The Dangers of giving someone Access to your Mind – 18 Mar 15

I yesterday wrote about mental and physical dangers of creating an imaginary world far away from reality. There is one more danger which I have not mentioned so far, as there needs to be said a bit more: when you allow someone to influence your imagination, your belief and thus your world – and he or she takes advantage of that!

If you have followed my explanation day before yesterday on how we all create our own world, you can understand already what I mean with that. We normally have our own thoughts and imaginations and when we decide to put belief in certain ones, it becomes reality for us. Now imagine someone being able to manipulate your thoughts! It will change your world, your reality!

It can be a lot of different people who actually have this influence. It starts with parents, who for exactly this reason have a huge responsibility: they have access to soft minds that are there to be shaped and formed. They create worlds. Your family, then teachers, friends and later more people whom you trust or whom you consider as authorities, whose thoughts you appreciate. This includes all kind of leaders, spiritual, religious or even political!

A responsible person will take care of the people whose thoughts he or she can influence. Obviously, this power can as well be misused – and you probably know about the thousands and thousands cases in which gurus, religious leaders and heads of sects have done exactly that: they use their influence not to help people but to make them obey their word, to make them do as they say. To control them, manipulate them and often enough do things that helps nobody else than the leader himself. They are brainwashed, fed with thoughts and imaginations, made believe and thus placed into a world, created by their outside, directed and controlled.

The result: the guru, sect or organization gets richer every day, the more people submit themselves to their influence. These followers, like blind sheep, live in that world, follow orders and even cut decade-old ties, break friendships and break with their families. Many of them stay in this manipulated world for years and years. Sometimes forever.

For some, there comes a point at which they suddenly have a doubt. The doubt grows and they finally start thinking on their own again. It seems dangerous, it is like learning to walk again! And of course it destroys their whole world which they have got used to for years. Their guru, whom they respected and loved, is suddenly an enemy and with him or her all their current friends as well.

So someone can actually control your mind if he gets access to your creation process. But only if you allow this access! Take good care whom you let come this far – and once you feel that he takes advantage of this privilege or doesn’t use it responsibly, deny access!

Take care of yourself!

God? Yes. Religion? No. – The modern Idea of Spirituality – 12 Feb 13

Yesterday I wrote that some people claim to be ‘religious but not superstitious’. I told you that this seems to be only a step on the way towards leaving religion and, in fact, belief altogether. Another very common stage is when people say ‘I believe in God but not in any religion’. Let me tell you my thoughts about this belief or mindset.

Let’s first have a look at where the idea of ‘God’ actually comes from. I don’t think that in the beginning of the natural evolution of humans, our ancestors were actually thinking about God. They were figuring out how to hunt and what they could eat, at some point they learned how to make tools and discovered fire. Much later in evolution, when they knew a lot but could not explain just a few things, they attributed these things to a supernatural power, to beings, to nature or to God. God’s names are so many because all over the world the development happened in a similar way.

Religion was founded when people started creating rules around that phenomenon, that power called ‘God’. They wrote down the stories that people had been telling each other and those who wanted to have power added bits and pieces with which they could make people afraid and manipulate them. They defined ‘their god’ and split the population of the world in different groups.

A lot of people now see all the bad that happens due to religion, often after having been religious themselves for many years. They realized the wrong, they see the dark side, they understand how religion has created fear, anger, pain, war and hatred among people. They leave everything that is in any way called religion or organized religion. They don’t go to temples, churches, mosques or other houses of God anymore, stay away from preachers and priests and give away the scriptures that they had in their homes.

They do not however want to give up everything. They need something to hang on, something that tells them what they had believed in for so long was not all wrong. They decide to keep their belief in God. For them, God remains an anchor in their lives even though this God may look very different from the God that religion describes.

I honestly have no problem with this concept. I can understand that you have the wish for at least some kind of supernatural power in your life. Something that soothes your mind when you think of all your responsibility, when you worry about the future or afraid of death. That God can be a form of heavenly power but it can be also just nature. It can be another person – a guru or even your partner or children. It can be just a feeling, your inner voice that you want to follow. I don’t believe in it but as long as you keep your belief in God to yourself, as long as you don’t want to impose it on others and don’t harm others nor yourself, I can fully accept it and won’t say a word against it.

I do oppose anything however that harms you or others. Don’t manipulate others and don’t let anybody else manipulate you. Don’t do anything against your nature and what you really wish and don’t let others lure you into another religious sect under the pretense that they are only serving God, not any religion.

There are a lot of sects that have realized the common trend away from religion, the opposition that is being brought up against organized religion. They react – by hiding religion. Just make an experiment and bring up a few questions about Hinduism and religion in front of a ISKCON devotee or priest! You will be told that they don’t do anything for religion, they do everything only for God. They claim to have nothing to do with religion – and that they are only devoted to Krishna. But who is Krishna? Krishna is a Hindu God! Without religion, without Hinduism, there would be no Krishna!

So don’t fall prey to such pretentious and brainwashing attempts to have you join another religious cult. If you want to believe in something, fine, do it. Believe in it for yourself and let it help you personally but take care of yourself and don’t impose it on others.

You cannot convert to Hinduism without disregarding a basic Hindu concept – 5 Jul 12

When writing about temples in Vrindavan yesterday, I mentioned the ISKCON temple and remembered that there are really lots of foreigners who go there, pray there, perform ceremonies there and see this temple as a holy place of worship. So while it is for most Indians simply a tourist attraction, there are foreigners who think very different about this. Today I don’t however want to write about this interesting detail but rather about the question how the religion of Hinduism actually refers to people who are not originally Hindus but want to believe in Hinduism and go to Hindu temples.

To be very straight and clear with my words, it is actually not possible to convert to Hinduism. There is no scripture that describes any procedure, method or ritual how you could convert. It is not like in other religions in which you have to get baptized or in which you have to proof that you know a certain part of the scriptures of that religion. There is simply no way to convert. Instead you can find verses that tell you that a Hindu is only a person who is born a Hindu.

People who say ‘I converted to Hinduism’ thus may have not understood that part of the scriptures or they really want to be Hindus so much that they ignored it. I think that is a bad start into your new religion! Look, if you really want to believe in this religion, you should follow it properly and first of all find out whether you can be a member of that club. If that religion tells you that you cannot, shouldn’t you follow its rules and leave it?

So from the beginning the whole question of conversion seems like a joke! I have heard lots of people from the west wonder about this when they come to Vrindavan and see ISKCON devotees dressed like the most religious Hindus. It is strange!

It gets even stranger when they realize how strict – or narrow-minded, however you want to call it – ISKCON devotees are when it comes to religious rules. There are a lot of examples for this. You have to wear the religious ‘make-up’ on your forehead. You need to finish your certain amount of mantra repetitions – even if you do that while shopping. Men need to shave their heads except one strand of hair at the back of the head. All men have to be called ‘Prabhuji’ while all women get the title ‘Mataji’ regardless their age or relation to you. You even need to change your name – even if you cannot pronounce that Sanskrit word correctly because your language is just so different. This all results in situations that people who actually grew up as Hindus find ridiculous.

It is just funny that people who consider themselves converted Hindus and actually belong to this sect try to be Hindu so much that they do more than any normal, modern Hindu would do. Ironically it does not matter how much they try, in reality they can never be Hindus because it is simply impossible to convert.

What we can learn from this is that you can enjoy any belief or any aspect of another person’s belief from far, that you can adapt it to your life in any way you want but that you don’t have to make an official ‘conversion’. You don’t need to imitate anybody or anybody’s religious behavior. Don’t become a copy of anyone! Just appreciate it from far and stay original, just as you are. Being someone else than you really are will definitely have an effect on your psychological situation. If you stay too long in this identity conflict, it will harm your mind, your feelings and your personal life. I have seen this kind of examples many times on my journeys and with my counseling work. You really don’t need to convert to any religion – and especially not to one which does not allow you to convert!

Sexually abused by their Guru – Women in Confusion – 22 Sep 11

Yesterday I said that one can only see clearly about a religion or even a sect if one has some distance from it. It is usually only then that the faults and mistakes get clear and understandable. Then you realize that you have been manipulated or that there are traditions or rules that you cannot support with clear conscience. I have met many people who had been members of sects and left. Several of the women who had left sects also told that they had been abused within their sects, mostly by their gurus.

Now you may wonder how someone can stay in a sect for many years, experience such abuse and still remain there. They often don’t tell of full intercourse. Not each of these women was really raped by the guru. It is mostly inappropriate touching or kissing. These women have to face the question: Why didn’t you quit when he kissed you the first time? Why didn’t you slap him when he touched your behind the first time? Didn’t you realize you are being harassed?

In this way women often get accused that they were actually enjoying their time and just after coming out of the sect, after some jealousy among female sect members for example, complain about that physical closeness. People even think they were waiting for the guru to have sex with them and when they realized he wouldn’t go that far they got disappointed and angry and left.

I cannot say that this is never the case. Maybe there are women who are in that situation, who were eager to sleep with the guru and enjoyed the caresses and kissed when they got them. I have however made the experience that the women who tell those stories, who say that they feel abused by the touch and kisses, were actually very confused. They believed their guru to be God. It was what they were made to believe and what everyone around them believed. You do what God says and whatever God says is right and has a deeper meaning. So if God asks you to touch his genitals or if he kisses you, you think there will be a reason. Some gurus even told their favourite female disciples that they were the chosen ones who will receive enlightenment the fastest.

After all, nobody physically hurt them. Had someone slapped them in the face, it would have been a physical assault and they might have reacted much quicker. It is easier to realize that a physical assault is bad than to realize an assault to your dignity.

Many of those women finally realized such assaults though and left the sect. A lot of them and other former male disciples now run campaigns against those gurus and sects and openly speak about their experiences. They try to make others understand this situation and help those who are still facing such behavior from their guru. I can imagine how much hate they have to face now from followers and disciples who are not at all happy about the stories they spread.

I would like to encourage everyone again to tell the truth. Let everybody else know about what has happened to you and help others to get out of those situations. Don’t feel guilty about what happened, you are doing a great job. Don’t care what others say, as long as you are honest, you can feel good about yourself.

Come out of your System, Sect or Religion to see what is wrong with it – 21 Sep 11

Yesterday I wrote that the caste system comes from Hinduism and that there are sects like ISKCON in which people also support this system, inadvertently or not, by their actions. It is wrong to do this, it is wrong to support a wrong system. I think everyone who reads my lines understands this. I do not say however that all people who follow a certain system, a religion or even a sect are bad people.

There are really a lot of nice people who follow gurus or masters who are cheaters and even criminals. They themselves are not bad though. I have met many beautiful people who are followers of ISKCON, of Osho and of other gurus or sects. I have had nice talks with many of them.

Many of them were manipulated by others or have the feeling that they need the group dynamics to achieve something in life. They enjoy the spirit of doing something together and in common and often they think it is for a good cause or the health of the world. One cannot approve of a system or a rule just because the mass is following it but you cannot condemn the whole mass and everybody who belongs into that system either. You have to understand that many of them don’t know anything else, have grown up in this system or were drawn into it.

I have met even more people who left sects, their gurus or also religion behind. After this step they can see clearly. Not before that. When someone is involved in a religion or a system, he often cannot properly understand the negative aspects because of the group dynamics and unfortunately often because of manipulation of the mind.

I grew up in Hindu religion and in my childhood and teenage, everything was normal to me. I maybe have already been thinking a little bit different than the mass but all those traditions and ceremonies were normal to me as a guru. My time in the cave changed that and when I came out, I left the guru role that I had and with time I came out of religion, too. Only then I realized many things that were wrong. You need to come out of it, just as I did, to realize you are doing wrong.

I believe we can help people to get out of wrong religious traditions, habits or a wrong system. Obviously, sects often have a strong grip on people but as a good friend or relative there is also a chance to talk to a member and maybe slowly and bit by bit make him or her understand. Be an example, make clear what you see is wrong and look at your system, too. We can make a difference.

Sect Adhyatmik Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya accused of Kidnapping minor Girls – 8 Sep 11

There is another topic that the local newspapers have been writing about in the last days and which I thought I would like to share with you, too. In Farrukhabad, in our state U.P., about 300 kilometers from here, a group of local people entered an Ashram, the Adhyatmik Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya Ashram, damaged a lot of the property and even got into fights with the people of the Ashram. They were very angry with the Ashram, the Ashram owners and the Ashram inhabitants. They were also angry with the police, asking them to take proper action against the Ashram.

This news attracted my attention. Why would an ashram become the subject of anger of local people? It was not properly clear in the article what had upset them so much. The Ashram’s name seemed familiar to me, as if I had heard its name before already and I wanted to find out more about that.

When I did more research about the reason of their anger and what really was the issue there, I found a bigger story behind it. The police had been to the Ashram the week before but the people of the surrounding did not feel that they had done enough and in the proper way. They accuse the police of not acting although they have plainly seen that something was wrong in that Ashram. The police had been there because a father had reported his 17-year-old daughter kidnapped. They found the girl and returned her to her father.

The article writes that they also found over a dozen more minor girls, most of them very young. The Ashram staff allegedly could not give any information as to where those girls were from. The girls seemed to be too young to tell themselves and maybe have been kidnapped at a very young age so that they would not even remember. Now cases of human trafficking and illegal detention have been filed against the owner, a Baba Virendra Dev Dixit. The Baba himself however is absconding and nowhere to be found.

I tried to find out more about the man who is absconding and I found out that he was connected with Brahma Kumaris. They split up however and he made his own organization. He was then debarred by the main Brahma Kumaris and now has many centers in different countries around the globe. So you see, it is a sect that was created from another sect. Again, there is crime on the name of religion. There is a guru, a leader, who has teachings and offers them to minor girls and poor women. The public thinks he offers these women and girls a place to live and study, a better life and some spiritual input. Behind this curtain of charity however there seems to be human trafficking and kidnapping of young girls.

It is shocking to hear and read about this and it creates a bad image for charity organizations that run Ashrams. If such news can be read everywhere, who would trust anybody? And really, in the world of religion and gurus, a lot of such things are going on. I have however trust that it will be less and less the more people get educated and widen their horizon.

I was searching on google but could not find this article on its original page. We needed to look in google cache and found it there. Here is the article.

Sects going to Extremes – Either lots of Sex or no Sex at all – 12 Aug 11

A few days ago I wrote about polygamy after hearing of a sect leader in the US who had several wives who were not even adult. Of course I thought a bit more about the connections of sex and religion and the concept of polygamy. I noticed that there seems to be always extremes about this topic.

Look at all those religions or religious groups that advocate polygamy. It is usually the women who are subordinate to the husbands. You can find the marriage of several women to one man in cultures and societies where men are dominating. They were the ones who made the rules, they were the ones to write the scriptures and thus they were the ones who decided that women are the weak gender and need to obey men. Islam is again and again criticized for the fact that women are not treated equally to men, that they are suppressed and mistreated. Also in Hinduism there are many points where you can see this male dominance.

In many religions, sects and groups with certain belief, this view on women leads to extremes. Either sex becomes very important and they try to have as much as possible, mostly with as many people as possible, or they fully neglect it, stop having sex and don’t even think about getting in touch with women.

I have met a lot of people who formerly have been in sects and many who were still. Look at ISKCON, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness with its headquarters in Vrindavan. They believe sex is a sin. They can marry but even then they are only allowed to have sex for one purpose: for having a child. Not at any other time. If you have sex merely for pleasure, it is a sin. There are others, like the Brahma Kumaris sect, who also say any sexual action or even thought is a sin. It is dirty, it is sinful and obviously against God’s wish. The Sadhus in Hinduism and the Catholic priests, the monks of different religions, so many have announced that they go in celibacy for the rest of their lives.

On the other hand there are movements where sex is the main topic and everything is about sex! In some, or maybe most, it is allowed only for men to have sex with several women and not for women to have several men. There are some philosophies though, like what is now called Tantra in the west, in which people live their whole lives around sex. When such ideas are spread, additionally with a religious thought behind them and an organization above, the groups turn to sects and the way is open to abuse again.

It is usually either a lot of sex or no sex at all. They go into extremes, sometimes because they believe women are dirty, sinful and not God-like and other times because they believe women are divine and a lot of sex gives them a lasting divine experience. Why don’t we just get into balance? Why is it one extreme or the other? See sex as a natural part of life, don’t make it bigger than it is and don’t neglect it. It won’t work. Women and men are equally made by God and sometimes drawn towards each other. It is normal and natural. Don’t use God or religion to deny nature.

Sects use Religion as Excuse to abuse Children – 9 Aug 11

Recently I came across an article online in which I for the first time read about Warren Jeffs, the leader of the polygamist sect ‘Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ in America. He has recently been convicted for sexual assault on children and will soon get to know for how long he will have to go to jail for this crime. When you read the article, you immediately know that this man is sick and that he used his religion and the belief of others in order to satisfy his sick desires.

His niece and nephew both told the court about the sexual abuse they had faced in their childhood, when they were only five and seven years old. What he was convicted for however was that he had ‘spiritual wives’, a 12-year old and a 15-year-old whom he told how they should sexually please him – in order to please God. Another girl allegedly got pregnant when she was only 14 years old. It is not clearly stated how many ‘spiritual wives’ he had but it is clear that many of them were minors.

Very obviously this man is sick, as he even requested to stay away from the sentencing because it would hurt his religious feelings to hear people speak in such tones about his religion. He believes himself to be a prophet. Maybe he even believes himself that he was doing right when he abused those children! The shocking thing is that this all was done in the name of religion and belief and people have let it happen.

What about the parents of those girls, his minor wives? Where were they? I can only imagine that they believed their children to be safe because they believed in this abuser. They believed that he might know what God wants and that he would guide their daughters to a religious, pious life. Everybody must have known that it is a sect that believes in polygamy. This sect believes that a man needs at least three wives to satisfy his requirements. The parents probably had the strong belief that their leader would marry their daughters to the husband that God chose for them, even if he had several other wives already.

Isn’t it crazy how religion is in that purpose only a way to manipulate people? Just tell people often enough that something is God’s wish and they will believe it! Whether that is sexual abuse, incest, child abuse or even rape and murder, the leaders of such sects are responsible for so many crimes! And they can commit these crimes simply by claiming that God told them to. Isn’t this also the excuse for so many terrorists? They kill themselves and many others in the belief that they are doing it for God. Additionally they have the outlook of getting a high number of virgin wives when they get killed themselves.

I don’t believe that it could be God’s wish that one gender is worth less than another. I also don’t believe that it could be God’s wish that you kill others in his name. And I don’t believe that it is God’s wish that you molest and abuse children or women or any other being. I believe God wants us to be equal and to live in a loving way with each other.

Do not steal the Childhood of your Children by raising them in a Sect – 22 Jul 11

I have been writing about children and religions, saying that children should have the freedom of choice. When thinking about this, I could not help but wonder what happens to children whose parents are involved in a sect?

The plain answer is: these children have no free choice at all. They cannot shape their lives as they wish but are raised within the sect, with the habits and behavior of members of that sect and with all the rules of the sect. There is no need to brainwash children as their minds are from the beginning trained in everything the sect wants and needs. For sect leaders, they are usually the perfect followers.

Many sects are perfectly secluded from the rest of society. They have their community and the members all live together in one certain area where no non-member really goes. They often even have their own kindergartens, schools, hospitals and workplaces, so that their whole community can live with as little contact to the outside world as possible. They don’t want members to stay in touch with the normal world.

Children who grow up in such an environment have no experience on how to deal with the normal society and with people who live outside of their sect. They only get to know what is normal in their sect. For adults and parents this seclusion from the world often seems like a safe solution, a place where they can hide from the world. They believe it is good for their children, too, and a perfect environment to grow up in. What they don’t realize is that they don’t give their child a chance for normal development.

This is how we often see children in Vrindavan who were born to parents of ISKCON, a sect that has its headquarters in Vrindavan. Boys walk around, at the age of five or six years, in the getup of priests, with shaved heads, wearing dhotis, the head painted with tilak, a sign considered as holy, and with a mala or cymbals in the hands. Their parents instruct them to chant religious songs and mantras. They educate them to be priests and devotees, already at that age. Would you dress your five year old girl like a nun?

On one website I read a quotation of one of their masters that children should be raised without material attachment from the beginning. Tell me, does that mean that you won’t give your child toys to play? You will make them sit in the temple the whole day, performing rituals and chanting, without really ever playing, running around and enjoying like a normal child, in normal clothing and with normal toys? Don’t you feel sorry for these children? I do.

Children who grow up in such sects have no possibility to develop their mind to its full potential because of the narrow-minded view on life that everybody around them has. They have no chance to do anything else than becoming a devotee themselves. They cannot see anything critically because they are taught to believe in the doctrines of the sect. From the very beginning they are taught not to think anything else, not to ask about other things and not to be different. These children end up being adults who are afraid of the outside world.

Even in sects that are not fully separating themselves from normal society, children have difficulties interacting with others normally. The children of the sect ‘Jehovah's Witnesses’ are not allowed to celebrate anybody’s birthday for example because the sect does not believe in it. I have seen children heartbroken about the fact that they were not allowed to go to anybody’s birthday party. All their friends had fun and celebrated but they could not. They were seen as outsiders, avoided by others, often bullied because they were different. Sometimes this increases the feeling of belonging only to the sect, not to the normal world. In other times it gives them the longing of wanting to be like everybody else.

I have met adults who have parents in sects and they, too, are fully active in the sect’s activities. I have however also met people who have a very bad relation or no relation with their parents at all anymore because at some point in their lives they decided that they didn’t want to be part of the sect anymore. It is a hard way for them to go. Many sects don’t make it easy for people to just leave. There are threats about the perishing of soul and body outside of the sect, with the group being the only safe place. If anybody decides to leave anyway, they often have to do it secretly and are then seen as outcasts.

Former sect members who have no previous experience in the normal culture have to be really courageous to take this step. But only in this way they can get out of the control of the sect and have their free will. There have been so many stories about child abuse in sects and there are uncountable negative effects on children who have grown up in this way. There have been parents who let gurus abuse their children with the excuse that he is God. There have been sects that illegally married minor girls to old men and there have been sects that told parents to beat children to educate them in a better way. Many children carry away lasting damage, physically as well as psychologically. Many of them don’t know how to deal with others and are simply afraid of a normal life.

Why would you want to do anything like that to your child? You have decided for yourself that you want to live in a sect and get yourself brainwashed and manipulated. You don’t have the right to do this to another person, to your children though. If you want to follow a guru, a master, a sect leader or any kind of belief, don’t have your children affected by them, too! Maybe your child wants something completely different! Why would you force your belief onto a child? Give your children the possibility to decide themselves. Show them the normal world, let them develop properly with the full capacity of their mind to be critical, to think about everything themselves and with full emotional abilities, too! Give your child the freedom and the possibility of a healthy, normal lifestyle.

Strict Followers – No Tolerance for other Gurus – 9 Jun 11

Strict followers of only one guru

They are the ones that you normally think of when you hear the words follower or disciple. You would believe a follower to have one guru who is their one and only. These strict followers believe that their guru is omnipotent and that he has a solution for each of their problems. So they buy each of his books, everything that he has to offer and really devote their belief only to him and listen to nobody else.

They would never turn to another guru, they love their guru and they stick with him. There is no wish to hear anything against him and nothing about the virtues of other gurus. They are like horses with blinders that keep them from looking left or right. They have no interest in anything else than what this one guru says. They have absolutely no tolerance for people who believe in something else or who have another guru.

Why are they so strictly following only this one guru? This often comes from the side of the guru. Most gurus anyway tell that they are God’s incarnations and the only true gurus. And gurus also often say that there is only one father, so there can be only one spiritual father, one guru, too. The guru tells that this choice is made once in a lifetime and will last forever. These followers become strict because their guru, afraid of losing followers, tells them that they have to stay with him, otherwise their life is doomed.

Their attitude thus comes partly from fear and partly from arrogance and ego. They believe their guru is best and capable of anything, so they don’t need to turn to anyone else. If they explain you why they are stuck with only one guru, they answer that a guru should only be one and they have found theirs. Deep inside however they are afraid that something bad could really happen to them if they leave their guru or become more open towards other philosophies.

They often don’t even want to be in touch with anybody who doesn’t believe in their guru. They like to be around other followers of that same guru and want to talk with them about their guru only. If any of the others says something about another teacher or teaching, they just quit the conversation. Meeting people like this often feels like meeting members of a sect. They are very narrow-minded and in a way it is sad to see them like this.