Go beyond the mind

31 July 2006 — Amritapuri

Amma had been giving darshan in North America for two months. Regardless, the day after her return to Amritapuri, she promptly came to the temple to give her first meditation and question-and-answer session with the ashram residents.

When Amma is in Amritapuri, the brahmacharins and householder devotees who live here can easily come to her for answers to their questions and to have any doubts cleared. But with Amma travelling more than six months out of the year, there are many times when one has to wait until Amma’s return to ask something.

This was the case for one American woman living in Amritapuri. Her question was waiting on Amma’s peetham when Amma entered the temple.

During the woman’s meditations, she had been having various experiences, and she wanted to know how to take them: “Amma, what sort of attitude and understanding should one have to the various experiences one undergoes during meditation? How much does one’s mental attitude affect how we experience these? For instance, at one time it might be a joyous experience of motherly love and, at another time, something very impersonal, like forces of nature, like little flashes of lightning and strong gusts of wind acting upon one’s being… What role does the Guru play in all of this? Why do many people go insane or become delusional and egoistic and only a few safely make it to the Goal?”

Amma told the woman that such experiences arise out of innocence. And that although one can take encouragement from such experiences, that they should not be given much importance.

“Because of one’s innocence one may have such experiences; one may feel motherly love, see divine lights or feel a cool breeze… But you should go beyond all such experiences,” Amma said. “You are on the path to realizing your oneness with God, with the Self. While travelling on a path, we see many things around us. But if we stop to see these things and forget our goal, we may never reach the goal.”

Amma said that all experiences are at the level of the mind and that the goal of spiritual life is to go beyond the mind. She said ultimately such experiences are much like dreams and, as such, they should only be given the same importance as a dream.

“The real important thing is the control we have over our mind in all situations,” Amma said. “If someone becomes angry at us, we should not react and become angry also. We should reflect, ‘Whom am I becoming angry at?’ In such situations we should remember that it is all the Atma, the Supreme Self. We should think, ‘The consciousness that is within me is within that person also. Can consciousness become angry? And if all is one, to whom can it express its anger?’ We should give more importance to the Self and not the body.”

In response to the part of the woman’s question regarding the Guru’s role in such experiences, Amma said that the Guru is like a mirror, reflecting whatever mental shortcomings one has. Amma said, “When you find yourself reacting in a negative way to different situations, you should contemplate upon the workings of your own mind, remind yourself of the Goal, and then rectify your behaviour. We should take every situation that comes in life as an opportunity for us to learn.”

Amma then explained how dangerous it is for someone to focus on and pursue mystic experiences in spiritual life. Amma said that when people get hung up on the pursuit of experiences, they often squander their entire lives wandering from place to place looking for places where the “energy feels good.” Others fall victim to spiritual entrepreneurs, who charge, say, $5000, to turn one into an avatar. “With the $5000, they say you can become an avatar after a three-week course. But without the money, it won’t happen,” Amma said. “In a search for newness, for new experiences, people go and follow all these things.”

Amma then said that charging money for teaching meditation, etc. is like a mother asking her child for payment for breast milk.

Amma said, in fact, liberation is not something one can be given; it must come from within: “If the ancient sages had to do austerities for ages in order to realize that state, how then could one get it just by paying someone some money?” Amma derided.

“When we eat sugar, we experience the sweetness. But we still are different from the sugar. We shouldn’t be an experiencer, we should become That, we should become the sugar, we should become the sweetness.”

Once again stressing how the balance of mind during all experiences is much more important than what the mind actually experiences, Amma quoted the Gita “samatvam yoga ucyate” * “Maintaining equanimity of mind in all situations should be our focus. It verily is the goal,” Amma said.

In response to the part of the woman’s question regarding people falling from the spiritual path, Amma said that the most important thing to do if one falls is to get back up and continue on. “There are many, many trees, and there can be many, many flowers on a tree. But not all the flowers become fruits. Some may fall away, others may wither, some may be eaten by insects. Along the spiritual path, there may be many falls, but if one does fall, the important thing is to not remain there, lying on the ground, enjoying the situation. You must get up and put in effort to walk further. Whatever effort you put in on this path will never be lost. You always have it with you. To realize our oneness with God may take our entire lifetime—it may take several lifetimes. You have to put in continuous effort. There is no other way. Everyone has to walk this one path. If you come upon an obstacle, you have to surmount it.

“Don’t focus on fleeting experiences,” Amma reiterated. “The things we see (pertaining to experiences mentioned in the question) are at the level of the mind. We should go beyond the mind.”


*yoga-stah kuru karmani samgam tyaktva dhananjaya
siddhyasiddhyoh samo bhutva samatvam yoga ucyate
(Bhagavad Gita 2nd chapter, verse 48)

[Remaining steadfast in yoga, Oh! Dhananjaya [Arjuna], perform actions, abandoning attachment, remaining the same to gain and loss alike. This equanimity of mind is called yoga.]

Ashram alive again

30 July 2006, Amritapuri

Amma returned to Amritapuri on Sunday, July 30th, 2006, after the recent Japan-North America yatra. She arrived at about 10:45 a.m., bringing smiles, laughter and tears of joy to the faces of Her children who had gathered to welcome Amma.

In the throng of devotees were freshmen of the Amrita University (Amritapuri campus), who had just started their first semester. To the uninitiated among them, the sight of the crowd’s ardent devotion may have been a wonder. It proved infectious. Many of them asked, “When can we meet Amma? When can we get Her darshan?” The students, who were from various parts of India, craned their necks to catch a glimpse of their beloved Amma. Many voices, from many directions, called out “Amma! Amma!”

Amma, beaming with loving compassion, looked left, right, in front, behind and even above, for there were people crammed on the balcony above and lining the spiral staircase near Amma’s room too. After spending some time chatting with Her children and cracking jokes, Amma walked back to Her room.

Amritapuri had come alive again!


Amma’s darshan in Amritapuri will start from 5th Saturday August 2006 onwards.

Amma is making our world a better place

23 July 2006 — Richmond Hill, Ontario

Dr. Ruby Dhalla, Member of Parliament for the riding of Brampton-Springdale, welcomed Amma to Canada for the second time. Dr. Dhalla, who is the youngest women to have ever been elected to the Canadian Parliament, began by saying that she was honoured to be in the presence of Amma, not only as an MP and on behalf of the Government, but as also as an individual.

“To be able to come in the presence of Amma and to be blessed by her, I think is truly one of life’s most memorable moments,” Dr. Dhalla said before the packed hall in Richmond Hill, Ontario, just outside of Toronto.

After garlanding Amma and presenting her with a memento from the Canadian Government, Dr. Dhalla talked about her experience when she first welcomed Amma to Canada in 2004.

“Even as an individual who has always believed and God and believed in spirituality and in the importance of having those values inside of you, I really did not know much about Amma. So in 2004, it was really my first opportunity to meet Amma and had opportunity to make a presentation with my newly elected title. And I can tell you that visiting Amma, … I was truly, truly touched. And throughout the last two years, I have the first picture that I ever took with Amma up on my wall.”

Dr. Dhalla continued, “I think Amma has been the source of inspiration and the source of hope to not only Canadians here in Canada, but so many people throughout the world.

“And just recently I visited India, and I can tell you I was quite taken aback by the number of billboards that display Amma’s pictures, by the number of schools and the number of organizations that speak so highly of the great work that Amma and all the people that are devoted to her and follow her throughout the world [are doing].

“And I can definitely tell you that she is making our world a better place, by touching people and giving them the hope, the inspiration and the empowerment.

“So, Amma, we welcome you to Canada. We hope that you continue to come back and bless the children of Canada and the children throughout the world to create a peaceful, prosperous and happier society where there is more love and more compassion. … We wish you well, and we hope that you continue to provide all of us with hope, guidance, love and empowerment. Thank you so much.”


We welcome the dance of the holy mother

19 July 2006 — Marlborough, Massachusetts, USA

Amma was welcomed to her programs in Marlborough, Massachusetts by Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo, holder of the Ywahoo lineage and chief of the Green Mountain Ani Yunwiwa. Trained by her grand parents, she is the 27th generation to carry the ancestral wisdom of the Ywahoo lineage.

“Mother Wisdom is a seed in each and every one of us, and we see this played so wondrously through the activities of the Holy Mother’s emanation here,” Dhyani Ywahoo said to the packed hall in Marlborough. “In these times there is much suffering that arises from sectarianism. And it is good that we can each trace the Seeds of Wisdom that are inherent in all to that Great Tree of Peace. Holy Mother, Holy Father, essence of each and every one, and from beginningless time it is the natural state of our minds—luminosity.

“We welcome the dance of the Holy Mother as she moves through the United States. As a grandmother, I see her works and I am thankful. And most importantly, I see the inspiration, the light that moves in each of you through her kindness. The greatest medicine, it is the cohesive medicine of love. And this energy flows through each and everyone. May that wisdom seed in each flower grow and continuously come forward as skillful methods of her conciliation. And may thy love be like a drum. Where there is the sound of war, may it bring forth the harmonies of reconciliation. Where there is the sound of sorrow and loneliness, may the power of love that flows through each of us be a river that washes away shame and blame. Through the kindness of the Holy Mother, who flows through each and every one, and the example of her works through Amma, may we all be inspired to do what needs doing for the benefit of all.”


Blast the message of love

11 July 2006 — McLean Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, USA

During each of Amma’s programs, Amma has those gathered pray for the peace and happiness of everyone in the world. And in almost all of Amma’s talks, she recalls the seemingly endless list of tragedies—both natural and man-made—that the world is facing. Yesterday added yet another: the eight railway station bomb blasts that claimed at least 190 lives and wounded hundreds of others in Mumbai. The tragedy cast its pale across Amma’s evening program, causing the two ambassadors attending the program to comment on how only Amma’s message of love can overcome such senseless acts of hatred.

Ambassador Vijay Nambiar—the Under Secretary General to Kofi Anan, the Secretary General of the United Nations—was the first to garland Amma and welcome her to the Washington D.C. area. Ambassador Nambiar also serves as the Deputy National Security Advisor to the Government of India and as the Head of the National Security Council Secretariat.

“It is of course a great blessing and privilege to be here at this session,” he said, “but we speak in the shadow of a great tragedy, a sadness, a kind of bizarre epiphany of hatred and violence, which has taken place in Mumbai just a few hours ago, which has caused a lot of death and destruction. What is it that one should reflect upon on this kind of an occasion, against and opposed to the kind of message of hatred that these acts seek to project? I can only think of the message of love which Amma typifies and embodies—the spontaneity, the undiscriminating, unconditional compassion and love that she extends to everybody. I suppose we need to reflect on this to be able to project it, to be able to reflect it to the rest of our fellow human beings.

“I can only say that it is events like what happened in Mumbai which make us feel, sometimes helpless, but also responsible in each of our individual ways to spread the message of Amma’s love to all our fellow human beings.”

Bernard Gunatileke, the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States, agreed with his fellow diplomat. “My good friend Ambassador Vijay Nambiar mentioned about the kind of world in which we live today,” he said after garlanding Amma. “It has been a historical fact: the kind of hatred we have towards each other, the greed we have in our hearts and the suffering we have to undergo whilst we are living in this world. They are all too common to us and we know all of them. And in that kind of a background to have a holy person like Amma to provide advice to us, to convey the message of love to the people, to come to the assistance of those who are needy as a humanitarian, I think we are all blessed by her presence.”

Ambassador Gunatileke went on to speak about how Amma’s humanitarian aid came to his country’s assistance in the wake of the 2004 Asian tsunami. “The tsunami, which took place almost one and a half years ago, made it possible for many Sri Lankans to come to know who Amma is and what her mission is in this world. In the aftermath of the tsunami, she visited Sri Lanka, made considerable contributions towards alleviating the sufferings of those who have undergone untold difficulties as a result of that natural disaster. She built houses and made other contributions to make their lives a little bit better than what it was. For that contribution, I think, as a Sri Lankan and as a nation, all of us in Sri Lanka are very grateful to her.”

Ambassador Gunatileke concluded by saying that he hoped the people of America’s capitol would have many more occasions to have Amma’s blessings. “I certainly hope, there will be many other occasions where we will be able to spend time with her and get her to bless us, so that we will be as far as possible from the kind of world we are living in—where hatred is, where greed is, where we have less love than what we should display towards other human beings.”


Diminishing distances

Guru Purnima in Amritapuri

10 July 2006, Amritapuri

For many years now, residents of Amritapuri have been celebrating Guru Purnima in the Guru’s physical absence. This is because Amma is usually in the U.S. during that time of the year. Amma usually calls though, and hearing Her soulful voice is the day’s highlight for ashram residents. This year, there was something new: a ‘live’ web casting of Amma’s programs from Iowa.

That was why ashram residents began the morning archana half an hour earlier, at 4:30 a.m., so that they could be ready to watch the ‘live’ transmission. Everyone gathered around the huge screen that had been erected in the hall. At 5:30 a.m. sharp, Amma appeared on the screen, much to everyone’s joy. She was giving a satsang, which Swami Amritaswarupananda was translating. It was a poignant moment: the sight of Amma sharpened the pangs of separation; yet, the sense of exhilaration one felt at the sight of their beloved Amma talking, smiling, joking and laughing was palpable. More than once, Amma looked straight into the camera. The ashram residents couldn’t help but feel that She was looking at them.

After the satsang, Swamiji led the archana. As he called in Iowa, the ashram residents in Amritapuri responded joyfully with “Om Parashaktyai Namaha.” Truly, where there is technology, distance is diminished! This fact reminded Her children of one of Amma’s sayings: “Where there is love, distance is no barrier.”

The live transmission of the bhajans sung by the swamis infused devotional fervour in the hearts of all. The bhajans were followed by the Devi Bhava darshan, all of which was web cast ‘live.’ What an auspicious way to start the holy day!

At 8:30 a.m. in Amritapuri, Swami Turiyamritananda performed the guru paduka puja (worship of Amma’s sandals). During the paduka puja, ashram residents chanted Vedic mantras, including the Guru Stotram, Durga Suktam and Purusha Suktam. This was followed by bhajans, arati and the partaking of prasad. Later in the morning, everyone gathered to listen to satsangs by brahmacharis.


The web casting had not been interrupted in the meantime. Some sat in front of the screens, watching Amma giving darshan. In the afternoon, Amma’s Guru Purnima message (in Malayalam) was played. (had recorded it earlier). In the message, Amma mentioned how Krishna had left Vrindavan for good. “But where did He go from there?” Amma asked. “He went to the Vrindavan of our hearts, to the Yamuna River of Love, and there He will dance the rasa lila1 forever.” Amma exhorted Her children to remember this story, as it illustrates how the gopis, who had overflowing love and devotion towards the Lord, could achieve within a relatively short time what the rishis (seers) took thousands of years to attain.

The ashram residents also heard a satsang by Swamiji. In it, he mentioned that the relationship between a Guru and a disciple is the peak of love and devotion. He also explained the significance of worshipping the Guru’s feet or sandals: they represent the ultimate Truth, of which the Guru is an embodiment.

While giving darshan, Amma spent time speaking with both the brahmacharis and the brahmacharinis in India, occasionally pointing to various people on the computer screen, calling their names and sending them kisses.

When Amma finished giving Devi Bhava darshan, Swamiji performed pada puja. Though the ceremony was taking place across the Atlantic, all the ashram residents felt as if they were physically present with Amma. Everyone sang along with Swamiji as he intoned the Guru Stotram. And as Swamiji offered flower petals at Amma’s feet while chanting Amma’s Ashtottaram [108 names], all the ashram residents offered petals of their heart to Amma.

At the end of Devi Bhava, when Amma got up, Swamiji started singing ‘Amma, Amma, Taye.’ The joy of those in Amritapuri knew no bounds. It had been a long time since there was Devi Bhava darshan in Amritapuri. And to be blessed to witness it on Guru Purnima was, all felt, nothing but Amma’s divine grace.


1 An enchanting episode from the life of the gopis in which many Krishnas were manifested to dance with each of the gopis.

Guru Poornima in Iowa 2006

Guru Poornima happened this year to be in Iowa during Amma her annual USA tour in 2006.

Amma was giving prasad after the Guru Poornima celebration.

A symbol and promoter of peace

2 July 2006 — Addison, Texas, USA

On 2nd July in Addison, Texas, Amma was officially welcomed by the town’s mayor, Joe Chow. Mayor Chow has in fact welcomed Amma to Addison for several years now. “Amma has done so much for the world, not only India,” he said. “She is a symbol of peace. It is not a religion that she preaches; it is her love to the world.”

5 July 2006 — Chicago, Illinois, USA

On the evening of Amma’s first day in the Chicago area, Amma was garlanded by Illinois State Representative Patricia R. Belloch. Delivering a few words of welcome on behalf of State Senator Dillard and Illinois Governor Blagojevich, Representative Belloch said, “We are honoured to have such a wonderful humanitarian and spiritual leader in our midst.” Then, after enumerating some of Amma’s humanitarian activities, Representative Belloch declared “Amma’s main mission is to promote peace and harmony through her words and works. It is an honour to be here and to get a hug.”