Embrace scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom

amma-doctorate_06These are selected quotes from the address of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi  upon receiving an Doctorate of Humane letters from State University of New York 25 May 2010.

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“Spiritual education is a training that helps us to truly understand ourselves. It gives us strength and helps us comprehend  the deeper realms of knowledge. It gives us the ability to face life’s challenges with courage and equanimity of mind.”

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“Education is not only to help us live a comfortable life of plenty. When our plans fall apart, when we face failure and loss, when we are knocked down, education should help us get back on our feet. Education should help us regain our mental  equipoise, self-confidence and positive attitude, so that we can continue forward.”

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“In fact, studying is a form of austerity. It’s a process, like the bud unfolding into the beautiful fragrance spreading flower.  Understanding this, we should approach our topic of study with love and patience.”

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“The world of knowledge is limitless; the possibilities are as vast as the universe. Therefore, before deciding whether a discovery is beneficial or detrimental, we need to contemplate with a meditative mind.”

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“When we are walking, if our mind suddenly tells our feet to stop, they will do so. When we are clapping, if our mind tells  our hands to stop, they will immediately become still. But if we tell our thoughts to stop, will they  listen? No. We need to  cultivate the same level of control over our mind as we have over our physical body. This is the goal of meditation.”

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“Few of us ever try to still the mind, but in reality, it is from the still mind that many wondrous discoveries and inventions  have taken birth.”

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“Knowledge is like a river. Its nature is to constantly flow. Wherever it can flow, it does so, nourishing culture. On the other  hand, the same knowledge, if devoid of values becomes a source of destruction for the world. When values and knowledge become one,there can be no more powerful instrument for the welfare of humankind. Today, physicists have even begun  investigating the possibility that the essential substratum of the manifest universe and the individual are one and the same.  We are standing on the threshold of a new era wherein material science and spirituality will move forward hand in hand.”
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“It is Amma’s prayer that we develop the expansive-mindedness to embrace both scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom. We can no longer afford to see these two streams of knowledge as flowing in opposite directions. In truth, they complement one another. If we merge these streams, we will find that we are able to create a mighty river—a river whose waters can remove suffering and spread life to all of humanity.”

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UB conferred doctorate to Mata Amritanandamayi Devi

amma-doctorate_0325 May 2010 — Buffalo, New York

The State University of New York (SUNY) presented Amma with an honorary doctorate in humane letters at a special ceremony held on May 25 at Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall on the University at Buffalo North Campus.

Dr. John B. Simpson, the President of State University of New York at Buffalo, addressed the gathering, which included a mix of SUNY Buffalo faculty and students, as well as faculties from Amrita University.

amma-doctorate_06“Through this conferral, we pay tribute to the far-reaching contributions of a distinguished educational leader, prominent humanitarian and esteemed spiritual leader. Through her leadership of Amrita University as well as through her humanitarian work, Chancellor Amma exemplifies the value of international dialogue and dedicated public service in the global arena. These are values at the core of the University at Buffalo’s mission as an internationalized public university seeking to prepare our students to contribute meaningfully to the global world,” he said.

Just prior to the actual conferral of the degree, President Simpson said, “In great appreciation of [Amma’s] extraordinary humanitarian service and commitment to expanding educational opportunities and international cooperation throughout the world, the University at Buffalo is privileged to confer upon her the State University of New York Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters. State University of New York honorary degrees—proposed by our campus and approved by the State University Board of Trustees—represent the highest form of recognition accorded by the State University. These degrees are conferred upon individuals of exceptional distinction, whose achievements and contributions serve as inspiring examples to the university’s students.”

amma-doctorate_04SUNY Trustee Eunice Lewin then said, “By virtue of the authority vested in me, the faculty of the State University of New York concurring, I confer upon Chancellor [of Amrita University] Mata Amritanandamayi Devi the degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.  In token thereof, I hand you this diploma and hood appropriate to the degree.”

President Simpson and SUNY Lewin then placed the ceremonial cowl over Amma’s shoulders to thunderous applause. Amma is the first Indian to receive this honour.

Amma then delivered an address on education, in which she discussed the importance of including universal spiritual values in core curricula, the role of meditation in developing and gaining control over the mind, and the complimentary relationship of scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom, among other topics.

photo by Nancy J. Parisiamma-doctorate_05Amma said, “It is Amma’s prayer that we develop the expansive-mindedness to embrace both scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom. We can no longer afford to see these two streams of knowledge as flowing in opposite directions. In truth, they compliment one another. If we merge these streams, we will find that we are able to create a mighty river—a river whose waters can remove suffering and spread life to all of humanity.

Other dignitaries to address the gathering included Dr. Satish K. Tripathi, Provost of University at Buffalo, and Dr. Stephen Dunnett, University at Buffalo, Vice-Provost for International Education.

“Because of Chancellor Amma’s vision, thoughtful leadership and commitment to academic excellence, the University at Buffalo and Amrita University faculty and students have benefitted from an ambitious educational and research partnership,” said UB Provost Satish K. Tripathi.

“As the UB/Amrita partnership has grown, I know it has been largely due to Amma’s behind-the-scenes role in nurturing and encouraging our institutional relationship. From the beginning, she has seen the potential of this partnership for the benefit of our respective universities and our faculty and students.

“Moreover, in these challenging times, it is heartening to know that our students’ worldview and life approach are expanded and enriched through their appreciation of the transformational impact of global humanitarian work which is modeled exquisitely by Chancellor Amma.”

The ceremony was exquisitely arranged with performances of both classical music both from India and the West, including organ performances by University at Buffalo faculty Roland E. Martin and students of the Natya School of Indican Classical Dance in Buffalo, directed by Tejaswini Rao.

-Kannadi

Amma receives doctorate of humane letters from SUNY

25 May 2010
Buffalo, New York
The State University of New York (SUNY) presented spiritual leader and humanitarian Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) with an honorary doctorate in humane letters at a special ceremony held at 2 p.m. on May 25 at Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall on the University at Buffalo North Campus.

SUNY bestowed the doctorate upon Amma in recognition of her tireless efforts on behalf of global peace, for her commitment to education and for the far-reaching impact of her charitable organizations in relieving poverty and human suffering in India and around the world.

Addressing the gathering, President Dr. John B. Simpson, the President of the University at Buffalo (State University of New York), said, “Through this conferral, we pay tribute to the far-reaching contributions of a distinguished educational leader, prominent humanitarian and esteemed spiritual leader. Through her leadership of Amrita University as well as through her humanitarian work, Chancellor Amma exemplifies the value of international dialogue and dedicated public service in the global arena. These are values at the core of the University at Buffalo’s mission as an internationalized public university seeking to prepare our students to contribute meaningfully to the global world.”

As part of the award ceremony, Amma delivered an address on education, in which she discussed the importance of including universal spiritual values in core curricula, the role of meditation in developing and gaining control over the mind, and the complimentary relationship of scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom, among other topics.

Amma said, “It is Amma’s prayer that we develop the expansive-mindedness to embrace both scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom. We can no longer afford to see these two streams of knowledge as flowing in opposite directions. In truth, they compliment one another. If we merge these streams, we will find that we are able to create a mighty river—a river whose waters can remove suffering and spread life to all of humanity.”

Other dignitaries to address the gathering included Dr. Satish K. Tripathi, Provost of University at Buffalo, and Dr. Stephen Dunnett, University at Buffalo, Vice-Provost for International Education.
SUNY is a renowned public university with 64 campuses across the state of New York. Its four main centers are in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stonybrook. Its total student body is 440,000 students.

Others receiving honorary doctorates from SUNY this year include MapQuest founder Barry Glick, pioneering AIDS/HIV- researcher Dr. Robert Vince, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steve Reich.

GreenFriends towards greener society

GreenFriends representatives from several European countries met in the French Ashram, for an Easter retreat from 2 to 5 of April,  to launch GreenFriends (Europe), the informal network of all Embracing-the-World’s Green Initiatives in Europe.

The three-day retreat was a meeting to motivate, cultivate and develop newer ideas on Green initiatives for fostering the planet. On 2nd evening, few party games were organized as an ice-breaker to blend participants from various countries and cultures. The mornings on the next two days consisted of several workshops. People blended well with each other by doing common activities: building of the mandala garden for the ashram’s seed garden, bread cooking in the traditional wood oven, GrowIn workshops in the French ashram GrowIn space, making ecological plasters with lime, straw and clay, walking meditation in Nature, sharing experiences on the use of Effective Microorganisms, organic vegetable gardening amongst many more. A large party was organized on the last day evening that was more joy and less musings.

Several decisions were made and new commitments were setup as part of the meeting. On the evening of April 3rd,  11 selected projects from all over Europe were presented, as well as an UNESCO Initiative on education for sustainable living, that Embracing-the-World has started to promote as essential for green living. On the morning of April 5th, a large meeting enabled the participants to discuss the best way to work together in the future. GreenFriends (Europe) will start a European Volunteer Service Initiative in partnership with the European Commission and will use AVIEW, the video conference tool developed by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, for bimonthly e-meetings.

As satsang to all participants, Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya introduced the ecological issues that can be taken up by today’s youth. Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya emphasised the interest in today’s world to build ecological spiritual centers during her satsang. The French ashram has started building a network of ecological spiritual centers from different traditions.

The best time during the retreat was the inaugural puja for the new bee sanctuary. This project, known as BABEL, is an important project for the French ashram and had created motivational harmony amongst youth during its initial phase. This inauguration was a moment of sharing, full of joy, simplicity and grace. On the morning of April 5th, the first bee swarm was installed in the sanctuary.

The GreenFriends retreat concluded with many sharing the feeling of gratefulness. There was also an expressed desire from all participants towards a harmonious collaboration for a greener world.

Sprouting of GrowIn

italyOn the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (18th of April) AYUDH groups around the world connected via an internet web-cast to plant seeds together. Amma had blessed and inaugurated the GrowIn project on her last tour in EU and USA. {news} AYUDH community gardens have sprung up in USA, Germany, France, India and Australia.

As a second phase of the GrowIn project, AYUDH wanted to inspire individuals to grow their own vegetables at home. This new initiative as part of GrowIn was launched to create a feeling of togetherness amongst the “green-youth” and to provide them with professional guidance in setting up a small garden in their homes – on a balcony or a window shelf. Like the big tree that comes from a little seed, the open themes of the GrowIn range from green farming and agriculture to the many global issues such as those dealt with in the upcoming Milan Expo 2015.

People from many countries such as Germany, France, Austria, Ireland, Belgium and Kenya took part in the webcast and highlighted the work on many different vegetables that they could grow in small spaces. Australian youth had also joined in the action by planting seeds on that day although web-casting was not possible due to time differences. Every participant had prepared little country-flags, which were placed into the freshly planted pots, so that it can be noticed in pictures online where each pot is from. It was decided that each group will take photos of their plants in regular intervals and upload them online. AYUDH Italy had even organized some seminar talks to the participants by some local experts on Energy conservation and Solar Energy and had planted several vegetables on a small balcony garden at a house beside a famous Lake near Milan.

Uniting hearts in Kottayam

8 May, Kottayam, Kerala – Bharata Yatra 2010

Answering the prayers of her children in Kottayam, Amma held a one-day public program in the city. Even though Kottayam is only 80 kilometers away from Amritapuri ashram, the local devotees had been requesting Amma to hold a special public program in their city for a long time. Amma had held a program here 25 years ago, in 1985. A huge crowd came to see Amma and have her darshan.

Among the dignitaries on the stage, two very distinguished guests who came to greet Amma and help inaugurate some of the charitable activities in the Kottayam area, included the archbishop of the Syro Malankara Church, Baselios Mar Cleemis, and the respected Malliyur Shankaran Nambootiri, who is renowned for his spiritual talks on the Shrimad Bhagavatam. It was amazing to see the unity of religions represented by the Archbishop’s attendance and the sacrifice of the old Bhagavata teacher, who came in spite of being 90 years of age and under physical strain.
MLAs, Sri N. Jayaraj and Sri V.N. Vasavan and the Chairperson of Kottayam Municipality, Sri Bindu Santhosh Kumar,  were also present on the stage.

The archbishop praised Amma’s charitable activities, saying that they arose out of love, and that it was love that was also embodied in the life of Jesus Christ. He said that he prays for God’s Grace that Amma may continue to spread this love, which is so necessary in this world.

Several dignitaries helped to inaugurate the charitable activities in the area. Scholarships were distributed to students as part of the ‘Vidyamritam’ free educational scholarship. Working capital was distributed to members of the ‘Amrita Shree’ self-help program. Villagers from Vijayapuram took a pledge in the presence of Amma that they would renounce consuming alcohol and other intoxicants, in order to bring about a totally intoxicant-free village.

During satsang, Amma talked about the importance of giving. ‘Without giving and taking, there is no life’. She stressed on the negative effect that alcohol and intoxicants have on individuals and the society, and urged people to shun such bad habits. ‘When you take intoxicants, it isn’t alcohol or ganja that you consume. It is the tears and blood of your family and friends’ Amma reminded every one.

There were a variety of cultural performances by the students of Amrita Vidyalayam. Amma sang a beautiful set of bhajans, and led a short meditation. All people were given free food and Amma gave darshan from 10 in the night until 8 in the morning the next day.

– Kannadi

IAM meditation at Budapest

The third  Integrated Amrita Meditation course was conducted in Hungary’s capital Budapest at a beautiful place outside the city in April 2010

The participants where invited to join the regular satsang and meditation sessions. As many of the participants already knew Amma, they all had the strong wish that Amma will come to Hungary soon.

budapest

The power to change

metro-treeOn the occasion of International Earth day on the 22nd of April, AYUDH members decided to stand up and do something in the society. They set plans to bring about a change first in themselves and then in the society, the change that will make our planet a better place to live in.

Ayudh Delhi celebrated Earth day by putting up stalls at two of the major centres in Delhi, one at Saket Select City Mall, one of the biggest and posh malls in Delhi and the other at Rajiv Chowk Metro Station, the busiest metro station in Delhi.

The concept was that the people had to liven up the Earth – depicted by a dry tree on the verge of death with the leaves of their ideas, ideas of how they can make a change to the environment and our Earth. They gave the visitors leaf shaped paper – on which they could write how they could bring about a difference and then put it up on this leafless tree.

mall-treeThe response at both centres was impressive. In the Metro station stall, the tree filled up with leaves in about 20 minutes! They then had to put overlapping leaves up on the tree. People from all walks of life…rich and poor, old and young thronged the installation to pin up their ideas to the tree. Those who came first, then brought their friends and relatives. The children had a gala time participating in the quiz contest organised for them. People were seen looking at what other people had written, certainly in order to know more of what they can do, in addition to what they had thought of. People pledged to follow what they were writing.

The success of their effort was in the fact that they were able to instantly influence a change in the attitude of people towards our planet – although many spoke passionately about how bad they felt at the situation of the planet and how helpless they felt in dealing with it. However they also said that AYUDH stall had helped them realise that there are many people out there sharing their concern and if each one is to do their part well, we could still save the Earth. Their despair had turned into hope and that they would be more cautious of what they do in future.

The Earth day celebrations concluded reminding that there is still lots more to do that needs to be done.

– Dass