I don’t need anything!

15 – 18 January 2001, Madurai

Imagine this: The gentleman is highly respected in his community, wealthy, the owner and operator of a major local industry. He is also a devotee of Amma. Ten days before her scheduled programmes in his city, he closes his factory and sends all his employees to the ashram to help prepare the premises. The work ranges from running errands to cleaning rubble, from repairing masonry and plumbing to raising bamboo and tarpaulin sun and rain shelters, from organising lists to setting up kitchens. Everybody works, full-time, every day.

Mother arrives; the programmes proceed. Every morning the gentleman is in attendance, and all day long he can be seen, sometimes doing seva, sometimes simply enjoying Mother’s presence. Every night, he is there until Mother finishes darshan – maybe three or four in the morning.

Then, of course, he can go home to the luxury of his well-appointed residence, have a hot bath, sleep comfortably, and return refreshed. But no. “I don’t need anything,” he says, modestly wrapping himself in a sheet and lying out in the open of the ashram grounds.

How often Mother has said to her children, “You don’t have to give up the world, leave everything, and go live in a cave to be spiritual.” Detachment doesn’t mean having nothing; it means being free of what you have. Not controlled by it; not wanting it.

A Madurai wealthy man can be a model of detachment.

Car Darshans

10 January 2001

Leaving Amritapuri

When Mother left Amritapuri for her three-week South India tour, Ram, the baby elephant, was given a special darshan. As her car drew near him, Ram immediately stuck his trunk right inside the open window and deftly took a few bananas from Mother’s hand. Mother said playfully, “Ram, po!” [Ram, go!] and he immediately withdrew, turned around and walked away!

 

The car then slowly passed by lines of residents, construction workers, Computer Institute students and neighbours from the adjoining fishing villages who gathered to see Mother one more time.

Arrival at the Trivandrum Ashram

The road leading to the Ashram was lined with devotees standing outside their homes by beautiful altars. Mother would stretch her hands through the car window to stroke a cheek, grasp a hand, caress a bowed head. Some devotees would thrust a gift into her hands, and others would garland her.

As Amma reached the Ashram, the devotees thronged about her, calling, “Amma! Amma!” and pushed closer and closer for a touch. Mother paused on the way to her room and gazed at her children from the balcony, love pouring from her eyes. A sea of arms stretched upwards, doing everything possible to touch her.

For a long time Mother stood there, sometimes locking her eyes with someone else’s; at other times calling out to an individual, “Are you taking care of your health, son?” or “Did you pass your exams, daughter?”

 

 

She showered her children with the flower petals from the many garlands she was offered. When there were no more petals, someone threw a new garland from the floor below, and she caught it! More petals, more blessings.

 

 

Cat, Monkey and Eagle

2 January 2001, Amritapuri

As is customary, Amma came and joined the ashramites in meditation today. A great feeling of peace and silence filled the temple as Amma led Her children through meditation. When the meditation finished, Amma posed a question to all: “What attitude should a spiritual aspirant living at the ashram have?” Several good answers were given by those present. One brahmacharini said that more than anything else a deep sense of devotion was necessary to be successful in spiritual life. Shortly after this answer, one of Amma’s western children expressed her concern over a friend who felt she was lost because she lacked this devotion. At this point Amma was then asked to clarify, “What is real devotion?”

Amma gave a beautiful example to illustrate the attitude devotees should have towards God. She described the relationships kittens, baby monkeys and eagles have with their mothers.

Whenever a kitten finds itself in trouble, it will simply stop where it is and begin to cry out for its mother. It will not move from that place or stop crying until it is heard. The mother will then arrive and lovingly pick up her child with her mouth and take it to safety.

The baby monkey always clings to its mother. No matter how much the mother may seem to ignore her child or be busying herself with other things, the child will never let go. It hangs on regardless of how much attention it receives.

After the mother eagle hatches her chick she will fly off from the nest, seemingly leaving her baby all alone and helpless. Yet all the while the mother is soaring high above casting a watchful eye on all below. If anything threatens her chick she will immediately swoop down to protect it.

Realized Master s presence is conducive for spiritual growth

Question: If God and the Guru are within us, what is the need for an external Guru?

Mother: In every stone, there is a potential icon lying concealed. It is when the sculptor chisels away the unnecessary parts that the icon is revealed. Likewise, the Guru brings out the Divine Essence in the disciple, who, being caught in delusion, is in a state of deep forgetfulness. As long as we are unable to awaken from the delusion by ourselves, we need an external Guru. The Guru will remove our forgetfulness.

A student studied intensely for an examination. But when he received the question paper in the examination hall, he was so nervous that he couldn’t remember anything. A classmate who was sitting next to him reminded him of the first line of a poem. The boy could then recall from memory the whole poem and he wrote it down on the answer sheet. Likewise, there is dormant knowledge within us, and the word of the Guru has the power to awaken that knowledge.

As the disciple undergoes spiritual discipline in the proximity of the Master, that which is unreal in him fades and his real Being begins to shine forth. When an icon covered with wax is brought near a fire, the wax melts and the icon become visible. The fact that a few Self-realized sages didn’t have a Guru doesn’t mean that there’s no need for anyone to have a Guru.

God and the Guru are within you, like the tree that exists within the seed. It requires a congenial climate and suitable soil for the seed to grow into a tree. So also, for the innate Divinity in man to shine forth, we need a congenial environment. The Guru is the one who creates that environment. Apples grow abundantly in Kashmir, because the climate in Kashmir is favourable for apple trees. It is also possible to grow apple trees in Kerala, but they require very careful nursing; and even then, most of the saplings will wither away. Because the climatic conditions in Kerala are not suitable for apple trees, the trees that do manage to survive will only give scanty yield. Just as the climate in Kashmir is suitable for growing apples, a Self-realized Master’s presence is conducive for the spiritual growth of the disciple. The Master creates a suitable atmosphere for awakening the Guru that is dormant in the disciple, so that the disciple realizes his true Self.

Practicability has its place in spirituality just as it has in materialism. It requires a mother to teach a baby how to hold the milk glass, how to put on clothing, etc. Later the child learns to do all this by itself. Similarly, until a sadhak is capable of progressing spiritually by himself, he needs an external guide.

People who undertake a journey with the help of a map may nevertheless lose their way and wander about. However, if they have a guide with them, this will not happen. If there is somebody with us who knows the path very well, we won’t lose our way and our journey will be smooth. Even though the Supreme Self is within all of us, as long as we are caught in body-consciousness, we need to have a Guru. Once an aspirant has given up his identification with adjuncts such as the body and mind, there is no longer any need for external help, for then God and the Guru within have awakened.

However much we may dig in certain places, we will not necessarily find water. On the other hand, if we dig beside a river we will easily get water. Similarly, the proximity of a true Master makes the task easier for the disciple. He will be able to enjoy the fruit of his sadhana (spiritual practices) without overstraining himself. The strength of his prarabdha (the fruit of past actions) will also be mitigated in the presence of the Master. A spiritual Master is a tapasvi (someone who has undergone intense austerities). If an ordinary person is compared to a candle, a tapasvi is like the sun. Modern science admits that if we are able to fix the mind at a point we can conserve mental strength. If this is so, how much power will there be in a tapasvi who has practiced one-pointedness of mind for years and years! That is why it is said that by the touch of a tapasvi, spiritual power can be transmitted to us, like an electric current. A Master is capable of not only creating a congenial atmosphere for the spiritual advancement of the disciple, but is also able to transmit spiritual power to the disciple.

Only one who has gone through the different stages in sadhana can properly guide an aspirant. A student can master the theory by himself, but to be successful with the practical elements, he requires the help of a teacher. Though we can learn about spirituality from books to a certain extent, in order to translate those spiritual teachings into practice, we have to seek the aid of a living Master. An aspirant will come across countless obstacles and will face many problems on the spiritual path. If those problems aren’t properly dealt with, there is a risk that the aspirant may lose his mental balance. While giving a seeker advice on spiritual practices, it is necessary to take into consideration his physical, mental and intellectual propensities. Only a true master is capable of giving the right advice. Tonic is good for one’s health. However, if it is consumed indiscriminately, it will do more harm than good. It is the same with spiritual practices. So the guidance of a spiritual Master is indispensable.