When the nearly-enlightened become insensitive – 2 Nov 14

I already told you that I got much support from friends after my sister had died in 2006. Although nobody can really alleviate the grief you feel, it is nevertheless great to have someone to hug and a hand of a friend on your shoulder, with love and compassion. There were however also some people whom I thought to be friends but who did not really mean to support us when reaching out.

I received such an email. It was by a woman whom I had once considered a very good friend but for whom I had already realized that she was a bit too deeply in the esoteric scene for me. She believed in things I thought were far too incredible and due to her efforts to convince others, which they didn’t appreciate at all, I had created some distance in between us.

In this woman’s email she started by expressing her condolences about the passing of my sister Para. Then however she continued saying that she had had a dream. She had dreamt that Para was in a kind of state in between worlds and due to some Karma, some sins that she could not dissolve in her life – because it was cut short – her soul was stuck there. I should do certain ceremonies and prayers to help the soul of my sister.

Can you believe this? That someone would send such a mail to a man who has just lost his sister and is in deep grief about it? Who would like to hear that your loved one is in a kind of purgatory and has to suffer, blackmailing you into doing some weird kind of rituals in order to help?

I sent back a cross reply and although I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, I believe I told her not to bother with the well-being of my soul or the ones of my family. Maybe she had meant it well but it was definitely not something to say to a grieving person!

Some people just lack every notion of tactfulness and sensibility when it comes to the feelings of others. Another woman once had come to the Ashram for a visit. We had known each other for years. When she left, she got into the taxi which would take her to the airport and asked the driver for the seat belt. As people don’t normally put it on in India, he had to search for a few minutes to get it out behind the seat covers. While locking the belt, she turned to us and said ‘I have learned from your experience!’ and they drove off.

Even with a seatbelt, my sister and anybody on that side of the car would not have stood a chance to survive. Regardless this fact however, a friend just doesn’t say such a thing. Needless to say we are not friends anymore.

That’s how I learned that your bad times can also make it clear to you who are your friends and who are not.

Trading your Sensitivity for a modern Lifestyle – 27 Nov 12

Yesterday I told you that you should have morals on your own, not directed by any religion. I also mentioned that these morals come from your own mind and heart. You will be able to feel what is right and what is wrong. The problem that I can imagine with this though, is that people are not very sensitive towards their own feelings anymore and of course not sensitive towards the feelings of others, either. And this I believe is the biggest loss of today’s time: the loss of sensitivity.

It is not the first time that I mention something like this. When I was travelling in the west, this was actually one of the most noticeable differences in people for me. People often don’t have much of a feeling for others but, even more than that, they lack a feeling for their own wishes! They don’t know what they want, are confused about what will be good for them and with what they are going to be happy. Decisions are difficult to make because people cannot imagine with which of two options they are going to be happier.

Apart from not being able to feel their own inside, they have difficulties realizing what others feel. From time to time they come into situations in which they accidentally hurt someone else’s feelings because they were not sensitive enough for them. They just did not realize that the other one could feel bad. It was not any ill intention, just a lack of feeling.

I believe it has something to do with what people believe is modern. Human traded his sensitivity for a modern lifestyle. They strive for success as individuals, a busy work life, crowds of friends on social networks whom they hardly know, branded clothes and food at expensive restaurants. Money, of course, reputation and prestige. Having the newest gadgets, knowing the latest news. No time for feelings, use your mind and make it sharp, that is important! Get a heart of steel, where nothing goes in or out, so you don’t get disturbed by feelings while you are running with your mind and body through this busy world.

We can see that nature already forces people to slow down and listen. People get stressed and have pressure. If they still don’t react, they get burned out, completely reduced to only feelings, not thinking. All thoughts are lost, nothing remains, you need to feel now!

Once you get back to feeling who you are, you realize that you have not made yourself happy. You can go small steps to find out who you really are, what you want and what you actually feel. Stay with this slow feeling, keep on exploring yourself and your surrounding with feelings instead of thoughts. Feel what the person in front of you has in its heart instead of listening to each single word from his mouth.

Only if you make your heart soft and accessible, you will be able to feel another person’s sorrows and pain. Only then you can give love from your heart. You can help the needy! But the reality is, first of all, you are the needy one!

Relax your mind, don’t run behind an illusion of modernity and live your life, with sensitivity for you and others.

Teenagers killed in Oslo by Christian Fundamentalist Anders Behring Breivik – What now? – 25 Jul 11

On Friday, news reached the whole world about a horrible event in Norway’s capital Oslo. A bomb in the middle of the town and a shooting on an island afterwards killed more than 90 people. This number is currently at 93 but still rising as many people remain missing, who may be dead and others lay injured in hospitals, still at the risk of their lives.

These news shocked the world. We often hear of terrorist attacks in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Iraq or Iran. This bombing and shooting took place in Norway though! This Scandinavian country is a generally peaceful country and has not seen this kind of violence since World War II! Of course people were shocked and the first suspicion on everybody’s mind was that it was a terrorist group, such as the Taliban, some fundamentalist Muslims who are fighting their Jihad. People got nearly used to this explanation whenever something tragic like this happens.

When the truth made news around the world, it shocked everyone even more: it had been a local man! One man, planting a bomb and then shooting more than 80 people, most of them between 16 and 22 years old! His name is Anders Behring Breivik. His family is in shock, too, as we all are. He started shooting in a political gathering, in the youth camp of a party and when the teenagers and young adults ran away, he chased them, shooting them down. The only word that comes into my mind in answer is just: sick.

The reason however is again similar to the terrorist attacks we have experienced in the past. With one difference: now we have a Christian fundamentalist with anti-Islamic sentiments. Again, religion is the reason, mixed with politics. He was arrested and his statement is that his actions were cruel but necessary. He believes there needs to be a revolution and if he had not started this massacre, nobody would ever have known about his ideas. He wrote a 1500 page manifesto about his ideas, political and religious. On his Twitter page one could find only one message: "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests".

Anders Behring Breivik does not feel guilty. Neither do Islamic terrorists. There is not really any difference. Christianity, a religion that emphasizes altruism and charity towards others also has sick followers, just as every other religion. He was against immigrants and foreigners in his country, a right-wing extremist, nationalist, fundamentalist. These ideas in his mind justify killing innocent children.

We need to see that these ideas and this hate can grow in any society and wherever there are people who are not tolerant and who support this feeling of hate and violence towards others. There are people in every country and in every culture who have such ideas, who are extremists and fundamentalists. This man wrote that he spent a whole year of his life intensively playing war games, violent video games. He had a complete plan of action, posting pictures like the one above online beforehand so that the media could easily find them and enough information about him. He has learned the violence through such games and must have had enough input of hate against others to do this. He killed so many young people, only because they belonged to a party that supports immigration and living together with people of other nations and belief.

Today he will speak in court about his reasons for this attack. He has told the world before, though, that he does not feel guilty. What will happen now? How will the society react? This event should make government, media and the public aware that there are extremists and such ideas everywhere and everybody should be responsible for discouraging any similar views in order to avoid similar events in future.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims, to those who have been injured and hurt and to the whole Norwegian nation. The children whom he killed may have had many dreams for their life which lay in front of them. He destroyed them violently and with full awareness. And why? For religion and politics. Do we really still need religion, seeing the effects it has?

We have to keep on working on spreading love and making people understand that there is no reason, religious, political or personal, that justifies such violence. Let your children grow up without learning violence in video games. Teach them instead to play with each other, not against each other. Show them that a child of another nation and maybe with another language is just as valuable as they are themselves. Send your love towards those who suffer now because of one violent and hating man. Pray for them and also him to find peace.

Are you ready to buy Alcohol and Cigarettes for your Teenager? – 19 Jul 11

When people talk about the lack of respect in teenagers, as I did yesterday, they often in the same sentence also mention that teenagers nowadays drink and smoke, outside in the street in front of everyone’s eyes. It is very concerning when you see how a young child gets drunk. How do you feel when you take a walk and you see an 11-year-old child smoking at the bus stop?

Maybe you feel sorry or maybe you don’t feel and think anything because it is not your child. Maybe you think ‘Where are his parents?’ and walk on. Imagine that was your child. What would be your reaction? What would you feel? It may not be your child but it is someone else’s child. It could be yours, too! Maybe your child also drinks and smokes and just takes care not to do it in front of you.

You know how the smoke of the cigarette harms the lungs of this child. You know, when you see teenagers drink, that the young liver is damaged by the alcohol. You cannot do anything because it is not your child. You pass by and go away. As a parent you pray that this may never happen with your children. But they are also someone’s children.

Working with people, I see the problems that parents have with their teenagers. When their 14-year-old son comes home in the afternoon and seems to be drunk. When parents have found cigarettes hidden on the balcony of the 13-year-old daughter.

Of course all parents have given lessons to their children many times and they and their children know it is bad. But the children see their elders drink and smoke themselves. They know you would be angry if you knew and that’s why they hide it from you.

When you teach them, it may be difficult for them to learn. They are not as good in learning as they are in following your example. It is easier if you give them an example. Children want to be adult and they want to do what the older people around them do. You can be sure, if you give a lecture to your child about not smoking or drinking while you have a glass of alcohol on your table and a cigarette in hand, it does not work. As a parent, you first need to set those values for yourself which you want to give as guidelines to your children.

Maybe parents who cannot set a good and clear example give their children a rule like ‘You can drink one beer, not more’ or ‘You can smoke one cigarette a day’. Do you think this is really effective? If you allow one bottle of beer or one cigarette, you already give them a permission to do everything. For them the way is clear, they know what to do. They surely tell you ‘Of course I only smoke one cigarette per day’ but the reality looks different. Whenever you will see them smoking, they will tell you that this is the first one on that day. You are not in the position to say anything then. You may have allowed soft alcohol or only a bit but your children will find their way.

This is however not the end of this story! Things have got much worse already. Imagine the following situation: your 13-year-old son wants to go to a party with his friends. They want to drink alcohol and they tell you that but they cannot buy alcohol for the party because it is not allowed by law. Now they are standing there and ask you to help them. I have seen parents who then accompany their children, go to the supermarket with them and buy alcohol. Their children don’t only want to have beer though, they want to have vodka! And so this child, who would not even have been able to buy beer, gets very strong alcohol to go to a party. What are you doing to your child? You have given birth to this child and you know this child’s liver is still developing to its full function. Now tell me, if you allow this, why should your child not go for binge drinking with a group of friends? Why would your child not drink until he falls unconscious and has to go to hospital?

When I saw this, I got tears in my eyes and I thought how a mother can do that? I felt very sad but what can I do? I feel helpless, seeing those situations in this society. I only can get sad, express my pain in these words and ask parents to set their values. Do not destroy the body of a child whom you have brought to this world. There are even parents who smoke and drink while they are pregnant. They don’t have the slightest feeling or sensitivity towards this topic and these children get those habits already with the mother’s milk.

This all happens on the name of freedom and parents explain me that they have to be modern and go with time. I will never approve this and don’t think any parents should do this to their children. I don’t mind if people say I am not modern, I can accept that, but I would never do this to my children.

Unfortunately this topic also is a very difficult one as it is very much accepted in today’s society. Just like yesterday’s topic, this way of thinking just doesn’t fit to my values. When I wrote yesterday that teenagers lack respect when they talk to their parents, I did not receive much response or feedback. It is because it is acceptable and normal for parents today. The society has also accepted alcohol and smoking. It is normal that young people do that. It will not however make me stop talking about it. I bring my pain out in this way, even if people prefer to close their eyes and go on how it is. It is not the right way.

Mark Zuckerberg, please look in the Eyes of the Animal that you are about to kill – 27 Jun 11

Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

I don’t really know you and you probably have never heard of me. You, the founder of facebook, have become so popular simply through this social network that nearly everyone who uses the internet will know you. There are many stories about you online and sometimes I read one or the other. I liked to read that you, too, have signed the pledge of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, to give a big part of your wealth to charity.

On one of the last days I came across an article about your resolution for the year 2011. The article told that in this year you would only eat meat of animals that you have killed yourself.

Reading about this idea gave me two feelings which are very different from each other. The first one was simply ‘What? How can you do that?’ and the second feeling, maybe a second after the first one was ‘Well, okay, you want to know what you are eating’. It showed that you don’t only want to eat what you buy in the supermarket, probably because the meat there has a history of suffering, cruelty and violence or simply because you want to know what is in the meat that is on your plate. It shows sensitivity and that you want to feel what you eat. I appreciate this wish to be aware of what you are eating.

People like you have inspired millions of people and there are millions of eyes looking at each of your actions to either criticize or praise them. Many of these people follow what you are doing. Have you thought about them when you started your resolution? You now eat vegetarian meals a lot but in between you again and again set out to find an animal to kill, be that fish, chicken, pig, goat or others. Will people start following you in this point, killing the meat they eat? But don’t you think that it will be difficult for the common man to do that? You can do this because you are Mark Zuckerberg, not everybody has the chance to kill the animals they will eat.

With your resolution I understand that you wanted to make a connection between you and your food. I appreciate the idea but at the same time I feel that you, the person who was able to connect 600 million people online, over the internet, are still not able to connect with the animals you eat. I once wrote about a friend who could not eat in a restaurant because they killed the fish in front of the customers’ eyes. I thought you might have the same feeling for animals and would not be able to kill them. I was never a witness of how you killed any of the animals you eat and I have the question on my mind whether you stroked the goat before you killed it. Did you look into its eyes before you did it? If you did, were you not even then able to make a connection with this animal? If you had made a connection, I am sure you would not have been able to kill it.

Maybe you had this idea by looking at the history of the Native Americans who were hunting for their food because they only had this. Maybe you thought of the respect that these people gave to their food and wanted to have this feeling of respect. They had a connection and were thankful for the life that was given to sustain their lives. The reality is that they had nothing else to eat. We are living in the 21st century though, in the facebook-time, when we can go into a supermarket and buy all kinds of grains, vegetables, fruit and more. We don’t need to kill in order to survive. There is plenty of food available without killing any animal. And it is even proven that would people not eat meat, would there not be the extensive meat-production, there could be enough grains to feed the hungry of this world.

I am sure you have heard about researches that show that our human body and system is not made for digesting meat. You probably have also heard scientists telling people that a balanced vegetarian diet is much healthier for the body than eating meat. Even with all the medical and scientific reasons telling us that it is better to be vegetarian, this is not why I am writing to you today. I am not writing to tell you that it is medically not good for you to eat meat. I am writing to ask you about your sensitivity.

For me being vegetarian is a question of sensitivity. It is also not a question of religion, tradition or ideology! It is about sensitivity. Why do we kill animals if we have lots of other food available that can nourish us much better? I am writing to you because I love animals and because I see in your resolution that you also love animals. But even though you love animals and don’t want to eat meat out of mass production and mass killings, you were not able to connect with the animals.

So the next time, when you decide to kill an animal, first stroke it, feel the life in it, look into its eyes and try to understand the language of its eyes. It wants to say you something. It knows that it is going to die, what does it tell you with its eyes? It may not be able to talk to you in your language but its eyes will tell you that it doesn’t want to die. I am sure you will not be able to kill this animal.

I would be happy if you could make a resolution to be vegetarian, not only for one year but for your whole life. With love and compassion for animals, you can set an example for the whole world. We don’t need to kill in order to eat, mother earth gives us enough food.

Much love,

Are Expectations allowed in Friendships? – 19 Oct 10

Are friends those people whom you love without expectations?

Of course, friendship means there is no expectation. This is like a golden rule. I have said and written this over and over again myself. However sometimes and with certain experiences I think ‘It is really wrong if you have even only a small expectation from your friend? Are expectations really that bad?’

There is naturally always the fact that expectations can be disappointed, they are a sign of attachment and you should love someone without expectations so that he or she does not feel any pressure from your love. If you do not have any expectation however, what makes a friend different from any other person whom you meet on the street? Don’t you expect from your friends that you can open your heart in front of them? You should even expect a friend to be the one who is there for you when there is nobody else. Otherwise why would you turn to him for support? If your friend cannot have the expectation that you will listen to him when he tells you about his emotions, then how can you call him a friend?

In a close friendship two friends have the sensitivity towards each other that before one of them even has an expectation or can express it, the other one already fulfills it. You have this connection of hearts that you know beforehand what the other one would expect. And you will fulfill it with much joy. Your friend has the question in the mind if he can expect this or not but even before he decides to expect, you give him what he wants. This even saves him of having expectations.

Expectations, if set too high, can always be disappointed. Expectations, if set too high, can create pressure. If you really love a friend however, I think some expectations do not create pressure but more love and closeness. They will not be disappointed as it is just natural for the other one to fulfill them and for you to fulfill his or hers. The expectations become a reason to love the other one even more. That is real friendship, when expectations just turn into love.

Kissing in Public Attracts Attention in India – 10 Aug 10

Ramona and I were talking and laughing a bit about the typical questions that she and other western women always tell us about when they have met Indian women. The first question, after the name and the country of origin of course, is if they are married. If this question is answered with yes, the next one is if they have children. Is the first question answered with no, the next one is when the wedding will happen!
This is simply where many Indian women’s focus is on and what they would like to achieve in life. It is just in the same way as people ask men what they work and how much they earn. So this is one of the things that you might get to know when you travel to India. There are many such things and sometimes you can read about it before in books, hear stories from others and can imagine it.

Once a couple from America was here at the Ashram and the first day they were here, they went out to have a walk. They came back confused and nearly a little bit angry. When we asked them what happened, they said that all people were staring at them so much! At first we told them that it was normal for people to look at foreigners and they should not worry about that but the next day, Purnendu was standing at the gate when they went out and watched how they walked away. They were holding hands and people started looking. Then after some steps the man put the arm around the shoulder of the woman and people turned their heads while driving by. Some steps further they stopped, he pulled her towards himself and they had a long and deep kiss. Purnendu told people stopped their work and came out of the houses to see that.

In India, couples do not show affection publicly in this way. They do not kiss or hug on the street. If an Indian couple had done that, they would have got many comments from others as well and then they got additional attention for the fact that they are foreigners. We explained them nicely that they did not seem to be very aware of Indian culture and that it was not normal here to kiss on the street. They also understood. I think it is important to respect the culture of the country that you are in. Sometimes it needs a little bit of a feeling and sensitivity but this is the adventure of travelling.

Circle of Life vs. Animal Killing Factories – 1 Jul 10

I know that I have written many times about vegetarianism and why it makes so much sense not to eat meat. Apart from your health and the question what actually is in the meat that you eat, I also always emphasize that you need to have some sensitivity for life on this planet. You do not need to kill any life so that you can live!

It is fully natural that birds eat worms, cats eat mice and lions eat deer. It is just the natural circle of life if a mouse is killed in this way and totally natural that the cat fills its belly in this way. I also don’t say that people like the Inuit for example should be vegetarian because they need to eat meat, especially fish, there is not much more for them to eat, they are living in ice.

That however is an exception. In former times, when human was not as developed yet, he was used to hunting and also gathering whatever they knew was eatable. They did not kill hundreds of animals in a day, for that the hunt was much too tedious and they knew that they did not need that much. They killed whatever was necessary and could be eaten before it went bad.

Now it is different. Human has made factories in which animals are killed in hundreds, thousands and millions. Only in the US they say that more than 20 million animals are killed for meat each day! Who gave human to write to act like this? It is not only unnecessary, it is cruel and, yes, I will use this word, inhumane!

I know that the video that I am sharing here is horrible and maybe it can offend some people and others may be shocked. Please take care, if you are sensitive and if you are not yet vegetarian, think again and choose not to eat meat!

Learning to Say No – 7 Jun 09

Yesterday I was writing about expressing feelings. I said that because of the system people are not able to appreciate something right away. I hear about another issue here very often. People say to me ‘I have to learn to say no’. Of course this also has to do with your ability to express. If you don’t want to do something, why can’t you say no? You want to be formal and polite but this creates problems for you and you will not enjoy it later. This can bring you into strange situations in which you do things that you did not want to do.

We definitely need to learn to say no and should not have this formal attitude in which we cannot be honest and cannot express what we really want. This shows again that we are living and thinking for others instead of living for ourselves. There would not be any need to learn this if you just could be yourself and could honestly express your feelings. Because then others would also get to know it if you do not like something.

Sometimes it can happen that people don’t know what they really want. Then it is difficult for them to express. There is a lack of sensitivity about your own feelings and you do not know what you want. If you cannot feel yourself, you don’t know what you want and you will not be able to say no. I would like to say that you have to become more sensitive for your feelings, then you will know more clearly what you want. Don’t ignore your feelings. That will make it easier for you to say no if you don’t want something.

Click here to see pictures of today's food

Catch the Fish you are Eating – Understand that you Kill! – 22 May 09

Yesterday I wrote about vegetarianism and I remember an experience of which one of my friends told me. He was on holidays in France and went to a restaurant for dinner. Normally he is vegetarian but he said that sometimes he has the desire to eat fish. So he asked for fish and the waiter showed him an aquarium. You could look at the fish, choose which one you wanted to eat and then they would catch it for you in front of your eyes and cook it.

My friend looked into the eyes of these animals and they were looking at him. His heart melted and he said to himself: 'I cannot eat this fish. How they are looking!' He thought about it that this fish would be killed because of him and would then be lying in his stomach. He suddenly became very sensitive and could not stay in this restaurant. He abruptly turned and walked out of there with a horrible feeling.

This is exactly what is happening. When people buy meat in a supermarket they have not seen this animal when it was alive. They have never looked into this animal's eyes. They buy it packed and prepared and are not sensitive for what they are actually buying. If they had seen this animal alive, they could have made a connection with it. People love animals.

I hope people will understand that eating meat is not necessary. You can get everything in vegetarian food, too, you don't need to kill an animal even if you didn't look into its eyes before.