Finding time for Spiritual practices

Sri Krishna was a householder. He had many responsibilities, but He was the embodiment of detachment. Sri Rama was also a householder and in addition to that, a king. He was the embodiment of dharma. King Janaka (father of Sita, the holy consort of Lord Rama) was a king and a householder. He too, was a jivanmukta or (liberated soul). They all found enough time to do tapas and to lead a spiritual life even in the midst of all their court duties and other problems.”

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“If we say that we have no time (for spiritual practices) due to our problems and family responsibilities, that is simply an escape. That means that we have no desire to follow the path of spirituality. We are lazy and want to avoid work. So immersed in maya (illusory world), so trapped in its net, we do not even realise that there is a reality higher than the body and the external world around us. We have no eyes to see it, no ears to hear it and no heart to feel it.”

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“If you cannot find free time to devote to the worship of God, try to be like the gopis. They did not set apart a separate time for prayer. They saw God while immersed in their work. They would repeat the holy name while churning the milk and grinding the grain, and doing all their other chores. The jars of pepper and coriander, and all the other spices, were labelled with the names of the Lord. When they wanted pepper they asked for Mukunda. When they gave someone coriander, they were giving Govinda. Those who came for milk and curd asked for them using the Lord’s names. They were engaged in nothing but chanting Krishna’s names everywhere, and at all times. Thus, they were always able to remember the Lord without any special effort. Those who are not able to set apart a special time for sadhana can still maintain remembrance of God in this way.”

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“A strong resolve to reach the goal is necessary. There is plenty of time to go to movie theatres and hospitals, but there is not time for temples and ashrams. Such is our way of living. Even while living in the world, householders should try to imbibe these principles. Otherwise, the mind will become restless. At least one hour every day should be spent thinking of God, one hour for the sake of the soul.”

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“Children, Mother knows that it is difficult for you who live in the midst of material pleasures and with family ties, to remember God constantly. But when you become aware that you are not remembering Him, immediately repent, ‘O Lord, I have forgotten you for this much time. I have forgotten to chant your name for this length of time. O Lord, please forgive me. Please bestow upon me the mental strength to cherish Your form within and Your name on my lips constantly and incessantly. O Lord, please do not let me waste time like this. Let the desire to behold Thy form burn within me.’ Having repented and prayed thus, immediately start repeating the mantra. Again you might forget it. Don’t worry, go on applying the same technique of repentance and prayer whenever you realise that you have not been chanting the mantra for a long time. Slowly in due course, you will develop the power to remember Him incessantly.”

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“Nothing is difficult for those who really want it. You have to have a sincere desire to do it. You should spend at least one day a week in solitude, performing sadhana. You may have responsibilities and work to do. Even then, one day should be set apart. Don’t you take sick leave if you are not well, even if there is a lot of unfinished work? Don’t you take a day off to attend the wedding of a relative? How much more important is this! So, at least one day a week, go to an ashram and do sadhana. and seva. That day will train you to strengthen the love and cooperation in your family as well.”

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“When you are convinced that God is the one who protects you, and that there will not be peace in this life without taking refuge in Him, then you will find the time.”

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“Remember O mind, this supreme Truth: Nobody is your own! Because of doing meaningless actions, you are wandering in the ocean of this world.” Remember this song, have satsang and always chant your mantra. Give up talking about others. We find time for every useless and unnecessary thing, yet we say that there is no time to think of God. Do not go to vulgar movies or read novels. Are we not sitting in front of the television or going shopping for hours on end? If you always fix your mind on the Lord, peace will be experienced.”

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My friends talk only about worldly things…

Question: Being a college professor, I have a good circle of friends. Most of them are worldly people and talk only about worldly things. How should I deal with them?

Amma: Try to talk less with them and even then, only if necessary. When they see that you are no longer interested in the things that they are, they will slowly avoid you. Don’t think that they will get angry with you. Let all of them hate you if they wish. Don’t go towards things which will again create trouble for you. You should go towards stillness. Our time is precious. It is not to be wasted by the company of others. Whatever time you have, you should be more introspective. Many of the friends come only to gossip and chat, don’t they? Lovingly tell them, “We have been talking for a long time. What are we going to gain by talking about and discussing all these things? My goal is to think about God, to give solitude to the mind. You might get angry with me if you don’t like it. At present, that is not a problem for me. I can move forward only if I overcome obstacles. I am not angry with you, even if you get angry with me, for I have only love for you. But now I don’t have any time to waste.” Saying so in a very calm and loving tone, you should withdraw into solitude. Let them love or hate you. Some such control is needed in the beginning.

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Don’t postpone spiritual life

“Children, don’t think that you can start spiritual life after satisfying all your desires. The desires will go on and on. It is a never-ending circle. When one is satisfied, another one will occupy its place. If somebody thinks to take up spiritual life after fulfilling all his desires, he is like a person on the seashore who waits for all the waves to subside before taking a bath.”

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Question: I am very busy with my work and can’t find any time for meditation. Also, when I try to do japa, I don’t get any concentration. Amma, wouldn’t it be best for me to wait with japa and meditation until I am no longer so busy and have some peace of mind

Amma: You may think you will turn to God when your workload is lighter, or after you have had enough of worldly pleasures, but that won’t happen. You should turn to Him right now, in the midst of all your difficulties; He will certainly show you a way.”

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“Don’t think that you lack the mental purity to pray because you have made a lot of mistakes in your life, or that you will pray only when your mind becomes pure. If you think you will bathe in the sea only after the waves subside, you will never be able to bathe. You can’t learn to swim by sitting at the side of the pool. You have to get into the water. What will happen if the doctor tells the patient to come to him only after he gets well? God is the one who purifies our minds. That is why we take refuge in Him. Only through Him can we be cleansed.”

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God is your only real relative

“One should have the conviction that God is one’s only real relative. Children, you should know that eventually all other relations and worldly objects will give nothing but sorrow. Let your bond be with God alone. This does not mean that you should abandon your wife and children, or that you should see them as strangers. Take good care of them, but know that the only lasting relative you have is God. All others will leave you today or tomorrow; therefore, always take refuge in Him. Think that the difficulties in life are for your own good, then there will be peace and bliss in the family.”

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“Don’t regret that you couldn’t become a brahmachari, or that you can’t be with Amma all the time. You children are all like the leaves on a plant. Some leaves are close to the flower, and others are far away from it, but all the leaves belong to the same plant. Likewise, all are Amma’s children; don’t doubt that one bit. Don’t feel sorry that you can’t enjoy Amma’s physical presence by not being with Her. You can also reach the ultimate goal some day.”

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If desires are not controlled, they will control you

“Children, this world is created by the Lord for you to enjoy. No spiritual Master or scriptural text has ever said that everyone should give up all kinds of worldly enjoyments and engage in constant remembrance of God. No one has said that everyone should change their residences and live in ashrams and become sannyasis. As Mother said before, there are people who can do it and who are determined to do it. Let them follow their path. But there is a way for others also to become closer to God. That is possible by slowly preparing the mind for that final leap while leading a normal life in this world.”

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Question: What is the way to overcome desires so that we householders can get closer to God?

Amma: The only way is to understand that each and every object that you desire is riddled with pain. If the desires are not controlled now, later they will control you, and eventually they will swallow you. Mother doesn’t say that you must give up all desires. You can enjoy them, but don’t think that this life is only for that. Strong determination is needed.

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“While driving one must obey traffic rules and regulations. If not, accidents will occur. Not only you, but others will suffer if an accident happens. Likewise, while driving the vehicle of life along the road of this world, you have to adhere to certain laws, certain do’s and don’ts. It is these rules and regulations that the Gurus and the scriptures talk about. If you follow them, you can avoid danger and will be safe both in your personal life and social life. However, conflicts and calamities will arise in both areas of your life if you break these rules and regulations through overindulgence and other undisciplined ways.

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Women and Men

“A woman should be respected and her feelings should be given proper consideration. Her maternal qualities should be recognised and she should be given a higher, well-deserved position in society, along with men. At the same time, she should know that the greatest gift God has bestowed on her is the gift of motherhood, the right to give birth and to raise a child with the proper care, love and affection. It is a unique gift, and it is hers alone.”

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“Why has God given women this wonderful gift? Because they alone have the capacity to express such qualities as love, compassion, caring and patience, in all its fullness and beauty. Every woman should know this and try to comprehend the significance of this blessing.”

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“In India men often think they have the right to control women, and that a woman should never be ahead of a man in any way. This is clearly the wrong attitude, which is due to the lack of proper understanding of the culture that was founded by the ancient saints and seers.”

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“It is mostly in Western society that women are forgetting their feminine qualities. In the name of equality, many women are disregarding this most priceless blessing they have been given. In the West, as opposed to Indian society, women are more aggressive and less yielding. As Western women try to catch up with men in all areas of life, they do not realise that they are sacrificing an essential part of their nature. The result of this is total chaos and confusion, both in the outer and inner life. Amma is not saying that a woman shouldn’t do the same things that men do — she can and she should, and women have an immense inner power — but it should never be done at the cost of sacrificing her essential being. Going against Nature is destructive; it is dangerous for the person in question as well as for society as a whole.”

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How to live a family life

“A bird sits on the dry twig of a tree and eats a piece of fruit it has found somewhere. It knows that the twig may break at any moment; so it is very alert as it sits on the twig. You should understand that this world is like that. Everything may be lost at any moment. You should remember that, children. Be sure to hold on to the truth that only God is everlasting. Then there will be no reason for sorrow.”

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“They have to stand in fire without getting burnt — that is the life of a householder. Without shoes, they have to walk over thorns without getting wounded — shoes being freedom from worldly ties. The householders don’t have that freedom.”

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“Family life is not meant to take us away from God, but to bring us closer to Him. Use it for that purpose, children, without worrying unnecessarily.”

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“If sadhana (spiritual practices) is done regularly, the spiritual and worldly aspects of life can be maintained side by side, in perfect harmony. To achieve this, you have to perform your actions with the awareness that the goal of life is to attain liberation. This will save you.”

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“It is a great thing to be able to call out to God in the midst of all the family prarabdha (results of past karmas manifesting in this life). Many of Amma’s householder children meditate and do japa and archana regularly at home. Many of them have taken a vow that they will not eat or sleep before doing archana. Amma’s heart overflows with love when She thinks of them.”

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“Real gain is from the Self alone. Only enquiry into the Self is of eternal value, and that is what gives peace. We should know That as the true bliss. What happiness is there in worrying about the family? You should move forward considering everything as ordained by Him. If one does so, peace will be gained.”

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Spiritual practices for householders

“My children, slowly try to change your life. Out of 30 days in a month, at least spend two days for your spiritual development. Try to change your bad habits by gradually replacing them with good thoughts and actions. Every day before going to bed, recollect the day’s activities and try to discriminate between the good and bad. Repent on the bad thoughts and actions. Make a strong determination to abstain from them the following day. The next day, do the same. Before going to bed, make a comparative study of the actions which you did that day and the previous day and see the differences. Pray to the Lord to bestow enough mental strength to fight against the negative tendencies. Surrender everything at His feet. Have compassion for ailing humanity. Do charity for righteous purposes. Real charity or renunciation is giving up your dearest things. Actually, it is said that the mind should be offered to the Supreme. But the mind is immersed in money and other such worldly possessions. So offering money for righteous things is equal to offering our mind. Such actions will make your mind more and more expansive. Expansiveness is God. Let not your wealth be used only for fulfilling your desires and those of your family members. Let at least a small portion of it be used for the benefit of the world, which in turn will purify you.”

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“Householders should observe a vow of silence once a week. They should try to get up early in the morning. It is good if they have a regular routine. That will help them to discipline themselves. Until yesterday you were leading a life devoid of spiritual ideals. To get rid of the old habits and replace them with new ones, a regular timetable will be very helpful.”

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“If once a week is not practical, at least two days a month should be spent in an ashram atmosphere, immersed in japa and meditation and doing service. Remembering God is the real foundation of life. In due course we can free ourselves from all bonds, just as a snake sheds its skin; and merge in God.”

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“Any spare time you have after work should be spent reading spiritual books like the ‘Gita’ and the ‘Ramayana,’ or the biographies of the mahatmas (great souls), or collections of their teachings, instead of going to the movies or engaging in other forms of ordinary entertainment. Don’t waste any opportunity to participate in satsangs. Share with your friends the things you hear in satsangs, thus bringing mental peace to them as well. Observe brahmacharya (celibacy) at least two or three days a week. That is essential if you are to get the proper benefit from your sadhana (spiritual practices). There is not just one wife/husband — the eyes, nose, tongue, ears, and the skin are all our “wives/husbands.” We have to control our attachment to them also; then we can know the real essence within us.”

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“In the morning, chant the holy name for at least ten minutes after your bath. Meditate at least for a little while. Do the same in the evening.”

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“One cannot live without being active in some way, whether physically, mentally, or intellectually. Everyone is constantly engaged in some form of action; this is an unchangeable law of Nature. No one becomes pure and selfless overnight; it involves time and concentrated effort coupled with tremendous patience and love. Do your actions in the world, without forgetting that your final goal in life is to break out of all bondage and limitations. Always remember that you have a higher goal to attain. Simply do what needs to be done; but at the same time, don’t miss the opportunities you come across to perform unselfish actions. You will then gradually gain mental purity and devotion. As you proceed with diligence, you will attain more clarity of mind and a deeper understanding. This will finally lead you to the state of perfection, the state of Self-realization.”

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Spiritual relationship between husband and wife

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

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

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

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A true relationship

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

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

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

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

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Listen with love and concern

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

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Cultivate patience and forgiveness

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

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

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

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On Separation

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

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

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

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

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God and your life

Tell everything to God

“No matter who causes you grief, take your complaints to the puja room (family shrine), where your real friend is. In addition to your husband or wife, you should have a friend — and that friend should be God. Even if your husband or wife makes you unhappy, tell that to God, and not to anyone else. If your neighbour picks a fight with you, go to the puja room and complain, ‘Why did you let him treat me like that? Weren’t you with me?’ Open your heart and tell God everything. Then it becomes a satsang.”

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“When someone makes you happy, tell God about that too. Forgetting God in times of happiness and remembering Him only in times of sorrow is not a sign of true devotion. We should be able to see that He gives us both happiness and sorrow.”

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Remember God while performing actions

“Children, remember God while doing actions. (Amma points to a man who is leading ducks through the backwaters.) There is hardly any room in the boat even to keep his legs properly. It is such a small boat. Standing in the boat, he will row with a long oar and lead the ducks as well. Making noise by slapping the oar on the water, the man will guide the ducks if they stray. At intervals, he will smoke a cigarette. He will scoop out any water entering the boat with his feet. He will also converse with the people standing on the bank. Even while doing all these things, his mind will always be on the boat. If his attention wavers even for a moment, losing his balance, the boat will capsize and he will fall in. Children, like this we should live in this world. Whatever work we are doing, our mind should be centred on God. This is easily possible through practice.”

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“You can lead a truly spiritual life while remaining a householder. You will be able to enjoy the bliss of the Self, but your mind has to be on God all the time. Then you can easily attain bliss. A mother bird will be thinking of the young ones in the nest, even when she is out looking for food. Similarly, you have to keep your mind on God, while engaged in all worldly actions. The important thing is to be completely dedicated to God or the Guru. Once you have that dedication, the goal will not be far away.”

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Practice renunciation from the beginning

“A householder who wishes to lead a spiritual life after completing his responsibilities in the world should exercise renunciation from the very beginning, because it won’t come easily. Renunciation demands constant and long-term practice. He or she may not be able to relinquish everything externally; therefore, he or she should try to be detached from within. The mind should not get too involved in things. In order to keep this spirit of inner detachment, lakshya bodha (awareness of the goal) is very important. Whatever happens in the house or outside, one should always contemplate and pray in this manner: ‘My goal is far beyond all these silly and trivial worldly problems. O Lord, please do not push me into these conflicts and arguments. Give me the strength and courage to be in the midst of these problems and still remember You and remain detached. Let me try to work through them as part of my duty, but let me be untouched by their vibrations.’

How to overcome anger

“Suppose you have a weakness of getting angry easily. Now, what you should do is this: Once you become normal again, go and sit in the family shrine room if you have one, or sit in solitude; then regret and repent your own anger and sincerely pray to your beloved deity or to Mother Nature, seeking help to get rid of it. Try to make your own mind aware of the bad outcome of anger. When you are angry with someone, you lose all your mental balance. Your discriminative power completely stops functioning. You say whatever comes into your mind and you act accordingly. You may even utter crude words at your own wife or children, or your own father or mother. Once you lose your discrimination you may even kill someone. By acting and thinking with anger you lose a lot of good energy. Become aware of this great truth, that these negative feelings will only pave the way for your own destruction, and sincerely try to put forth effort to overcome them.”

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“When you are in the midst of an upsetting situation, can you simply observe what is happening? Can you stop thinking that someone is insulting and abusing you? Can you forget that you are being treated unfairly and let go of the wish to do something about it? Don’t be abusive. Don’t react. Try to realise that the real problem is not what is happening, but how you are reacting to it. When you see that you are going to react negatively, at this point, pause. Stop talking. Say to your mind, ‘No, don’t say anything now. You will get a better opportunity to present the whole matter in a more effective way. But now you keep quiet for the time being.’ During this pause, try to think of something positive, something elevating, something sweet, something that you consider unforgettable. Try to recall a pleasant event or memory. Focus all your energies, all your thoughts on that. If you can do this, you won’t be bothered or angered by the ridiculous words and unbearable face of the other person.”

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“In due course, when you have learned to overcome these mildly provoking situations, you can slowly begin to test your experiment in more trying and serious situations. As you continue to practice, you will see that you are changing. And eventually, you will see that you cannot react anymore, that you can only respond. You will experience much more peace and joy in your marriage and in your family life in general. The change in your attitude and the patience that you show will also create a positive change in others.”

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“When your husband sees that you are not reacting anymore, when he realises that his anger and insults are no longer being accepted, that they are no longer affecting you, he will feel embarrassed. What happens when a warrior finds that his weapons are not powerful or effective anymore? He throws them away. Similarly, when your husband finds that his weapons, the words that he uses against you, are not hurting you anymore, he will give up and keep quiet. In addition, you will now be treating him with more love and care. This is a great gift.”

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Chant Your Mantra

“When your mind is restless, try to chant your mantra. If you seek solace in anything else, all will be lost. If you don’t get peace of mind from one thing, you will look for something else. Failing that, you will again look for something else. You won’t experience any peace at all. No peace will be experienced in anything. Whereas, if you remember God and chant your mantra, you will quickly become very calm and peaceful. Your mind will have the power to face any situation.”

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“Firmly fix the idea in your mind that only God is true and eternal. Chant your mantra while engaged in your work. Then there won’t be any need for a special time to remember God. Your mind will always be focused on Him.”

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“The mind which is flying about in all directions should be gathered together. Then only will it become spiritually strong. The mind cannot be fixed on a single point in the beginning. It should be tuned by doing mantra japa continuously. All your attention should be only on that. Do you know what mantra japa can be compared to? In kindergarten we learn to write using a slate and to count using pearls. In this way the lessons will easily sink into the intellect. Similarly, we can get concentration through mantra japa. There are people who attained the goal merely by chanting a mantra. It is not always possible to meditate but mantra japa can be done irrespective of time or place.”

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Vasanas (negative tendencies)

“Family life allows us to conquer our vasanas. Don’t drown in the vasanas; understand what they are and go beyond them. We will reach our goal only if we become completely detached from the vasanas. We feel satisfied after enjoying our fill of payasam, but a little later, we want twice as much. Once we understand the true nature of this yearning, the mind will not go after it. Would anyone touch the payasam if a lizard fell into it?”

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“When the vasanas pull us towards them, the mind will resist if it knows that they are not the source of real joy, and that they will only bring us sorrow. But this knowledge has to be firmly planted in the mind and intellect. Don’t let your lives go to waste, children, by being slaves to your minds! Don’t barter away a priceless jewel for a piece of candy. Our minds will quiet down if we stop giving as much importance to sensory pleasures as we do now.”

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How to look after children

Amma’s teaching on how to look after our children “When your children indulge in mischief, explain things to them lovingly. Childhood is the foundation of life. If we don’t pay attention to our children and show them love and affection, they may go astray. Parents should remember to be especially loving towards their children when they are very young, just as you would water a tender, young plant. Once the children are grown and have found jobs, the parents should entrust them with the family responsibilities, and retire to an ashram life and do sadhana (spiritual practices) in solitude. Purify the mind through service. It is unwise to cling to your home and children until your last breath. When the children are grown up, the desire to see your grandchildren and to help with their upbringing will become strong. All living beings on earth manage to grow and survive, don’t they? They are not waiting for help. Leave your children in God’s hands. That is what loving parents should do. That is true love.”

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“In most families today, there is both a father and a mother. With the correct understanding about family life, and about life as a whole, they can play their parts properly. The mother can try to impart in the child virtues like love, patience and forbearance, and the father can lovingly prevent the child from doing things which would do harm to society, his family and his own life. The father can teach him obedience and respect for others. In some cases, a single parent becomes both the father and mother. It is possible if one tries. In all cases, the parents are the first ones to set an example, to show their children how they want them to be. If a good example isn’t set, it is an impossible task to raise children properly. A father can also be a good mother and a mother can also be a good father. But this balance cannot be attained unless one does proper sadhana (spiritual practices).”

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The parents are the first gurus

“The parents are the two gurus which the children see from birth until they come into contact with the world. If the seed of love is not sown at home, it cannot sprout or blossom.”

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“Children express what is taught to them and what they have experienced while growing up. Therefore, you should be very careful and cautious for your children’s sake. Be careful about what you say. Be careful about what you do, because each word that you utter and each deed you perform creates a deep impression in your child’s mind. It goes deep into his heart because those are the first things that he sees and hears. They are the first impressions indelibly imprinted upon his or her mind.”

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“Parents should always set an example for their children in words and deeds. They are their children’s first teachers. Remember that by fighting and arguing with each other in front of your children, you are setting a bad example and spoiling their future as well. If you cannot straighten out your own difficulties, that is your problem, but why should you create problems in your children’s lives too?”

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“Parents should be very careful when they deal with their children. Don’t give whatever they ask. They have no discrimination. If you do not use your discrimination when you fulfil their wishes, you are leading them to destruction. When you nourish their body, don’t forget to nourish their minds by disciplining them properly. Give some physical work to your children as well. Let them sweat and toil a little every day. Otherwise, they will become lazy and good for nothing. Give them a chance to know the value of work.”

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“The first thing parents should attend to is the character of their children. They should teach them good behaviour, and this means instructing them in spiritual matters. The parents should tell their children stories that teach moral principles, and they should train them to do japa and meditation. By doing sadhana (spiritual practices), the intelligence and memory of the child will greatly improve. They will also be well behaved. They will progress spiritually and will also be materially successful in life.

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Teach your children love and patience

“Children will not have an opportunity to learn patience and love from anybody else if they do not learn these qualities from their parents.”

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“Children, a mother must have great patience in bringing up her children. A mother has to put into effect the moulding of the child’s character. The child learns his first lessons of love and patience through his mother. A mother must be patient – patient like the earth.”

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“A father is just as deeply involved in rearing the children as the mother. A father, too, must have patience.”

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Discipline with love, not fear

“Creating fear and respect in order to teach obedience cannot be called disciplining, which is what we like to call it. True, constructive disciplining takes place when love is allowed to blossom. If love is absent, any reverence or respect will be based on fear.”

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“The other day a family came to see Amma. They had a seven-year-old son. He was sitting on Amma’s lap, and just to make him happy and to make him talk, Amma asked him several questions: his name, what grade he was in, about his friends, the games he liked, etc. Each time he was about to answer a question, the boy would first look at his father, as if asking permission to speak. The boy would answer each question only after being given his father’s consent. When Amma asked what his name was, he immediately looked at his father. Only when his father said, ‘Tell Amma your name,’ did the boy dare say his name. The boy was afraid to speak. You cannot even call this respect — it is plain fear. If you threaten a child saying, ‘Obey, or I will punish you,’ you don’t know how much harm you are doing. The child closes up and cannot express himself. He will carry this fear within him throughout his life. He may become a wealthy man, highly educated, holding a top position in society, but the fear will still be there, deep within him, and it will make his personal life a living hell.”

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If parents really love their children…

“Mothers will say that they love their children. In fact, do they? If they love, why are they not loving the children of the neighbouring houses? Therefore, what they really love is “mine.” Mother would say that even the birth of a child is accidental which occurred during the course of the parents’ effort to satisfy their lust and other selfish motives. If the parents really love their children, they should make their children understand and assimilate spiritual truths which would give mental strength and control in order to confront the challenges of life, instead of throwing them into this world without giving proper spiritual education and forcing them to lead the same kind of life as themselves.”

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Your children are not your real companions

“The children whom you rear are not your real companions. Once the daughter is married, her mother’s place is second to her husband’s. For the husband as well, the wife comes first and then only his mother. All of them will get off at their respective bus stops along the road of life. Therefore, everything should be entrusted to one’s beloved deity. Your children also belong to God. What power does a servant have in the master’s house? He will be satisfied with whatever is given by the master. The master makes the decisions and asks the servant to execute them. He has no right to question. Similarly, we are the servants and God is the Master. He is the one who gives the remuneration, the fruit; so let us work sincerely and be content with what He, the Master, gives. The real Self, the essence, should be known. Children, all power belongs to God, not to us. We are puppets in His hands. If we work with the attitude of surrender, He will protect us.”