Religion is the Root of Terrorism – 11 Sep 16

Today is the day that the whole world will keep in their memory as the day of the biggest terror attack which shook the west and set the tone of politics for the future years. On 11th September 2001, terrorists flew two planes into the two towers of the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon. A terror attack with nearly three thousand victims.

George W. Bush declared a war on terror some days after – and it never ended until today. Terrorism has grown in the years to come and in many parts of the world, there are wars and conflicts which you can trace back with the root being in the attacks of today, fifteen years back.

Politicians have been very diplomatic in the years after. There has always been talk about terrorists and much too often, talk did not touch the topic of religion! Why? Because nobody wanted to hurt those religious sentiments that I have been telling you about in the past days, too!

In my eyes, you have to say it very clearly: the violence which became evident that day and in attacks after is based on religion, the religion of Islam.

A lot of people say it is not religion but only fanatic minds that do such things. Agreed, it is fanatic minds – but religion is the base of them becoming fanatic! Religion enhances this violence, supports this violence and asks for this violence in the outdated texts that believers HAVE to follow! And I do not limit this to Islam! Of course, there are a lot of fanatics in all religions and that’s how you have terrorism in other religions, too. Religion fuels fanatic ideas and violence in the consequence.

Each time when you say ‘this is not religion’, you actually defend what religion is doing. You increase it further and give energy to those who are ready for violence! Only if you directly talk against it, the source of the problem, will you be able to make a difference and actually fight the cause and the consequences at the same time! It is a fight that was started then and we are still in it today – but talking around the core of the problem won’t help.

You cannot exclude Religion when speaking about Terrorism – 26 Jul 16

After writing yesterday’s blog post about terrorism, I had the feeling that there is one aspect which didn’t quite fit in with yesterday’s message but at the same time is important to the reason why these attacks happen at all: it is religious terrorism! Again and again it is Islamic terrorists, suicide bombers, attackers that kill dozens, hundreds and thousands of people! You cannot pretend as though religion didn’t play a role in this!

Islam is very clearly the religion that these criminals follow and it is teachings of this religion that give them the idea of such cruel actions in the first place. It is not only a disturbed or depressed mind in anger on himself and the world but it is a systematic infiltration of minds that leads to humans committing such crimes! There is an intention of people who use religion as a reason for killing and murder!

When I hear politicians talking about this aspect of attacks however, they often try to avoid the core of the issue. They claim this is not Islam, the religion, at fault and they blame people who change the message of an otherwise ‘peaceful religion’. I don’t agree with this. I don’t think Islam is peaceful.

Once more we have come to the topic of religion and I tell you again that in my opinion, everyone should have the full freedom to believe whatever he or she wants as long as no other people are affected, insulted or injured. At the same time however we clearly see that religions in general and Islam in particular do affect others!

You cannot close your eyes in front of the fact that there are believers of religions promoting hate and spreading fear. In the name of gods that they claim to be just and fair! How come you can still believe in a god that would allow, yes, ask for such crimes? You cannot just wave it off and say ‘that is not really god’ because these people look at the same scriptures and teachings!

I believe to really stop such horrible acts, we have to go against religion and every teaching of it that promotes violence. If you sit down and pick apart the messages of different religions, you will find that a lot of them contain lots of violence. In today’s world, we don’t need this. Stop spreading outdated messages or anger and pain. Open your arms to others of all colour, background, caste and religion – only like this we can improve the situation in this world!

Don’t let Terrorists get what they want! – 25 Jul 16

Today I want to write to you about recent events in Europe. In my second home, to be exact: in Germany. I am sure you have heard about the terroristic attack in Munich – and you can imagine that we all are touched by this topic as well. However disturbed however you are, I would say one thing: don’t let this fear get you down. Because that is exactly what terrorists want.

Yes, it is true: what is the aim of terrorists? Spreading terror and fear. Disturbing your normal life in a way that makes it impossible for you not to think of them. Terrorists want you to act out of fear and that’s exactly what we should not do if we don’t want them to win!

Acting out of fear does not only mean that you don’t go out anymore or that you avoid concerts, festivals and big crowds in general. No, it is also about your actions towards people who are different. It comes to your thoughts, attitude and behavior as well! Do you start avoiding those who look different? Do you suddenly change the side of the road if you see a man in different clothing or hairstyle? Does your mindset start moving towards an attitude that would forbid foreigners, even refugees, to come to your country?

Because this is what is happening in many parts of the world right now and this plays directly into the hands of terrorists. What could fuel insecurity, negative feelings and finally hate towards others more than a big politician or leader telling foreigners to stay out of the country? And those leaders are supported by people who act out of fear. Who were affected by the attacks and decided to think against others instead of thinking how we, as society and mankind, can help each other in love instead of fear.

That’s how we get people like Donald Trump as presidential candidates! That’s how we get people like Narender Modi as prime minister.

And that’s how they get the power to fuel this hate even more.

So in the end, in all our democratic countries, it is up to us to decide: do we want to be in fear and give power to those who cash in on fear? Or would we rather despise the acts of terrorists, refuse to let them influence out minds and actions and spread kindness and love?

I request you to do the latter – for the sake of mankind and peace in this world!

Why saying that Islam is not a Religion of Peace is not a Statement of Islamophobia – 15 Sep 15

Yesterday I wrote a blog entry, appealing to European governments not to give religion space to spread, particularly not by building mosques because there are a lot of Muslims in the country now. There are most probably people who think I have Islamophobia due to my statement. I would like to address this idea today.

First of all: I am not an Islamophobe but I recently read somewhere that this was the best way for people to stop any conversation – because any decent person would not like to be called that! I will not however stop communication here because I believe exactly that is what is so necessary!

I want to be very clear: yes, religion is the problem causing terrorism. And no, Islam is not a religion of peace. It has this violence in itself!

Look at these verses of the Quran:

5:33 – The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.

4:89 – They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.

9:29 – Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

These and other verses are the base of the violence we see in the news, which horrifies us and frightens a lot. Which makes people suspicious of Muslims, even if they are just peacefully living their lives, not harming any other person.

They do however believe in that holy book, they say it is the word of god and they, more than any other religion I know of, claim it to be infallible, insisting on the holiness of whatever is written in it.

And there is your problem, dear moderate Muslims! You cannot claim that every word of this ancient text is correct and then say that Islam is a religion of peace! You believe in the same Quran like those people who are terrorizing a huge part of the earth at this moment! Of course there are some good things written in the Quran, too – just like in every other scripture! But there are also all those horrible, brutal and cruel statements of what a Muslim should do!

Such texts exists in the scriptures of other religions as well but these religions just don’t insist that their scriptures are infallible and not outdated! They see their whole scripture in the context of time, which is something Islam normally fails to do.

There is no misinterpretation, there is no misunderstanding and no metaphor. It is an old text of times that were very bloody and cruel. And as long as you stick to this book, there will be people taking it literally, aiming to behead those who are not of their faith!

That’s why we need to stop this religion from spreading, in order to stop more fundamentalists, fanatics and extreme Islamists from being trained in places where the Quran is being taught. And that is the mosques with their religious scripture lessons.

It’s not an Islamophobic thought – it is just a normal conclusion and I know more people have had the same one, all while wishing to be nice to your fellow peaceful beings on this earth!

A Person manipulated by Religion can do both, good or bad – 26 Nov 12

It is, I believe, normal that everybody at some point of his life reconsiders his religious beliefs. Those who are believers of a certain religion wonder whether it is really right or they find another religion more attractive. Those who don’t believe in any religion wonder whether they are missing out on any benefits of religion and just in general people are facing the question of what religion gives to them and to humanity in general. Let me explain you why I believe that both, good and bad, can be fuelled by religion and why I think you should nevertheless not believe in any of them.

Obviously it is clear that there are a lot of cruelties committed by religion. Wars have been fought on the name of religion, people were forcefully converted and terrorists of different religions kill innocent people. Religion means giving people a belief that they have to blindly follow. This is how even very bad people could get others to believe in what they were doing and to follow them, doing bad together with them. You don’t need to think or use your own mind. Intelligence or feeling for others is not required, just believe!

On the other hand however there have been people who have done wonderful and great things due to religion. Great charities have helped thousands of people, feeding them, showing them ways to feed themselves and much more. You will find this kind of orders in every religion. People are told to help the needy and those who really believe will do that because they follow what is written.

So when people say that good was done because of religion, I agree and say ‘Yes, that is true!’ People have been inspired to do extremely good deeds – but in the same way others have been inspired to do extremely bad things, too. The worst and the best can both come from religion and I believe the problem is the manipulation of religion and the lack of responsibility of the believers.

It is as though religion made you drunk and you can do either good or bad and you will go to extremes in whatever direction you choose. You are not in full control of yourself, you are still following instructions from another source. Religion and religious leaders gave the idea to suicide bombers that they would go to heaven if they killed themselves and enough people of another faith. Religion and religious leaders also told people to build orphanages and save children from starvation.

I believe it would be best if you step aside for a moment and look into your own heart. Try to keep out the orders that you got from religion and use your own mind and feelings. See that you have morals that don’t originate from religious instructions but from your own heart.

I would love people to do good from their own feeling for others, from an inner need to help and support. And I believe that without religion and more responsibility for yourself, there would be less chance of people committing such horrible crimes as they are today with religion and due to religion.

How harmful can devotion be? – 12 Sep 12

Yesterday I wrote that religion manipulates your mind and thus makes you do crazy things that you would never do if you were in your right’s mind. People spends lots of money, go on pilgrimages and take pains to see so-called holy places and then there are even those who become terrorists because of religion. But maybe it is not actually religion that makes this manipulation, maybe it is devotion.

What is the difference, you ask? Well, actually I think devotion does not only have to be religious.

You can devote yourself to religion, to God, to a certain belief and all the rules and ideas that come with it, I agree. Devotion is when you not only love your God but dedicate your each and everything to him and put yourself into his hands. That may not harm anybody by itself – but if religion comes with its religious leaders, controversial advice in scriptures and outdated ideas on how you should live and how others should live, you get into that area where devotion becomes dangerous.

I have read first-hand experiences of women who were fully devoted to their guru and were thus exploited, humiliated and even sexually abused. Because they believed their guru to be God, divine and the one whom they should follow. They did whatever he said. And they regretted it once their devotion stopped.

Such danger exists with devotion not only if it is for something religious. Just look at someone who devotes himself to alcohol. He will get addicted and forget all sense and reason. He will harm first himself and maybe also those around him.

If you object now, saying that alcohol is a substance that anyway makes you addicted and behave in crazy ways, I can give you another example: people who devote themselves to work are not less harmful. Someone who is devoted to his work has only work to think about. He won’t hear the call of his body for rest and a proper meal. He will become a workaholic, he will be his work instead of himself – and harm himself and his family through this.

The only thing that I now believe you should be devoted to is love. Devote yourself to positivity, to being in love and spreading love. I don’t think you can do wrong here. You don’t need someone in between though, no master or guru. Devote yourself direct to love and not to a certain person of whom you think you learn to love.

What about devoting yourself to your partner though? I believe that this devotion has to be mutual. You have to devote yourself to each other because you have to be equal in your relationship. If only one of you devotes himself, one will be the master and the other one the follower. The follower will always be lower, less important and not able to take decisions. The master on the other hand will have too much responsibility. A partner may feel that the other one is too attached, too humble, not a personality by himself but completely dependent on him. No, a relationship needs devotion but it has to be mutual.

Only then, when you lose yourself in your devotion to love or your mutual devotion with your partner, you are able to keep reason and logic intact. You can turn crazy in love – but your partner will keep you from any harm.

How the subtle Manipulation of Religion makes you crazy – 11 Sep 12

Every evening we do a little walk in our Ashram where we have a wonderful way from the house to the gate. With Apra on the arm we go and sometimes stop at the gate to look outside. Apra loves watching the cars, bicycles and motorbikes drive by, the people come home from work or the pilgrims doing their rounds on the Parikrama Marg, the pilgrimage way around our town. Pilgrims and many local people do this walk daily, with bare feet and often reciting mantras. Some of them do even more: they lie down on the floor, get up, walk three steps and lie down again. In this way they do the complete Parikrama of about ten kilometers.

A few days ago we were standing there and watching traffic as usual when we saw one of those pilgrims lie down on the way, then get up, make a little dance and lie down again, obviously fully happy in his devotion. Ramona turned to me with the words ‘You get a bit crazy when doing this, don’t you?’ After a moment I answered ‘No, you have to be a bit crazy to do this!’

Before a storm of Hindu believers now rushes to the defense of this practice and before any of my friends shout ‘But you did it yourself!’, let me tell you that yes, I have done the Parikrama in this way and yes, my wife knows about this.

I know myself what my state of mind was in that time, just before entering the cave. From today’s point of view, if I met the man who I was in that time, I might easily call him crazy.

It is simply incredible what religious belief and a belief in God can do to your mind. There is just so much devotion and the conviction that this kind of action is good not only for you but for the world, that you don’t think rationally about it. In which way does it benefit your God if you spend two or three days on a road, lying down and getting up, hardly getting forward? They call it devotion but I would say it is a manipulation of the mind. When devotion gets to this level, it makes you blind. You don’t feel pain and you don’t think, it gets more and more crazy.

While I believe that this is a bit crazy, there are much crazier things that religion makes people do. It is the same feeling, the same manipulation by religion when a person believes it is something good to spend his last penny until a certain day on which he thinks the world is going to end. Or drink a deathly poison together with others of the same state of mind. It is also the same religious manipulation that makes someone strap a bomb around his waist and blow himself up in a busy subway, killing himself and dozens of other people. Or highjack a plane and crash it into a tower, causing grief to thousands of people who lost loved ones.

It is craziness. It is religion. Some of the effects are less harmful, some are more. You can tolerate it if someone does not cause damage or harm to others and no obvious harm to himself. Call him a little bit crazy. But in the end, it is religion that manipulated this mind into this devotional act.

When a Belief harms and Tolerance has to end – 17 May 12

I yesterday mentioned that you usually cannot argue with someone about his belief. You can however not agree with everybody’s belief and this is something which I think you can express at any time. People may call me intolerant if I say that I even very strongly oppose certain beliefs but I think in certain cases it would be irresponsible to be tolerant.

To illustrate one belief that I tolerate and accept but which I don’t follow, I would name Jainism for example. I believe in non-violence but they exercise non-violence very extremely. An ideal believer takes care that he doesn’t step on an ant while walking. He would take a broom to avoid killing an insect on his way and he could even wear a mask so that he does not accidentally swallow one. Compared to this, I have to say I am not non-violent. I do believe in non-violence but not that much. If I see a mosquito in my bedroom, or on my body, I will kill it with a slap of my hand because I don’t want to get malaria. I would not however be violent to an animal that does not do me harm. But if you want to believe this, it is fully fine for me. If you want to act according to this, I will accept it, tolerate it and be fully happy with it.

To show a belief which I believe is wrong, I would like to mention the fake gurus that I often write about and whose work i have criticized a lot. The belief in one of them can cause a lot of harm. If you believe in Nirmal Baba or Kumar Swami, you can lose a lot of money with the promise of getting healed or getting rich. Not only does that make them rich and you poor on the long run but if you seriously believe a guru can heal your cancer or other diseases, you won’t take treatment for it, your health can get worse and worse and you may even die instead of getting cured by a doctor.

You can see another example of a harming belief in fake gurus when you look at abusive gurus like Kripalu or his former head disciple Prakashananda. Dressing up and pretending to be Krishna, such gurus lure believing followers into their bedrooms, telling women they are Gopis and are selected to have sex with God now. It is sexual abuse, psychological manipulation and brainwashing.

If you now say that this is everybody’s own decision if they want to believe in a cheater or not, I agree. I can warn you of the work of those gurus. I can tell you what can happen but if you decide to believe in them nevertheless, it is your decision! I cannot run there and pull you away from them. It is your own free choice and I won’t say you are a bad person if you believe in one of them. I will think you are misguided.

It is problematic however when you learn from them how to cheat others! Then I cannot accept your way anymore because you start cheating others and thus harm them! Then it is a belief in cheating which I definitely oppose. There are more such beliefs, non-religious ones which harm. Some people believe in dishonesty, others in corruption and bribes. There were people who believed in Hitler, too. There are people who belief in killing and violence! There is a belief in terrorism on the name of religion. There were and still are many people who believe in what Osama bin Laden believed in. He may be dead but how many people are there who still believe that they have to fight a holy war? If you believe this, you are ready to kill people, you are ready to harm others, to take lives!

I don’t think that we need to tolerate this kind of belief. If we did, it would cost lives. You may not be able to do much about it and maybe could not convince someone who really wants to go on a mission of hatred but you cannot morally agree with this. What is wrong is wrong and if you have seen wrong, you have to speak out against it, keep your loved ones from doing it and make clear that you oppose it. The first step is that you need to decide not to believe it. If it harms others or even yourself, you need to decide to work against it. Should opposing terrorism, cheating and dishonesty mean being intolerant, so be it, then I would have to admit I am.

Political Games with Criminals on Death Row – 7 Sep 11

In India the topic of death penalties is being debated these days. How come? On 21st May 1991 India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed. In 1999, four people were sentenced to death as those who have been planning his murder. After several refused appeals in different courts, one of them, a woman who was pregnant in the time of their arrest, was pardoned. The rest of them were supposed to be hanged on 9th September 2011.

The three men who are still on death row come from Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. The Assembly of Tamil Nadu passed a resolution to ask the concerned parties to reconsider this death sentence again and simultaneously the high court of Tamil Nadu has now put in another objection to their execution and it has been stayed for another eight weeks. They submitted their pleas for mercy already in the year 2000 and the President took eleven years and four months to reject them. They have been waiting ever since they submitted their mercy plea, never sure whether they would have to die or not. Their lawyers now argue that this long waiting period is a reason to commute the death sentence and that the death penalty would now, after such a time, be immoral, illegal and unconstitutional.

There are more such cases. Afzal Guru, a man from Kashmir was found guilty for conspiring an attack on the Indian parliament in 2006 in which several people were killed. He was sentenced to death for this crime, too. Until today the government has stalled his execution and people say it is because he is a Muslim. If they execute him, they will lose the votes of Muslims and there might be bigger conflicts again with different Hindu and Muslim groups already announcing big protests if any decision is made. He himself tells the government it was a mistake to ask for pardon, hang me now! He knows exactly that they cannot hang him now. The government is impotent. Following the example of the Tamil Nadu Assembly, a member of the Kashmir Assembly gave the suggestion to make a resolution in Kashmir, too, to ask the concerned parties to pardon him.

I wonder what the Assembly actually has to do with this? It is dangerous if we start such traditions of defending the criminals of the own area. This will divide all politics into areas and everybody will begin having sympathy with the criminals of his hometown.

A third example is Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist was the only terrorist caught alive in the terror attacks of 26th November 2008. He was found guilty for the deaths of many people and he came there to die. In front of court he told different stories every time when asked and even spit on the judges. He doesn’t care about his life but until today he has not been executed. No, the government spends money protecting his security in jail.

If you look at these cases, don’t you have to ask yourself why we still have this death penalty? If you sentence someone to death, how come you never execute them? By principal I am not in favour of death penalty. I have written about this before, too. In today’s civilized and developed society it is appropriate to stop this and according to Amnesty International 137 countries worldwide have realized that and abolished the death penalty. But if it is part of your judicial system, you should also do it! They are criminals and you want to kill them, do it. But don’t play a game with the lives of people! Don’t do your politics with the lives of men! If you have this law, do it. If you don’t have the intention of killing them, don’t even sentence them to death! What is the meaning of such a law if they do a crime and then their religion or area does everything to get them pardoned and they have to wait for years. Lawyers are right in saying that this is torture, immoral and illegal! Death penalty may be inhumane but what would you call keeping a person waiting for his own execution for years?

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.