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Yoga helps us to reconnect with nature and God

Amma’s Message for the first-ever‎International YogaDay

“Today is International Yoga day. Previously, people did not need to have a special day for performing Yoga because Yoga was part and parcel of their lives. Unfortunately, now we need special a special day to remind us to perform Yoga, just as we need a day to remember our mother and father.

“In the olden days, people would wake up in the morning, bow down to mother Earth and then, facing the sun, they would chant prayers and perform Surya Namaskaram. The whole time they were praying, they were exposed to the rays of the rising sun. Today, in many countries, out of ten people, six or seven have Vitamin D deficiency. It is postulated that vitamin D deficiency may be one of the precipitating factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Some may argue that even people with normal vitamin D levels get Alzheimer’s disease. This is true, but studies have shown that a majority of people with this condition have Vitamin D deficiency. It is also thought to be a cause of depression, which may be why the incidence of depressive disorders is higher in countries that have less sunlight.

“Yoga is beneficial for our health, physical beauty and mental discipline. It helps reduce our cholesterol, and through this, it helps maintain cardiac health. It increases our bone strength. This is especially important as the incidence of arthritis and osteoporosis is on a steep rise. It even helps improve our memory power.

“It is important to do balanced exercise for at least ten minutes a day. Along with this, we also need at least 10 minutes of sun exposure per day. Nowadays, everyone goes from their air-conditioned home to their air-conditioned car and from their air-conditioned car straight to their air-conditioned office. So, we have very little exposure to our natural environment. Some people tell Amma that they bought a $50,000 car for their child to drive two miles to a gym, where they spend around $1,000 dollars a year for gym membership. This sounds funny but it is quite common. It would be much more productive to just walk to the gym. If people would just walk outside in a park for two miles or even less, they wouldn’t need to spend all this money, they would get the same, if not more exercise, they would get fresh air, exposure to sunlight – all in all, they would be much healthier. Not only that, they would conserve petrol/diesel and reduce harmful emissions, thereby helping to protect the environment.

“Too much of anything is also a problem. So many people in tropical countries are suffering from heat stroke and skin cancer. So, we need to create a balance.

“Yoga also creates powerful spiritual vibrations. These vibrations positively affect both us, as well as others. It is like entering a perfume factory. Even after emerging, the sweet fragrance will remain on our body, pleasing both to others and us. When we perform yoga with complete awareness, it purifies each and every cell in our body.

“The purpose of Yoga is for our inner well-being. It does not belong to any particular faith or religion. It was passed on to us by the ancient seers for the well-being of humanity. Yoga helps us to reconnect with nature and eventually become one with God.”

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Environmental conservation is not so much part of mankind’s dharma towards Nature

Excerpts form Amma’s Vishu message.

15 April 2015, Amritapuri

Vishu is an expression of our culture’s deep connection with Nature. The Kani Konna flower, the Kani Vellari vegetable and all the various fruits of Vishu are not only are associated with a successful harvest, they also symbolize the love and respect our ancestors had for Nature.

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Sanatana Dharma teaches us that the creation and the Creator are not two but one. Nature is a visible form of God. Our birth-mother might carry us for two or three years, but Mother Earth allows us to tread on her our entire life. Our birth-mother might allow us to spit up on her during our childhood, but Mother Earth receives our waste throughout our life. She forgives our mistakes and continues to give and give.

In the past, Nature was like Kamadhenu—a wish-fulfilling cow. Today, that cow has become sick and old and is stumbling towards death. We alone are responsible for this. Our indiscriminate exploitation of Nature can be likened to sawing off a tree branch on which we are seated.

Along with festivity, every Vishu reminds us of our losses as well. Agriculture all but vanished from Kerala. Even the vegetables used in our Vishu decorations are imported from other states.

We need to regain the inner connection that we had with Nature. We need to protect Nature. We need to awaken from our inertia. A tree offers fruit and shelter. It also purifies water and air. It even gives shade to the one who cuts it. Educate our younger generation about the importance of tree planting. Usually, on Vishu, the elders in the family give the children Vishu-kaineetam [Vishu pocket money] and wish them a prosperous New Year. Along with the Vishu-kaineetam, from now onwards, please present children with a gift of a sapling,  Vishuthaineettam, as well. {news}

Some of the students from our college say, “Amma, we used to think of Nature as inert. Now, we feel life in it. Previously, we would pluck leaves unnecessarily. Now we don’t even feel like plucking even a single leaf. If we do, we feel a kind of electric shock within. We don’t harm Nature anymore.”

So, love for Nature can be awoken and cultivated.

Those who farm will continue farming wherever they go. Even if they stay in a small room, they will plant something in the corner. Because they have become habituated to loving Nature, the tendency to grow plants and vegetables will not leave them.

Without Nature, neither human beings nor human civilization can exist. Nature is our very life’s breath. Environmental conservation is not so much part of mankind’s dharma towards Nature, as it is a part of his dharma towards himself. Why? Because without Nature, human beings cannot survive.

May the Paramatman bless my children so that the right attitude awakens within them.

 

 

2015 shivaratri

Keep the head cool, heart warm

18 Feb 2015, Amritapuri

Shivaratri was celebrated at Amritapuri with enthusiasm and devotion last night. Around midnight, Amma held a special bhajan session and led the assembled crowd in singing soulful Shiva bhajans. Before concluding, Amma asked even everyone to stand up, forget themselves and dance to the tune as she sang “Bolo Bolo Sab Mil Bolo.” After the bhajans, Amma led everyone in a beautiful visualization and meditation for world peace. She asked each person to pray with utmost sincerity, and if possible to shed a few tears in prayer, for the peace and well-being of the whole world.

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Speaking on the occasion Amma said, “For those who are immersed in myriad thoughts of worldly life, all holy days are occasions to remember the God, the Supreme, and to become more aware of the ultimate goal of life. When many thousands of people remember the Divine with a one-pointed mind, perform actions dedicated to God, and engage in worship, the very environment becomes pure. Then, thinking of God becomes effortless for others, too.

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“In one respect, Shivaratri is different from other festivals, which give importance to prayer and worship. But Shivaratri emphasizes sacrifice and austerity. It is also a day to remind ourselves about the goal of life and to examine how far we have progressed in spiritual life. At present, most of us give considerable importance to food and sleep. Shivaratri conveys the message that one should set such preferences aside and enshrine God instead in our hearts. If we can dedicate at least one day a year to giving God utmost importance in our lives, treating this as a sacred pledge, the resulting samskara (impressions) will certainly help to make our lives more God-oriented gradually.

“Shivaratri, which is celebrated at the end of winter, points to the arrival of spring in India. There is an inner meaning in this. When the light and warmth of knowledge thaws the mind that is benumbed by inertia and ignorance, the flowers of joy and peace start blossoming. The change of seasons is characteristic of the outer world. However, if we try, we can control our inner weather and temperature, and even make it unchanging. To do so, spiritual knowledge is necessary.

“When we are steeped in the pains and pleasures of this world, we do not think of the Lord of the Universe, who bestows everything on us. When we experience creation, we do not remember the Creator. We are bewitched by the maya (delusory power) of creation. As a result, we lose a great opportunity to experience supreme bliss. It is difficult for someone who is predominantly tamasic (dull) or rajasic (action-oriented) to discover the divine principle hidden in creation. Such a mind pursues creation as an inexhaustible mine of material pleasures. On the contrary, the attention of a person who is predominantly satvic (calm) turns God-ward. By observing the vows associated with Shivaratri, one fosters sattvic qualities.

“Lord Shiva is Gangadhara, the bearer of river Ganga. He holds the Ganga, which is of the nature of immortality, on His head eternally. Ganga is synonymous with gentle coolness. No matter how turbulent the situation, the Lord’s head and inner realm remains peaceful. Though the head is cool, the heart is always warm with compassion for the world. In order to save the world from the detrimental effect of the all-destructive Kalakuta poison, Paramashiva, the Supreme Lord, drank it. Through His personal example, Lord Shiva teaches us that what we need is a cool head and a warm heart. But what we see in the world today is the very opposite: most people are hot-headed and cold-hearted. Everyone’s head is heated up by worldly thoughts, and the heart has become frosty with selfishness. If our head is cool, we can face the most adverse circumstance peacefully and turn it to our advantage.

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“Not only on the Maha Shivaratri day, let us remind ourselves everyday that “I am not this limited ephemeral body. I am Shiva. My true nature is the Supreme Consciousness.” Let us revel in this thought and experience. Just as the world of plurality disappears at night, may we be able to transcend our thoughts and the mind and perceive Lord Shiva, or the Shiva Tattva (Shiva principle), or the true Self everywhere. May the light of knowledge put an end to the darkness of ignorance. May my children be able to see everything in themselves and themselves in everything. This is the real message of Shivaratri. May my children have the strength and grace to realize this. Amma offers this prayer to the Paramatman.”

– Sakshi

kanyakumari Amma

Why Non-Hindus are not allowed inside Temples

21 Jan, Kanyakumari, Bharata Yatra 2015

Rooftop Satsang at Amrita Vidyalayam – Kanyakumari

The tour group sat around Amma in the evening. After bhajans and dinner, one Italian lady who has been touring with Amma said, “I was living in Chennai for some time and I developed devotion towards Goddess Meenakshi. I got a chance to visit the Temple on the first day of Amma’s Madurai program. I bought a flower garland as I entered the Temple, but I was stopped. They told me that only Hindus are allowed. I felt sad. I met the manager. He said that if I had certificate I would be allowed in. I didn’t have any. It was painful. I handed the flower garland to a devotee and came back to the Ashram with heavy heart. That evening, I got a chance to give Prasad to Amma while sitting next to her during darshan. A person brought a trident studded with Rudraksha beads. He gave it to Amma. He placed a beautiful crown on Amma. The crown had image of Meenakshi and he said loudly, ‘Meenakshi! Meenakshi!’ I was thrilled. I felt I was in Meenakshi’s presence.”

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Amma responded, “Don’t feel sad that you were not let inside the Temple.
“Meenakshi is the Atma Tatwam, and it was because of your innocence and devotion that you got this experience. Daughter! Though the Temple doors were closed for you, if the doors of the heart are open, Devi will get revealed from within. Isn’t your experience a proof of this?

Amma went on to explain the reason behind why some of Temples don’t let non- Hindus inside.
Amma said, “There are many reasons. If non-devotees are let inside the Temple, they might not respect the sanctity of the Temple. They might spit or they might enter into the Temple with shoes on – making the premises dirty. In countries like Japan they use different shoes indoors. The shoe used outdoors is not used inside the house. The same is true with certain hotels as well. Just as we have different etiquettes in different places, Temples too have their own etiquettes. Non-devotees might not respect those etiquettes. If etiquettes are broken, that might affect the sanctity of the Temple and certain long purification rituals need to be done to restore the sanctity.

“The Temples that are consecrated by ordinary people can be compared to fish in a fish tank. One needs to feed the fish, replace the water regularly, and the tank needs regular maintenance. Similarly regular pooja and rituals are needed to maintain the sanctity of those Temples. However, Temples consecrated by Mahatmas can be likened to fish in the ocean – fish in the ocean don’t need any human support. Similarly, the sanctity of such Temples doesn’t get affected.

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“Actually, Temples such as Meenakshi’s were consecrated by Mahatmas. Still, they follow strict etiquettes because the Temple was invaded by Muslim rulers multiple times. The wealth was plundered. Many idols were disfigured by the attackers. They cut off the hands, noses and breasts of the idols. For more than 60 years the main idol in the Meenakshi Temple was kept hidden to protect it from the attackers. Even British and invaders from other nations have looted idols of many Temples. Maybe it is because of this that they don’t let non-Hindus into some Temples. However, Hindus and devotees who know spiritual principles might follow the etiquettes will fully. That is why they are allowed.

“Many years ago, when Amma visited the Guruvayoor Temple, western daughters who were dressed in saris were let in.

“Actually, God doesn’t need any protection from human beings. The power of the Prime Minister is much more than (above) the security guards and the police who give protection to him. Though the Prime Minister is far superior, it is the responsibility of the security guards to guard the Prime Minister. Similarly, it is the responsibility of the devotees to protect the Temple from attackers.

-Sakshi

2015 madurai satsang

How to get established in Tatvamasi

17 -18 Jan, Madurai, Tamil Nadu – Bharata Yatra 2015

After Amma had distributed prasad dinner at her Madurai ashram on Jan 16, she encouraged her children to put questions to her. Amma said that the quality of the questions asked indicates the spiritual evolution of the questioner. She said, “To know the taste of the sugar inside a bag, there is no need to taste the entire stock. It is enough if we try a sample from the bag. To check if the rice is boiled inside a bowl, there is no need to examine all of it. It is enough if we test one or two grains. Similarly, to know the spiritual evolution of the disciples, it is enough to hear a few of their questions.


Amma continued, “In olden days the disciples asked the Guru about Mithya (the changing or unreal nature of the world), or they might request the guru to elaborate on Tatvamasi (Thou Art That), and the Guru might give an answer in one or two words. The disciples contemplated on this reply and wrote elaborate commentaries about it. Actually, the Guru’s answer can be likened to a small key which is enough to open a big treasure chest containing priceless treasures.”
Encouraged by Amma’s words, one of the devotees requested Amma to elaborate on the Upanishadic statement Tatvamasi (Tat – Tvam – Asi; Thou Art That).


Amma said, “It is very easy to repeat such statements. But one needs to realize the truth indicated by them. Just as the electric current passing through the bulb is separate from the bulb, your true nature is different from your body. Of course, the light comes through the bulb but it doesn’t belong to the bulb. Your true nature is the Atman. If you realize the pure self, you become an all-knower. (Knowing that the Atman is the essence of all things and beings).

“Suppose a person by the name Madhavan passes by. One might say, ‘Madhava is passing by.’ And, if he dies and people are carrying his dead body, one might say, ‘Madhavan’s dead body is passing by.’ What is that which enlivened Madhavan’s body? It is the indwelling consciousness. That is your true nature!

“Usually, people answer the phone by saying, ‘Hello! I am so and so speaking’. Everybody says ‘I am’ while answering the phone. ‘I am’ is universal. The ‘I’ is the indwelling consciousness.

“Say, there are 1000 pots of water kept in a place. And the sun is shining brightly. We might see 1000 suns reflected in those 1000 pots of water. Actually, there is only one sun. Similarly, the Atman is just one. This Atman is all-pervading.

“The all-pervading nature of the Atman is indicated by the Upanishadic statements ‘Tatvamasi‘ and ‘Ishavasyam Idam Sarvam‘ (All of This is Pervaded by Divinity). To awaken to this truth, one needs to contemplate constantly. Right now, our attachment to the body, mind and intellect is very deep.”

In order to explain this, Amma told a story, “Once, three people named Madhava, Govinda and Keshava were walking. One person called from the back, ‘Hey! Madhava!’ and Madhava turned back. Next he called, ‘Hey! Govinda!’ and Govinda turned back. Then he called, ‘Hey! Keshava!’ and Keshava turned around. Finally, the person called, ‘Hey! Monkey!’ and all three of them turned back. This shows that the identification with our animalistic tendencies is still very strong.

“Merely repeating scriptural statements is not enough. It is not enough to say ‘flower’- we need to become like a flower. If we write ‘honey’ on a piece of paper and lick it, we won’t experience the taste of honey. Similarly, merely verbalizing scriptural statements is not enough. One needs to get established in the truth. You have to become That.

“Selfless service purifies the mind and makes a person fit to imbibe scriptural knowledge.

“The Puranas say that when the milky ocean was churned, the goddess of wealth, a horse, and a divine elephant appeared first. Then the deadly poison emerged. Out of compassion to save the universe, Lord Shiva consumed the poison. Only after that, the Ambrosia came out. The story indicates that only when we develop the attitude of acceptance even to poison, do we become fit to receive the Ambrosia.

“Therefore, contemplation, selfless service and the attitude of acceptance are qualities most needed to become established in Tatvamasi.”

– Sakshi

2015 madurai

Selfless Service is the Pongal that reaches Amma

16 Jan, Madurai, Tamil Nadu – Bharata Yatra 2015
It was almost 10 pm when Amma arrived at her Madurai ashram from Chennai. Amma distributed prasad dinner to her children and said, “You must have been hungry, haven’t you?” The devotees replied, “The hunger vanished when we saw Amma.” Amma added, “So, Anbu (pure love) satiated your hunger.”

After serving prasad, Amma asked “What day is today?”

“Today is Maatu Pongal1 the devotees replied.
“So, yesterday was Makara Pongal2, right?”
“Yes!”
Amma looked at the lady sitting right in front of her and asked, “Did you eat Pongal3 today?”
“Yes, Amma” said the lady.
“Did you also bring some for me?” Amma asked with a mischievous smile.
The lady started shedding tears.
Amma asked why she was crying.
By now, her crying was uncontrollable. Her husband stood up and said, “Amma, I told her that Amma might ask for Pongal. I wanted her to make Pongal for Amma. But, as usual she disobeyed my words.”
Amma and the entire crowd burst into laughter.
Amma said, “So, Meenakshi is the ruler, correct?4” Once again the devotees responded with loud laughter.
The husband then added that due to her seva at the ashram, his wife did not find time to cook Pongal.
The lady said, “When my husband told me to cook Pongal for Amma, I thought, ‘Will Amma ever relish Pongal cooked by an insignificant person like me? Amma has millions of children all around the world all wanting to offer something more significant to Amma. My offering might be nothing compared to what others are giving.’
Amma corrected her, saying, “Please don’t think that way. Nobody is insignificant to Amma. Selfless service is the real Pongal. While you were doing seva, you were constantly thinking of Amma and that is the real Pongal. Amma had already relished it.”
Through this simple yet meaningful incident Amma not only revealed that she is always with her children, constantly aware of their words and thoughts, but also that every act of selflessness and pure love reaches her directly.
– Sakshi

1. a festival in honor of cows

2. Tamil New year festival {read more}

3. sweet pudding prepared on Pongal day

4. though Meenakshi refers to the goddess of the Madurai Meenakshi temple, Amma meant to say that the wife was dominating the household.

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Why did Krishna steal butter? Three birds in one shot

8 Jan, Kovai – Bharata Yatra 2015

Amma arrived at the Kovai ashram in the morning, but the tour group didn’t arrive until the evening. At dusk Amma sat with the devotees and volunteers of the program along with the big tour group. Amma sang a few bhajans and started distributing prasad dinner – chapathi, idli and curry. She asked people to share a joke or story with spiritual significance.

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Two or three people spoke about their life experiences. One teacher from Amrita Vidyalayam mentioned a mischievous boy in kindergarten. The boy had a bad habit of stealing significant objects in the class room. First the teacher tried to lovingly tell him that it was wrong. But the boy didn’t take her seriously. So she had to be strict with him. During Sri Krishna’s birthday celebrations the students narrated different stories about Krishna. This particular boy stood up and asked his teacher, “If it was alright for Krishna to steal, why shouldn’t I?” Another child supported him saying, “That was why Krishna was born in the prison.” The teacher was shocked to hear this. She prayed fervently to Amma and felt strongly that Amma answered her from within. She replied, “Actually, the gopis prayed to Krishna daily to visit their homes and steal their butter. Answering their prayers, Krishna came and stole their butter.” The teacher was amazed to read a detailed response from Amma (about this particular Leela of Sri Krishna) in the next issue of Matruvani. She thanked Amma for providing the answer to her.

Amma decided to elaborate on the philosophy behind this to the children so that their faith in Krishna was not lost.

Amma said, “Sri Krishna was not a thief. Just as the Sun doesn’t need the light from a candle flame, Sri Krishna never needed anything from anyone.

“Some of his childhood friends were poor. As Krishna and his friends went out to play, the friends complained that they were hungry. So Krishna visited the houses of different Gopis, took the butter and offered it to his friends. He didn’t do it for his own sake.

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“Secondly, the family members of the Gopis were not fond of Krishna. They thought that Krishna was a mere cowherd boy. But the Gopis had deep devotion for Krishna. They longed to offer butter to Krishna, but were forbidden by their family members. Even while churning the butter, the Gopis prayed to Krishna to accept the butter as their token of love. They stored some butter in pots and left to sell other milk products such as buttermilk, butter and cheese.

“By stealing the butter, not only did Krishna answer their prayers, but also stole their hearts. That was why he was known as chitta chora, stealer of hearts. As the Gopis went out for business they thought constantly, ‘Will Krishna visit my house today? Won’t he grab his share of butter?’ Thus they were constantly thinking of Krishna.

“By engaging himself in the divine sport of stealing butter from different households, Lord Krishna hit three birds in one shot. Apart from satiating the hunger of his poor friends, Krishna responded to the prayers of the Gopis and helped them to think of him constantly.”

– Sakshi

2015 newyear

How can I put an end to suffering? – Amma’s 2015 New Year Message

The advent of the New Year is always a joyous occasion that kindles hope, enthusiasm and optimism in all of our hearts. Amma prays to the Paramatman that in the coming year both the world and each individual within it are filled with peace, harmony and prosperity.

This past year bore witness to a lot of sorrow and suffering. Thousands fell prey to the bullets of terrorists. The death toll in Africa caused by the Ebola virus was shocking, so too the recent mass shootings in Pakistan1 and Assam2. Recovering from these tragedies is not easy.

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One may ask, “How can we keep smiling amidst all this suffering?” It’s true; it’s not easy to remain happy in times of such hardship. However, becoming unhappy and depressed is not a solution. If our hand is injured and we just keep crying about it, it’s never going to heal. It will only get infected. The practical thing to do is to tend to the wound and apply medicine. Let us not lose hope and optimism regarding the future. Losing hope and optimism renders¬ us like birds that have lost their wings. Just as such birds can no longer fly, we will not be able to soar high into the sky of life. We cannot allow ourselves to lose our mental strength. In reality, just like any other decision, happiness is also a decision. It is the firm decision, “Let anything come my way, I will be happy. I will be courageous.”

Love for the goal will give us the inspiration to continue striving to attain it. Then, even if we experience pain, it will not cripple us. There will be sweetness even amidst the pain. A mother is ready to bear the weight of her baby and undergo all the pain of labor because of her love for her child and her desire to be united with it. It is our love for the goal that gives us the strength to face all obstacles.

When New Year’s arrives, it’s very common to hear people say, “The previous year passed so quickly. It was gone before I knew it.” In truth, time goes neither fast nor slow. What makes it feel fast or slow is the situations we face and our attitude towards them. We may have been really busy, but we need to ask ourselves, “Why was I so busy? Was I busy trying to attain the ephemeral or the eternal?” The advent of the New Year is a good time to introspect and evaluate our spiritual progress. If we feel that we have regressed, we need to take a resolution so that we don’t allow ourselves to slip further. We should ensure that we start to move forward again.

New Year is also a subtle reminder that one more year of our time on earth has come to an end and our meeting with death is another year closer. No one can escape death. It can come at any time. We should ask ourselves, “If death were to come now, would I be able to face it with a smile? Or would I tremble with fear and insecurity?” If we have truly understood spirituality, we will have no fear whatsoever. We will see everything in its proper place and not develop unintelligent attachment.

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Life is like living in a rented house. We cannot live there permanently. One day or the other, we will be asked to leave. If, while one is renting a house, he is also building an even more beautiful and spacious house of his own, then he will have no bad feelings when he has to leave. On the contrary, he will be happy. But if he has failed to find a permanent place to live, he will always be worrying, “Where will I go when I’m asked to vacate?” Similarly, just as one shifts from a rented house to a house of their own, we should also be prepared to shift from this rented house—the body—to the realm of the Self, which is our true home.

Every attachment we create to the world further depletes our mental strength. Initially we may feel it’s just a small attachment and there is nothing to fear. However, as the attachment grows, we find ourselves falling slave to it. Soon, we become like a beggar before it. Then it becomes our master. Attachment to God is different. Faith in God helps us to cultivate values like love and compassion and helps us to speak good words and perform virtuous actions. Attachment to God, or to the guru, helps us detach from our dependence upon the world and become Self-reliant.

In olden days, New Year’s was seen as a holy day. People would visit places of worship and take part in prayers for their wellbeing and pray for the strength to perform good actions. It was also a day to feed the poor and other forms of charity. Today, the “holy-ness” of the holiday has disappeared. New Year’s has become just a time to get drunk, dance and celebrate. One doesn’t need to get drunk to celebrate. When people forget the true meaning behind a holiday and use just it for empty celebration, it becomes like eating the peel and throwing away the fruit. We cannot lose the values that make us human beings.

“Does God exist or not?” is not the relevant question at this time. Ask yourself, “Is there suffering in the world or not?” and “How can I remove that suffering—both mine and that of others? What can I do to put an end to it?” These are the questions we should be asking ourselves, especially on New Year’s.

Why do we find newness in a new year? Is there any real difference between the 31st of December and the 1st of January? It is our mind that creates this sense of newness and hope. If we are constantly engaged in actions that foster our own wellbeing and that of the world, we will find newness, vitality and enthusiasm in every moment. If we use the present moment in this way, it is enough. We shouldn’t put off for later what needs to be done today. We should fully immerse ourselves in doing good deeds. We must strive to see the world with a loving and joyous outlook, every single day.

5points

If we want to live meaningful lives, we must keep five things in mind:

1) Never squander an opportunity to help others.
The help we render others will awaken joy, not just in their hearts but in ours as well. For example, if we feed an orphan, the child’s hunger will be appeased and we will be able to see the happiness on his face. How much contentment we will feel seeing that child’s happiness! This is the visible fruit of that action. There is also an invisible result—the punyam [merit] created by the action. So, never miss the opportunity to help and serve others.

2) In the coming year, we should avoid using harsh words. Never speak ill of others.
Doing so will disturb our own mind as well as those of others. Never forget that all good and bad originate in words.

3) Ensure that spiritual practices like chanting your mantra and meditation are not missed, even for a day.
These daily practices remove the impurities accumulated by the mind during the course of every day. They also bestow enthusiasm and peace. For example, suppose we have to reach our office at 10 a.m. Before we go to sleep at night, won’t we try to ensure that everything is ready, so that won’t be delayed at all the next morning? When we are focused on a goal, we will put forth utmost effort with enthusiasm and ignore all distractions.

4) Strive to spend at least a little time in Satsang.
Studying the scriptures and spending time in the presence of Mahatmas are ideal forms of Satsang. How much time do we waste in unnecessary talk and gossip? We can use that time to read inspiring spiritual books.

5) Every day, pray with all your heart to the guru or God for purity of mind and the strength to perform good actions.
If one wishes to make spiritual progress, this humility and devotion are absolutely essential. We should make a vow to be humble. When we are humble, it will automatically make us receptive to the factor of grace.

 

All of us want the world to be filled with more goodness and beauty than it is at present. We must do our part to create that world:

A new year without war and terrorism…
A new year wherein no one experiences hunger or poverty…
A new year wherein everyone is given an equal opportunity to grow and develop…
A new year wherein there is mutual respect among everyone, regardless of sex, religion or skin color…
A new year wherein human hearts unite in love and unity…

We can dream. To make that dream a reality, let us be willing to undergo self-sacrifice.

What makes the life of a plant fulfilling is its sprouting, flowering and bearing fruit. When this happens, a plant lends goodness and beauty to the world before. In truth, even when it withers away, a plant nourishes the earth and future generations. Let us pray that, our lives can be of similar benefit.

God has given each of us a face. Whether it expresses love or anger is completely up to us. If we smile all the time, it will make others smile too. If we have love and peace within, it will create such feelings in others as well. Then the whole environment will be filled with happiness. In this manner, in this coming year, may we be able to make our families, countries and world blossom more fully in love. Let us step into the New Year with this prayer. Amma wishes all of her children a very happy 2015.

 

***

1 On December 16, 2014, a terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar left, nearly 145 people dead, 132 of them children.

2 On December 24, 2014, separatist militants killed 81 tribal villagers in the Indian state of Assam.

(The above has been excerpted from the message Amma delivered in Amritapuri Ashram in the early hours of January 1, 2015.)

2014 xmas

Rebirth happens when we completely die to our ego

From Amma’s Christmas Message

God is said to be the embodiment of infinite divine qualities. He is beyond word and thought. It is through the lives of mahatmas that one directly experiences the divinity of God. The specialty of mahatmas is that they practice what they preach. In this regard, Jesus Christ was no different. He was the embodiment of self-sacrifice, love, knowledge and spiritual experience. Christ’s life itself was his message.

When we look at the lives of great like Sri Krishna and Jesus, we see that there were many evil powers that tried to harm them. There is a spiritual lesson in this: When spiritual knowledge—which can be equated to the divine child—is about to take birth, one’s selfish and materialistic tendencies will try to stop it. Only if one puts forth sincere effort with alertness and care will they attain Self-knowledge. If oil is poured over a spark, the spark will be extinguished. However, once the spark becomes a huge fire, no matter how much oil you pour on it, it will not be extinguished; the oil will be consumed by the fire. Similarly, when spiritual awareness is just beginning to expand within us, all of our negative tendencies and thoughts will try to block it. However, when one is established in Self-knowledge, there will be no place for materialistic tendencies and negativities. All great gurus take birth with the goal of removing the darkness of ignorance and adharma [unrighteousness] from the minds of humankind and spreading the light of knowledge.

Freedom & Bondage
Jesus’ birth reveals another profound spiritual principle. Jesus wasn’t born in a grand palace. He was born in a humble place—in a corner of a stable. His parents were not wealthy or learned. They had nothing to call their own, except their own mental purity. Moreover, other than a few blessed individuals, very few people knew about his birth. The teaching we should take from this is that spiritual awakening comes to those seekers who are humble and patient. Empty yourself of ego and I shall come and rest within—this is the essence of the Lord’s message.

If we take Sri Krishna’s life, we see that he was born in the jail where the wicked Kamsa had imprisoned his parents, Vasudeva and Devaki. The jail represents spiritual ignorance, and Krishna’s birth represents the birth of Self-knowledge, which breaks open the prison doors and frees us. While in jail, Devaki and Vasudeva prayed intensely to the Paramatman. This led to the birth of Lord Krishna. Love has no boundaries and can never be imprisoned behind walls. Even though ostensibly we are all free, we are still trapped in the jails of our ignorant minds. On the other hand, even if a mahatma is put in real jail, internally he is ever free. The external world can never bind a mahatma. Even though mahatmas may live in the world, they are detached from it, like butter floating on water.

The Science of Prayer
When true surrender dawns within, we will awaken and arise. Our state today is that we have knowledge but lack awareness. We may see things, yet we don’t really see them. We may hear things, but we don’t really listen. The reason for this is that our mind is never present in what we see and hear. There is a bhajan that goes, “O Lord, I have come with folded hands before you. Please, listen to me.” The real meaning here is that it is we who—through the heightened awareness of prayer—need to see and listen. Currently our mind is never in the present; it is always wandering this way and that. Although God is within us, we are not in God. Many things in the world bind our mind. To bring the mind back to God, prayer can be extremely useful.

If you were to fall into a deep pit and there were no one around to pull you out, imagine the intensity with which you would call out for help. Such intensity should be there in our prayers. We should call out to the Divine from the bottom of our heart, with a child like innocence. Prayer, chanting one’s mantra and meditation are different ways to awaken the Divine within us.

If we extend our arm outwards and hold a thick book, we may be able to manage to hold it there for five minutes or so. If we force ourselves to hold it like that for an hour, our hand will ache terribly. If we are forced to hold it the whole day, then someone will have to call an ambulance. It is the same way with our sorrow. We need to unburden ourselves of our sorrows, leaving them at the feet of the Divine through heartfelt prayer.

In olden days there would be slabs of stone along the roadside that would be supported by pillars. People carrying huge sacks on their heads or shoulders could place their loads on these slabs and rest for a while. Many of us are shouldering such heavy loads within—more than we can really manage. When we enter the puja room to pray, it is an opportunity to unburden ourselves of this weight.

Let your hearts melt in prayer. Praying with intensity is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, just as the wax fuels the flame as it melts, intense prayer awakens our devotion and love.

Crying for God is one of the ways to grow closer to the Divine. There are numerous ways to reach the top of a mountain. One person may climb the steps. Another may be pulled up in a basket. Some may scale the rocks… We cannot say that one way is better than another. This is why there are so many spiritual practices enumerated in Sanatana Dharma. If a restaurant has just one dish, not everyone will enjoy it. If a shoe store were to sell only one size of shoe, very few people will be able to buy shoes there. Similarly, no one can say one path is better than another.

Even when we do Self-inquiry, negating the body, emotions and intellect and reminding ourselves that we are the Atma, we are still using the mind to do so. The state that the mahavakyas such as tat tvam asi—”You are That”—reveal are also experienced in prayer when the ego dissolves through the persistent awareness, “I am nothing; You are everything.”

When Devaki and Vasudeva or Mary and Joseph prayed intensely with surrender, understanding that they had nowhere but to the Lord to go for help, then the divine child was born to them. That divinity is there within each one of us, but we are currently unable to see it because our hearts are closed. It is like we are sitting in a boarded-up room and complaining that we are unable to experience the sunlight. If one shines a light in the eyes of a blind man, will he see anything? If someone holds a fragrant flower or sprays perfume under the nose of someone with nasal congestion, will he experience the fragrance? Our heart has to open. When a flower is still in the bud stage, one cannot enjoy its beauty and fragrance. Only when it blossoms can that be experienced.

Rebirth & death of ego
By birth, human beings are children of the universe, but they can be reborn as the children of God as well. This rebirth happens when we completely die to our ego. When the last trace of ego vanishes, that is when the real birth of our identity as the Supreme Self takes place within us. This is not something that is to be experienced after we die. We have to die to the ego, before we really die.

It’s not easy to transcend the ego. When Self-knowledge dawns within, the ego automatically disappears. Ego is like darkness. Darkness is not a something that can be removed. However, when you shine light, it automatically disappears. To bring in the light of Self-knowledge, one needs to engage themselves constantly in sravanam, mananam and nididhyasanam—learning the spiritual teachings, clearing one’s doubts regarding them and then dwelling in those truths.

Our ego has become strong because of our identification to our status and position, and it’s not easy to overcome this attachment. When someone praises us, we easily fall prey to the ego. On the other hand, even if we hear that our true nature is the Supreme Self 10,000 times, it still fails to truly sink in.

The spirit of Christmas is sharing and caring
As Christmas approaches, decorations light up most of the towns and cities, and shops are filled with customers buying Christmas presents for themselves and their near and dear ones. But amidst all this, the focus should not shift from the eternal to the ephemeral. As we enjoy the creation, let us also remember the Creator. If a friend sends you some chocolates, you can enjoy them and at the same time remember your friend as well. In a similar way, we need to keep our focus on the Creator.

Let us try to speak words with a selfless attitude. Words have a lot of power. One wrong word can drive someone to suicide and one right word can save someone as well. There are people who come to Amma and say, “Such and such a person said this to me. I’ve decided to end my life. I’ve even decided the date. What is the point in living in such a world? I loved him and helped him so selflessly. But what I got in return was the exact opposite.” When Amma spends time talking to them and consoling them, they change their decision and go back relieved. What is it that Amma is giving but a few heartfelt words?

We need to perform good actions. This will make us befitting to receive God’s grace. When we flow towards others, God flows towards us. Many people say, “I’ve done so many years of spiritual practices and seva, but what have I got in return?” This is not the right attitude. It should be, “At least I was able to do this many spiritual practices. At least I could do this much service to the world.” If we sow a seed, it may or may not sprout. If it doesn’t sprout, we will have to sow it again. But with good actions it’s never like that. The impressions of our good actions never go away. They are like fixed deposits and will always stay with us. They are not like businesses where we have to start all over again if we incur losses.

The spirit of Christmas is sharing and caring. Let us not just be focused on our lives alone. Let us look around a little and see the needs of others as well. Even if you are able to help just one person, then you have made a difference. If my children can do this, that would be the real Christmas celebration.

The birth of the Lord should take place in our hearts. Let us decorate the manger of our hearts with good thoughts, sweet words and compassionate actions. May the Paramatman rest there always. May grace bless everyone. Amma wishes her children a very Merry Christmas.

* Extracted from the message Amma delivered in Amritapuri Ashram, 25 December 2014.

 

amma-beach-satsang

All of you are my angels : Amma

15 December 2014 – Amritapuri Ashram
The following dialogue took place between Amma and a visitor in Amritapuri during a seashore meditation and question-and-answer session.

Question: Amma, I have heard and read many things about angels. Can you tell me about them?

14ammasatsang
Amma: For Amma, all of you are my angels.
There is an angel in everyone. In Amma’s view, when we do good actions for the welfare of others—that is what gives birth to, or invokes, an angel. The good actions we perform transform us into a vessel capable of receiving God’s grace. So, you can say these actions come back to us as angels. Or you can say, these good actions are like a friend, or an umbrella, that protects us as we walk through life. This is my perspective. When we look into a mirror and smile, the mirror smiles back—doesn’t it? When we scowl into a mirror, that anger reflects back at us as well. Remember, whatever we do in life comes back to us.