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Lessons from the Camino

Walking the Camino in northwestern Spain and Portugal this year was in many respects very different from previous walks on this ancient pilgrimage path that has been massively impacted by the repercussions of the pandemic.

First and foremost the Camino has lost nothing of its magic that has become for hundreds of thousands of modern-day pilgrims, a path of introspection, healing and transformation. About half as many people arrive at the destination in Santiago de Compostela compared to normal years. The good news is that with good planning you can still walk it!

We walked from Porto in Portugal to Santiago, alternating between the coastal and central routes, but booking our accommodation two to three days in advance as most pilgrims’ hostels are still closed and will possibly only reopen next year. Unless you are walking the less popular routes cheap accommodation is very limited for pilgrims with a limited budget.

Can you still stay in a pilgrims’ hostel?

Staying overnight in a pilgrims’ hostel is so much part of the Camino experience where stories are shared over a meal cooked together and often lasting friendships are formed. Although a little more expensive than the municipal albergues, some of the better private albergues are a definite must.

We had one of our most enjoyable evenings with fellow pilgrims at Casa da Fernanda with dancing, singing, great food and good conversations. This was all on a donation basis. Certainly one of the most beautifully run private albergues is the La Cala Pilgrims Inn in Oia run by Tanya Valdes. Tanya is a lovely soul from the U.S. who moved to Spain, fulfilling a heart wish in serving pilgrims in her beautifully renovated albergue, overlooking the monastery in Oia.

The chilling effects of the pandemic

Having had to break off last year’s walk on the Via Francigena in Italy because of another lockdown, walking the Camino Portugues was the first longer walk since 2019. It was at times a chilly experience walking through the small villages where public notice boards bear portraits of locals who have died from Covid and bypassing dozens of closed pilgrims’ hostels, restaurants and curio shops.

Families in the local villages along the Camino route have for centuries earned their income from passing pilgrims and obviously many small businesses have not survived the pandemic. Some had invested all their funds in the expectation of a boom on the Camino for this year’s holy year.

The revival of the Camino pilgrimage in modern days can be largely attributed to Don Elías (1929-1989), the parish priest in O Cebreiro near Lugo. Up to the early 1980s only dozens of pilgrims at the most walked the Camino. But Don Elías had a dream that one day tens of thousands of pilgrims would again be walking the Camino. According to the story Don Elías drove across the whole north of Spain in his old  Citroën packed with tins of yellow paint, marking arrows leading to Santiago.

We were very much aware that this year we were also walking the Camino on behalf of the many pilgrims from other countries who could not walk the path this year because of Covid-related travel restrictions. The Camino can become an addictive ritual and many walkers on the Camino have been doing it several times over. Many pilgrims, who have been unable to walk this year, have been reliving their past walks in the popular Camino forums and social media groups.

Arriving in Santiago

Arriving at the destination in Santiago is always a special occasion. The Cathedral can be seen in all its glory with most of exterior scaffolding removed after years of painstaking renovation work. The interior is especially stunning: Based on the candle-light from medieval times the naves, transept and the Pórtico de la Gloria have been fitted with new lighting. Social distancing still applies and the number of visitors are limited.

The journey begins after the journey

Every journey at some point has to end. You return home but you will not be the same person. A pilgrimage on the Camino takes months to digest. The real transformation begins at home. Life takes on a different meaning when you are in a different rhythm and feel connected to your higher-self. As Marcel Proust is quoted as saying: “My destination is no longer a place, rather a new way of seeing.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Another hill to climb

Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” – Napoleon Hill –

It is much easier to climb a mountain if you take it one step at a time instead of looking at the steep peak ahead of you.

Several times I had to tell myself this during the last couple of days walking the Camino de Santiago in northwestern Spain.

There is also a saying on the Camino that the last few kilometers are the hardest. You climb one hill and then you find you have to climb another at the next bend.

Obstacles – the blessings in disguise

Just reflect a little on your life so far. It is mostly the obstacles, the setbacks, and those down on the ground moments that have triggered the biggest transformation.

Sadly, we often throw in the towel before we have learned the lesson or just before we are about to achieve the biggest breakthrough.

Life is not meant to be easy. We whither and die spiritually and physically if we procrastinate in a comfort zone.

A crisis, whether in an institution, in the job or in a personal relationship, is a message from the universe telling us that something is out of balance and needs to change.

The journey has to continue

We can for a moment look back on the winding steep road that we have climbed, appreciating the view and the accomplishment. But at some point we will have to continue the journey.

We human beings are hardwired to explore, and discover. As long as we live on this earth we will constantly be challenged to redefine purpose and meaning.

This morning I found a spiral etched into stone by the ancient Celtic inhabitants of Galicia. The rock site was perfectly aligned to the rising morning sun. Obviously the area had been a place of religious significance eons ago.

The ancient people were acutely aware of the laws of the seasons, closely studying nature. Beyond the perceived chaos of natural phenomenon lies a naural order of all things. The spiral is found in miniscule shells and flowers, and our DNA but also in the shape of our expanding galaxy.

Spiritually the spiral motif represents the path of the soul from the outer ego personality to the divine unity. It is the symbol of constant evolution and growth – a divine song of renewal moving from age to age.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Never giving up on hope

While on my current pilgrimage walk to Santiago de Compostela I was given the gift of a hand-painted stone with the word „Hope“ on it.

I thought it was a fitting message sent by the universe. During these times hope is such an important antidote to negativity and hopelessness.

The hope left by a child in the Cathedral of Guildford, UK.
It seems they follow me around. This one was placed at a waymarker by a pilgrim in Muxia

Our thoughts, beliefs and habits determine so much of who we are. My greatest hopes are:

  • An elevation of consciousness moves humanity from the false belief that one religion, belief, ideology or other „ism“ can ever be imposed and enforced onto others.
  • Humanity realizes that we are part of and not separate from nature. May we move from exploitation to restoration of natural ecosystems. May we have a future where the oceans are teeming with fish and healthy coral reefs. May many newly planted forests across the world echo with the sounds of countless birds, wild animals and rushing crystal-clear streams.
  • May truth and the voice of reason, peace, love, harmony and holistic thinking prevail in the public discourse.

Hope has the power to move us from paralysis and the depths of despair to optimism, trust and faith.

Quoting the American virologist Jonas Salk: „Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.“

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Finding truth and beauty within

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”

– John Keats –

In his mysterious poem “Ode on a Grecian Urn” the 19th-century poet John Keats reflects on the contradiction between mortality and eternity, equating truth with beauty, portraying how the external perception of beauty is closely linked to the beauty within.

How we perceive our external world is shaped by momentary feelings and thoughts. It is a difficult endeavor for the modern mind suffering from information overload.

The mind is pulled from one distraction to the next. And, if your attention is focused on a grievance or hurt going back weeks, months or years, you will not appreciate the beauty around you. You will miss the way markers sent by the universe and lose your way.

Empty yourself of everything

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tze one said: “The usefulness of a pot comes from its emptiness,” meaning we have to empty our mind of everything and become still. If we are preoccupied with thoughts of the past or the future we miss out on the present moment of real human experience. Thoughts of the past are colored by imagination and have only partial relevance to truth.

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According to Lao Tze we cannot force the boat to go upstream. Everything happens in its own time and place. We cannot control external events or a calamities, but we can control how we respond to them. His teaching emphasized “effortless action” and the acceptance of the “wu wei” which ultimately seeks harmony.

Living according to the Dao means living without attachment. Life itself is the objective and the motivation. Behind a seemingly chaotic exterior lies a natural order of things. Nature has its seasons and cycles. We need to accept the impermanence of all things. There is always change, growth, death, and rebirth.

But as we are all imperfect beings on a path of learning, keeping the mind still can be a lofty undertaking. Toxic emotions such as anger are easily triggered by anything from a news broadcast of an event thousands of kilometers away or finding yourself having to wait in line at a supermarket.

Alignment through stillness

When we are aligned we get into touch with ourselves and our feelings. The first step is acceptance of the momentary feeling be it sadness, anger or anxiousness. The next step is replacing that thought or feeling with a positive experience or an expression of gratitude.

One of the simplest methods of alignment is the act of mindful breathing and mindful deep walking. Inhale to the count of four and exhale to the count of five. Inhale and on exhaling hum one of the most powerful mantras: “Om Mani Padme Hung”. When you practice such meditation methods regularly you will gradually sense a greater calmness and alignment of body and mind.

More than ever during these times we need to practice self-care and self-love. By becoming aware of the divine spark within we become aware of the beauty that is embedded within all things such as in the vibrant images that the poet John Keats saw in the simple contemplation of an ancient Greek urn. It is what inspired the great Dutch painters in the contemplation of everyday objects that led to the creation of some of the world’s greatest works of art.

By learning to BE in the present we learn to simply see things as they are without attaching to them comparisons with the past and giving them a definitive label.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Light from a dark age

It was a “dark age” in the western Europe of the 13th century when pandemics, population decline and economic degradation prevailed. Most people had moved into villages and towns sharing crowded rooms with family members and livestock. With little or no sanitation or semblance of hygiene the stench would have been unbearable for sensitive modern noses.

The exodus from the countryside was exacerbated by repeated crop failures caused by the Little Ice Age triggered by volcanic eruptions and changes in Arctic ice cover. With temperatures dropping for centuries this meant that the winters were particularly long and harsh.

Periods of crisis and challenging external circumstances sometimes force humanity into introspection with the dark ages having brought forth some of the greatest Mystics at the forefront of an individual inward-looking spirituality. The popes and bishops were meanwhile offering little comfort to ordinary people, preoccupied with political power struggles and worldly pleasures.

Pilgrimage walks to Santiago de Compostela

During these times pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela became popular as an inner journey of penance, spiritual rebirth and renewal. The modern-day pilgrim on the Camino is in many respects no different. Spirituality as opposed to religious doctrine is by far the primary motivation, based on my own research and conversations with hundreds of pilgrims on my more than dozen walks on pilgrimage routes in northwestern Spain.

The wise teachings of the 13th-century Dominican monk Meister Eckart (1260-1328), Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) and Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) are timeless and more topical than ever during these pandemic times. They were the eco-warriors and holistic healers of their time, addressing issues of personal health, nutrition and the environment.

It took the disruption of a global pandemic to remind us that we can be exposed overnight to entirely new circumstances beyond our control. Life can be extremely fragile and uncertain. The mental health repercussions resulting from isolation and lockdowns are only gradually coming to the fore.

A formula for a life of bliss

The Mystics are clear on how to lead a life of bliss. Meister Eckart describes at least five stages of evolution in elevation of consciousness to the “new” man – the “birth of the son” or “birth of God” in the soul. The entire purpose of life he describes as the journey to self-realization and meaning:

  • Contemplation and meditation
  • Doing what is right and acting accordingly
  • Dedication and Love of God
  • Recognition and Differentiation
  • Alignment and surrender of ego

All these Mystics did not retreat to an isolated monastic lifestyle but were engaged in the world. Catherine of Genoa gave selfless service to the sick while at the same time serving as director and treasurer of a hospital. Hildegard of Bingen was engaged in many fields including religion, medicine, music and cosmology, At the same time she was a mentor for many famous personalities of her time.

The common thread is that we are one humanity and that a life of service and dedication for the betterment of all provides solace to inner turmoil during times of crisis.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Are you in a spiral of negativity?

As our world rapidly changes on multiple levels the divide between those who adapt and go into elevation of consciousness and those left behind will grow.

When major shifts like the one we are going through occur, the divide between the extremes also becomes more pronounced. The one side sees opportunity for adaptation, learning, progress and awareness while the other falls ever more into the negativity spiral, and lamenting the “good times” of the past.

Falling into the negativity trap will deplete you on all levels

The emotional fallout from those in the shadow can be seen in uncontrolled anger, fear, and anxiety. Falling into the negativity trap will deplete your energy, make you grumpy and harm your immune system. During this disruptive time of distraction it is important to remain conscious and aware.

The first stage when hit by a catastrophic event out of our control like an accident, life-threatening medical diagnosis, mental breakdown, job loss or the current pandemic will be shock, fear or flight. The process of transmuting such a flat-on-the-ground moment starts with the realistic acceptance of the situation. The Mystics call it “turning the soul around into the light.”

Within suffering is the seed of transmutation

As the soul gradually moves out of the negativity spiral it becomes the greatest agent for spiritual renewal, growth and creativity.

“In the midst of conscious suffering, there is already the transmutation. The fire of suffering becomes the light of consciousness,” Eckart Tolle writes in his book “A New Earth”

In “primitive” consciousness a natural catastrophe, and all forms of suffering were seen as acts of the Gods punishing humans for their “sins.” During the bubonic plague and famines of the Middle Ages the clergy reacted by punishing with the Inquisition the “heretics” and “witches” whom they blamed for angering God with their “sins.”

Why do good people have to suffer and the evil are rewarded?

In contrast the 4th century philosopher St. Augustine answers the age-old question why “good people” so often suffer a calamity while “the wicked” seem to be rewarded for their actions. In the “City of God” he writes that though both suffer alike “the same violence of affliction proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked. And thus it is that in the same affliction the wicked detest God and blaspheme, while the good pray and praise.”

Though suffering may be triggered by an external event or person, we have been given by God the power of choice, according to Augustine: “In the first place, suffering is the action of another person, not of the sufferer.”

External image is a root cause of suffering

Suffering is often related to identity. This is especially the case when material possessions, job positions, political office, fame are lost or threatened or when identity fused with physical appearance fades. Tolle describes the root of insanity as the complete identification with negative thought and emotion.

A general stressed out impatience, irritability and “fed-up” attitude seems to be the predominant inner mindset of much of the world around us. Negativity and gossip becomes an addiction and the general topic of office small-talk. You are suffering and creating suffering without realizing it.

The point is however, that we don’t need to suffer to be awakened. Conscious living begins with presence of mind in building a healthy boundary to the onslaught of negativity that comes in over dosage of negative media. A healthy body getting enough sleep, nutrition and exercise is less irritable.

Much of our ego-driven society is caught in the shadow of self-aggrandizement and immediate gratification. When you are unclear and disconnected from your core values, you will always get caught up in the tentacles of the shadow. The question that needs to be asked with everything that comes your way is:

  • Is this serving my higher purpose or destiny?
  • Is this information or meeting enhancing or depleting my energy?

When you embrace yourself with loving care you are embracing the diving within you and will no longer be in need of suffering.

When you liberate yourself from the thought that external form brings happiness you can finally enjoy the continuous ebb-and flow of creation and the dance of life. Spiritual consciousness alone can bring true meaning and happiness. The more you deviate from your true purpose and inner core values the more discontent you will be.

External purpose can be infused with spiritual meaning if it is in alignment with the higher evolutionary path of the universe or God.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my latest book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”. It is available at all major outlets or at a discount from my my own store.  Check out all the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

My choice of the ten best spiritual books can be found here.

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The pandemic: A blessing?

For the first time in our lifetime humanity is faced on a global level by a life-threatening virus. Some people have lost loved ones or all their material resources. So how can a crisis be a blessing?

Any type of personal tragedy is always followed by a period of grief, sorrow, procrastination and despair. Ignoring or suppressing such feelings will inevitably have long-term harmful effects.

Acknowledging anxiety and fear

The first step is thus always in acknowledging such feelings of grief or sorrow as part of a process you are currently going through in dealing with a situation that was caused by external events outside your control.

The flat-on-the-ground moments or the “dark moments of the soul times” however always herald at the same time the start of a new beginning in finding meaning or purpose in any type of challenge you are dealing with.

The gratitude mantra

An excellent way of dealing with a brokenness of the soul is love and acceptance of the self. From that energy can emanate the next step in finding gratitude for even the smallest of things in your life right now.

“I am so thankful for the food in front of me at the moment right now, to all the people and other living beings who have provided their energy to give me nourishment…”

Most unhappiness is caused by thoughts

Most unhappy mood situations are caused by lack of thought control. From thoughts spring words and images that have either a positive or negative effect on your vibrational energy. Neurotically inclined people for instance disproportionately use the phrase “sick of” or “depressed”, according to research conducted by the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.

Photo by Kunj Parekh on Unsplash

The average person has between 50,000 and 70,000 different thoughts per day, which translates to between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute. Stress and a negative mindset always starts with a thought.

Finding a quiet space for introspection

The good news is that you can radically transform you life by focusing on good thoughts. The bad news. Its easier said than done. It takes practice for instance by taking a time out every day for a quiet space – best time first thing in the morning after getting up – and the last thing you do before you close your eyes in bed.

Find a form of meditation best suited for your needs: It could be a prayer, a mantra or deep walking in nature.

Amid the constant din of negative news information on the pandemic we are finding a growing number of people appreciating the value of friendships, the physical contact in hugging, community and sharing a common predicament. So many people are telling me that they are so much enjoying going a pace slower, working from home office, or simply having time to do the things they couldn’t do in years.

Running away from fear

When we become more aware we realize that the rat-race is really a constant running away from fear. It is the fear of losing everything and becoming nothing, especially becoming nothing when we die.

The external world is focused on the illusion that happiness only comes in the accumulation of things at some time in the future. At the same time there is constant fear of losing the people around us that we love, the things that we have already go or the job we currently have.

The Mystic traditions teach about the discovery of the pure land, or the Kingdom of God, the discovery of the preciousness of the present moment, connecting to the inner self and opening the senses to the subtle whispers from the universe.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my latest book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”. It is available at all major outlets or at a discount from my my own store.  Check out all the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

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Walking in medieval lands

Day  5 on the Via Francigena – from Monteriggioni to Siena

The 20 kilometer walk from the hilltop town of Monteriggioni to the city of Siena is fairly easy, continuing on ancient tracks, bypassing medieval castles, fortress towers and Romanesque chapels.

At the Ponte Rosso we cross a humpback bridge common during the Middle Ages because of a wide span that were perfect for supporting pack mules of the time.

A pile of stones on a humpback bridge

Several stone pires have been left on the bridge by previous pilgrims. I love the tradition of placing gratitude stones or prayer stones along the way. It is common on the Camino de Santiago but it was the first time I saw them here on the Via Francigena.

Today I placed a pile of stones in memory and gratitude of my ancestors. We carry within us the collective memory of those that went before us. It is the reason why ancient cultures celebrate the connection in ritual and religion.

Placing stones for your ancestors at the side of the road and asking them for protection is a tradition I know very well from the Zulu culture in South Africa. I also like the thought of our ancestors guiding and protecting us with angel wings from another dimension.

Shortly before reaching Siena the trail takes the pilgrim through a forest with nature speaking through the aroma of fresh earth, walnut and fig trees.

The architectural marvels of Siena

The last stretch of a stage is often the hardest with a climb up a hill and a long walk through the dreary modern outskirts of town before reaching the old city of Siena through a 15th century gateway.

It is a city that needs more than a day to explore. The medieval center is a UNESCO world heritage site. There are numerous architectural marvels such as the central square, Piazza del Campo, the 14th century Torre del Mangia tower, the Palazzo Salimbeni, The Palazzo Publico and the Loggia della Mercanzia to name just a few.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

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“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina Germany

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Are you lost?

Are you finding yourself lost and alone? Just when you thought you were on the right track you find yourself hitting a wall and not knowing a way out.

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

We have all had those moments. At times I have not only found myself lost on a remote mountain on the Camino in northwestern Spain but also on life’s journey. Inevitably I would get lost when I missed an important way marker while daydreaming and avoiding the warning signs from the universe.

Heeding the early warning signs when something is wrong

The universe will always be whispering to you. Especially when you are on the wrong track the whispers could turn into a “shout out”. Inevitably there will be those early warning signs where you feel intuitively that something is wrong.

A person is asking you to lend them money. They tell you they will most certainly pay you back within a month. There is that first feeling that you shouldn’t be doing this but the person is so convincing that you push that first doubt aside. Of course you remember that thought again when the person never complies and you have lost your money.

Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior

Despite a person’s charm the best predictor of a person’s future behavior is that person’s past behavior. Very few people can disguise for any length of time their true character traits. A pity then that falling in love often gets in the way of making a realistic assessment of a person’s character.

There are those small tell-tale signs. Small lies turn into big lies. Repeated assurances that it will not happen again. A change in the tone of voice, a look in the eye and you know something is just not right.

Trusting what the body is trying to tell you

The body is an excellent compass when it comes to trusting your intuition, and knowing. When does my energy expand? When is my energy getting depleted? Ignoring the inner voice of truth for any length of time will inevitably impact your mental and physical health.

Sleepless nights. A common cold not wanting to go away and pointing to a more serious underlying health issue? Regular high blood pressure problems indicating a high stress level and putting you at risk of a stroke or heart attack?

Very few crisis situations simply come out of the blue. Like getting lost on a walk it takes some time before you realize that you are on the wrong path. A call from a passing farmer might alert you to going back onto the right path. Advice from a good friend might prevent you from making a bad decision. But sometimes you do end up getting lost hopelessly. Such crisis situations however can be important lessons in the elevation of consciousness.

Lessons to be learning in a crisis

If you have the feeling that you have placed your ladder against the wrong wall, are unhappy with your situation, and maybe going through a period of sadness and depression, here is something you might consider doing:

  • What is my current situation trying to teach me?
  • What has the universe been trying to whisper to my soul?
  • What past experience feels similar and how did I get out of that situation?

If you feel lost or are finding yourself in a personal crisis situation it always means that something needs to change, has to be reconfigured, realigned, surrendered, let go-of.

But the fear of change and moving out of a comfort zone is one of the biggest human fears. The suffering in the silent misery of procrastination comes from the misconception that we are victims of external circumstance. But it is only half of the truth.

Our greatest freedom is the freedom of choice

The universe, or God, has at the same time given man the freedom of choice. The freedom of choice starts with your mindset. Am I programming myself into a victim mentality? Or am I programming myself to becoming a co-creator in the firm belief that whatever challenge I am confronted with is part of the lesson to be learned of an eternal soul on an evolutionary path of the human experience.

We make mistakes, take the wrong turns, trust the wrong people, make bad choices. It is part of the human condition. We are on a journey, picking up the cues and lessons while on the way.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

BookCovers_Sideview

“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina, Germany

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Is it really true?

If a lie is only printed often enough, it becomes a quasi-truth, and if such a truth is repeated often enough, it becomes an article of belief, a dogma, and men will die for it.”

The quote above often attributed to Russian revolutionist Vladimir Lenin was in fact first written by the 19th century woman writer Isa Blagden and is more applicable than ever in an age where the truth becomes ever more blurred in social media bubbles.

I grew up in apartheid South Africa where the truth was hidden behind a thick veil of censorship laws. Anti-apartheid activists such as Nelson Mandela, or dissident theologian Beyers Naude could not be quoted in any publication. They were vilified by state-owned media as dangerous terrorists. Like all white South Africans I believed the narrative that the government was fighting dangerous communists bent on controlling the world.

As a young man I began my career as a cadet reporter for an opposition newspaper where an entirely different world began to open up before my eyes. I interviewed opposition activists who had been brutally tortured by white security policemen. Normal, decent black people came to the newsroom on a daily basis telling us about forced removals, police brutality in the townships and how the discriminatory laws shattered their lives.

Nelson Mandela statue, Sandton, South Africa

Defining the truth

My older very experienced deputy news editor chided me for my initial naive outlook on life. I have never forgotten the fundamentals of news journalism that he instilled in me:

  • Is it really true?
  • Have you reliably sourced the story?
  • Has your source got a track record of trustworthiness?
  • Have you heard the other side?

Truth always wins the day

After moving to Germany in the 1980s and then witnessing the fall of the Iron Curtain, the dark side of the corrupt communist regime and the machinations of its secret Stasi police were open for all to see. I also had the opportunity of going back to South Africa and meeting personally such remarkable personalities as Nelson Mandela and Beyers Naude.

The current global events, especially in the United States, have me deeply concerned. How is it possible that a man of such toxic character can become president? How is it possible that a solid base of 42 per cent of Americans still blindly follow this man whose administration openly admits that the violent protests, fanned by the divisive language of the man in chief, will benefit him in the upcoming elections? If only he had addressed the nation calling upon every responsible citizen to abide by social distancing and to wear a mask, ten thousands of lives could have been saved?

Much like in the South Africa of my childhood the white rulers peddled the narrative of the “swart gevaar” or danger of black majority rule supported by the communist Soviet Union so often that any alternative argument was simply not heard and terrible human rights abuses were shrugged off as necessary collateral damage in the fight against the bigger evil.

Truth is being buried in a swamp of conspiracy theories and different reality bubbles. A general consensus on democratic norms and values is being eroded in much of the western world. Beliefs and interpretation of truth are affirmed in parallel universes. When basic facts, knowledge, history and sound science are dismissed dialogue becomes impossible, and confrontation is inevitable.

Democracy thrives on the foundation of common values, and consensus building in a culture of differing opinion.

Trump as the only person capable of establishing law and order, reviving the economy and restoring the proud nation to its former glory, introducing a miracle vaccine against Corona. And even if he loses the election, he will shout “fraud and manipulation”. Millions of perfectly decent, ordinary law-abiding citizens are believing the narrative. It is the same fear strategy employed by Adolf Hitler where many scholars today are posing the question: How could a highly educated society, civilized society, the land of Goethe, Schiller and Bach fall prey to such a madman. Now we know why. We are seeing the demolition of a democracy being played out before our very eyes.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

BookCovers_Sideview

“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina, Germany

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