Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Change starts with your underpants

Once all politicians are replaced, there will be peace; once the banks are back in public hands, financial equality will be only a question of time; and once Monsanto is dead, everything will be just fine. Hm...

A few weeks ago I was in a healthfood shop, buying organic oats and fairtrade chocolate. As I was standing in the queue, waiting to pay, I noticed a small section nearby with a few different cloth items: t-shirts, socks, underpants, pyjamas and a couple of nice jumpers. All made from organic cotton, dyed with natural colours and produced under fair conditions. I grabbed a pair of boxershorts and proceeded to checkout.
„That’s 22,68 Euros”, the old lady at the till said.
„What? How much are the underpants?“
Really? Almost 20 Euros for a piece of cloth that soon will be destroyed by frequent washing cycles and unavoidable farting – a bit expensive, innit? At H&M you get similar ones for 4,95 and in some other places they’re even cheaper. Perhaps I ought to scrap the idea of organic underwear and instead get more chocolate…

Who's evil?

Here’s some nice little background information: almost 50% of all cotton is genetically modified. In the EU, growing GM cotton is not allowed – but hardly anybody buys clothes anymore which are made in the EU. And now guess who’s the industry leader for GM cotton? Bingo: Monsanto! And those child-labour factories in Bangladesh, China and India, do they use organic cotton? I know, stupid question.

Our capitalist world is ruled by demand. That’s not good and neither is it bad, it’s just the way it is. What really matters is this: who demands all this cheap stuff? The evil rulers? Do they force us into the shopping malls and make us consume crap? Or is it us?
Who allows companies like Monsanto to grow?

The main argument against clothes made from organic cotton is the price. But that’s ridiculous: If it said ‘Calvin Klein’ on the label, most people wouldn’t hesitate to spend 20 Euros on a pair of underpants. As so often, it’s simply a question of priorities.
Another common argument is the lack of availability – ‘but where can I find organic clothes?’ Strange, when looking for new games, cheap flights or free porn, everybody knows where to go. But when it comes to finding out useful stuff, the internet seems to disappear miraculously from the face the Earth.

Small is beautiful - and very powerful!

We are attracted by ‘big’ solutions and put our hopes in everything that promises to solve all of our problems in one go: new elections, new inventions, the new job and of course, the new year. But big changes will only ever happen when many of us make lots of small changes in our everyday lives, starting today!
Who cares if the new president gets a solar-heated indoor pool and ‘considers’ less subsidies for seed empires? It’s normal people like you and me who have to take responsibility and create real changes. Remember, we are the 99%!

The clothes you wear, the food you eat, the transport you use – on a daily basis you can make little changes that, when added up, can make a huge difference. And yes, it starts with the underpants you wear. Or in other words: if you ain’t gonna change yourself, don’t expect to see a better world!

PS: It’s Christmas time – why not surprise a loved one with some really clean underwear?

Monday, November 11, 2013


10 months ago I spent 10 days on a silent retreat, meditating for 10 hours each day. During that time I was disconnected from the busy world that surrounds me - a chance to slow down, to reflect and to listen. An invitation to visit the here and now.

There's no need to become a monk and move into the woods, but: When was the last time that you didn't go online for a whole day? And to take it even a step further: when was the last time you spent a whole day with your phone switched off?

We seem to feel that we're missing out on something if we're not constantly checking the news, facebook posts and messages on whatsapp. There's so much happening and we want to keep track of everything or else we die! But is it possible to know everything? And is it necessary to always have the latest update on everything? Truth is: if we didn't check our emails and phones for a day or two, we wouldn't miss out on anything. Nothing. Zero.

Speed-reading, checking and answering; calling and scrolling and gossiping – this is exhausting stuff for our minds! So here's a suggestion:

Once in a while, take a day and disconnect from the world around you so that you can connect with the world that lies inside of you. Ignoring all those noisy screens and finding a moment of peace – creating space to simply be!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Growing revolution

Almost 5 years ago I’ve started to become aware of the terrible state of our currrent system, how abusive and how fragile it is. The economic crisis, dwindling energy supplies, total disrespect for the environment – there’s a long list of problems caused by our greed, by ruthless growth and widespread ignorance.

When I realized how dire our situation is, I’ve started to get active, almost in panic. I helped to create a website informing about problems and solutions, with some friends I innitiated a transition town project to increase local resilience and I was involved in setting up a local currency. However, today I’m no longer part of any of these. Life demanded that I move on and that I put my focus and energy towards other projects. And so I did.

But there is one thing I’ve started back in 2009 which I’m still doing and which I believe is one of the best things you can do – against the crisis and the environmental meltdown; for the planet, for your community and for yourself. It’s called Gardening!

No matter where I’ve lived – in a flat, a cottage or a little room in a shared house – there have always been possibilities to plant seeds for a brighter future. If you don't have direct access to any land you can rent a small allotment nearby. They exist everywhere, I've seen them even in big places like Berlin and Barcelona. Urban gardening is slowly conquering the cities!

Growing your own food puts you back in control of what you eat. No genetic modification, no chemicals and no onions that have to travel thousands of miles to arrive in your kitchen. Instead, you get local and organic produce that feeds both your body and soul. Here’s an old proverb which sums it up nicely:

If you want to be happy for a day, get drunk.
If you want to be happy for a year, get married.
If you want to be happy for a lifetime, take up gardening.

We don’t need more fast food and plastic bags and new phones and all the other crap that litters the land and the sea and the human mind. We need a GROWING REVOLUTION that transforms the world back into a healthy and beautiful place - cultivating plants and consciousness!

Most importantly, gardening provides a chance to reconnect with our home: the Earth.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sharing time

Right in the middle of working on a new book, struggling to distinguish between fiction and reality, I’ve met a beautiful woman and fell in love. A day spent together on the beach was all it took to restore my faith that falling in love is actually possible.

Unfortunately, only one week later I was dumped. A wave of disappointment rolled over me and I thought it was just not fair. To make matters worse, I had started writing a little love song which I really liked and now I saw the new melody drowning in the deep sea of failed summer romances. But then I started wondering, ‘why do I feel like this?’ Why couldn’t I be simply grateful for the beautiful moments we had shared? Letting them be what they were: unique fragments of time that had made me really happy.

So while being dumped has caused some temporary pain to my ego, the amazing day on the beach has kept its beauty; even though my longing heart was hoping for another dose of love, the experience itself didn’t actually need any repetition – it was already complete just as it was!
So on the same day that I was dumped, I finished the song.

Soon after a friend came to visit and I met his partner, Jamie. Almost instantly, Jamie and I became really good friends. We laughed and cried over broken dreams and future hopes, and we played music – lots of it! Then, after a few days, my new friend left and I got a similar sensation as before: all of a sudden, a series of beautiful moments had ended and there was nothing I could do about it. Gone!

Two women in two weeks – with both I had a very different yet equally amazing time. The fact that both experiences are over is still making me a little sad, but the dominant feeling is one of gratitude. I feel blessed for having so many opportunities to live through beautiful moments with others. And the thing is: if moments never ended, how could we ever experience new ones? As Ben Harper says, ‘there are so many special people in the world’ – all out there, waiting to be met!

The night before she left, Jamie and I played the song that I had written about my summer romance. It’s an example of what we’re doing here on Earth: Sharing time!

PS: I love chocolate too!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Imagine you were someone else

How can we change the way things are if we don’t step outside our own little world? Or in other words: As long as we stay in our ego bubble, why should we care about others?

What if you could be someone else for a month or two? And if this was possible, once you’d enter your own skin again – would you continue living in the same way?

  • Imagine you were a person sweating 16 hours per day, seven days per week in a crappy Bangladeshi clothes factory – would you still buy that bargain shirt? Would you still be indifferent to how your shoes are made?
  • Imagine you were a cow or a chicken for a month – afterwards, would you still put animals into crowded factories, with no light and hardly any air to breathe?
  • Imagine you were a tree – would you keep polluting the land with plastic and pesticides and cut down forrests for short-term profit and comfort?
  • And now the hardest one: imagine, just for one moment, that you were a young child – would you continue to destroy our natural world, using up all finite resources and really not giving a shit about future generations?

Empathy is about moving closer together. It’s about sharing, caring and becoming aware that we’re ALL sitting in the same boat! And yes, sometimes it might be difficult, but: wouldn't it be much more fun if everybody in that boat had a good ride? Even the cows and stupid ones...

For further reading: The power of empathy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The anger poem

Like a boiling engine on a sinking boat
I've been feeling angry, ready to explode
Nights of fire and dreams of revolution
What went wrong with the human evolution?

I went out and asked owners of funky bars
Why don't you recycle the bottles of glass?
'I'm running a business, I ain't got time for this hippie shit!'
Was the answer coming straight from their lips

Investment bankers who produce only fake numbers
they cultivate nothing but fear, greed and hunger
a thousand times richer than the farmers making food
still the fuckers they're suffering from chronic bad mood

Animals kept in prison, living creatures locked in a cage
little girls with ripped off legs, growing hate and rising rage
we're feeding the devil, hiding in the slumbering matrix
and in between wars, we watch ads of burgers and tits

A clothes factory with one hundred dead
some tears, bad news, we're feeling sad
Whole families burnt down in the east
then H&M calls – time for the big summer feast

Selfish genes are destroying our peace
Widespread ignorance is killing the bees
Toxic minds are teaching at schools
Expensive fees, producing educated fools

Priests keep preaching: don't kill or steal!
But they themselves, they fail to heal
Blaming others for the absence of light
Yet only few do know how to live life right

I'm drowning in anger, what can I do?
Pretend that we're fine, when it's just not true?
The world has gone crazy, I got trouble to cope
The times they're changing, I'm losing hope

Scream! I want to scream out loud!
I want to blow away this threatening cloud
Waking up before it's too late
Creating love and destroying hate!

I'm angry with the world, I'm angry with myself
Enough is enough with all this superficial wealth
I've got to travel deep inside where once I've been
there's only one way out: I have to find peace within!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The meaning of life

Why on earth are we here? What’s our purpose, what’s life all about? Surely, once in a while everybody wonders about these questions. Here are some possible answers:

  • Life is a test - if we learn our lessons well, our soul will be rewarded with nirvana.
  • The meaning of life is to recognize its beauty.
  • Life is just a random occurence and means absolutey nothing.
  • We’re here to earn and spend as much money as possible.
  • Life is a game - we’re collecting points for good deeds; once we’re dead, we can cash in these points with God.
  • Our mission is to evolve into perfect robots.
  • To fall in love with ourselves.
  • And my personal favourite: Whatever meaning we give to life, that’s what it means.

BUT…does it really matter what life means? Do we need to have an answer? And do we actually need to ask all these damn questions? Because if we didn’t have any questions, we wouldn’t have to find any answers either. We’d simply BE!

“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they’re looking for the experience of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell

As long as we’re obsessed with a certain goal – learning a lesson, becoming rich, looking for love – we're focusing on the future. We're searching for something that we feel is lacking in the present and so we're struggling, hoping and praying. We end up waiting for better times, for the ‘right’ moment to arrive. Maybe tomorrow? Next week? Next year? Maybe never...

Yes: we need to keep learning, we have to earn money and we ought to make some plans for tomorrow and beyond. But our biggest challenge is to remember that the actual experience of being alive can only ever happen RIGHT NOW! Be it laughing, crying or smiling, loving or even dying. Conscious of what we're feeling. Breathing. Healing. Giving gratitude to this moment of being.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Paying attention

I’m not answering.
“Claus?! Are you doing something else again?”
“Me? No, I’m listening.”
Of course that’s a lie. While talking to my sister on skype, I’m also busy checking facebook, eating porridge for breakfast and adding things to my todo list. All at the same time – nothing with proper focus!

Up until a few years ago, multitasking was an ability owned exclusively by the versatile housewife. Nowadays it seems that it’s a basic requirement for everyone who wants to survive in the daily jungle of hyper-connectedness. There’s simply not enough time to read all those emails, tweets, whatsapp messages, facebook posts, news articles and business updates. Plus we need to squeeze in telephone chats, skype conversations, the latest youtube video, shopping on itunes and amazon, downloading study materials, booking a flight, a train, a bus, a car. Not to forget we still have to work, eat, drink, shit, sleep, wash and dress! In short: modern life has become so demanding that many of us feel that we won’t get anything done unless we do everything at once.

But wait a minute – what about quality? Doing several things simultaneously, are we really able to do all of them well? Can we focus on one task while being distracted by another? Sure, we can clean and dance and laugh, all at the same time. But what about communicating?

Can I have a good conversation with my sister while liking photos on facebook? Can I write a decent article while checking emails every five minutes? Can I listen to a friend while reading random words on a tiny screen? Can I produce a thoughtful answer while already pressing the send button?

The truth is: the 21st century is providing us with the best communication tools ever, yet the quality of communication is getting worse and worse. And in a world with 7 billion people, with endless problems to solve and new challenges to take on, is there anything more important than communication? Can we afford to keep misunderstanding each other?

Neither the all-knowing internet nor the smartphones can be blamed. It’s the human being who is stupid! The solution? To simplify life again by doing one thing at a time. Monotasking instead of multitasking! If you skype, skype; if you email, email; if you listen, listen. In this way we’ll have less stress and more quality time. We’ll lose confusion and gain clarity – not by paying money for another fancy device, but by paying attention!

Thanks to Anthony Amrhein for the continuous inspiration!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In search of silence

Have you ever experienced complete silence? A state of ‘zero-noise’: no distracting sounds, no disturbing thoughts and, most importantly, no ticking time. Total peace. Does it exist?

Five weeks ago I left my southern comfort zone and travelled to a small village north of Barcelona to do a Vipassana course – a 10-day silent retreat. Vipassana is a very old meditation technique from India. It’s the same technique that was used and taught by Siddharta Gautama, also known as the Buddha. Given that I am the author of The Little Buddha, I felt kind of obliged to give it a try.

The centre, Dhamma Neru, was a bit of a mixture between a rural yoga studio, a friendly monastery and an alternative prison. There were 60 participants, 30 men and 30 women, strictly segregated. Put simply, you were allowed to bring only one thing: your self! No books, no music, not even pen and paper. Phones had to be handed in at registration. No drugs, no talking, no physical contact – no nothing! All external stimuli were removed so that you could focus on what’s inside.
The timetable: Wake-up gong at 4am, meditation until 6.30am, breakfast, shower break, then more meditation til 11am, lunch, rest. 1pm back to meditating, once in a while a 5min break to stretch and walk in the garden, 5pm dinner (= 2 pieces of fruit and a tea). 6pm – guess what? – more meditation, at 7pm a lecture, followed by another session of quiet sitting and then at 9.30pm bedtime. Like this for 10 days. Did I mention that I don’t like rules and routine?

How did it go? At first I found everything BUT silence. For four days I had computer screens and email layouts running through my head, I just couldn’t switch them off! It’s actually quite scary how we get hooked on being constantly connected. There were a million thoughts and questions and doubts, a storm raging outside and the guy sleeping in the bunk bed underneath me was snoring so badly that my whole mattress was vibrating. But even worse than these noisy distractions was the pain of my legs: after two days I thought I might have to get them amputated once I’d finish this adventure. Before the course I was meditating once a week for 15 minutes, now I was sitting cross-legged for over 10 hours – each day! It was so painful that, to me, Buddha lost his loving kindness and turned into a nasty SM practitioner… There was a lot of tension and frustration, my mind was like a wild animal – it didn’t want to be tamed!

The basic law in Vipassana is called ANICCA. It’s the law of impermanence – nothing ever stays the same, everything is changing constantly. And this is exactly what happened: slowly but surely, the pain went away. Then it came back, went again, came, went, and so on. The same thing happens with all other sensations and emotions, they come and go. During the 10 days you learn to observe this constant change and to look at it with an equanimous mind. And so equanimity, a word I didn’t even know before, became the most important mission of the course: to create neither desire nor aversion, to abstain from reacting. Whether it’s pain or ecstasy, it’s neither good nor bad. It just IS.

After five days, everything started to slow down. Walking, eating, breathing, thinking, it all happened more peacefully. Hurry was replaced with patience. Each hour and each moment became longer, and suddenly there was time for things we usually don’t have time for. Like washing clothes by hand or observing a small flower for minutes on end; following birds through the sky and watching clouds roll by; listening to the sound of silence; doing nothing. On the morning of day eight, even the clock in the bathroom stopped ticking. Past and future had become non-existent, eradicated by the strongest drug there is: the human mind.

Different experiences
Some of the timeless moments made me feel severely anxious, others put a happy smile on my face. The whole time in Dhamma Neru was a big challenge – physically, mentally and emotionally. It was painful and peaceful at once, beautiful, crazy, humble and intense.

Before starting the course I thought that the silence shouldn't be a problem, I was actually looking forward to shutting up for 10 days. I was mainly worried about having to sit for such a long time. And yes, the sitting proved to be rather painful, but with practice the pain lost its power and intensity. What I had totally underestimated though was the difficulty of not being able to speak. The silence itself wasn't even the problem, it was the fact that a bunch of people were sharing a relatively small space, all having intense experiences, and nobody could express them! During the second half of the course, on several occasions I could see how people were struggling to not lose the plot, me included. There was a moment when I thought I couldn’t handle it any more and I almost left. Then I remembered the words of a friend, ‘if you think you can’t continue, you still can go three times further’. So somehow, I stayed. And I am very glad that I did.

On day ten the silence was broken and we spent the day talking – a lot! I hadn’t laughed so much in a very long time, it was blissful and worth all the hardships of the previous nine days. The most beautiful part was that, even though none of us had ever talked to each other, immediately there was a feeling of familiarity. Having shared this very unusual experience in the same space, it didn’t take many words to make new friends.

Many people had similar stories to tell, but ultimately everyone had a very personal journey throughout the ten days. There was one guy who seemed pretty indifferent to the whole experience, saying it had been a bit painful at the beginning but otherwise nothing noteworthy happened. To contrast this, when I came into the garden after breakfast early on day nine, there was this crazy dude hanging horizontally in a tree, singing (illegally)... In between these two extremes, pretty much everything happened.

Now, not everything about the course was perfect. Personally I found some of the rules too rigid and there were a few people who I couldn’t relate to. But most things I really liked, or at least they made sense. I’d even say that the general setup is quite pure. I love the fact that the course has been kept free from any commercial interests – students are not charged anything! The administration staff, kitchen, cleaning and maintenance staff, even the teachers, they all work on a voluntary basis. Donations of money and/or time are welcome and encouraged, but there’s no obligation. Furthermore, Vipassana is a technique which is free of any mantra or ritual, and although it has its roots in Buddhism, it’s not limited to any religion. There’s no God to be worshipped, no Guru to be followed. It’s just you, your body and your mind.

Vipassana literally means ‘to see the things the way they really are’. It’s an ‘Art of Living’, with the aim of reducing suffering and increasing happiness. Less Ego, more Love. Getting rid of judgement and expectations and accepting life as it is. Sounds great, doesn't it? As so often, it is easier said than done...

It’s important to remember that doing a Vipassana course is not a pleasant trip on a cruise liner. While I think that most people would greatly benefit from it, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. It requires courage to show up and a willingness to work very hard on yourself. Like a sailor searching for a peaceful island, you’re bound to come across heavy storms, and not every storm is fun. Anger, fear, grief, greed, hatred – we all carry ugly stuff inside that wants to come out. As Mr Goenka, the principal teacher of Vipassana, says: ‘You undergo deep mental surgery’. That’s pretty accurate.

The result of the surgery? A purified mind. Well, obviously ten days won’t turn you into a saint, but you definitely get a proper mental spring cleansing. Healing some wounds, getting rid of old conditioning that serves absolutely no purpose, and of course: feeling more at peace! Plus, you’re being given a great tool for daily life – you just have to use it.

The verdict
Since I got back from the course, three weeks have passed. I've managed to keep meditating every morning for an hour, and sometimes a little bit in the afternoon too. What has changed?
My mind is still a wild animal, but occasionally it smiles now ;-). I tend to worry less – whether it’s about money, little pains or unfulfilled dreams. I seem to be observing more and reacting less. There’s more compassion and when I get angry the anger disappears relatively quickly. I’m living and thinking more healthily, although there’s still lots of room for improvement. But hey, small steps are steps too.

Finally: have I found silence? Some, yes. But I think the problem of ‘finding’ lies with ‘searching’. Because as long as you search, there’s effort, and if there’s effort, there’s struggle. Struggle causes tension, and tension prevents you from being truly receptive. The problem: if you’re not open to receive, you won’t find. So, the bottom line is this: Silence, like all other real treasures, cannot be found. It comes to you – once you let go…

Bhavatu sabba mangalam – May all beings be happy!

For those who are intrigued:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


In January I wrote about doing a whole month of challenges. A couple of people laughed at me, ‘yeah right, get a life and stop dreaming, you won’t do that anyway’. You know what? I did it and it was fantastic! Regarding those encouraging comments, I'm reminded of a sticker I have on one of my guitars: "Those who say it cannot be done shouldn't interrupt the people doing it."

The challenge consists of doing every day one of four things, for a whole month. The four things are: 1) something you fear, 2) something you’ve been putting off, 3) something you’ve never done and 4) something selfless. If you want to feel really alive, I highly recommend you to do it! Here are a few reflections which you may find helpful:

  • Write a list – it’s a good idea to prepare a list of possible challenges BEFORE day one. Try to have at least 10 things on the list, or even better 20.
  • Value both big and small – it doesn’t always have to be a massive challenge, there’s no need to jump out of a plane every single day! Sometimes simple things can be great too, like helping a neighbour taking the shopping in or trying some new food.
  • Be patient – my challenge started rather slow, at the beginning I didn’t do many exciting things and I had to really think about stuff that I could do. But as the month rolled on, the challenge picked up speed and became more and more intense.
  • Stay open – always look out for spontaneous opportunities to challenge yourself. Life is full of them!

I’d like to give thanks again to Jordan Lejuwaan from HighExistence.com who inspired me to do this challenge. And in case that you need some more inspiration to start yourself, here are a few of the things that I’ve done in February:

  • I’ve donated blood
  • played a 100-year old cello in Berlin
  • re-designed my photo website – fotomikosch.com
  • one month no alcohol and no cannabis (ongoing)
  • started working on my new book
  • I hosted a one-hour radio show without any preparation – Miedo (in spanish)
  • collected lots of rubbish from a dry riverbed
  • wrote a new song – Immer Richtung Meer
  • quit smoking (again! I’m getting good at this...)
  • planted five trees
  • did a brand new DJ mix with only Spanish artists – Mr Mikosch - Espana
  • overcame superstition and got on a plane without prayer (much harder than it sounds)
  • went busking in Málaga, singing consumer-critical songs in front of a big shopping mall
  • cleaned out my room and gave lots of good stuff to a charity shop
  • added reviews to the website of my Ayahuasca book – A call from the unknown
  • told an old friend the truth about a silly thing I once did
  • visited Barcelona for the first time in my life (loved it!)
  • took some important decisions regarding the food I consume – Eating people

And then, with a few days left, thinking that it was going already pretty well, I received an email which provided the biggest challenge of all: for February the 27th a place had been reserved for me on a Vipassana course. It’s a 10 day meditation retreat, you have to remain silent for the whole time, no distractions allowed (ie no books, no music, no phone, etc), getting up at 4am and meditating 10 hours each day. I had been wanting to do it for almost 15 years, but somehow I had always managed to avoid it… Needless to say that this time I didn’t have any excuses and so I travelled to the Catalonian countryside and faced this last challenge on my list. More about this incredible experience in the next blog. For now just this: 

With all its pains, hardships and broken dreams – life is beautiful! And I’m grateful for being here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Eating people

I’ve spent the last two weeks questioning my diet. What am I eating? Why am I eating what I’m eating? Is it right? Wrong? Does it matter?
As far as I can see, there are three areas which have to be considered when looking at food:

  • health (own health)
  • sustainability (planet’s health)
  • respect (for other living beings)

This is a fairly obvious one: If you want to be reasonably healthy, don’t eat crap food! A defrosted microwave meal is far inferior to a plate full of fresh ingredients. Organic oranges are far superior to those cheap ones that have been sprayed with highly toxic chemicals. It’s your choice what you put into your body, and your body will respond accordingly. Some things are less obvious though, for example milk. Over 75% of the population can’t digest lactose properly. Still we’re led to believe that a glass of milk will do us a lot of good. Any chance that this has to do with the influence of the dairy industry?

Without a functioning planet, we’re killing ourselves in the long run. Yet by eating the wrong food, we contribute heavily to the destruction of our living space. We litter the soil with pesticides and herbicides so that not even worms survive; we cut down the rainforest so that we can plant monocultures of GM crops to feed all those tasty cows and pigs and chickens; simple foods such as onions and grains are shipped around the globe so that a few big companies can maximise their profits – who cares about the cheap fossil fuels that are burnt in the process? All this is simply not sustainable. Either we change it voluntarily, or nature will change it for us, and that’s gonna hurt!

According to the church, it’s fine to eat animals. They’re soulless creatures who only exist to fill our stomaches. Needless to say that this is bullshit! We like to think that we are something better than all other living beings. But who gives us the right to think this way? Even worse, we abuse animals in a way that is embarrassing for the human race. Just because we don’t see with our own eyes the cruelty happening in industrial animal farms, doesn’t mean it’s a fairy-tale. Go and be a factory chicken for a day, with no light, no room to turn around, standing knee-deep in your own shit and not even getting a thank you for your services. Is this really the best we can do?

Here’s what I thought about all this the other day:

What to do?
As self-proclaimed civilized and conscious people, ethically we should all become at least vegans. The question is though: where do we stop? Eating meat, we kill animals. Eating dairy products, we steal the calf away from its mother. Eating potatoes, we destroy the plant. Maybe we should all get into sun gazing...

However, not doing anything isn’t a solution either. Now, I can hear already the masses screaming, ‘but I don’t have enough money to change!’ Well, if we’re really honest, most of the times it’s not about money, at least for the vast majority of us. Let's get it straight: We have enough cash to buy an extra pair of fancy shoes, the latest phone and more t-shirts to fill an already overcrowded wardrobe. But when we have to pay 1 or 2 Euros more for organic eggs, local honey or fairtrade coffee, we say we can't afford it? Yeah, right… Strange choices we make in life.

Each one of us has to make his or her own decisions. Some prefer radical changes, others a more flexible approach. Whatever you choose, let’s do something! As a consumer we have the power to change the world - by changing our own habbits. So here’s what I’ve decided for myself: As of now, I’m going to eat in a more respectful way. More respectful towards animals, the planet and myself as well. So I’ve established some basic rules concerning the food I consume:

  • Meat – no factory animals. Period. If the animal had a decent life and was killed without torture (eg without bleeding to death), I’ll consider it.
  • Fish – only locally caught fish. Nothing imported, nothing from big industrial trawlers.
  • Dairy – reducing the amounts I eat and using alternatives. Less cheese, less butter; more olive oil and more soya and milk from other plants (almonds, rice, etc.).
  • Eggs – only organic eggs, ideally from small farms. (I’m lucky because where I live, we have 20 happy chickens who share their eggs with us, not voluntarily, okay, but they’re treated very well. Plus, as I was told, eggs are a waste product – unless sat on...).
  • Honey – only from small-scale beekeepers.
  • Plants – if possible, local, seasonal and organic produce.
It’s not perfect, but I feel it’s a step in the right direction. Staying stuck in the status quo is not an option. And heading back towards cannibalism, hm, maybe not...

"I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized." – Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New challenges

So the world didn’t end – damn it! No aliens who came to rescue us, no natural disaster which sent us to paradise, no big bang that caused instant collective enlightenment. And now what?

I guess many of us have put some hope in our new year resolutions. So how you doin’ with them? Personally, I failed miserably this year: I had only one resolution, to not smoke any spliffs for a while. And well, on new year’s day I got up at 2 in the afternoon and had the first joint at 3.30pm. Silly really, these resolutions.

Anyways, to make up for my weak will I will embark on a month of challenges and I want to invite you to join me. Month of challenges?

Here’s the idea: for one whole month, EACH DAY you have to do ONE of the following:

  1. Something you fear
  2. Something you’ve been putting off
  3. Something you’ve never done
  4. Something selfless

I was inspired to do the challenge by Jordan Lejuwaan from HighExistence.com – check out the blog he wrote about his experience, Epic challenge – 30 days of fear!

As I love minimalism, I’ve selected the shortest month of the year for my challenge February. 28 days to get my lazy bones and mind into action, 28 days in which fear and procrastination are banned. What about you? Can you think of any better way to head towards spring?

Get a list ready with some ideas of stuff you can and want to do, and once we hit February the 1st – off we go! 2013 is here. WE GOTTA LIVE IT!

“…rather than watching others live their lives, you are suddenly right in the middle of living your own. And that’s what it’s all about – experiencing life first hand! Trying something new makes you feel alive.”
(A CALL FROM THE UNKNOWN – free pdf download @ www.experiencing-ayahuasca.com)