say it is a must and necessary to take the initiation with a guru. In order to keep their followers with them, they promote the rule that every disciple can only have one guru.

This complete system is in my opinion made for the abuse that has been happening in the past decades and centuries. These gurus get lots of power over the minds of those people and they knowingly misuse it in order to gain wealth and satisfy not only their physical needs but also their sexual fantasies, which are not rarely crossing the borders of what you would call ‘normal’. It is wrong what is happening there.

In my opinion a guru is just a teacher, in the basic sense of the word. If you want to learn something, you need a guru. When I went to school, our whole class called our teacher ‘Guruji’ to show respect. It doesn’t matter who that person is, anybody with whom you are learning, whether that person is older or younger than you can be your guru. And it doesn’t matter how many gurus you have, whoever teaches you is your guru.

Don’t become a puppet of someone else. Whomever you learn from, you can give him the respect of a guru but don’t become fully dependable on one person. Let your relation be teacher and student – there is no need to put that aspect of divinity in that.

People may argue that you will need a spiritual, religious guru, if you want to learn about the scriptures and religious philosophy. I have spent a big part of my life studying exactly that. Today however I would ask you: why would you need to learn this philosophy at all? In my opinion it is completely useless. You want to live an honest and happy life. Why do you need the Vedas, the Quran or the Bible for this? Studying them will only limit your horizon, narrow your path and make you confused. So if you don’t need this philosophy, why do you need a guru?

Be your own guru. Let your own love, modesty and morality be your guru. It will guide you well, if you just let it.

The tempting Offer of Gurus to free you of any Responsibility – 3 Apr 13

Yesterday I wrote about the responsibility that both writers and readers have and should take for their lives and their actions. Everybody should be aware of his responsibility and take it in his hands. While this is something that most people would accept as how it should be, Hinduism and the common Guruism unfortunately teach something else: you can and should give all your responsibility to your guru.

Yes, this is what is written in the highest scriptures and this is what gurus have been preaching for centuries and what followers try to achieve. The idea is that you devote yourself complete to a guru. You surrender yourself, all your bad Karma but also your good Karma to your guru and do what he says without expecting anything for yourself. Then you will reach the point that you don’t have any Karma for yourself anymore and thus will reach heaven after your death.

This concept is actually the key-point with which guruism is running at all. Gurus invite people: Come, give me all your karma, do what I tell you and you don’t need to worry about your life or even your afterlife. Devote yourself and surrender, I will take care of you in this incarnation and later on.

Isn’t that a wonderful concept? A tempting offer for any innocent, normal, religious-minded person! Every Hindu who grew up in this religion will believe that this is the right way and anybody else can understand how inviting it sounds: Sit in my boat, I will row and take you to the other side! You don’t need to think or worry, you will reach there safely. You cannot upset the boat, you cannot be carried away by the current of the river, you won’t drown – you won’t even get wet!

They surrender. It is easy and it is even seen as something good in society! They proudly say ‘I have surrendered, I am devoted, I am a follower and only do what my guru says. I am nothing’. This humbleness is exactly what is expected of them. ‘Finish your ego’ is what they are told, otherwise the guru cannot take over. He will take care of your Karma account so you have to give him all rights to it.

For this service you obviously also have to pay a certain fee. Some gurus don’t take this fee directly. Some are like banks where you have to have a certain insurance plan with them before you get special services. But you have to pay, directly or indirectly.

Extracting big amounts of money is not the only advantage that gurus take of this attitude. They have many people who are so devoted that they would do anything, whatever they say. This power, given to them by their devotees, paves the way to sexual abuse. Many former female disciples of gurus have told me that they just thought of their guru as god. They fully surrendered and trusted that they would be saved through him and by doing whatever he asks for. When they were asked to serve him in his private bedroom, to massage his genitals and even have sex with him, many of them did! There are so many cases of gurus who abuse women because they innocently believe it is what they are supposed to do.

So you see the extent of the problem when people don’t want to take their own responsibility and rather take the easy way out – handing it over to someone else. It is never right to do this. Take your responsibility, for your actions and the consequences, and realize that you don’t need a guru to be happy in life.

‘Religious but not superstitious’ – why that is not possible but at least a good Sign – 11 Feb 13

When I write about religious people and their superstitions, about how religion fuels stupid ideas that create fear in people, I often get replies by religious people saying ‘I am religious but not superstitious!’ I am sure you have heard such a thing before, too. I actually don’t think this is possible. Nevertheless I see it as a positive sign if someone says such a thing. Let me explain you my theory.

First of all, why do I say that you cannot be only religious but not superstitious? It depends a bit on the definition of ‘religious’ but if you are really religious, it means you believe in the scriptures of a certain organized religion, don’t you? And these scriptures are all full of superstition. Until now I don’t know of any religion that does not have elements of superstition in their scriptures. If you do, please tell me about it. Until then, I can tell you that religion has been spreading superstition in society for centuries and you cannot separate superstition from religion, from its origin.

Whenever I hear however that someone protests and says ‘I am not superstitious but I do believe in religion!’, I feel that this person has at least started understanding that superstition is wrong! It is a first step. If a person has the feeling that he does not want to be called superstitious, he obviously is afraid that people might think he is scared of black cats or other nonsense. He does not want to be associated with such superstition but he does not have a problem to be associated with religion.

Yet.

In many cases I have the feeling that such people just don’t have the courage to actually leave religion. Sometimes it is an inner conflict, people wondering whether all of what they learned is really right. It takes time to accept an attitude which is fully different from what you got to know when you grew up. There will be a point however when you realize that it is not only nonsense to knock on wood for luck but also to pour milk into a river in a religious ritual for the same purpose.

Much more often however it feels that there are boundaries from the outside which create this hesitation. What is my family going to say if I don’t want to be religious anymore? What are people going to talk about me? These and others are the questions that come in people’s minds and even though they are not convinced anymore with what religion tells them, they don’t have the courage to speak against it. Superstition however is so ridiculous that they don’t want to be associated with it.

I believe, even if it is not possible for a person to fully leave religion in his lifetime, he can do the beginning and the next generation will take one step further. It can happen and it is already happening. Religion has made its impressions on people for thousands of years, so it is obvious that it is not easy to come out of it when the complete society in one’s surrounding is religious. We know however that the change has started and we can be positive and hopeful that it will continue to change until people won’t hesitate to say ‘I am neither superstitious nor am I religious!’

Your Religion says you should not try proving God – so why do you argue? – 8 Feb 13

Whenever I write something in my blog which shows a doubt that God exists or which expresses that I don’t believe in God, there are people who try proving me wrong. Sometimes discussions start in between believers and non-believers whether God exists or not. Especially when the believer is a Hindu, I have to wonder why he or she actually gets into this conversation – this religion tells you clearly that you won’t be able to find proof for God in a logical way.

In the Vedas there are several places which tell the reader that God is beyond intelligence, beyond arguments and you cannot get to know him by discussing or talking. I am sure that Hinduism is not the only religion that gives its believers such wisdom. God is beyond that, you cannot give a proof for God’s existence and that’s why you should not search for proof either.

God is a matter of belief. You can of course believe in God, I honestly don’t have any problem with that. Why however do you want to have an argument about the question whether he exists or not? Your own religion tells you that you should not even try! Why do you want to limit your God to a certain theory or philosophy?

If you want to believe in God, and you have every right to do so, understand that this is only your belief and it is individual to you. You don’t need to prove him, you don’t need to convince others that you are right or they are wrong! You should actually not, your own religion tells you that this person will have to experience and feel God himself in order to believe.

Most of all, don’t use your belief as proof. It is not and cannot be. A belief is and remains a belief. It can be true but it is not necessarily. A lot of people believe in ghosts but they don’t exist. They insist that there is proof, they try to find it but it is and remains only a belief! It does not mean it is true! In older times people believed in a lot of different things – that the earth is flat, that you can fall off the border if you go too far, that sun, moon and stars are only there for us and that the sun rotates around the earth. For them it was the truth, even if we know today that it is not right. You should not however impose this belief on others.

I can accept that your belief makes you feel good and that you attribute a lot of what is happening in your life to this belief. Believing that there is someone who looks after you, who has created this world and who knows what happens anywhere on this earth fills your heart with trust and love. That may well help you in everything that happens in your life.

It is however your own belief and that does not mean it is real. Belief is not a proof and that is why the very wise men who wrote your scriptures already gave you advice not to even try and argue about it with others. It won’t help, it won’t prove anything. You will limit your God to the borders of your argument and you won’t be able to convince the other one. Accept that it is your belief, live it for yourself and let others live their own belief or non-belief!

Washing Sins off at the Kumbh Mela – Cinema of Religion sells Entry Tickets to Heaven – 23 Jan 13

I was asked what I thought of the Kumbh Mela in general and would like to write in detail about this in the next days, just as I started yesterday. I think I should also explain a little bit what I think of the festival idea in general.

Hinduism tells its believers that you should go at the time of the Kumbh Mela and take a bath at that holy place. All your sins will be washed away and you can thus go to heaven once you die. You will not spend your time until the next life in hell but in heaven. How practical – no matter how many sins you do, you can wash them all off! So people won’t hesitate doing sins anymore, they can anyway wash it off! You won’t have sins anymore but all your virtues will show. These virtues, your good Karma, will bring you to heaven.

Religion thus tells you that virtues is like fictional money with which you can buy an entry ticket for heaven, just as you buy a ticket to see a movie in the cinema. The more money you have, the better your place will be. There are also those who sell the tickets and advertise the movies – and of course religion wants to have the house full and show only full shows! So these advertisers have been doing their best to get visitors and after many years, visitors are coming nearly on their own!

If you have a look at these advertisers – the gurus, the religious leaders, the sadhus and babas, the holy people, they all do their best to get you into that cinema hall and follow the show. If you have your eyes open however, you would notice that it is only an illusion, only fiction and only drama. On the Kumbh Mela, one can watch them all very nicely.

Those holy men are the main attraction at the Kumbh Mela and they walk around everywhere, give their lectures, perform ceremonies against money and of course make new followers. In a newspaper I saw a picture of a big crowd of these spiritual people, all dressed in saffron-coloured and orange robes and wearing arms, as if they were soldiers. And not only swords or weapons of old times, which could be explained that they are written about in the scriptures but also guns! Holding their firearms, they were shooting into the air, celebrating the beginning of the Kumbh Mela! Doesn’t that make you see another face of religion?

These gurus and sadhus, the advertisers, try everything to get you into their cinema, their show of illusion and fiction. For the next three years, until the next Kumbh Mela in another place, they will extract money in some way or another from their followers in that area, so they want as many people surrounding them as possible. The amount of people who go there does not change the fact however that it is only fiction.

So no, if you ask me, I don’t have any intention of going to Allahabad to join the show. I don’t believe in the concept of cleaning one’s sins in a polluted river and I can see that religion, the cinema, is only there for making money and maybe entertaining people. I thus don’t see any sense for anybody who is not caught in the illusion of religion to take part in this festival.