Something strange happened to me in India; I realized that I actually felt more spiritual back home than in the land of spirituality. I took some yoga classes in an ashram in Rishikesh, where the teacher was an excellent yogi, but in my opinion a pretty poor teacher. There he was, performing complicated asanas in front of the students, who tried to do their best to imitate him. I saw some korean guys behind me, who were obviously taking their first yoga class ever. They were almost killing themselves with an expression of deep suffering in their faces. I wondered why the teacher just ignored them and did not explain the easy version of the posture instead.
I remember a phrase my yoga teacher back home said once:
Yoga practiced without love is not yoga!
Of course, there are plenty of really good yoga teachers, but there are so many classes and workshops, that it takes time to find the one that suits you best. I found a really good teacher and went to his classes from time to time. He is this kind of person who teaches with the heart; his yoga classes are pure magic! But still there was something in this spiritual wonderland that irritated me pretty much. Frequently I went for breakfast at an ayurvedic café near my guesthouse. After their daily yoga and meditation classes many westerners with expressions of inner peace on their faces used to walk in. Their conversations were not to be overheard. Most of the time they were talking about which and how many spiritual masters they had met, which one was the best, how advanced their yoga practice was and discussing the dos and don’ts for leading a fulfilled spiritual life. Sometimes they also criticized people they had met who were not on any spiritual path while their halos turned brighter and brighter. Of course it is perfectly fine to exchange knowledge and experiences about something that you are passionate about, but most of the conversations I overheard were nothing but a verbal competition with the spiritual egos speaking. Once, the Indian waiter came in and one of the ladies treated him like a piece of crap because he had put white sugar into her herbal tea instead of honey. Then there were the numerous Sadhus pretending to be interested in me as a person, but eventually always ended up asking for some money. When they looked at me I had the impression to have the dollar sign tattooed on my forehead. I didn’t feel like a person anymore when talking to them, but like an ATM. There were the brahmans covered with heavy gold jewellery taking people to holy sites to perform an auspicious puja for their wellbeing in exchange for donation. Once, one of them approached me. I asked him how much the puja would cost. He told me that this was up to me and that I was free to give whatever I wished. I handed him 50 rupees after the ceremony. He got very upset and told me that the donation had to be at least 500 rupees. I replied that next time he should better tell the price for his god business so he would not have to get angry. His face turned dark red and off he drove on his expensive motorbike. More and more I had the need to absent myself from these strange energies and asked myself what’s the deal with spiritual practice, yoga and meditation, if actually you don’t make any effort to apply it in everyday life situations? I lost all interest for spirituality for some time and rather prefered to stick to “normal” people, spend time in nature and listen to my inner voice. It was like my own inner spiritual rebellion. I don’t want to follow any path blindly. There are so many good teachings, but I mostly don’t agree completely with any of them and I think it is okay like that. I internalize what feels good to me and ignore the rest. I don’t have to defend my ideals and believes or argue about them with anybody; I know what I know and that’s enough for me. I like to listen though to other people, even if their point of view differs a lot from mine and I learned not to take things personal. Live and let live… Everybody is free to follow their own path in their own way; in the end, all of them lead to the same direction. The best thing I can do for myself and my surroundings is to get to know myself as well as possible and always try to be a better person than I already am.