Scriptures becomes alive in the presence of the Guru

Guru Purnima Celebrations

3 July, Chicago, Japan-America Yatra 2012
The auspicious Guru Purnima celebrations were held in Amma’s new Chicago Ashram.
The celebrations took place after a long day of darshan, with Swami Amritaswaroopananda leading the worship of the Guru’s feet.

Amma spoke to the devotees about the importance of the Guru disciple relationship. “A disciple with awareness, devotion and self surrender, will continuously receive the Guru’s message and guidance, no matter where they are.  Once we find a true Master, the scriptures are reborn. The Vedas and Upanishads are repeated. When we find such a Master our search ends there. All we need to do is to live in their presence and try to imbibe their sacrifice into our own lives.

“In reality, there is no new message to deliver about spirituality. ‘Everything is God, there is nothing else but God.’ This is the only message. This is the single message in the Upanishads, Vedas, Bhagavad Gita and Puranas. When we say that there are 108 Upanishads, we should understand that it is actually, 108 different ways of conveying the same message.

“Amma’s only desire is for Her children to be happy. Happiness is within everyone, but we are not able to experience it. This is because of our likes and dislikes. We are in the grip of our ego and because of this we hold on to our likes and dislikes. In order to break away from the ego, we need the help of a Satguru. Amma’s goal is to give her children this strength and love. If we let go of our likes and dislikes, we will become fit vessels to receive the Guru’s ever flowing grace. We can become freed from our mind and become a blessing to the entire world.

“Today, each of you should take some kind of vow. Sharing with others, taking only what we need, this is spirituality in practice. Every night we should contemplate, “What good did I do today? Did I hurt anyone? Did I get angry with anyone? How can I prevent myself from making this mistake tomorrow?” In case we have done something good, we should think, “How can I do better tomorrow? How can I speak even kinder words tomorrow? Can I help someone? Can I donate 10 minutes of my time to the poor or needy?” When we contemplate like this, our entire life becomes filled with light. When we have light within, no darkness can affect us.

“All your actions and duties should be filled with the sweetness of love. It is that sweetness that transforms ordinary action into Guru Seva, or service to the Guru. Devoid of the sweetness of love, action is mere labor. Action that is performed only for material growth is also mere labor. However, action that is performed to develop love within and attain spiritual growth is Guru Seva. Such actions are worship of the Inner Self. That, indeed, is true devotion. This is the key to open the doors to our True Self. The purpose of this human birth is to know God, or our true Self.

“Each and every living being in nature is part of the Guru’s body. Loving and serving such a Satguru is the path to reach our true Self. It is the key to open the doors to our soul. It is the way, it is the goal, it is the path. May all Amma’s children awaken and rise in this love, may we all become lamps of love shedding light to the whole world. May grace bless us all.”

After the message, prasad was given out to all devotees by Amma herself. Celebrations ended on a high note with Amma singing Bandalo and Hari Narayana for the overjoyed surprise of the devotees.

Amma, we love you always

Governor of Illinois inaugurates MA center – Chicago

30 June, Elburn, Illinois, Chicago – 2012 America Yatra

The Governor of the State of Illinois, Patrick Quinn, inaugurated M.A. Center Chicago, a new branch of the Mata Amritanandamayi Center today. The center is located on a 141-acre property in Elburn, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

Governor Quinn said, “I think it is so important that our state of Illinois is a home to an M.A. Center. And it is a high honor for me, as Governor to declare, this day, the opening of the M.A. Center of Chicago.”

Governor Quinn praised Amma’s worldwide humanitarian service, saying, “I wanted to be here tonight to honor one of our world’s humanitarian leaders. It is especially important that we understand that feeding the hungry and taking care of those who are poor is a mission that all of us have. A great leader of our country, Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, ‘Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.’ And I think all of us have learned, from the example and life of Amma, a life of service—a very important way of life indeed.”

Governor Quinn praised the value of Amma’s darshan, saying, “There’s a reason she is called the Hugging Saint: she knows how to reach out and hug everyday people. And I think that is so, so important.”

Governor Quinn concluded his address by presenting Amma with a plaque applauding her works as a spiritual leader and humanitarian. He then extended an open invitation to Amma to stay whenever she wanted in the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield, Illinois, specifically offering Amma rest in an antique bed that belonged to former American president, and Illinois native, Abraham Lincoln.

“Amma we love you today. We will love you always. And thank you very much,” Governor Quinn said.

The inauguration took place during the first night of five days of programs conducted by Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) in Elburn. Amma has been coming to the Chicago area every year since 1986.

Other dignitaries to grace the dais and address the gathering included the mayor of Elburn, David Anderson, and Kane County Board Member, Drew Frasz

Melting pot of Los Angeles

15- 19 Los Angeles, American Yatra 2012

Los Angeles is a megalopolis–it spreads for miles and miles in all directions; in one of those directions it engulfs Hollywood, Mecca to budding stars and starlets.  So is it any surprise that at Amma’s LA program, the second night retreat program included theatrical shows?

As Amma was giving darshan to the huge number of people coming for her blessings, first a humorous stage play was enacted, complete with semi-bollywood dance numbers. The play could have been passed off as a comedy of manners, with mistaken identities and impersonations–but it was more than that. It was a play about love. About what we mistake for love, and how we recognize love when it is real, and how our expectations and prejudices can stand in the way of real love.  When all the mix-ups were sorted out, led by quotes from Amma, everyone in the play had found someone she or he really could love.

LA is a city of diversity–people from all over the world come to this “melting pot”, so it was fitting that as the evening’s program continued, other cultures were represented.  Mexico, not a hundred miles away from LA, was represented by a man singing traditional Mariachi songs, accompanied by women dressed in long Mexican skirts and hand-embroidered blouses.
An African-American man, sometimes drumming, singing, and occasionally dancing himself, led a group of women in traditional African dance. This exploded, by the end, in an invitation to all in the room to join in–and little children, teens, adults, staff members, elderly people–everyone who felt like it–joined in!

The last presentation for the night was in stark contrast to the preceding loud and rousing events: softly the strains of a harp, accompanied by a softly played tabla, settled the room down. Classical Indian music provided a gentle and peaceful setting for Amma’s ongoing hugging.
The second day of every retreat featured a special outdoor meditation with Amma, followed by a question/ answer session. At the end, Amma led everyone present in singing and playing pattycake together, before she herself served dinner to all. There were special treats at the end: papadoms for the children, and ice cream mixed with crumbled papadoms for all.

Most of the road journey from Los Angeles to New Mexico was through the deserts of the South-West.  Amma decided to break up the journey and stop for a picnic with the group in the middle of the desert.  For most of the day temperatures had soared to over 100 degrees; fortunately by the time Amma sat with the group, as the sun was setting it cooled off and everyone was able to enjoy a memorable dinner time with Amma.

 

The family reunion at San Ramon

Jun 6- 13 San Ramon, CA – 2012 America Yatra

San Ramon is home to Amma’s first American ashram.  While there are always new faces, there are also always lots of familiar faces. Children whom Amma fed their first solid food have grown up now and are coming to her for their weddings–or even for their own children’s Annaprasham (first rice)! The eight days’ programs in San Ramon are like a large family reunion.

 

One thing families often do when they get together is sing, and Amma’s big family is no different.  At the end of the second full day of darshan, in fact, even before darshan ended, Amma decided to sing.  This was a special treat, for on the full days, when Amma begins darshan at 11 in the morning and doesn’t stop, darshan continues usually until at least ten or so–and that means no formal bhajan program.  The swamis do come and sing at the ordinary bhajan time–but people don’t get to hear Amma sing.  This particular day, however, when “bhajan time” came along, Amma decided to participate–even as she continued hugging people.  She sang five songs, ranging from lively songs like Gopiyarkal, with moments of laughter, to the moving, more solemn strains of Kodannu Koti–sometimes apparently forgetting to let go of whoever was in her lap for whole minutes at a time.

When there’s a family reunion, thoughts naturally turn to those in the family who have not been able to gather.  When Amma finished the first of the two Devi Bhavas in San Ramon, she reached out to the ‘missing’ family members. Having tossed a special handful of petals their way (via the web cast connection to Amritapuri and several other centers), she continued the connection when she was about to leave the hall.  Stopping to gaze lovingly at the faces of children half-way around the world, but as close as the webcast screen on the laptop held for her, she offered words and waves and kisses.

Another thing that happens at family reunions is eating!  If there are snacks, they are shared–and sure enough, when people brought Amma special treats during darshan (from fresh vegetables to home-made vadas to sweets), she would take a bite and then gesture that the rest should be shared around as far as it could be stretched. Like a good mother, she took thought for all her children, not just those nearby; time and again she indicated that the people on the balconies, who might expect to miss out, must be included; dutifully, someone would arrive on the balcony with a bit of Toblerone chocolate, or a palm full of vada crumbs, and offer them even to those who hadn’t seen what had gone on, but had felt wistful upon hearing the laughter.

The second night of a retreat is the night Amma, having answered her children’s questions as the day moved from warm and sunny afternoon to cool and shadowed evening, leads the crowd from the open field into the mandap, where she serves a plate of prasad to each one, and then sits with the children, to each of whom she gives a papadom.  A few years ago, Amma surprised everyone after the papadom procession by suddenly reaching her hands into the big bowl with a few papadoms remaining, and breaking them all into small pieces–doing with food what all little children want to do, but mostly are told not to! That wasn’t all: she then added ice cream, and mushed the crumbled papadoms and ice cream all together!  This has become a tradition since that first time, and now someone stands ready with a BIG mixing bowl of ice cream, and extra papadoms are on hand–because of course everyone will want a taste of this prasad when Amma gestures for it to be offered around!

 

What was different this time was every parent’s nightmare–the worry of every parent who has tried to teach the little ones proper table manners: at least one child was watching, learning, and imitating this normally ‘unacceptable’ behavior!

Sitting right next to Amma was a small child. This child watched intently–and with perhaps some surprise–as Amma crumbled papadoms into her dish, and even more intently as she accepted the second bowl of ice cream and poured it into the papadom and ice cream mixture, and stirred.  Fascinated and inspired, the child did as any good disciple would, and tried to follow the Guru’s example. She turned to the place beside her, took up a second ice cream dish, poured the remains into her own dish, and began stirring!

Amma left the hall as her big bowls of crunchy ice cream were passed around; dessert for all at the San Ramon family reunion.

 

It’s an honor and blessing to be in her presence – Bishop Gregory

May 31 – Jun 3 Seattle — Japan America Yatra 2012

After a 12 hour flight from Japan and Amma landed in Seattle to conduct four days of program at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue.

Large crowds showed up for the public day and also for the retreat, where Amma was officially welcomed by the Right Reverand Gregory Rickel, Bishop and spiritual head of the Episcopal Church in Western Washington. Accompanied by his wife and son, the bishop garlanded Amma. Speaking on the occasion he said “Our intent was to stay the whole evening, but due to the Vigil* for the shooting victims set at St. Mark’s Cathedral we had to greet Amma, receive our hug, and then make our way to (the Cathedral). Still, we were able to be briefed on the tremendous work this amazing woman has been doing in her native India, but even more throughout the world. It’s an honor and blessing to be in her presence.”

Blessing to be in her presence

"It's an honor and blessing to be in her presence" - Bishop Gregory Rickel

These two spiritual leaders had been drawn together on a more than formal level. The Bishop is particularly committed to interfaith dialogue, and is a strong advocate of environmental concerns and social justice issues, especially homelessness.

Amma, in the same spirit, reaches out to people of all spiritual and religious traditions around the world, encouraging people to deepen their own faiths and discover the shared truths of all the great religions. Her Amala Bharatham Campaign for a clean India and the worldwide GreenFriends organization both focus on Mother Earth. In the area of social justice, Amma has outreach to widows, orphans, and those so desperate as to turn to suicide. And the over 50,000 homes Embracing the World has built for the poor testify to her concern for homelessness.

At the end of the meditation following the arati on this night, Amma asked everyone to pray for the five victims, and for a lessening of violence, and for world peace.

Devotees enthusiastically participated in the day’s program and the 3-day retreat which included Satsang, Bhajans and a Puja for world peace and harmony.

After Seattle Amma left for California where another 8 days of program are to be held at her Ashram.

* Two days earlier a killing spree in Seattle had resulted in the deaths of four victims and their slayer. At the end of May there have been 21 such deaths–equaling the total for last year. The Bishop supposed to lead a prayer vigil for the victims, was scheduled for Friday evening at St. Mark’s Cathedral.

Amma’s Japan – America Yatra 2012


Amma to visit Japan and America from 24 May – 23 July

Japan

May 24-25  Osaka, Japan
Sky Building Umeda Stella Hall
Oyodonaka 1-1, Kita-ku, Osaka

May 27 -29  Tokyo, Japan
Shinagawa ballroom Garden City
3-13-3 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo
click here for more details

USA

May 31 – Jun 3 Seattle
May 31 Public Program
June 1-3 Pacific North West Retreat
Venue: Hyatt Regency Bellevue.
900 Bellevue Way NE
Bellevue, WA 98004

Jun 6- 13 San Ramon, CA
Jun 6-9  San Ramon Public Programs
Jun 11-13 Northern California Retreat
Venue: 10200 Crow Canyon Road  Castro Valley, CA 94552

Jun 15- 19 Los Angeles
Jun 15 – 16 Public Programs, Los Angeles
Jun 17 – 19  Southern California Retreat
Venue: Hilton LAX
5711 West Century Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Jun 22 – 25 Albuquerque
Jun 22 Public program, Albuquerque
Jun 23 – 25 Southwest Retreat
Venue: Marriott Pyramid North
5151 San Francisco Road Northeast
Albuquerque, NM 87109

Jun 27 – 28 Dallas
Public programs
Venue: Embassy Suites
7600 John Q. Hammons Drive
Frisco, TX 75034

Jun 30 –  Jul 04 Chicago
Public programs
Venue: MA Center Chicago
41w751 Keslinger Road
Elburn, IL 60119

Jul 6 – 7 Washington DC
Public programs
Venue: Hilton Alexandria Mark Center
5000 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22311

Jul 9 – 11 New York
Public programs
Venue: Jacob Javits North Hall
11th Avenue and 40th Street (entrance on 40th Street)
New York, NY 10001

Jul 14 – 17 Boston
Jul 14 Public program, Boston
Jul 15-17 New England Retreat
Venue: Royal Plaza Trade Center
181 Boston Post Rd W
West Marlborough, MA 01752

Canada

Jul 19 – 22 Toronto
Jul 19 Public program
Jul 20 – 22: Canadian Retreat
Venue:

Doubletree Hotel
655 Dixon Road
Toronto  Ontario  M9W1J3. Canada