I am intolerant when it comes to Meat – and don’t feel guilty about it – 10 Dec 14

I already planned yesterday to tell you a bit more about my own experiences in various restaurants with special food requirements – and here you go!

I have been vegetarian my whole life long. In my hometown Vrindavan, you actually won’t find any restaurant that sells meat. It is a vegetarian town. I travelled a lot in my childhood but in India, and especially in the circles that I was moving in, being vegetarian is nothing unusual. On the contrary, the people that I was around considered being non-vegetarian an outrageous way of living.

Then I started travelling abroad. I knew before that I would be doing a lot of cooking for myself – I also used to do that when I was on journeys on my own. I got to know that there were no vegetarian restaurants available abroad. When I went to restaurants, it was Indian restaurants where I could clearly explain that I didn’t eat meat, nor onions nor garlic and they would understand.

And finally my Western friends started taking me to other restaurants and I learned to be very clear with everyone around what I would eat and what not and also how I could eat.

Most vegetarians in the west are used to being the minority and being the only ones to eat vegetarian food while everyone else eats meat around them. I was and am not used to this at all – and I have to tell people who go out for dinner with me that I cannot eat when there is meat on the table. I don’t have appetite, on the contrary, I even feel like I could get sick. For me, there is just too much connected with that piece of dead animal on your plate!

If you call this intolerant, I can accept that. I am, in this regard, fully intolerant – and I don’t feel guilty about it. If you believe you cannot eat vegetarian for one day when we are out together, I have to tell you that I will not eat with you at the same table. And next time I will completely avoid eating together with you. That’s just the only way that I can get down food into my stomach.

Now that doesn’t mean that I want everyone else around me to eat like I do at all times. I don’t want you to pretend being someone who you are not. Of course I would appreciate others to become vegetarian – which is a general attitude because I believe it would be good for everyone – but just because I tell the waiter that I don’t want onion or garlic in my sauce, you don’t need to do the same. I don’t mind my Western friends drinking a glass of wine in the evening either, when we are sitting together – even if I don’t ever touch alcohol. And in this way, I have had thousands of wonderful dinners.

What I mean to show is that even though you may have different habits than others, even though you can accept some things and others not, you should not feel bad about it. Know your limits and make them clear in a friendly and polite way. No need for bad feelings if everyone knows about it.

Should someone decide to pass a stupid comment – so be it, you don’t need to give them the pleasure of your company while having lunch or dinner!

Stupid religious Charities refuse Help of gay Supporters – 26 Nov 14

When we were in New York in 2010, I made several new friends. Among them is one man who some of my American friends may know, as he does a lot of work for radio shows and TV, has many charity projects and is in general a quite public person. His name is Max Tucci. I yesterday got to know that one of the charities he was supporting did something incredibly stupid and insulting: they rejected his support. Why? Because Max is gay.

In 2010, Max came to meet me in Central Park with his incredibly fit grandmother. She had done yoga her whole life long and was thus still very flexible. We had a nice time together and some good talks then as well as later, when Max interviewed me for his radio show. I already felt then that there was a man in front of me with an open heart, someone who has the wish to support others in every way possible. It was via facebook that I read of the many projects he is engaged in for doing exactly that.

A few days ago, Ramona and I looked through a few pictures that Max had shared of a charity event he and his friends had hosted or organized. They had all dressed up in ‘drag’ – a word that I just learned and which means that these men wore fancy women’s clothes and colourful make-up along with high heels and wigs. They were on stage, dancing, probably singing as well and obviously having a great time while raising funds for a charity called Neighbours 4 Neighbours, helping poor families in America.

They raised a lot of money for this great cause and while we here, across the globe and in a country where such an event is nearly unimaginable, were amazed and happy about this, some people much closer were obviously not. Max was contacted by another charity that he had given much time and effort to: they disapproved. I may have to add that they consider themselves ‘conservative Christians’. Even Max’s reply that Jesus loved everyone and told his disciples to do the same was completely ignored. Of course, it hurt my friend that the time, love and effort he had given to these people was not valued and worse, that they believed him not to have morals, simply because he is who he is.

I am writing all of this here in my blog as a support for Max, as another proof that there will always be people criticizing you, no matter how much good you do and finally to say once more that we all are equal.

I am not actually surprised to read about such actions from a religious organization. The more religious people are, the more narrow-minded they get, no matter in which religion. It doesn’t matter whether it is Hinduism, Christianity, Islam or others, they just stay stubbornly on their point, written and fixed in outdated scriptures. That’s how many people, including me, get turned off from organized religion! They preach love but at the same time discriminate against loving people simply because of whom these people love! I consciously don’t write ‘decide to love’ because it is not a decision, love comes from inside and is pure, regardless of gender!

So I want to say to my friend Max and to everyone else on this planet who wants to do good for others and is, while doing that, being insulted due to gender, sexual preference, personal habits or race: don’t let them get to you! Draw strength out of the knowledge that you helped someone in need. Keep on loving and spreading the love by authentically being who you are!

And should you ever need a time-out, a place to just be you and spend time among those children whom we help every day, our Ashram is open to you at any time.

The question of Freedom and Tolerance when it comes to Sex – 1 Mar 13

I obviously received some comments on my diary entries of the past days and of course, some people did not agree. That is nothing new and nothing unusual or wrong. We all have different opinions and I just voice mine, too. You are free to speak against it and I am free to just accept that you are against it but keep my opinion nevertheless. This is what I would like to write about today: the freedom of people to not only say what they want but also do what they want – as long as it does not harm others.

Yes, we all have the freedom to do whatever we like. I would add: ‘as long as it is legal and does not harm anyone’. Some people don’t even regard these points while others add ‘as long as it is accepted by society’, ‘as long as it is in accordance with my religion’ or similar restrictions. The reality is however that while the law of a country limits us, we cannot limit others by our own moral standards.

If you believe that one-night-stands are wrong, you don’t need to have them. If you think that having an ‘open relationship’, in which everybody can have sex with others, too, is immoral, you don’t need to live in such a relationship. There are people who believe homosexuality is morally wrong and there are people who think it is wrong for women to work at all. If you are one of them, you are free to think and believe this and you don’t need to be gay and you don’t need to work or marry a woman who has the wish to work.

You cannot however limit other people’s freedom by telling them of your ideas of morality and what is right or wrong. While they will let you live the way that you live, you have to let them live their lives however they want to! You have absolutely no authority to interfere there and if you accept that, we all can live in bigger peace!

In my opinion, when two people meet, get along well and decide to have sex, it should be fully fine for everybody, as long as they don’t have a partner whom they are thus cheating on! If they decide one week later or even on the next day that they want to have sex with a fully different person, it is their private matter – as long as they stay safe, wear a condom and don’t spread any diseases!

If you don’t agree, that is fully fine. Keep it to yourself, don’t do anything yourself what you cannot do with clear conscience but also understand that other people have a fully clear conscience with doing all of this – and that you actually don’t take any harm from this! So why are you opposing it?

Of course everybody has a right to say what he wants, too. This is why you do have the right to say that you would not ever sleep with more than two people in a year or whatever your standard is. You need to take care however that your actions and also your words don’t harm those who believe differently. Voice your opinion while knowing that others have a right to disagree. Don’t be abusive, don’t get nasty.

That is called tolerance and if you live in a democracy, if you believe in your freedom to do what you like and to keep your own morals, if you believe in freedom of speech, then you need tolerance and have to accept people who think different than you!

Freedom of Religion – Don’t try to convince others of your Belief – 30 Sep 11

In the last days I have been writing about missionaries whose main aim is to convert people of another belief to theirs. I also mentioned that this does not make sense in my eyes. I could never try to make others belief in my way, no matter which way that may be. Let me explain this a little bit further.

Different religions are in my opinion made by different thoughts. The people who wrote the scriptures and those who started a religion had a certain opinion and a certain aim. The rules that they set for believers of their religion are based on that aim. And of course they are based in their culture and society, too. In a country like India, people may easily believe in things that people in other countries don’t believe in, simply because of their cultural background! This is why I see it as very difficult to try and convince someone of another culture of your belief. And again there is the question: why would you even try?

There can be different views upon religion in one area, too. You can have a fully different opinion than your neighbor. You can even have a fully different opinion than other members of your family. Why would you try to change the other one? I am sitting on this side of the table and have one opinion. You are sitting on the other side of the table and have another opinion. Why would I get angry about this? Why would I have a problem with you sitting next to me just because you have another opinion?

Maybe my words and what I write in my diary ends up in a scripture some day because someone decides to put it there and make a religion out of it. I am of the opinion that nobody should take what I say word by word and as a law. I just express my own opinion. If you have another one, it is fine for me! I will always honestly tell what I believe and I will not change that statement according to whom I am talking to. I will be me and I can tell you what I believe. I don’t expect you to change or think like me! I know that my parents have a different opinion on religion in many ways but I don’t expect them to change and think like me! Be tolerant and let others believe what they wish to believe in.

I fully believe that if you see a friend being pulled into a sect or a group that has bad practices, you should tell him what you think about it. It is your love that will try to make him understand that what he wants to believe in could be bad for him. But in the end it will be his own decision and you have to let him believe what he wants to believe.

Religion is imagination, it is interpretation and it is also old ideas of people who lived a long time ago. Some of these ideas are valid today, too, while others seem fully ridiculous. The problems start when someone thinks of his way as the only right one. Then he tries to convince others of the same way. All religions and all sects actually claim that and I believe that this is why people start turning away from religions. They feel that they don’t have the freedom to feel and decide for themselves what is right or wrong. They are told which way to go but they want freedom! Religions want to control and religions want to convert. Let people believe what they wish to believe. I would always choose freedom and love.

How does religious Hate turn into Violence like in Oslo? – 26 Jul 11

Yesterday I wrote about the mass killer Andres Behring Breivik who killed so many people in Norway. In court he yesterday spoke, as expected, without any remorse or guilt. I read some articles about his manifesto and read that he mentions India many times in his writing. He suggests that anti-Muslim parties and organizations all over the world should work together, Jews in Israel, Buddhists in China, Hindu nationalists in India and Christian fundamentalists in Europe and the USA.

It seems he is impressed by the Hindu nationalists in India and even mentions the websites of BJP and RSS. Many of their members are already accused of spreading Hindu terrorism, some even confessed and now face charges for their crimes.

I mentioned yesterday already that such thoughts and attitudes are everywhere in the world, in every country and culture. In India we can feel and see that very clearly already, every time when there are riots and attacks for religious reasons. In this article I was shocked to read that a former member of parliament of the BJP, B. P. Singhal, stated ?I was with the shooter in his objective, but not in his method. If you want to attract the nation?s attention, surely you need to do something drastic and dramatic, but not killing people.?

I want to ask especially such narrow-minded Hindu nationalists whether they have forgotten the Mantra ?Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam?, which comes from Hindu scriptures and was taught in my childhood in primary school, too. It means ?Our planet is one family?. Where in this Mantra is space for such ideas?

You see, the ideas are the same, this Indian man already has the same way of thinking as that man who shot down young kids! Breivik may have been mentally a bit more sick and took the step to take a gun and shoot down people but the basic attitude can be found elsewhere, too!

These thoughts and actions can be from any religious group towards any other group. In one country Muslims fight against Christians, in the other country Hindus fight against Muslims and in another country other religious groups fight each other. It doesn?t matter which religion they belong to and which religion they are fighting against, they have something in common: their hate.

Seeing this extent of hate all over the world is appalling but it is reality. How many people have died because of such hate? How many are dying each day? It is not the spreading of any religion that we should stop but it is the spreading of this hate which we need to put a halt to. Such ideas can be in anybody, your neighbor, your co-worker or the person standing next to you in the supermarket.

How can we stop the violence resulting from such ideas? I have an appeal to make to psychotherapists, brain researchers and scientists: I believe this readiness to kill a person because of this hate is a kind of sickness. Find out what the cause is for this sickness. Many people voice their anger but there are only some who start taking weapons in their hands and kill others to make their point. What is happening in their brains? Is there a way that you could recognize this attitude before? Is there an option to see whether a person with such hate will become violent or not?

I believe that it is a psychological sickness but it is triggered by something. What happened that makes them kill others? If we can find out the reason for this sickness, we have a chance to treat them. Of course no killer will come to the police or to doctors before his crime to tell them he has this mental sickness. This is why only finding a treatment is not the way. We need to find the reason for this psychological problem and then treat this. The solution will be to change our society. To change the way that children grow up, change the educational system or how we treat each other even in our adulthood. To remove that factor that lets the hate increase until they become violent.

The only thing that we can do now however is to be tolerant and in love ourselves. We need to actively practice this tolerance and compassion. We need to teach love to our children and to keep a close eye on the people around us, discouraging them from any similar ideas. Realize that we are one world and all are humans, not divided by race, colour, language, culture or religion. Keep in mind that we all are human.

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.

Are Religions that much Complicated? – 17 Oct 10

Yesterday I said that people often reject those things that they don’t know. This happened so many times in the history of science and is of course still happening. The same problem can be seen with different religions when people don’t know enough about other religions and don’t have tolerance for each other.

One religious priest says we should burn the Quran, another religious person calls for burning the Bible. A religious person on one side of the world thinks doing yoga is for the devil, and on the other side they say it is against Islam. Hindus and Moslems want to build temples and mosques on the same spot and cannot agree who should have the right to build it.

In history we have seen that on the name of religion so many wars happened! The whole Second World War was started with the idea that Jewish and Christians are in some way different from each other. At present we see that the whole world suffers from terrorism on the name of Jihad.

What do all these different religions do? They just want to prove that their religion is best, that their God is best and their scripture is best. When I read about this all, I only have one idea in my mind: why don’t we leave the concept of religion altogether? Or maybe, if you don’t like this idea, we can also start a new religion and just call it ‘human’. This will be a religion only for humans, no Christians, Hindus, Moslems, Jews, Buddhists or any other identification. I don’t really have the urge to start a new religion but people always have the tendency that they need a group to belong to. For this I am saying, just call your religion human! I really only want to be human, all of us together without any religion.

In my opinion the base of all religions is love. It seems however that they have forgotten this common principle and started fighting about who is right or wrong. When people tried to make bridges in between religions, these bridges were so often destroyed by that fight. I want to appeal to everybody who is in any way involved in this fight to realize that God and love is in and for all of us. Leave the limitations and the fight of religions, please simply live in love.

Govind and Manish were here today to visit. It was nice to see them, it has been a long time since that the three of us have been together. We have been to school together and sometimes two of us meet, today it was three and it was really nice.

Belief is Personal! Religious Leaders: Do not Spread Confusion! – 12 Oct 10

I have been telling that a Christian minister, Albert Mohler, stated in his blog that yoga is not compatible with Christianity. He says "Christians are not called to empty the mind or see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the word of god."

Actually I really have a very strong opinion regarding this kind of advice. I am of the opinion that belief and religion is a personal thing. I am against religious leaders, from any religion be that Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or any other religion, telling people what to believe. That can be a Hindu priest or guru or also a man like this Mohler. We all should learn from this that everybody has his own way.

People in higher positions of religious institutions always try to direct believers to go a certain way. They do not only want to show them one of the many ways that are possible but they insist that the way that they suggest is the one and only. Then, if you said you walk the same way as they do, they believe that they have some kind of authority to tell you what you are doing wrong or right on your way.

Mohler says that Christianity and Yoga cannot be combined. Now this may be right for him. He thinks ‘meditating upon the word of God’ is something very different than connecting with God but for other people, as it is for me, meditating means always connecting with God. Even if you meditate upon something you consider as God’s words, you connect with him, don’t you? For me this means being in love, connecting with the love in you.

Everybody should be free to believe what they want. Nobody has a right to tell the other one he believes anything wrong. Leaders of all religions, all denominations have been doing this in history over and over again but time just showed that everybody has another way and that is his personal, individual way to think of or believe in God. Anybody, all priests, gurus, teachers, preachers and religious leaders who believe that they are the only ones who are right have to learn this lesson of tolerance. You should spread love, not confusion.

A Business Idea: Reconnecting Souls that Split Apart – 30 Jul 10

Everybody is free to believe whatever he or she wants. This is the beauty of this world – we all are different. One may believe in souls while the other one doesn't and some people can even believe in spirits talking to them. What I do not like though is when there is someone who makes this his business and spreads fear to increase his or her business. Then it is not about any belief anymore and then there is not any tolerance for other people’s belief either.

Some people believe in ghosts, which means that when a person dies his soul does not leave this world but it stays on earth. If a person tells others that there are ghosts that haunt you and create problems for you, I believe he just wants to make others afraid. If he sells his remedy on top of it, I am sure that he has business in the mind and not really the well-being of others.

Another belief is that your soul can be split into parts and this happens always when you have a traumatic experience like an accident, being raped, divorce of your parents, a family member to whom you were very close and who died. Allegedly there are people who can get these soul parts back for you but of course you pay for it. They are the ones who unite your soul again and only then you are complete. All your problems are related to the fact that you are missing parts of your soul. Even if you cannot remember any traumatic experience, it is very convenient for those who do this business that everybody has at least one of them: your birth. So even if there is nothing else wrong in your life, you definitely miss one soul part! At least one session you have to take!

I just don’t believe that there is any such mysterious thing in you which can harm you or which can split in parts that you then miss. Again I have to say that I simply believe in love – that's it!

Love the Habits of your Partner – 19 Jan 10

Yesterday I mentioned small habits that people sometimes notice about their partners and which they find annoying. This can be just really tiny things like a noise that the other one makes while sipping from his morning coffee or tea which you think can really be done without making any noise at all. It can be the place that she puts her hairbrush down after brushing her hair which you just believe is not the right place. It can be the way that he dog-ears the pages of the novel that he reads. It can be the way how she leaves the water running while she is brushing her teeth.

There are really many examples of these small habits and I said yesterday already that you need to look at yourself, too, if you think the other one is doing wrong. With some things you can be right, as it is for example wasting water to leave it on too long and of course the book will not really be nice anymore if everybody dog-ears his favourite pages. Other habits however are just a matter of acceptance and tolerance.

Your partner makes this funny noise while laughing, okay, love it! Your partner makes any other small, strange, funny or ridiculous thing of which you think you would never do it, accept it and love it! It is beautiful to see how people who do this sometime even adopt these habits without even realizing. And this is how you tune your relationship to a harmony which can be felt when others meet you as a couple. Such closeness between two hearts, minds and bodies!