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Feminine and masculine qualities should evolve hand-in-hand in family life

In family life feminine qualities and masculine qualities should evolve hand-in-hand. Only then will we experience fullness. That is the reason why some children raised by single mothers or fathers have problems. For the child’s mind and intellect to mature it should receive the supervision of both the mother and the father. The mother’s love and breast milk are important for the growth of the child’s heart. The love and disciplining of the father also help to develop the child’s intellect. In the same way, the wife’s good qualities should support the husband and vice versa. Otherwise it will be like trying to cross a river without a boat. Do they know how to swim? No, they don’t. It is difficult for such people to reach the other shore of life.

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When Amma says ‘In family life both masculine qualities and feminine qualities are needed’ she means- at times, the father may scold the child and he can find solace in his mother. Likewise, when the mother scolds, the child finds solace in his father. This helps in building character. When one of the parents is tough, the other gives comfort to the child. Thus, the children are not so affected. And the scolding won’t remain as an inner burden.

Abroad, many Indian children ask, “will my parents stay together with me?” Even western kids shed tears over the same type of question. “I am sad that my parents are going to divorce.” “Amma! Please help them resolve their fight.” Divorce and marriage are common in the west. However, the children don’t have the inner strength to accept the separation of their parents. Even India is slowly becoming like the west. Amma feels sad when she sees this. The children cry, saying, “My dad is a drunkard, please help.” It seems some of the parents give birth to children just only to give tension to them. It is children who think about the future and feel sad. They get worried thinking, “Will my parents get divorced? Will dad come home drunk and fight with mom? Will mom leave me? or Will mom be abandoned? Mom doesn’t have anyone to support her. She need to get a job and care me as well. If they get separated, what will happen to dad?” Thus the children shed tears. Even at a tender age the children shed tears for their parents. Usually, it is parents who shed tears for the children and now the opposite is happening.
Many young children wonder, ‘Will my parents refine their behaviour? Will they get along?’ Unfortunately, this is the lesson that parents are giving to the present generation. The children who are born out for their pleasure are also made sad. So, parents need to be patient and tolerant for the sake of the children created by them. And this will be a new creation!! One can get educated and undergo practical training to find a job. But sadly people don’t undergo training about life.  When the depth and dedication of our love decrease, our love is degraded to mere bodily attraction and lust. Without two there can be no creation. Love is the power that changes this notion of duality to the experience of oneness.

-from Amma’s Satsang

read more about Love

 

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Love is the center point of life with no regulations

Love is a maha-mantra

“My dear children, without a center we cannot draw a perfect circle. In the same way, without the center-point of love, our lives can never be complete. The roots of a tree are what hold it firmly to the Earth. Similarly, it is the powerful roots of love running deep within the mind that keep people’s individual and social lives firm in all circumstances, without swaying or being uprooted. Children, love is a maha-mantra. It is a mantra that gives one the strength to face any kind of challenge. But it is not a mantra to be chanted with the lips. It has to be expressed through our words and actions. It is a divine mantra that helps one to accept others as they are and gives them relief from their sorrows. If it becomes a part of life, distance disappears and the feeling of closeness prevails. All sorrows disappear.

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“As love grows within, compassion, patience, prosperity and beauty grow along with it. But today this mantra is only chanted with the lips and used as a tool to exploit others. When the depth and dedication of our love decrease, our love is degraded to mere bodily attraction and lust. Without two there can be no creation. Love is the power that changes this notion of duality to the experience of oneness.

Without two there can be no creation. Love is the power that changes this notion of duality to the experience of oneness.

Love has a rhythm, but one

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“Real love can be spontaneously gained only from spiritual understanding. That can be likened to the blossoming of a flower. In response to sunlight the flower blooms spontaneously. Similarly, by gaining spiritual knowledge the heart opens naturally. We develop the right perspective towards others.

“Each person’s breath has a natural rhythm. Just as finger prints vary from person to person, the breathing rhythm varies from person to person. But the action of inhalation is the same in everyone. The nature of love is always the same. The way it is manifested might differ from person to person, but love is one.

If can’t love, don’t get angry at least

“If we can’t love everyone, at least we shouldn’t get angry at others. We should at least strive for this. A lover never tells his beloved, “I shall love you tomorrow at 12 pm.” In pure love there are no regulations. When the brother goes running, we might feel, ‘He shouldn’t slip and fall.’ If he falls we lift him with compassion, isn’t so?. Spiritual understanding will give us a similar attitude towards others. Though we see the sun’s reflection in 100 pots of water there is still just one sun. Right spiritual understanding will help us see everyone as Atman.”

-from Amma’s Satsang

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The meaning and importance of Navaratri worship

Children, Navaratri is an occasion for worshiping Parashakti, the Almighty Goddess, who is the cause of the universe.

Navaratri is a time for vows, austerities and worship. The ways of worshiping vary from place to place. In some places, a different aspect of Devi is worshiped on each day. In other places, She is worshiped as Kali or Durga during the first three days, as Lakshmi in the next three days, and as Saraswati in the last three days. In yet other places, the worship is performed only during the last three days.

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Negativities such as excessive sleepiness, sloth, lust, anger, pride, envy, impatience and a lack of faith are obstacles to doing spiritual practices and making spiritual progress. Conquering them through penance and thus attaining spiritual fulfillment—this is the principle that Navaratri conveys. Not only that, through prayer, one also gains power, auspiciousness and knowledge. Through vows, we can increase our will power and gain greater self-control. Vijayadasami marks the successful completion of this occasion.

On the day of Durga-ashtami, we offer our books and the tools of our trade for puja (worship) as an expression of gratitude for the blessings received in the previous year.

A tailor keeps his needle for puja, and a warrior, his gun. Likewise, a doctor or a butcher might keep the tools of his trade for worship. This is because people depend on them to earn their living. By offering the tools to God, one commits to performing all work as worship.

Thereafter, we receive them as Prasad, and begin life afresh. Vijayadasami is an auspicious occasion for any new noble undertaking. We initiate children into learning that day by making them write the syllables  “Harishree…”. The mantra, “ ॐ  हरिः  श्री  गणपतये नमः  / Om Hari Shree Ganapataye Namah,” represents the whole universe of letters. Human beings gain knowledge mainly through the alphabet. When Devi, who is the embodiment of language, shines forth in the mind and on the tongue, the mute becomes eloquent, and the illiterate, scholarly.
The ultimate truth is Pure Consciousness. It undergoes no change when the universe manifests from It. We refer to the power behind it as Devi. God and divine power are not two; they are one and the same, just as sun and its light, honey and its sweetness, a word and its meaning.

We have the freedom to worship God in any form we like. We can worship Him as Mother, Father, Guru, Friend, the Lord or as our own child. The only thing is, our worship should be based on spiritual principles.  Among human relationships, the one between mother and child is highest. The child has total freedom with his mother. He gets what he wants by crying or through willfulness. Even if the mother spanks her child, he will hold on to her tightly. “I have no other refuge than the mother”—this is his attitude. No matter what the cause of his distress, he finds consolation in his mother’s lap. This is the attitude we should have towards God.  The mother is the embodiment of patience. No matter how many times the child errs, the mother forgives him repeatedly and showers her affection on him. However, most mothers have such love only for their own children, whereas the Divine Mother’s attitude combines both love towards all beings in the universe and spiritual discipline.

Some ask ‘why we refer to Devi as Maya. Doesn’t Maya lead us to delusion, sorrow and bondage? Why then do we worship Devi’? The universe is the visible manifestation of Devi. She pervades all forms. As She is everything, Maya, too, is Devi. Devi is the one who liberates both Maya and the Mayavi (magician) from delusion. Devi is knowledge and ignorance. Knowledge leads one to Truth. Ignorance leads one to untruth and sorrow. Because Devi is everything, She is both knowledge and ignorance, as well as the supreme truth, which is the substratum of both. Maya is nothing other than our own mind. It is not some outer force. Maya is the root form of the mind. The mind is the cause of bondage and liberation.

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Once, a band of thieves robbed a person of his valuables, bound him with rope, and pushed him inside a well. The victim shouted for help. Hearing his calls, a few people went to the well. Seeing him, they threw a rope inside the well and saved him. A rope bound him. Later, another rope saved him. Similarly, the mind alone is the cause of both bondage and liberation. We can lock the door when we turn the key towards left; unlock the door when we turn towards the right. But the key remains the same. How we use it determines whether we unlock the door or not. Similarly, the mind alone is the cause of both bondage and liberation. Most of our sorrows are caused by misconceptions. At dusk, the sun sets into the sea. A child cries, imagining the sun is drowning. Such is the case with most of our sorrows.

God has assigned everything its own place in the universe. There is no great or small. See and revere everyone as God. We need this equal vision. This is also the message behind the bommakkolu (multi-tiered arrangement of idols) associated with Navaratri. We worship even the most insignificant idol in the bommakkolu as a part of Devi. Supreme devotion is seeing, loving, serving and worshiping everything as the Universal Mother.

We need to awaken the right knowledge from within. We need to gain scriptural knowledge and practice those teachings in our life. May Navaratri awaken this attitude in all my children. May divine grace bless you all.

 

-Excerpts from Amma’s Navaratri message, Amritapuri, 11 Oct 2016

 

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Mankind has become a walking disaster, instead create ripples of Compassion

27 Sep 2016, Amritapuri, – Amritavarsham celebrations

Excerpts from Amma’s Birthday message

Taking more and wasting it is Adharma

“Environmental protection is one of the greatest issues mankind faces today. If only we would walk along the path shown by our ancestors, we could easily find solutions to the problems we are facing in this area. In the past, our ancestors didn’t need to ‘try to protect Nature’ because their very lives themselves protected Nature. Environmental protection was inherent in their very lifestyle, worship and cultural customs. Reverence and respect towards all creatures and creation was an integral part of their life. It was ingrained in them that they should take only what was needed from Nature, without exploiting and destroying Her. But in today’s world, we see humans taking from Nature and their fellow human beings without any limit. Moreover, they often destroy them at the same time. Taking more and wasting it is Adharma. Both, a Rs. 1,000 watch and a Rs. 100,000 watch would show the same time. But if we can be content with the Rs. 1,000 watch, we can use the rest of the money for the poor and needy.”

 

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The plague of terrorism:

“Terrorism has become one of humanity’s foremost problems, robbing society of its peace,” she said. “Statistics show that around 1,200 large-scale terrorist attacks have taken place in various parts of the world in 2016 alone. Today our waking reality is worse than our most terrifying nightmare.”
“Natural disasters may not be under our control,” Amma added, “but we do have some technology that can signal us as they are approaching. However, science has yet to be able to invent a device that can detect the disasters man carries in his mind. Today mankind has become a walking disaster!”

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Ripples of Compassion:

“God is the indivisible oneness devoid of all boundaries or separation. Mother Nature, the atmosphere, the birds and other animals, the plants and trees—each and every atom in them is overflowing with this divine power. God is fully present in all that is sentient and insentient. When we fully understand this truth, we can do nothing but love ourselves as well as everyone around us. The first ripple of love emerges from within us. When a pebble is dropped into a still pond, the first little ripple forms around the pebble itself. Gradually the circle of that ripple expands and expands until it reaches the shore. In the same way, love should start within. If we are able to purify the love inherent in us, it will gradually expand to encompass the world.”

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Perform your duties wholeheartedly with an attitude of surrender and detachment

25 August 2016 — Amritapuri

When we think about Lord Krishna, what are the first thoughts that enter our mind? Different people will answer in different ways. This is because Lord Krishna won’t allow himself to be confined within our limited thoughts and ideas. But one thing is clear: Everything about Krishna is sweet, alluring and beautiful.

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We often talk about the many facets and roles of Lord Krishna. An unparalleled protector of dharma, a skilled political strategist, advisor of the great Bhagavad-Gita, an unbeatable warrior… These are some of them. But Krishna—who, indeed, was all of these—was also love incarnate, the giver of love. The magnetism of his love enticed not just the gopis and gopas, but all of creation as well. Nature herself was charmed by the sweet notes of his bamboo flute.

The Supreme Truth is beyond thought and word. However, when the Supreme assumes a human form, accepting all the shortcomings and limitations inherent in such, and comes into our midst, we are provided with an opportunity to tangibly touch the Supreme, to know it. Not only Sri Krishna’s words, but his every movement, his every look and mood, conveyed the fullness of spiritual wisdom. His very presence was a spiritual experience. Every action of his illustrated the principles expounded in the Vedic scriptures.

It is impossible to explain the sweetness of honey with words, but just tasting a drop of honey will give us the experience of that sweetness. Similarly, in the presence of an avatara, the Supreme Truth is revealed and shines forth. Doubts turn into faith, faith turns into knowledge, and knowledge expands into experience. Avataras do not take birth and live on earth like ordinary people. They continue to live forever in human hearts as the very culture of the society into which they manifested—as the very guiding light of the world.

Their guidance stands true for all time, all countries and all people. Lord Krishna’s teachings are just as relevant today as they were 5,000 years ago. The Krishna-influence pervades and pulses in all planes of Indian culture and in the daily life of its people. Our literature, music and art are enlivened by his touch.

Lord Krishna’s life is full of paradoxes. The eternally free Lord was born in a prison. He played all the pranks and mischief of a capricious child, but also accomplished great feats beyond human capacity. He was crowned king and became the lord of the world, and yet he surrendered in defeat before the devotion of his devotees. He was an extraordinary grhasthashrami [householder], yet he maintained the pure chastity of a sannyasi.

On the occasion of the royal rajasuya yaga conducted by Yudhishthira, in the august presence of rishis and kings, Lord Krishna let Yudhishthira wash his feet as the guest of honour. Yet, the Lord was washing the feet of the other guests a short while later.

“Do what you do with complete involvement, yet remain detached”—this was Sri Krishna’s way. It is like a person lowering a bucket into a well to draw out water. Even though the bucket is immersed in the water, the bucket is firmly in the person’s hand. Even though one may be in the world, one is not bound by it. A boat does not sink because it is in the water. It sinks when the water is in the boat. Even though Sri Krishna lived in the world, he was never bound by anything.

As Arjuna’s charioteer Sri Krishna advised the Gita. He gave Arjuna his vishvarupa darsahan—the vision of his universal form. Yet, the very next moment, we see him as a charioteer, attending to Arjuna’s horses. Who else but the Lord could hold things so seemingly opposite in the palm of his hand?

A person who has worked as an officer may not be willing to work as errand boy. He may protest, “How can an officer like me do such menial work?” Sri Krishna became a child when he was amongst children. He became a youth in the company of the young. He danced with the gopis and became their friend. When his friends were hungry, he stole butter from the gopis houses to feed them. In fact, the gopis wanted Sri Krishna to steal the butter from their houses! Hence, through this lila he was able to kill two birds with one stone. One cannot find a mahatma who played as many roles as him.

Karma and the result – what to do?

Through his own life, the Lord illustrated the greatness of any type of work. No other spiritual teacher has expounded the value of action as much as Lord Krishna:

“O Arjuna, I stand to gain nothing in all the three worlds, yet I am continuously engaged in action. At least for the welfare of the world, do action. Perform your action with no desire of its results.”

Some people ask if this means that we should work without expecting to be paid. No, it does not. When we sow a seed, it may sprout or it may not. We may sow seeds at the right time. We may dig bore-wells and make sure that the crops get enough water. Regardless, if there is a flood just before the harvest, everything will be lost. Many people commit suicide when their actions don’t bear the expected fruit. But if one is prepared to face both kinds of results—failure and success—then one won’t fall to such extremes. Krishna’s advice is very relevant here. There is no point losing ourselves in grief. We only have the right to put in effort. The results are not in our control. Thus we should accept whatever comes to us as the fruit of our actions. His advice was to live in the world while understanding its nature. Through this, we develop the capacity to view things from a distance.

Usually, people work to fulfil their selfish desires. However, when we perform an action even for a short while without expecting anything in return, it purifies our mind. It is difficult to live selflessly. What makes us selfish are our desires. Amma does not say that it is wrong to have desires. Because many of us lack spiritual understanding, it is impossible to live without desires. We will desire food when hungry; there is nothing wrong in that. We may want money for our livelihood; that is not wrong. It is only when our desires become too many and we become ready to exploit others in order to satisfy them that desires become problematic.

If we incorporate the attitude “I am just an instrument in God’s hands,” then the burden of karma will fall away from us entirely. Only when a pen is in someone’s hands can it write letters. It does not write on its own. So too it is with a paintbrush. It does not paint on its own. Someone has to hold it to paint. We have to be like a pen or a brush in the hands of the Divine.

The Lord always wore a peacock feather on his head. What is its meaning? It means that the Lord carried all the world’s responsibilities and actions as if the were as light as a feather.

Krishna taught Arjuna that behind every action is God’s power. If we abandon the feeling of doership and surrender to being an instrument in God’s hands, that divine power will flow through us. If we become like a pipe attached to the tank, all the water in the tank can be used for the sake of many through us. When we become a zero, we truly become a hero. Whatever we want will become possible, and we will be freed from all anxiety and fear. The Lord called this capacity as karmasu kaushalam—“dexterity in action.” This is one of the most important teachings the Lord gave the world.

There are similarities and differences between the earth and Lord Krishna. The earth attracts everyone and so does Sri Krishna. However, while the earth pulls everyone down, Sri Krishna draws one and all up to the heavens. “Perform your duties wholeheartedly with an attitude of surrender and detachment. Be happy, smiling and enthusiastic in life like a child.” This was Sri Krishna’s message.

The birth of Sri Krishna

In reality baby Krishna should take birth in our hearts. It is not enough if we have faith in the doctor and take the medicines as prescribed by him. We need to follow the diet he prescribes as well. Only then will we fully regain our health. Similarly, to overcome the disease of birth and death, we have to follow certain yamas and niyamas—do’s and don’ts. Only then will the divine love or Sri Krishna take birth in our heart. May the light of the divine presence grow in your hearts, eliminating any darkness within. May this light overflow towards the whole of creation. May divine grace bless my children.

– Excerpts from Amma’s 2016 Krishna Jayanti Satsang

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Awareness is the key: Amma’s practical suggestions for a clean Yamuna river

11 April, Suhagnagari, Ferozabad , enroute to Lucknow – Bharata 2016
Amma and the group travelled to Lucknow after Vrindavan. On the way the group stopped for luch at Suhagnagari, Ferozabad. The most shaded place we found was a club – FM Green City ! Amma sat on the veranda and served lunch to all. Sang bhajans too. Amma’s visit to Vrindavan and the request of sages and saints had come in the local news papers – a collective plea to Amma to help clean the badly polluted sacred river Yamuna. A local reporter of a Hindi newspaper called Hindusthan of Ferozabad edition just appeared from nowhere and started asking Amma about her thoughts on the subject. Amma happily replied to him for all his queries.

Amma said:  “For such a project, all have to come together to make it possible. First, we have to create awareness among people. Without awareness, it will be like the elephant’s bath. An elephant takes a bath, and then covers itself with dust. At present, toilet water is going straight into the river, filling the water with harmful organisms. Thus, the first step is to stop toilet water from going into the river.

“Amma’s children have cleaned the Pampa river {news}. Every year, more than 2 crore people bathe in the Pampa’s waters as part of their pilgrimage to the Sabarimala temple {temple cleaning news}. After their bath, they leave their clothes behind in the river. This waste cloth has been lying there for years, rendering the waters dirty. Amma’s children cleaned the river and removed tons of waste clothing. Now, the government has put up informational signs warning people not to leave their clothes in the river, educating them about the risks. The High court of Kerala ruled that leaving cloth in the river is a crime. There is also a fine imposed on those who violate the new rule. Segregation of waste management is also important. There are one set of waste bins for these clothes, and another set for other waste. Through the media and police enforcement, more awareness is created. After our 5th year of cleaning the Pampa river, the situation has improved by about 80%. However, neither toilet water nor factory waste waters flow into the Pampa river.

Dirty, polluted black water – Yamuna river

“Here the case is different. The Yamuna is a long river. It passes through many different states. The state governments should give permission, co-operate and help to clean the river. The sewage water should not go into the river. Toilets should be built for all those living on the riverbanks; for those who do not have space for a toilet on their property, community toilets should be created. Sewage treatment plants need to be set up in each area. For every 1,000 houses, there should be one such plant. Alternatively, biogas generators can handle the waste.

“In dealing with the factories, a subsidy should be given to create a method to properly dispose of waste. If a given factory failed to do so in a stipulated period of time, the facility could be fined or even have electricity and water supply disconnected.

“Trusts and committees should be formed, with the cooperation of the affected communities and government officials. People can be hired to implement the above policies. Cleaning the Yamuna River can only be accomplished if many people come together to make it happen.

“Ultimately, we need more awareness; changes in the laws are not enough. For example, diabetic people take medications, but if they continue to eat sweets and don’t do proper exercise, their sugar levels will remain dangerously high. Likewise, we need more awareness in regards to the Yamuna and our interactions with it.”

Amma sang a bhajan and gave darshan to the locals and the group started off to Lucknow. Some of us were discussing and savouring the comprehensive approach of Amma to clean river Yamuna and were in wonder how practical she is.

-Sakshi

 

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Mantra given by a Satguru is always safe for us: Amma on Mantra japa

Amritapuri – 4 December 2015

During a question-and-answer session in Amritapuri, Amma was asked about the best way to chant one’s mantra.

QUESTION: Amma, I like to chant my mantra aloud. I feel a lot of love and devotion and enthusiasm when I do that. But when I do the same by just moving my lips (without any external sound), I don’t get the same amount of concentration and I don’t feel the same amount of love and enthusiasm. Since you are my Guru, I would like to guide me as to which is the best way to chant my mantra.

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Amma: “When we chant slokas (hymns or prayers), we can surely chant them aloud there is no harm in it. But when we are chanting mantras that have bijaksharas (seed sound syllables), then it is advised not to chant such mantras aloud. It is better to chant such mantras by merely moving the lips (with no external sound).

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“Suppose you are alone at home, then you can surely chant your mantra aloud. There is no harm in it. Or you can close your prayer room and chant it aloud. Suppose you are living alone, and there is nobody else listening to you, then also, you can chant the mantra aloud. For some people, that may give more concentration. Some students love to read their lessons aloud, whereas some like to read it silently without making any sound. Some get better concentration when they read it silently. It varies from person to person. In general, if there are people around you, then it is better to chant the mantra by just moving your lips in the initial stages [later, one will not find it necessary to move the lips but can just chant the mantra inwardly].

Adhikari-bheda for Mantra japa

“In olden days, the Guru wouldn’t give mantra initiation so easily. They would go by Adhikari-bheda before initiating them into a mantra. That is, they would see if the disciple was prepared to take up the practice of mantra japa. Some children have a talent for singing from a very young age. Once they are trained by a music teacher, they can easily become an accomplished singer. But with Amma, when it comes to mantra initiation, she has never looked into the adhikari bheda – otherwise none of us would be here in the ashram [everyone laughs]. Amma gives mantra initiation to whoever asks for it, with the hope that at least that person will chant this mantra for some time, if not forever. In that way, there will be at least some benefit. That is all Amma cares for.

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Power of Bijakshara

“When Amma gives a mantra which has a bijakshara, then there are certain instructions that need to be followed along with it. A mantra with a bijakshara has to be heard from the Guru’s mouth directly. One has to be initiated by the Guru. That is what in fact brings about a change, a transformation in the disciple.

“Here (in India), a little of yogurt is added into milk at night, and by morning the milk becomes fermented and is transformed into yogurt. Similarly, when you get a mantra from a Guru, it is like adding yogurt into normal milk. When you don’t get it from the Guru and you try to do it on your own, then it is like milk converting into yogurt by adding some other materials for fermentation; in such cases, the quality of the yogurt may be less.

“We all have the Truth in us, but we are not able to see it because our minds are contaminated. When we say, “water is hot,” the heat can be of various degrees. It can be 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 30 degrees, or even 100 degrees boiling water. In 10 degrees, the micro-organisms may still be active, but as the temperature increases, the amount of micro-organisms decreases. A real Guru is completely pure, 100% pure, and thus whatever comes from Him has the power to create a transformation in the disciple as well. When a Satguru gives a mantra, he or she is infusing his/her energy into us, and that can create a change from within us.

Enthusiasm & practice

“In the initial stages of our sadhana (spiritual practices), we feel a lot of enthusiasm. At the same time there are certain do’s and don’t’s which we need to follow, so that we are able to stay focused on the spiritual path. Let us say you are the owner of a new vehicle and you start driving it. Initially you may not be able to drive it in high speed because there is a speed lock. Only after driving it for a given amount of kilometres can you really take it to a higher speed. If you have a mixi (grinding machine used in kitchen), and you continuously keep the mixi on, the motor is going to burn out. You have to switch off the mixi once in a while, so that the coil of the mixi is not burnt. Those who have the understanding of spirituality, who have read spiritual books and have proper guidance – such people know about all the precautions to be taken, but others surely should not go too overboard without taking the right precautions. A health tonic has a certain prescribed dosage beyond which it can be quite harmful, and the dosage is different for children and different for adults. If you gulp down the whole bottle of tonic thinking it is tasty, then instead of doing good it will only cause you harm. Similarly, when doing spiritual practices like meditation, you may be very enthusiastic about it, and you may think, “Let me meditate for hours together.” Now, if you are not really ready to meditate for hours together, then doing so can lead to many problems. Your head can get heated, you may not get proper sleep, your digestion can be affected, etc. For some people, such uncontrolled spiritual practices can even lead to depression and similar unhealthy conditions. So one must approach meditation in a very progressive way – slowly and steadily.

“One should increase practices little by little, and not do too much straight away. In the initial phases, it is good to meditate for 20 minutes or for half an hour. Once you are comfortable with it, then you can consider increasing it slowly. One should not force the mind into meditation for hours together . It has to be done gradually. When we start doing our practices, it is important to have the right guidance. Those who don’t have samskara (spiritual culture) absolutely need this guidance from a Guru. It is like a student doing practicum in the laboratory. The student needs to have the professor nearby, instructing the student on how to use the chemicals, how to conduct the experiment in the right way, and what the precautions are that need to be taken. The Guru guides us as to what should not be done initially, and what can be done in the initial stages. The Satguru knows what is the best for the disciple and advises each one accordingly.

Gurumantra from a Satguru

“When a Satguru gives a mantra, it is always safe for us. It is like a fragile item such as glass that is shipped with proper packaging around it. Even if such a package falls down, the item inside won’t break, because of the proper packaging. A mantra from a Guru is like that – it is always safe. Taking mantra from the Guru-mukha (uttered from Guru’s mouth) with bijaakshara, is like getting a package that is properly wrapped, and even if it falls down, it will not break. Getting such a mantra from some other source is like having a very fragile object which, when it falls down, will crack into pieces because it doesn’t have any protection around it. That is why a bijaakshara mantra should always be taken from a Satguru, if one wants it to have the proper effect.””

 

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Indelible Footprints in the Heart: Amma’s 2015 Christmas Message

December 25, 2015 – Amritapuri Ashram

Christmas awakens vibration of goodness, hope and compassion in the human heart, just as the birth anniversaries of other great incarnations and realized beings do. This day reminds us of what it is that that the human heart should be comprised—not with selfishness and hatred, but with devotion to God and love towards our fellow beings. Our thoughts and actions should become so permeated with goodness that they come to illuminate the divinity that resides within us. Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Buddha and Jesus Christ lived on this earth thousands of years ago, but they have left their indelible footprints in human hearts. If we wish to reach the shores of everlasting peace and happiness, all we have to do is follow the path they showed us.

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Footprints imprinted upon the earth are soon to fade and disappear, but footprints formed in the heart remain. This is why we remember the lives of mahatmas long after they leave their physical bodies. Their lives and teachings are very practical; they serve to remind us about the purpose of human life. Their lives were not for themselves, but for the good of the world. When we remember their lives, it awakens our own innate goodness. It helps us to become compassionate towards our fellow beings; it helps us to overcome selfishness and anger. We find ourselves aspiring to become more loving. It prompts us to repent when we become angry—to pray for the ability to forgive.

One may ask, “Don’t we also remember people those who did evil deeds?” Yes, but when we think of them, we are not uplifted as we are when we remember those who were embodiments of goodness. Thinking of the lives of mahatmas is like visiting a perfume factory. Your clothes become fragrant without any effort. Dwelling upon the lives of the wicked, on the other hand, is like visiting a charcoal factory; our clothes become sooty even if we don’t touch the charcoal directly.

Throughout his life Jesus Christ demonstrated deep compassion and humility. Normally people respect others only if they belong to a reputed family. Otherwise they will not give them much respect. We see others through the lens of our ego. However, in spirituality, we accept others with out any preconceived notions. Wherever there is goodness, we need to accept it. That is what great masters teach us.
Not only that, Jesus did not live like a king, as many expected him to, but as one among the people, as the servant of all. Therefore, he was easily accessible to the poor and deprived. However high our status in life is, we should have the expansiveness to see everyone as equal. That, in fact, is an exalted state. If we cannot attain it, then at least we should be able to be able to view them without anger and hatred. We live in times when mutual brotherhood is lost and everyone is thinking of what one can grab from the other. It may be hard to see everyone as equal, but when we understand spirituality, we will be able to achieve this vision.

Currently, we depend on others for our happiness. Because of that dependency, we are losing the experience of true freedom. We miss the experience of knowing our True Self because of this attachment to the ego. No matter how hard we row a boat that is tied to the shore, it will not move forward one inch. Similarly if we want to move forward in spirituality, we need to renounce the notions of “I” and “mine.” We need to understand that we are just instruments in the hands of the Divine, and that it is the Divine power that is allowing us to do things.

We can control things only to some extent. Beyond that it is Divine grace that makes things happen. We need to put in efforts with an attitude of surrender. Even when we win a competition, we need to bend our head and bow down to receive the medal. Humility is the key that opens the heart.

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The goal of every mahatma’s life is to guide others to find the heaven within themselves. They show us that good actions bring us closer to God. Through his life, Jesus Christ taught the world that society rewards a spiritual seeker only with a crown of thorns. All mahatmas have had to face many challenges throughout their life, but because they had the experience of the Truth, nothing could stop them.

If you are a smoker, give your family the present of quitting smoking this Christmas. With the money that you save by giving up this habit, you can help a needy person. It also protects your health. If you are an alcoholic, get help to stop in the name of love for your family. The family will be so happy and your health will not deteriorate as well. If you are an overeater, stop eating excess food and start the habit of eating lesser portions of more nutritious food. This will make us less dull and improve our health.

Such presents that come out of sacrifice bring unending joy. Amma does not say that we should not send greeting cards and gifts or do other such things. It may give our loved ones fond memories. But the real gifts are the actions we do that truly benefit others. This is the right way to celebrate Christmas.

Celebrations like Christmas are also a wake-up call to those who do not know the goal of human life. From the point of view of the ancient sages of India, all are children of God. The guru’s voice wakes up the disciple who is in deep winter hibernation. What does the voice say? “This is the birth of a new age! You should be its creators. Hence, awake, arise! Joyfully shoulder the bundle of sacrifice and surrender! This bundle is not a burden. Rather, it will give us wings to fly high into the world of the soul, the True Self.”

May the spirit of Christmas inspire my children to fly high into the world of peace and joy. May grace bless you always.

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Planting Trees in the Desert: Meditation and Service at the prison in Barcelona

Inspired by Amma’s example, our volunteers working out of Barcelona, Spain have been running an outreach program with the nearby Quatre Camins prison for the past three years. The outreach is led by social worker Amparo Saavedra, who says that she wanted to find ways to incorporate everything she has learned from Amma about peace and love for the last 15 years into her work at Quatre Camins. Three years ago, Amparo asked Amma to bring meditation to the prison. Amma sent volunteer meditation instructors Cristina Rodriguez and Marta Griso, who have been visiting the prison and conducting classes and Amma’s IAM Meditation technique regularly ever since. The feedback from the prisoners is that the meditation is making a big impact on their lives—they credit the practice with helping to clear their minds and soothe their hearts. But meditation is not for everyone. That’s why 18 months ago, our volunteers started a garden at the prison called “Amma’s Garden” where the more action-oriented prisoners can learn to grow their own vegetables and enjoy being in nature. A number of the prisoners also spend two Sundays a month engaged in service activities at the Amma Center of Spain.

Prisoners with Amma

Prisoners with Amma

Finally, the prisoners are fundraising to help children with cancer. They raise money by making and selling bracelets and also by collecting bottle caps, which are sold to the recycling center. The prisoners have placed collection points in key locations throughout the prison, and over time have gotten all the prisoners in the habit of saving their bottle caps and dropping them in the collection points. The friends and families of the prisoners, and even the prison social workers and some of the other prison staff also bring their bottle caps from home and drop them in the collection points. One beautiful thing that has come out of this practice is that many different groups of prisoners within the prison are committed to collecting the caps. This has created a bridge between groups that would otherwise not have any common ground. The cap collection program was designed to engage the majority of the prison population, to create an easy positive practice for those who might not be receptive to more structured or involved service activities. When they hear that they can help children with cancer just by changing the place they put their used bottle caps, they easily agree. One of our volunteers explained that these things are like a small point of light for the prisoners, a simple and achievable act of compassion that opens their hearts and bring positive change into other parts of their lives as well.

Help children with cancer just by changing the place they put their used bottle caps, they easily agree.

During Amma’s most recent visit to Granollers, Spain, ten prisoners who have been participating in Embracing the World’s programs at the Quatre Camins prison received permission to spend the day at Amma’s program, doing service in support of the program and getting the opportunity to meet Amma personally. Upon receiving Amma’s embrace, one prisoner commented on how Amma received everyone, regardless of how they look. He felt that Amma only saw the goodness of his heart, describing Amma’s embrace as a priceless experience that opened his heart. Another commented that there are no words to describe Amma, stating that you have to experience her presence to understand it. Another stated that Amma can change the hate and war in the world through her infinite love, and that the greatest lesson he has learned from Amma is that you should hug more, and express your feelings more.

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Moving forward, our volunteers plan to create a program to help newly released prisoners integrate back into society with support. For many, leaving prison can be a very difficult experience. Without the amenities and support of the prison, it can be very difficult to integrate back into society. The volunteers are working to expand the meditation courses for newly released prisoners as well.

About the work of the volunteers at the Quatre Camins prison, Amma commented, “Amma is very, very happy that her daughters go out into the world to serve. When we die, the body rots and the only thing left is what we have done for others. It is like planting a flower or a tree in the desert. At least that much beauty or shade it will bring to the desert. Amma is very happy with her daughters.”

On the day they came to see Amma, the prisoners also brought a poem they had written for Amma, as well as a beautiful wooden altar carved by one of the inmates. The poem read:

Amma, you heard your children cry out,
Our hearts torn between good and bad,
Crushed under the terrible weight of hatred,
Until you arrived.

You, with your loving hugs filling us with love,
A love called freedom.
Freedom for those enclosed within prisons of brick,
we also are prisoners imprisoned within our own minds.

Inside our hearts with your gentle gaze
You summoned up an Ashram of serene protection,
and from that moment on,
we have been happily distracted.

Travelling with you through your world of compassion
is a dream come true, a serene refuge,
At your side we feel fulfilled.

 

amrita varsham

External success is impermanent, we need inner victory

27 Sep 2015, Amritapuri – Amritavarsham, Amma’s 62nd Birthday celebrations

Early this morning the stage was filled with traditional Kerala dancers in full regalia as well as ladies dressed up in the traditional costumes from all 29 states of India to welcome Amma. The loud, Panchari Melam, traditional music of Kerala created festive mood and a celebration in the hearts of everyone.

Upon Amma’s arrival on the stage, Swami Amritaswarupananda performed the Pada Puja while everyone chanted the Guru Gita. He then garlanded Amma with a beautiful red, pink and white mala, and lead the archana on behalf of all the devotees. The hall was reverberating with the chanting of Aum Amriteswaryai Namah.

After the Pada Puja, Amma lead a prayer for peace and harmony; praying for the peace of the departed souls of those who lost their lives in the recent Haj stampede, and for everyone to open their hearts to the plight of the refugees who have fled their homelands due to war and crisis.

Amma then gave her birthday speech, saying that India was suffering from a split personality–success when it comes to technological advancement and failure in terms of poverty, illiteracy, health sanitation and crimes against women. However, she said the condition could be remedied if the nation overcame segregationist attitudes and worked in unity.

“A split personality is never a sign of sound health,” Amma said. “If we want to see India become powerful and healthy again, we need to merge these two faces into one beautiful face.”

“If we can bring our collective knowledge, compassion and talent together, it will not be so long before we see India rising and thriving with peace, harmony and prosperity,” she said. “When this dream of India burns in us so strongly that not even a single Indian wants to sleep until it’s realized, then it will become a reality.”

“External success is impermanent. Along with external success, we need inner victory- victory over our mind and senses.”

“It is said that 22,000 children are dying daily due to poverty. We hear about such deaths so regularly that our ears have become desensitized. We say, “So sad,” but we forget it later. Just words of sympathy are not what is needed for the world. What we need are hands that are ready to serve selflessly.”

Amma ended her talk by asking everyone to stand and chant Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu, once again praying for world peace.

With the help of several dignitaries on the dais, Amma then proceeded with the inauguration of numerous charitable initiatives for the poor in areas including healthcare and housing, as well as the provision of clothing, potable water and electricity.