Benedictory Address delivered by Amma on the occasion of Her 45th Birthday Celebrations, 1998
Salutations to all of you, the embodiments of the Self, the embodiments of love.
As my children have gathered here today, let us first of all chant the mantra “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.” Every one should join in this.
“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” — this is the mantra given to us by our ancestors, the great rishis. This prayer is not for us alone, nor for our families, but for the entire world. When you chant this, ask yourselves whether you have such an expansive mind which can imbibe the spirit of this mantra.
The present day world has become so self-centred that people are even intolerant about any good coming to others. Amma remembers an incident. A man’s wife died. The bereaved husband invited a priest to pray for the peace of the departed soul. During the rites, the priest chanted the mantra “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.” As the husband couldn’t understand the meaning of it, he enquired the priest about it. The priest explained to him that the mantra meant — “May all the people in the world live in peace and prosperity.” The man then said to the priest, “It is for praying for the peace of the soul of my departed wife that I called you. But you have not even mentioned her name in the prayers.” The priest replied, “My guru has taught me to pray in this manner only. It is when we pray for the good of the whole world that your own wife is blessed with peace and grace.” Not satisfied with the reply, the man said, “At least can’t you leave out my neighbour on the eastern side of our house, from this prayer. They are our enemies. I don’t mind your praying for any one except them.”
Children, this is the type of attitude that we have today. We have to change this attitude. We have to make an effort, so that we yearn for the good of everyone. The mantra we chanted just now is not meant for mere verbal repetition, but has to be translated in our lives. Then alone the sankalpa (resolve) of our ancestors will be fulfilled then alone our own prayers will have effect.
Children, forget everything else and immerse yourself in meditation. You are said to have the right remembrance when you have forgotten everything unnecessary for the moment. What is the benefit of sitting here and thinking about your kith and kin at home? It will be mere waste of time. If you try to row a boat that is tied to a post, you will never reach the other shore. Give up the notions of “I and “mine” and surrender everything unto Him. He is everything. Realizing that it is His will that prevails, not ours, live in the present moment. An operation will not be successful if the doctor is thinking about his wife and children while performing the operation. In the same way, if the doctor is thinking about his patients when his child comes to him for affection, he will not be a good father. He would be a failure both as a doctor and as a parent. Just as a doctor forgets about his home while he is in the hospital and forgets about the hospital while he is at home, children, forget everything else and be absorbed in meditation.
Today’s world is steeped in selfishness. There is selfishness behind every worldly love. In one family the children told their father, “Father we will look after you well. Please divide the property amongst us.” Heeding the loving words of his children, the father divided all his property amongst his children. The father had intended to stay in the house of each son for two months. After the partition was over, he began staying with his eldest son. Hardly one week had passed, the attitude of his son and daughter-in-law showed signs of change. They began to neglect him more and more. The father finally left there and went to stay with his second son. However, after five days he had to leave there also for he couldn’t bear the harsh words of his second daughter-in-law any more. His experience in the house of the third son was also no better. He had time only for crying. Finally he took refuge in an ashram. The guru of the ashram gave him some advice. So, after one month, he returned to his children carrying a box. His children were eager to know about the contents of the box. When they began to insist, the father said, “It is some ornaments that I had bought by selling my ancestral property a few years back. I will not give it to anyone until I die. After my death anyone can take this.”
When the children heard this, their attitude changed immediately. There are no words to tell the love they showed towards their father. Each one began to plead with him to come and stay with him. Thus the father once again began living happily with his children. Finally the father died. Wasting no time his sons opened the box. Lo! There were only a few stones inside it. Children this is the nature of worldly love. If we lead our lives looking for it, we will have time only to grieve.
When we come to this world we do not bring anything along with us. So also, we do not carry anything when we depart from here. Understanding this practical truth, engage in meditation and japa. Japa and meditation will benefit us right from the moment we begin to do it. It is like fixed deposit, which earns interest from the very beginning. However, do not imagine that sitting with eyes closed alone is meditation. A smiling face, a loving word, a compassionate look, are all part of meditation. Meditation should enable us to fill our hearts with compassion. Then alone God can shine in our hearts. We should understand the sorrow and suffering of others and share them. That is the attitude that we should have.
Amma remembers a story. A small boy walked into a shop, in front of which was a sign saying, “Puppies Sold.” The boy was very desirous of buying a puppy. On enquiry, the owner told him that the cost of the puppies ranged from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 5000 for one. The boy didn’t have so much money. He pleaded with the owner to let him have a glance at the puppies. Unable to reject his plea, the owner whistled and there came a dog with many puppies. The boy, who watched the puppies with keen interest, noticed that the puppy that came last was lame. “Poor thing. What happened to it?” he asked the owner. “It has been lame from birth. All treatments to make him better have failed,” said the owner. Looking at the puppy with deep pity the boy asked, “Will you sell that puppy to me? I’ll pay the price in installments.” Looking at the boy with astonishment, the owner asked him, “Child, why do you need a lame puppy? It won’t be able to play with you. Can’t you buy a good one?” But the boy insisted that he wanted only the lame puppy. Finally the shopkeeper said, “You can take the puppy with you. I’ll give it free to you. To the shopkeeper’s wonder, the boy still insisted that he would buy the puppy, and for the same price as the others. The owner asked him why he was so fond of that lame puppy. The boy pulled up his pants and showed him his artificial leg. “See, I too have lost a leg. Therefore I’ll be able to share my heart with this puppy. I would be able to understand it’s pain and it would be able to understand mine.”
It is this ability to feel for others and share their sorrows that we should cultivate. However, it doesn’t require that we should suffer the same sorrows as they, in order to have this empathy. We will still be able to feel for others. Therefore children, learn to look upon the sorrows of others as your own sorrow and learn to make the joys of others your own joy. It may appear difficult, but we indeed have to make an effort.
It is said that in our country there are about one-thousand million people. Only one fourth of the population have adequate means of livelihood. A majority are poor farmers and the rest are even poorer. In reality there is no need for our country to remain poor. If we make an effort, we can easily make a change. Take the example of our own ashram. We didn’t ever ask for money from anyone nor collected funds from anywhere. Everything is the fruit of our hard work. Devotees like you and ashram residents here have worked up to twenty two hours a day without desiring any benefits or remuneration. Many children cut short their expenses to save money for service activities, some even started taking food only two times a day instead of three. With the money thus saved, they offered for service to the needy. The householder devotees contributed their mite to the best of their ability. Some reduced the number of pairs of clothes they used to have. Many who were addicted to smoking gave it up. It is because of such sacrifices that we are today able to do this much service for the people. If a lot more people come forward to make sacrifices for the country, we will indeed be able to bring a change. You may ask whether removing a drop of water from the ocean will make any change to the ocean. Certainly it will, for the water is then less by one drop. Each one of us can make a similar change for the society. If everyone thinks in the same manner, we can indeed make a considerable change for the better. This is the type of attitude my children should cultivate. If the people imbibe the spirit of the mantra “Tyagenaike Amritatvamanusuhu,” they will be able to benefit the society in many ways.
Children, it is your hard work which is the basis of all our achievements. All my wealth is my children. Amma doesn’t have anything of her own. All that you see here has come out of your tyaga (sacrifice). My children should always remain vigilant. If there is even a speck of selfishness in you, you should remove it immediately. Otherwise it will soon destroy all our peace. One spark of fire is enough to reduce a whole forest to ashes. Similar is the power of selfishness. Even a little of selfishness will soon lead to our ruin.
Understand the true source of happiness and gain strength from this knowledge. Those who rely on external things are weaklings.
It is not a sign of courage. The courageous is the one who has gained control over his mind.
A lot of people are suffering in this world. Sometimes women with two or three small children come to see Amma. When Amma asks them about the cause of their sorrow, they would reply, “Amma, I had resolved to commit suicide after killing my children. It is then that I heard about you, so I came here. My husband is a drunkard. Because of his drinking he began to stay away from his work. Finally he lost his job. Even after that, he didn’t give up drinking. Soon he sold all the property and even my ornaments. We had no means to have food even once a day. Everyone hated us. Nowhere could we see a smiling face. What we received from everywhere was only contempt. Finally I decided to end my life and then hearing about you I have reached here.”
Drinking and Smoking
Children, those among you who drink, Amma would tell you that what you drink is not liquor, but the blood and tears of your loved ones. When a fish bites the bait, it thinks that it is having a delicious treat. It knows not that it is on the verge of death. A dog bites a piece of bone and relishes the blood coming from it. It doesn’t realize that the blood is oozing from its own pricked gums. Similarly, we seek happiness in external things; we do not realize that the real source of happiness is within.
Those who care only about their own pleasures should try to care for their families and give up their bad habits. Those who smoke five cigarettes a day can reduce it to two. Those who drink also can gradually reduce the quantity. Thus we can gradually get rid of our self-destructive habits. Keep away from circumstances which induce you to smoke or drink. Understand the true source of happiness and gain strength from this knowledge. Those who rely on external things are weaklings. It is not a sign of courage. The courageous is the one who has gained control over his mind. Reject a life, which is dependent on anything external. We should be able to abide in ourselves. We should be able to convert even our breath into a blessing for the world. Such a pledge you should take from today. That is what Amma expects of you.