(From Amma’s benedictory address delivered on the occasion of her 44th birthday celebration)
It is said that our life should be like an eye, for the eye has the ability to adjust its power of vision. Whether the object is far away or nearby, the eye adjusts itself in order to get a clear view. So too we should cultivate a mind that is able to adjust itself and be in harmony with any situation in life. This is possible through understanding spirituality. If we are to be in harmony with trying situations there should be peace on our heart.
Only a peaceful heart can be in concord with various situations. This peace ensues from meditation. Amma often says meditation is as valuable as gold. Material prosperity, peace of mind and self-liberation ensue from meditation. The time one devotes to meditation is never wasted.
Now a days we have become like obedient machines. That is not what is needed. We have to become human beings who are alert and discriminating. This alertness and discrimination will arise only from proper spiritual understanding. If ordinary life is like riding vehicles along the highway, spiritual life is like flying in an airplane. The vehicles moving along the road never leave the ground and soar to the heights. However the plane soars up to the sky after moving along the runway for a while. Spiritual life takes us to the heights of experience. When one is in the heights, one gains the power to look upon everything as a detached witness.
Many people say, “I have never knowingly committed any wrong, yet I have to undergo so much suffering.” Children, one thing is certain, we will reap only what we have sown. The results of actions performed by us can never be obliterated. If a calf is set free, it will locate its mother from amongst thousands of cows. Similarly, the result of each and every action will come to the doer. God has not created anyone just to punish him.
In one family there were three brothers. Their parents had passed away. All three brothers were graduates, however, they couldn’t find any employment. A rich man took pity on these brothers and employed them in his firm. He also allowed them to stay in his house. All three brothers were given the same work. After a while one of them began to take bribes from customers. The owner cautioned and censored him many times, still he continued with his wrong ways. Finally he was demoted to the post of a peon. Clearly, he did not deserve a higher post. The second brother was diligent in his work. He was honest as well. However at the end of 30 days he would ask for his salary. He would not wait for even a day. As he was diligent and honesty, he was promoted to a higher post. The third one was different from either of his brothers. He would do the work diligently and honestly and with total care. When he was offered his salary at the end of the month, he said, “No, sir, you gave me food and shelter, you gave me clothes and you gave me whatever I needed. Therefore what need do I have for the salary.” He refused to accept the salary and continued to serve his master. After a few years the owner died. In his will he had assigned all his wealth to the third brother who had served him selflessly. Thus we see that the honest, diligent man was given promotion, the dishonest man we demoted, and the one who served his master selflessly asking nothing in return, became the master of everything. Similar is our predicament. Whatever we enjoy or suffer is the result of our own actions.
Life consists of two things: performing actions and reaping the results of our actions. If good actions bring good results, bad actions fetch bad results. Actions are not only what we perform with our hands and feet, but what we think as well. To revile or abuse others is to perform bad actions. That will eventually result in our suffering. Hence what we suffer today is the result of our own past actions. This does not mean we should engage in self pity, brooding that we are sinners. As our present suffering is the result of our past bad actions, we should resolve that we will not do such deeds anymore, but will devote the rest of our life to performing good and selfless deeds. Instead of despising oneself as a sinner and good for nothing, one should begin a life of compassion and service to others. That is the easiest way to find peace in our lives.
It is not due to our will that anything takes place in this world. If we lay 10 eggs, seldom do all 10 hatch. If it has been our will that determines everything, all 10 would have hatched. Therefore let us cultivate the attitude of offering everything to the Supreme will. That spirit of surrender should dawn in us. That should be the goal of our life.
Some people question, “Doesn’t Lord Krishna exhort us to work without getting any wages?” The answer is “No.” The result of any action will not be as we expect it to be. Hence if we look to the result with expectation, we will inevitably come to grief in the end. Of course, the result of whatever we do will sooner or later come to us, but it will not be as we imagine. That is why the Lord asks us to be detached. The Lord asks us to cultivate such an attitude, so that we may not suffer, but reap the full benefit of what we do. Life consists of both sorrow and happiness. When a pendulum swings to one end, it is only gaining momentum to come back full swing. Similarly, the swing to happiness will not rest there forever, but will return to sorrow. Spirituality teaches us to harmonize both sorrow and happiness and go forward in life. Only a person who knows swimming can enjoy himself in the waves of the ocean. The one who doesn’t know swimming will succumb to the waves. Similarly if we understand spirituality, which teaches us how to move forward in life unruffled by adversities, we will be able to maintain a smile on our lips in all situations. Eventually we will be able to reach the goal as well. Krishna was teaching us how to reach the goal without being defeated by circumstances.