Just getting old doesn’t make you wise, so stay polite! – 22 Sep 14

I would like to start writing about a topic today which is important for each and every one of us, no matter of which age we are: the relation in between old and young, the generations before us, our generation and the ones after us. Today I will start by writing about a rather negative attitude that I see especially in elderly Indian men and women: they believe that being old made them not only the wisest person on earth but also gave them the right to declare all others as stupid.

In general, I have to say that life in India is usually quite good for old people. Joint families are still common and the younger generations see it as their duty to take care of their parents and grandparents. That’s how they – in the most normal cases – live together with their offspring and as far as they can support the rest of the family at home by cooking, taking care of children or with their knowledge.

Also, in India, respect for the elderly is a very important value and it is taught already to small children in a way that I have not experienced that strongly in the west. Now before I start pointing out the problems, I would like to say beforehand how much I really cherish this fact. I believe we should all be able to live together with respect for those who have lived more years than we have. However, they need to respect the younger generation as well!

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always seem to be the case. In India, it is normal for a father to tell his son when he thinks he is going the wrong way. Ideally, the son will listen, accept his mistakes and change. The right to point out mistakes and scold another person is however not only reserved to relatives by blood! Practically any person elder than you is, by tradition and culture, entitled to ‘set you straight’ and give you a piece of his mind. Tradition and culture also wants you to accept this as it is said and not talk against it. That would be disrespectful towards a person elder than you!

The problem that I see here is that age does not necessarily make everyone wise. Or polite. I recently had a case in which I was told by an elderly family friend that I was not of the age yet to talk about politics. He mentioned that I should be ashamed of the political view that I had expressed. For me, this was insulting and he thought he had the right to do so only because he is older than I am. This in itself is ridiculous, regardless the fact that in India you are old enough to vote with 18 and that I, with my nearly 43 years, have passed that age a few years ago.

I want to appeal to everyone who reads these lines: don’t think that only your age makes you better, more intelligent or in any way entitled to insult another person. If you are the older one, you may share your wisdom, knowledge or experience in a polite way with those younger than you. But never, ever believe that the other one is stupid just because he or she was born some or even many years after you!

If you are the younger one and the advice is given in a nice way, listen with respect, find out if it applies in modern times as well and be thankful for the help. If you didn’t ask for it, if it is insulting and you feel suppressed instead of supported, say it. Don’t be afraid to be outspoken about this!

Respect goes two ways and age gives nobody the right to insult others!

Bookish Knowledge Creates Confusion – 4 Jun 09

Many people have ego because they read many books and learned many things from these books. But people who have ego of bookish knowledge do not have wisdom. They often think they know so much but it doesn’t benefit them or others if they are inside empty. Bookish knowledge creates more and more confusion.

Often people try to make others smaller by showing off their knowledge from books. They want to feel great and show their ego. And ego creates more and more bondage to material. But that is not really vidya (wisdom). There is another Sutra: ‘Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktye’. This means ‘true knowledge or wisdom is what liberates.’ You have to watch your knowledge and see if it is binding you or liberating you.

We had a nice dinner with some friends and afterwards went to have ice-cream with them. And while eating we thought of the children in India whose food today was sponsored by ‘food for food’.

Knowledge and Wisdom make you Humble – 3 Jun 09

In Sanskrit there is a Sutra which says ‘Vidya dadaati vinayam’. Vidya means knowledge or wisdom, dadaati means giving and vinayam means humbleness. I think it is clear what the Sutra means: True knowledge or wisdom makes a person humble. And actually arrogant people do not really have anything except for ego. People think that ego comes when someone has much knowledge. But the truth is that if someone has real knowledge, he will not be egoistic. This person will be soft and humble.

There is an example with a tree. The tree which is full of fruits and has so much to give to others will bow his branches and leafs towards the ground. Only that tree which has no fruit at all is standing straight. I don’t know how really to translate this best into English, maybe I do not have the right words but the meaning of standing straight is like an arrogant attitude. And that is how I see many people who have nothing which is why they keep ego and become arrogant. Our life should be like that of a tree carrying many fruits. Humble, soft and happy to give to others.

The King and the Sadhu – Wisdom where you do not Expect it – 26 Mar 09

When we were talking about yesterday’s topic I remembered a very popular example story from a scripture. There was a young Sadhu who was living and studying with his guru, his teacher. He had a lot of knowledge but his guru realized that his lesson and education was not finished yet. To give him extra practical lessons he sent him to a king who was also his disciple. He considered this king as a wise person who would be qualified to do this job. The guru sent a letter to the king along with the young Sadhu asking him to keep the young man with him for a while.

The king was very happy and pleased to receive him and the message and he welcomed him with a warm heart. The young Sadhu was given very nice accommodation in the palace. They ate together, had walks together and he enjoyed living in this prosperity. But inside his heart he was wondering and smiling about it why his guru had sent him there and what lesson he should get in all this luxury.

One day the king took him along to take a bath in the river which was flowing just behind the palace. There they also worshipped the sun in a ceremony and suddenly the young Sadhu saw that the palace was on fire. Big flames and lots of smoke were coming from all windows and the whole palace was ablaze. He forgot worshipping and his meditation and shouted to the king ‘The palace is burning!’ but the king was busy in his ritual and only said ‘Now it is burning, what can you do? There are people who are taking care, let’s first finish our ceremony.’ The Sadhu was too excited and said ‘But my bag is in there!’ Then the king smiled and said ‘My dear, my palace is burning and all my things are there, too. But what can you do about it now by getting upset and this much excited. The fire cannot cool down from this; you need to cool down first.’

And the young man realized and understood why his guru has sent him there: the king was a very wise man.

Do not live like an Animal – Realize yourself! – 30 Aug 08

Today Yashendu had a long Yoga Workshop which was called ‘Yoga Intensive’. Intensive here should not mean difficult Yoga postures but a variety of different postures and also philosophical topics. So he talked about the different paths of Yoga and also about human and his role in this world.

'What makes us different than animals? There are maybe 8.4 million different kinds of creatures on this world. All 8.4 million creatures have the same desires: they need to satisfy their hunger, have a place to rest and sleep and they have the instinct to reproduce. But only one, humankind, has the possibility to achieve wisdom. Only human has this intelligence not only to follow its instincts and senses but to go beyond that. We are reborn again and again, sometimes in the form of an animal, then we cannot do anything. Sometimes we are reborn into the human form and then we can realize what we are here for. We can realize our truth, our inner self. But so many people live their lives like this: they go to work, they eat, they lie down to sleep, on the weekends they go out and on Mondays they start work again. Eating, sleeping and dying, only this is not the life. You have to think about who you are, for what you are here, what is your purpose. Realize the truth and embrace love in your life.