Elephant worship on Ganesha Chaturthi

31 August 2003 — Amritapuri

Sri Ganesha, in the form of Ram, the ashram elephant, was led into Amritapuri’s large hall at about 8 a.m. this morning. The waiting devotees received Him with expressions of joy, for today was His birthday, Ganesha Chaturthi.

Standing within an area cordoned off by elaborate kolam designs (decorative patterns made out of rice powder), coconut leaves and golden hibiscus flowers, Ganesha, was offered flower petals by the ashram pujaris, and lively bhajans by the ashram residents and visitors. The entire ashram turned out to offer their adoration.

At one point, the bhajan, “Gajanana, he Gajanana” was reaching it’s climax. Sri Ganesha (Ram) responded by raising His trunk and holding His head high, while stretching out His front legs and bending toward the ground. The effect was a graceful bow, which was perfectly timed with the music.

With trays full of fruits and other offerings spread out before Him, Ganesha was fed and arati was waved before Him. As the puja ended and Ganesha was led out, He poked His head into the Indian store, and the girls working there got the chance to personally offer Him some fruits.

Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique

24 Aug 2003, Amritapuri

The first IAM Technique® meditation course for Ammas western  devotees here at Amritapuri has just been completed, and a batch  of about 50 new initiates have now received the precious gift of  Ammas unique meditation instructions. For those that were  fortunate enough to be initiated earlier this year, refresher courses  are currently being conducted throughout the world, with more being  planned on a continuing basis. This meditation technique, born out  of Ammas divine intuition, is a powerful new spiritual tool  being offered to the world, which promises
to lead seekers to a  deeper experience of peace and bliss. Heres what a few of the newest students had to say about
their experience:

“There is nothing more valuable than the guidance of ones Guru, and Ammas blessings are undeniably present and palpable with this meditation. Nowadays, its rare to find something this valuable being offered free of any charge. I bow in gratitude and pray to Amma that I never miss a single days practice.”

–Sucetas mon

“Ive been enjoying meditation for many years, and have been eagerly waiting for Ammas technique. Now that I
have received it, the grace I experience from it is empowering, centering and gives me a renewed inspiration. I look forward to practicing it regularly, and I feel it is truly a compassionate gift for all in these difficult times.” –Achyut
“For quite some time, Ive longed for a more structured spiritual practice from Amma, something to focus on exclusively. We can learn only bits and pieces about sadhana from books, but this meditation technique comes directly from Amma, as Her grace. Its a gift and an inspiring boost to go deeper into my spiritual practice.”

–Bharati

“Im 60 years old, and I had never meditated before. I can honestly say that I hated sitting for meditation, and I always
felt guilty about it. But, this is the most stabilizing and centering experience Ive ever had, and its surprisingly easy!
I actually want to do it in the morning! And if I can do it, anyone can.”

–Valsalan Lorenz

There is a great need for such practices in this day and age. This world, which we all share as a single human family, currently lacks genuine peace or any real sense of love and connectedness. This has to change, and the more of us that are actively seeking new avenues of spiritual growth, the better off everyone will be. Like all spiritual practices, meditation has one ultimate purpose: to lead us to permanent spiritual experience. This experience lies within us, in the form of wisdom, peace, bliss and love. Who among us doesnt pray for these blessings, both for ourselves and
this earth, our home? For those who want to reach this goal, Amma has provided this gift.May its fragrance spread throughout the world.

For More visit official IAM Meditation, Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique website  www.iam-meditation.org

Hold me like the river

23 August, 2003 Amritapuri

The story begins in Rhode Island, when a handful of Amma’s Western children sang Michael Jackson’s “Hold Me”, the theme song to the movie, “Free Willie.” Already a touching song with spiritual implications, with just a few adjustments in the lyrics, the song was transformed into a heartfelt tribute to Amma. But it wasn’t just a song. The singers had assembled an impromptu troupe of dancers to stand in the back of the room and wave their hands back and forth in unison. As Amma responded enthusiastically and the song crescendoed into a joyful celebration of God’s love, almost everyone stood up and danced, the room transformed into a sea of white, the tide of love rolled in. Amma’s eyes shone as She gazed out at Her children’s innocent plea for Her love and attention.

At Amritapuri recently, Amma asked the same children to sing the song again. But it wasn’t only the song She wanted; She also asked that people should wave their hands in unison the way they had done in Rhode Island. So during the height of the Western Canteen dinner rush, a few of the singers called all the Western children closed and entreated them to quite literally give them a hand the next day when they were to sing the song.

This morning, after Amma started giving darshan, the singers went to Her and told Her they planned to sing the song at 2:00 pm. But Amma asked them to sing at 1:00 pm instead. Then ensued a mad dash to the flats, where the singers went door to door informing the dancers, (i.e. nearly all the Western children at the ashram) that the time had been changed from 2:00 to 1:00 pm. The Western Canteen lunch, which normally starts at 1:00 pm, would have to be postponed, as many of the girls in the kitchen had to be there to sing for Amma. But in the end it didn’t matter, as there wouldn’t have been anyone in line to eat, either. 1:00 saw the temple full with shining Western faces, eager to fulfill Amma’s request.

As the song began,

“Hold me
Like the river Jordan
And I will then say to thee
You are my friend,”

the room began to sway back and forth.

By the time the Canteen girls were plaintively singing the touching refrain,

“Weary
Tell me will you hold me?
When wrong, will you scold me?
When lost, will you find me?”

Amma had started to wave Her hands back and forth, too. When their Mother started, it was no longer a Western celebration but a human celebration, as all of Amma’s devotees joined in the dance.

When the song reached its crescendo with the words,

“Save me
Heal me and bathe me
Softly you say to me
I will be there,”

a lone Westerner in the middle of the temple stood and began to dance, innocently and ecstatically. He didn’t mind that no one else joined him, oblivious of his surroundings, he was lost in his own celebration of love. But the room couldn’t ignore his innocent demonstration for long—by the end of the song, the entire room was on its feet, dancing for joy, dancing for love, dancing for Amma. [click here to see the video]

Was it a bit unconventional, a Michael Jackson song in a temple? Maybe so. But Amma celebrates the good in everything–in every person, every circumstance, every culture, every faith. Here was an innocent, heartfelt prayer in the form of a pop song. Amma made sure that it was heard by all. When the song was over, Amma had the song translated and read out in Malayalam, so that everyone present could understand the song’s words.

Healer of Healers

Amma talks with medical students

14 August 2003, Amritapuri

100 medical students from Amrita University came to Amritapuri and received the blessing of a private group meeting with Amma today. Most were meeting Amma for the very first time, and had just completed their first 2 weeks of life in medical school. This batch of new students is the first since the school was conferred University status by the Government of India, and respresented those chosen out of a pool of 2000 applicants from every state in India, and even countries abroad.

All sat before Amma in rapt attention as She lovingly talked and joked with them.

Amma began by discussing the value of the medical profession and how it should be viewed as a blessed career. She spoke of how doctors have a unique opportunity to relieve the pain and suffering of people, through both the treatment itself and through loving and compassionate care. Those who are suffering from illness or injury are the ones most in need of peace and relief. The doctor, who should learn how to identify with other’s pain, feeling it as their own, is in a position to bring happiness to those who need it most, mentally and emotionally as much as physically. In fact this is essentially the root of true compassion and spirituality itself: seeing all as oneself. This is one way that practicing medicine can be a sadhana.

Amma continued to say that all of the students should view the practice of medicine as a chance to serve God through humanity. She implored the children to, for Her sake, please accept the difficult school years ahead as an opportunity and a tapas (spiritual austerity), which will bear fruit later.

The students had all been living these past two weeks away from their families for the very first time. Indian families are very tight-knit and often live together in the same home all of their lives. And of course those students who moved here from overseas to attend over five years of medical college would surely be missing their homes terribly as well. All were experiencing the same longing for that family connection, and one student, speaking for the group, said to Amma, “We didn’t realize it would be this difficult leaving everyone we love behind. All of us have been so homesick and finding it hard to get used to being away from our families. But, this half-hour spent with Amma has been so full of smiles and happiness. How can we take this happiness with us?”

Visibly touched, Amma responded: “Amma knows you are sad and missing your families. But, after you finish school and get a job, you will have to leave them at that time as well. One must learn to adjust to new circumstances, and strength will come from this. Also, since you are all living and studying together, you should establish a family-like atmosphere amongst yourselves. Develop the attitude of sharing love. When that feeling of connectedness comes, love and happiness will be there. We are like links in a chain, and one’s words and actions have a direct impact on others. So always be humble and loving. This will in turn make you happy, as well as spread happiness to others. Happiness never lies in any object, but in our mental attitude.When that mental attitude is right, happiness will be there, regardless of the outer circumstances.”

Amma then gave the example of hot coffee. “The heat does not belong to the coffee, but was borrowed from the fire. Your mind is the fire,” Amma said.

One student, a younger girl meeting Amma for the first time, wanted to say something to Amma. She was called forward to speak, but when she arrived, she simply and innocently embraced Amma. A moment later, an older boy smiling in the very back of the group, and who was also meeting Amma for the very first time, raised his hand and said to Amma, “I would like to talk to you too!” When encouraged to do so, he responded with,

“No, I want to talk with you in private, Amma!” (a sentiment many of Amma’s devotees can sympathise with!). So, Amma waved him toward Her as well. Only when he reached Her, instead of talking he simply fell straight into Her lap, where he remained for the next few minutes! Then, a third made the journey to Her lap. And then a fourth. Such is the spontaneous attraction that pure love generates.

Happiness and gratitude radiated from the student’s faces, as everyone drank in Amma’s compassionate words and bathed in the blissful atmosphere. One had the sense that all were feeling profoundly fortunate to have a great World-Teacher such as Amma instructing and guiding them in these crucial early steps of their lives in the world. Indeed, if only we all had such a start in life!

Wanting to capture the moment, perhaps as a way of “taking their happiness with them,” they asked for a group photo to be taken with Amma. Amma of course happily agreed. However, as the meeting was taking place inside the enclosed stage of the new temple hall there wasn’t enough room to get the wide shot needed to include all 100 students!

Just as this was being realised, the large doors were flung open wide, revealing the eager faces of Amrita University’s Computer and Engineering students waiting outside in the huge hall for their turn with Amma.

So, smiling as always, Amma came forward into the door’s archway, surrounded by 100 future doctors, and had the photo snapped from the floor below, finding the wide shot that was needed. Fortunate students indeed, and it’s a fortunate world that will soon be receiving healers inspired by the greatest Healer of all.

Independence Day

14 Aug 2003,Amritapuri

It was late in the evening of 14th August, and Amritapuri witnessed a quiet metamorphosis, brought about by the engineering and computer students of the Amrita Institutions. At around 10 pm, as Amma led the chanting of Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu, the youth started lighting lamps on the floor of the expansive Devi Bhava Hall in the Ashram. In a few minutes, what emerged was a string of lamps outlined as the map of India. As the lights of the diyas shimmered against the darkness of the night, pairs of boys and girls were also symbolically lighting more lamps within the map contours—to mark the location of major holy pilgrimages and holy rivers of India. Every time a lamp was lighted at a holy location a brief archana, was also performed. The whole scene done in the presence of the Universal Mother, Amma, was indeed an apt homage by the youth to Mother India on the eve of her Independence Day.

What made the occasion more memorable was Amma’s message to all her children assembled not only at Amritapuri, but all across the country where Her darling children were celebrating Independence Day.

In part, Amma said, “The social and cultural atmosphere of India is different from that of the West. Therefore when adopting western behaviors and attitudes, we should be careful. There are good aspects, which we can accept. By accepting these, we will become expansive. So what is to be accepted and what is to be rejected? That decision has to come from the cultural foundation within, which is hundreds of centuries old. If we adopt western ways impulsively, without exercising proper discrimination, we may find that we can’t truly assimilate it. In time, it may become a burden to us.

“In many countries, by the age of 18, 90% of young people either take loans or work to continue with their studies. They are not dependent on their parents. On the contrary, in India, if a son remains unmarried or unemployed even till the age of 40, his mother thinks that it is still her duty to labour hard to nurture her child. A mother does not hesitate to go hungry to feed her adult children.

How can a son or daughter begin to repay their debt to their mother who carried them in the womb for 10 months and gave birth to him or her after suffering so much? The child gives the mother so much trouble, not even allowing her to sleep through the night. But the mother bears all this with a smile, loving her child unconditionally.

Today we are not fulfilling our duties toward each other. We have even forgotten what they are. Honor your mother at least once. Bow down to your father. Remember, ours is a culture which once believed in the dictum, ‘Mother is God, Father is God, Teacher is God, Guest is God.’ How beautiful it would be if we could regain them. But today, in search of the new, values are being lost. Let the effort of my children be a remedy for this situation.”

After Amma’s message was read aloud, the students delivered a series of delightful dramas and dances. Finally, Amma led all present in singing the bhajan, “He Giridhara Gopala”. Her lilting voice transported Her children to a realm of love and longing for the Divine.

Spiritual relationship between husband and wife

Question: Amma, could you please give us some instructions about marriage and married life?

Amma: Marriage and married life, in fact, are another way to attain God-realization, although many are not aware of it. For the attainment of this goal, both the husband and the wife need a certain amount of understanding about leading a married life coupled with spirituality. Patience, love and forgiveness are the three qualities that are needed to maintain a good relationship. In most cases, neither the husband nor the wife will have these qualities. Such relationships will always end up in a tragedy. Doubting each other’s love, they will always quarrel. A silly, insignificant incident or sometimes even a single word is enough to make them lose their mental balance. They will always blame each other, but never try to find a solution for the misunderstandings and conflicts. As a result, they suffer and also cause their children to suffer.

~

“If a couple takes the necessary steps, making the effort to understand and respect each other’s feelings, they will be able to live their lives fully. They should be willing to forgive and forget each other’s faults and weaknesses. Married life can be a rich field of learning that teaches the couple to develop such qualities as patience and humility.”

~

A true relationship

“A true relationship can be developed only if there is proper understanding between a husband and wife, between friends, or whoever is involved in a relationship of any kind. There are different passages in life. Marriage is one such passage, and it is one of the most important ones there is. For a person who lives in the world (i.e. a householder), to be able to live a full, productive life, he or she must pass through the passage of marriage with as much love, intimacy, caring and commitment as possible. Married life, if it is lived with the proper love and understanding, will help awaken the feminine within a man, and the masculine within a woman. This balance can eventually help both of them reach the final goal of eternal freedom.”

~

“A true relationship is possible only when one is able to let go of all one’s preconceived ideas and prejudices, and when one stops being possessed by the past. Your mind is the past. Stop clinging to the past and you will be free and peaceful. To cling to the past is like living in the dark. We all want to be in the light. Stop fighting the past, stop reacting to it, and you will be in the light. You will then clearly be able to see everything that is happening within you. With such a clear vision it is possible to form a true relationship. … In such deep love, even your thought patterns will be the same. For example, a husband may think of something without saying a word about it. Yet somehow his wife is aware of it. He thinks of something and his wife says the same thing, or he wishes to do something and his wife suddenly expresses the same wish. …If this can happen in a normal relationship, the identification or sense of oneness that happens in the Guru sishya (disciple) relationship is incomparably greater.”

~

Question: Why is there no real love in married life? What causes the conflicts and the friction?

Amma: There is a serious lack of understanding between the husband and wife. In most cases the couple won’t even make an attempt to understand each other. For the development of a true relationship to take place, a basic understanding of human nature, the nature of men and women, is essential. Men are mostly intellectually centred, while women tend to be more emotional. They dwell in two different centers, along two parallel lines. No real meeting takes place within them. How, then, can there be any love between the two? Their different natures should be understood and accepted, and each one, both husband and wife, should make a conscious effort to reach out to the other’s feelings, to the heart, and then try to work out their problems with this understanding as their foundation. They shouldn’t try to control each other. They shouldn’t say to each other, “I say yes, and therefore you should also say yes.”

~

Listen with love and concern

“It is very rare to find a truly loving relationship. The love between a married couple is usually only skin deep. If one of them says “yes,” the other will make it a point to say “no.” Children, learn to respect each other’s feelings. Learn to listen to each other’s problems with love and concern. When you listen to your partner, he or she should be able to feel that you are genuinely interested and that you would sincerely like to help. Your partner should feel your care and concern, your respect and admiration. An open acceptance of the other is needed, and there should be no reservations.”

~

Cultivate patience and forgiveness

“If the wife is pious and has qualities like patience, love, forbearance and forgiveness, she can also change her husband even though he is uncouth. If she has the right attitude, the family life will become peaceful. If both the husband and wife are obstinate and unyielding in nature, both should try to correct each other by cultivating and developing patience and forgiveness in themselves.”

~

Don’t mention your partner’s weaknesses in front of others

“Children, as ordinary human beings, everyone has both good and bad qualities. Always try to recognise and admire the good qualities in each other. Whenever you are talking to others about your partner, try to highlight his or her good qualities; don’t ever mention the weaknesses in front of others. Whatever your weaknesses may be, they should remain a secret between the two of you. You should work out your problems together with a positive attitude, without provoking or hurting each other with accusations. First of all, we should become aware of our own weaknesses, because this is the best way to remove them. Never use your partner’s faults as a weapon against him or her. When you are pointing out a weakness, do so lovingly and with every intention of eradicating it in a positive way from your lives. These weaknesses are blocks that prevent you from expressing yourselves fully. See these blocks as obstructions and learn to remove them.”

~

On Separation

“Married life is not a joke. It is something that should be taken seriously. Relationships can become a path to God, a path to eternal freedom and peace, provided you have the right attitude. Don’t automatically consider separation each time you feel uncomfortable. Strive to be adaptable. Try to be patient, not once or twice, but many times.”

~

“Practice forgiveness. If there are still difficulties in a relationship even after you put forth a lot of effort, you can consider it your karma, your destiny. At this point you can either endure it, accepting the difficulties as your prarabdha; or, if you find the situation too difficult to withstand anymore, maybe you can think of separation or divorce. But before that, you must play your part well. You must put forth effort at least to see whether the relationship can work or not. To simply let it fall apart is an unpardonable mistake. It is a sin and you will have to suffer for it.”

~

Question: How should one keep good relations with one’s wife and children and with the other family members?

Amma: Do not make the wife and children suffer unnecessarily. If their characters are not good, do not dissipate your energy worrying about them. Worrying is not a solution for any problem; it will only make things worse. Discriminative thinking is the only way to overcome life’s problems. When we worry, our power of discrimination becomes weak, and then even insignificant problems seem overwhelming. We should pray for God to give our family right thinking, and we should consider their association with us as the fruit of our past actions. We will not be miserable if we spend our time in Godly pursuits instead of worrying about our wife and children. Is it possible for us to guide them along the right path? We do not have the power to hear sounds which are beyond a certain range. We also do not have the power to see beyond a certain distance. We are bound by limitations. What can we do? “Take care of everything, O Omnipotent One. I have no power to do anything. I have nothing to say. O Lord, kindly protect us.” That is how we should pray. Otherwise, one will only be wasting one’s time. They, as well as ourselves, will be ruined. In due course, owing to our prayers, God will guide them through the right path. If the husband is the one who is creating the problems, then the wife should have the aforesaid attitude. In many families only one partner, the husband or the wife, will be good. In such cases, if one of them has patience, forgiveness and forbearance things can be straightened out to an extent. Children, remember that if we forgive and forget others’ faults, God will forgive and forget ours.”

~

Living in Guru’s presence

How fortunate we all are to be in a Guru-disciple relationship, living so intimately with a Mahatma like Amma, who is ever established in the Supreme Consciousness.

We have so much personal contact with Her, and we are able to see the various ways in which She instructs and uplifts Her disciples and devotees. Many different types of people come to Amma, each needing the guidance appropriate for him or her at different times. Just as various Divine forms, with their different qualities, are needed to represent God, Amma assumes many bhavas (moods) and characteristics in order to lead Her children to the Divine State, beyond all words and forms.

Sometimes the Guru’s teachings and even the scriptures say contradictory things, and we may become confused upon encountering this. One moment Amma says, “God is the childlike innocence in you,” and the next moment She says, “God is Pure Consciousness, or Pure Love, or Compassion.” Well, which one is He? Our minds want to know. Or Amma will say, “God is in your heart.” Then She will say, “God is everywhere.” Where is He?

When reading the Bhagavad Gita, we are also confronted with many such apparent contradictions. For example, in the 10th chapter, Lord Krishna says that of the senses He is the mind; in living beings, intelligence; and of utterances He is “Om.” He is the power of the powerful, the goodness of the good, and so on. Thinking on the material plane, we will naturally wonder, ‘Well, which of these is He? Is He the power of the powerful or the goodness of the good?’

When we isolate just a few verses of the scripture or just a few words of the Guru, it is actually quite easy to become confused and start criticising. But they have to be read or listened to in their entirety, with faith and awareness. Otherwise Lord Krishna would have said only that one sloka and been finished. The context actually clarifies the meaning of Sri Krishna’s and Amma’s words.

In the Gita, Arjuna first asks the Lord how to come to know Him through constant meditation, how to contemplate upon Him. It is in response to this that the Lord lists those examples, but only after he clarifies, “I shall mention only the main ones, as there is no end to the detail.” After citing so many examples, Lord Krishna again says, “There is no end to my divine manifestations, so I have only mentioned a few by way of example.”

There is a deep, symbolic meaning to each of the examples that Bhagavan gives. He refers to Himself as the essence of each quality listed, to show that, as the Supreme Truth He is the underlying essence of all things. Similarly, “Om” is the substratum of all sound and speech. Because the senses cannot function without the mind, the Lord refers to himself as the mind, but only with respect to the senses. What makes a powerful person powerful? His power. It is not the power of a good person that makes him good, it is his goodness. Like this, in each example cited, the Lord shows how He is the essence pervading the whole, but is not limited or affected by any of its manifestations. In this way, He first helps Arjuna to focus his mind on the essential principle residing in material things with which he is familiar. Once Arjuna’s mind becomes more focused and subtle, it will more easily realise the essential Principle of his own Self and the whole Universe.

Amma constantly does the same thing with us. She uses various situations and teachings to draw our minds inward and make them more subtle. Many of Her words or actions may seem contradictory on the surface, but this is simply because the nature of God, or the Supreme Truth, is beyond our intellectual comprehension. As God is beyond the intellect, beyond the material world, we cannot expect any one form, method of explanation, simile, or theory to suffice. For such reasons, around a Satguru like Amma, contradictions and paradoxes become the rule rather than the exception. Contradiction is actually absolutely necessary. Why? Because contradiction goes against reason or logic. Logic is useful only up to a certain point in understanding the Guru and God. At some point it must be dropped, after which our only means of understanding is faith and surrender. It is for the sake of making us drop our mind and reason that the Guru creates the contradictions.

I have heard about an incident that happened many years ago at Amritapuri, when there was only one hut in the whole ashram. One day Amma decided that it was time to build two more huts, since more rooms were needed for the new residents. One of Amma’s senior disciples was in charge of supervising the work, and he designed a plan and showed it to Amma. The workers then erected the main poles to support the frame and started to tie the coconut leaves on to the frame. Amma came out of the temple and saw what was going on.

“Who told them to do this?” asked Amma. Everyone pointed at the brahmachari, whom Amma then questioned. “Who asked you to place the huts like this?” “Why Amma, you saw the plan and approved of it,” he replied. “I don’t remember seeing any plan. Tear this down! Nobody should build huts facing each other. All you think of is how to be comfortable, how to get a good breeze! Don’t you care about scriptural rules? No! The rules don’t allow huts to be built like this.” Having said this, Amma went back into the temple. The brahmachari helplessly turned towards the workers and asked them to tear down the work that they had been doing since morning.

But after two minutes, Amma again emerged from the temple. She looked at the workers who were starting to dismantle the huts. “What are they doing? Tell them to build them the way they originally planned. Otherwise, how is the breeze going to enter the huts?” said Amma. “But Amma, what about the scriptural rules?” the brahmachari asked. “Rules? There are no rules for building huts. That’s only for regular buildings.” After this, Amma went back into the temple once again. So what would an average person observing this whole drama have thought of Amma? Unreasonable or perhaps even crazy. But such a way of dealing with the disciples’ minds is quite in line with tradition. It is reminiscent of the story of the famous Tibetan yogi, Milarepa, and how his Guru made him build and rebuild a seven-story tower many times before he finally approved of Milarepa’s work and granted him initiation.

All such actions are simply to help the disciple develop the surrender needed to go beyond his mind. Amma says that the nature of the Supreme is not bound by reason or logic. Likewise, the Guru, whose sole purpose is to guide us to that Truth beyond, cannot be bound by reason or logic either. In Awaken, Children! Amma says, “Don’t try to judge the Master with your intellect. Your understanding of him is bound to be completely wrong.

Because you dwell in the mind, and your habits and tendencies are very strong, you will insist on trying to solve the mystery of the Master’s ‘strange moods’ through logic and reasoning. But you will fail to understand until, at last, it will be revealed to you that the Master cannot be understood through the mind or intellect. You will realise that faith alone is the way.”

So, we may look as long as we want for reasons to explain the Guru’s mysterious conduct, but we will never find them. We look at the Guru, analyse, judge, and guess, but we will never find the reason, because the reason is inside us. Everything the Guru does is based on our present condition and needs. When we observe the infinite Master, or God, and try to understand Him or Her with our limited intellects, we become like the six blind men that gave varying descriptions of the same elephant. But it is even worse when we think we have understood the Master and then we become totally narrow-minded and intolerant in our views. This is the reverse of the story with the blind men. This time there were six blind elephants who couldn’t agree on what humans were like, so they decided to try to understand what a human was by feeling with their feet. The first blind elephant felt the human with his huge feet and declared: “Humans are flat.” The other blind elephants, after similarly feeling (or squashing!) the human, agreed and the problem was solved. Just as the elephants lacked the subtlety to be able to understand a human with their feet, our minds too are not subtle enough to grasp the Guru’s mystifying ways.

So we should remain aware of this fact and do our best to broaden our view, and remain open and receptive to the Real Amma. In the Gita, Sri Krishna says, “Without any insight into my transcendental nature, men of little understanding look upon Me as a mere human individual.” So, like Lord Krishna, Amma in Her Real Nature is transcendental, but She is constantly assuming many different roles and bhavas to remove all our preconceptions about how the Guru or God should be, and how a disciple/devotee should be. Only after She removes all of our preconditioning can She recondition us.

Whether it is Krishna, or Amma, the various ways that the Guru utilises are all for removing the subtle ego from the disciple. Because it is so subtle, it is also powerful and pervasive, and very hard to remove. It’s impossible to do it alone. That is why it is said that there is nothing that can be given in return when the Guru removes the disciple’s ignorance.

Let us remember that we are receiving great gifts from Amma every day. Amma gives in the real sense. On the surface, She may only give a hug and a toffee, but the giving is taking place on a much deeper level. It actually consists of both giving and taking. On the subtle level, She is filling us with all good qualities, and at the same time She is taking our negativity and prarabdha karma. Since there is no way for us to truly repay Her, we can only strive to emulate the ideal of giving that Amma sets, the ideal of giving selflessly.

When we give something, it is usually a rather superficial process. We make some token gift, but on the inside we subconsciously desire to somehow take back something else or get rid of our dissatisfaction within. The way that we give is like the story about the man who had borrowed $50 from his friend Bill. One day they were together in a grocery shop, shopping for their food, when a robber came in and shouted, “Everybody put up your hands! This is a stickup!” The robber then instructed everyone to take out their wallets and throw them on the ground in front of him. The man took the opportunity and said to Bill, “Hey, Bill, remember that $50 I owe you? Here, keep the change!” and he threw his wallet to Bill. This is not real giving; it only amounts to taking from others.

One story from a few years back describes the type of giving that Amma really likes. During one of Amma’s birthday celebrations, a group of students came with a big, neatly wrapped box. They presented it to Amma, saying that it was their birthday gift for Her. Amma accepted it with a smile and thanked them. Then She told them, “I don’t want such a gift from you. I want another type of gift. Will you give it to me if I ask?” They agreed to try to give it the next time. They were youngsters and Mother knew they were in the habit of smoking cigarettes. So She told them, “Next time when you come, I want you to give up your smoking. Renounce cigarettes. This is what I want as a gift from you for my next birthday.”

This is the type of gift Amma really wants from everyone. She doesn’t want anything material from us. She wants only the gift of renunciation from Her children. Our gift of tyaga actually becomes a gift to the whole world, because Amma has no individual ego, She is the Totality. As a result, when we strive to surrender our ego to Amma, though we may get back nothing materially, our spiritual harvest is infinite.

Regarding giving, the Bhagavad Gita says, “Giving simply because it is right to give, without thought of return, at a proper time, in the proper circumstances, and to a worthy person, is enlightened giving. Giving with regrets or with the expectation of receiving some favour or of getting something in return is selfish giving.” Two quotes from Buddhism show how enlightened beings give. “Enlightened beings are magnanimous givers, bestowing whatever they have with equanimity, without regret, without hoping for reward, without seeking honour, without coveting material benefits, but only to rescue and safeguard all living beings.” And: “‘If I give this, what shall I have to enjoy?’ – Such selfish thinking is the way of the demons; ‘If I enjoy this, what shall I have to give?’ – Such selfless thinking is a quality of the gods.” All of these descriptions seem to describe Amma perfectly. Through Her example, Amma shows us the proper attitude of giving.

Only someone who has something can truly give to another. Naturally, the greater his wealth, the more capacity he will have to give. But Amma says, “Spirituality is the real wealth. It is the inner wealth that helps us to renounce all outer wealth, through an understanding of the eaninglessness of external riches. Spirituality is the wealth that helps us to become ‘wealthier than the wealthiest.’ It is the realisation that God alone, the Self alone, is the real wealth.”

By this definition, Amma is and always has been truly the wealthiest person in the world. Not even Bill Gates can compare. And She has been distributing huge quantities of this spiritual wealth throughout the world for over twenty-five years, but Her supply still hasn’t diminished even a bit. Everyone who comes for darshan walks away with a gem or a gold nugget, though they sometimes don’t even realise its value. And Amma gives it away so freely, her spiritual wealth is inexhaustible. In our present condition, however, we cannot give in the real sense, as Amma does, because we are spiritually poor. In order to give as She does, first we must acquire some spiritual wealth. This is the whole purpose of the Guru-disciple relationship, and of all the sadhana and selfless service that Amma instructs us to perform.

By observing Amma’s example, we can learn how to give to all equally, without any expectation. In the same way, if we want to see Amma on a deeper level, see the Real Amma, the incomprehensible Master beyond the intellect, we must remain open and receptive. Let us drop our preconceptions and expectations, and simply be in Her holy presence, with surrender and the openness of a small child. Once we remove the obstacles within our own minds, then all of the Master’s actions become meaningful guidance, and She can take us deeper within to understand Her Infinite Divine Nature.

Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya

Amritapuri Campus included under Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham

8 August 2003 — Amritapuri

The Ministry for Human Resource Development, Government of India, has, in its order on 8th August 2003, notified that Amrita Institute of Computer Technology (AICT), Amritapuri, is included under the ambit of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, with immediate effect. The University Grants Commission had earlier recommended the inclusion of AICT (Amritapuri) under Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham after a visit by the inspection team to the Campus. With this, the number of campuses under Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeedham in the country has gone up to three: Ettimadai (Coimbatore), Kochi and Amritapuri.

AICT (Amritapuri), started in 1990, was the first institute set up by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math and is today one of the leading institutions offering computer education in the state. The inclusion of AICT (Amritapuri) under Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham signals a landmark development in the future of the Amritapuri campus. It is expected that international quality programmes meeting contemporary requirements of society and industry will be offered at the Amritapuri Campus from the next academic year onwards. This includes Graduate and Post-graduate courses in Arts, Sciences (Pure and Applied) and Humanities.

Research will take pride of place in all new endeavours carried out by AICT (Amritapuri). It may be noted that the Amritapuri campus recently hosted the national workshop on Information Security and Cryptography – Infocrypt 2003, promoting better understanding and research in this field. Amrita Innovative Technology Foundation (AITF), the research wing of AICT, is increasingly being known globally for its contributions in IT technology.

In this overall context, applications from eminent academicians with a clear and integral vision on education are invited. Rich experience in administering educational institutions and designing and implementing new courses will be an added advantage. Interested persons may contact Correspondent, Amrita Institutions, for suitable positions.

Amma on Meditation and concentration

Meditation

“By concentrating on a form, sound or light, we learn to constantly be in that state of inner aloneness and to be joyful in any situation.”

“That stillness, or center, is what a true seeker yearns for, and this is why he doesn’t bother about the past or the future. His focus is on the here and now. That is what is known as remembrance of God. Remembrance of God can only take place when you let go of the past and stop dreaming about the future. Then the pendulum of the mind stops swinging back and forth; it reaches a point of stillness, and you dwell in the stillness of the present moment.”

“Meditation is remembrance of God, constant and loving remembrance. Consider Him as your beloved or just consider yourself as His child. Or consider Him as your father or mother. Simply try to think of Him just as we think of our father or mother or beloved. How does a lover remember his beloved? Certainly not by sitting in lotus posture. The remembrance simply happens in him while he is lying down, walking or sitting on the banks of a river, or it may happen while he is at work. It does not matter where he is or what he is doing. Likewise, remember your beloved deity whenever you can no matter where you are or what you are doing.”

Amma’s Instructions for Meditation

“Children, when you sit for meditation, do not think that you can still your mind immediately. At first, you should relax all parts of your body. Loosen your clothes if they are too tight. Make sure that the spine is erect. Then close your eyes and concentrate your mind on your breath. You should be aware of your inhalation and exhalation. Normally we breathe in and out without being aware of it, but it should not be like that; we should become aware of the process. Then the mind will be wakeful.

“Children, don’t try to still your mind by force when you sit for meditation. The thoughts will rise up with ten times their original force if you do that. It is like pressing down a spring. Try to find out where the thoughts arise from, and control them with that knowledge. Don’t place the mind in any kind of tension. If any part of your body is tense or feels any pain, the mind will linger on that. Relax every part of the body, and watch your thoughts with absolute awareness. Then the mind will subside by itself.

“As you sit like that for a while, your mind will become calm. You can continue the meditation by focusing attention on your breath. Or you can start meditating on the form of your beloved deity. If the mind wanders, you should bring it back. If you are unable to do that, then it is enough to watch where it is going. The mind should be kept under observation. Then it will stop running around and will be under your control.”

Meditation on the Form of Your Beloved Deity

“Name and form are ladders to reach the formless. We who are limited cannot conceive of the unlimited. A form is needed to reach the formless. Another thorn is needed to remove the thorn that has pierced our foot. Once the thorn is removed, both can be discarded. Likewise, after reaching the ultimate goal, you can abandon all names and forms if you want. Even when you meditate on the formless Self, you need a pure conception, which is nothing but a thought. That is also a concept, is it not? Even when you meditate on the form of a god or goddess, you are not meditating on an external object but only on your own Self.

“A minimum of three years is required to learn to fix one’s attention firmly on the form of meditation within. Initially one must strive for concentration by looking at a photo. If one meditates with closed eyes for ten minutes, then for ten minutes one should look at the form of meditation. Eventually the form will become clear within.

“Imagine holding the Divine Mother’s hand and bathing Her by pouring water over Her. Picture the water falling on all parts of Her body and running down. All the while, call out to Her, ‘Mother, Mother!’ and visualise Her form. Imagine doing abhisheka (ceremonial bath) with milk, honey, ghee, sandal paste and rose water, one after the other. When these substances flow down Her body, visualise each part of Her form, from head to foot. Talk to Her, and pray to Her. After bathing Her thus, dry Her body with a cloth. Drape a silk sari around Her. Adorn Her with ornaments. Put a vermilion mark on Her forehead. Put anklets on Her. Put a garland on Her neck and enjoy Her beauty. Now do archana (worship) with flowers. Take the flower, which represents your mind, and imagine offering its petals, one by one, at Her feet. Or imagine offering your vasanas (negative tendencies) in a fire burning in front of Her. After the archana, offer Her the payasam (sweet rice pudding) of your love. Picture that you are doing arati (waving of burning camphor) for Her, and see each part of Her body shining brilliantly in the light of the flame. In the end, imagine that you are circumambulating Mother. All the while keep praying to Her. Try to do all this with pure love. Then your mind will not wander anywhere.

“Children, if you just sit down thinking, ‘I am going to start meditating now,’ the form won’t appear in your mind. You’ll only sit there with your eyes closed, and after a while you’ll remember, ‘Oh! I’m supposed to be meditating!’ So when you sit for meditation, begin by crying out to God, ‘Oh God, won’t You come into my heart? I cannot see You without Your help. You are my only refuge!’ Picture your beloved deity standing in front of you. Then, after a while, His or Her form will shine clearly in your mind.”

“Look at the sky and try to visualise the form of your beloved deity there. Try to imagine that He or She is moving with you. Try to see your beloved deity’s face in the moon or imagine that the moon is the face of the Divine Mother or of Krishna or Rama. As the wind blows, try to feel that it is the gentle caress of your beloved deity. Look into the water and visualise the smiling face of your beloved deity there. You can imagine that your beloved deity is calling you near, hugging you, kissing you, caressing you, blessing you, and then hiding in the clouds and coming out again a little later. By this kind of imagination you go deeper and deeper into your own consciousness. You enshrine His or Her form within your heart. You open up more and more, and you get closer and closer to your own Self.”

Crying to God is the Best Meditation

“Children, crying has the power to make the mind completely one-pointed. Why do we meditate? To get concentration, isn’t that why? Yes. So, the best way to get concentration is by crying to the Lord. That is a very powerful way of remembering God, and that, in fact, is meditation. That is what great devotees like the gopis and Mirabai did. See how selflessly Mirabai prayed, ‘O Mira’s Giridhari (Krishna), it does not matter if You don’t love me. But, O Lord, please do not take away my right to love You.’ They prayed and cried until their whole being was transformed into a state of constant prayer. They kept on worshipping the Lord until they were totally consumed by the flames of divine love. They themselves became the offering. Once you become the offering, once your whole being is in a state of constant prayer, then what is left is not you but Him. What is left is love. Prayer can perform this miracle. Crying can accomplish this feat. What is the purpose of meditation? It is to become love. It is to attain oneness. Thus there is no better meditation technique than praying and crying to the Lord.

“Let the heart melt in prayer. Unfortunate indeed are those who think that crying to God is a weakness. As the wax melts, the flame of a candle only burns brighter. Through crying to God, one gains strength. These tears wash away the impurities of the mind. If one cries for God for five minutes, it is equal to one hour of meditation. Such crying makes the mind easily absorbed in the remembrance of God.

“Those who meditate only according to a timetable, as if it were a duty, will never see God. You have to cry for God, day and night, with no thought of food or sleep. You have to develop that kind of detachment. If someone smeared chili paste all over your body, think of how you would struggle to escape the burning! You should pine to see God with the same intensity. You should cry for that vision, without wasting even an instant. Only then, will all other thoughts disappear, as in deep sleep, and you will reach the plane of divine experience.”

If you don’t believe in God…

“Whenever you feel like it and have the time, sit in solitude and try to visualise everything as pure light. Look at the vast sky and try to merge in that expansiveness. Look within and observe the thoughts and trace them back to their source. Give instructions to the mind such as, “Oh mind, why do you crave for unnecessary things? You think that this will give you happiness and satisfy you. But it is not so. Know that this will only drain your energy and give you nothing but restlessness and unending tension. Oh mind, stop this wandering. Return to your source and rest in peace.”

Obstacles and Difficulties

Question: “The mind is not getting any concentration during meditation. Why is it so?”

Amma: “Children, the mind is naturally one-pointed and pure, but until yesterday we have made room for many impure worldly emotions there. Thus it becomes difficult to make the mind concentrated while sitting for meditation. They (the worldly thoughts and emotions) are like tenants. We have given them a small space to build a hut on our land, which was lying independent and expansive. Not only do they not care when we ask them to leave, they come to fight with us. We have to toil to kick them out. We have to argue in court also. Likewise, to kick out the tenants of the mind, we have to file a case in God’s court. It is a constant fight. We must continue fighting until we come out victorious.”

Question: “Amma, my mind runs away and wanders while I am trying to concentrate.”

Amma: “It is the nature of the mind to wander. It cannot sit quiet. When we try to quiet the mind by concentrating on an object of meditation, we can see it wander even more. More thoughts will come. Beginners may get frightened and sometimes feel discouraged by these numerous thoughts that come up during meditation. These thoughts and other tendencies of the mind have always been there, but because we were engaged in different activities we had no awareness of them. These thoughts and other vasanas manifest only when we try to withdraw the mind from all external activities and concentrate on a single point. Constant practice coupled with determination is the only way to conquer the mind. Therefore, during such times, do not become frightened or discouraged. Continue your spiritual practices with determination.”

“Don’t fret about the bad thoughts. The mind is just a collection of thoughts. Think that the bad thoughts come up because it is time for them to disappear. But be careful not to identify with them. Try to develop the ability to stand back as a witness, as thoughts pass through your mind. That will make your mind strong.”

“One may get a headache and pain in the eyes if one meditates on the spot between the eyebrows. Insomnia also may occur. If so, meditation should be stopped temporarily. Again, if restlessness occurs, then it is best to meditate in the heart. In the beginning it is better to meditate in the heart. After having the feeling that the heart is full, it is not so dangerous if meditation is shifted to the spot between the eyebrows. In any case, it is best for householders to meditate in the heart. One will feel a cooling effect by meditating in the heart. Heat is experienced if one meditates between the eyebrows.”

“If you feel sleepy during meditation, chant your mantra, moving your lips as you do so. If you have a mala (rosary), hold it close to your heart and chant. This will make you more alert. When you sit for meditation, your spine should be straight. Only laziness makes you want to slouch. If you feel sleepy in spite of all this, stand up and chant the mantra. And don’t lean on anything when you stand. When you lean on something, your mind gets attached to that comfort. If you still cannot overcome your sleepiness, run for a while and then resume your meditation. Drive away the tamas (dullness) with rajas (activity). Doing hatha yoga is also beneficial.”

“In the beginning it is difficult to get the full form of one’s beloved deity. Therefore try to visualise the feet of the deity and focus your mind on them. Once the form gets absolutely clear, we become That. For this, continuous practice is needed.”