Excerpted from Amma’s 61s Birthday Satsang, September 27, 2014, Amritapuri
As far as Amma is concerned, there is nothing different about this day. Like every day, Amma will see her children, listen to their sorrows and console them. Today is just another day like that. Therefore, Amma has only one thing to tell you: ‘Our lives should be of some benefit to the world. We should sincerely love and console at least one life, for at least a moment, without any expectations.’
We are living in a world where various individuals, societies, caste communities, religious groups and countries are segregating themselves from each other. For their own happiness and pleasure, they are competing to make each other cry. It’s startling when we realize that the world we are living in today is one wherein even elderly women with one foot in the grave are not spared from cruelty and abuse. There are groups preaching a form of terrorism even more savage than that of primitives. They stand ready, aiming to make human life completely miserable.Therefore, in today’s world, there are no guarantees. Anything can happen to anyone, at any time, at any place.
At present, the human race is caught in the midst of many serious problems: global warming and other natural disasters, unemployment and economic recession. Many countries are trapped in the grip of poverty and famine. New infectious diseases are arising; infant mortality is increasing. There are more incidents of suicide and psychological problems. These days, for the sake of money, people are ready to do even the cruelest things. For many, amassing money by any means, satiating themselves with liquor, and delighting in the pleasures of the senses without any discernment are the very goals of life.
Our youth are leading lives devoid of any fundamental human values. Our family lives and the relationships between husbands and wives, etc, are becoming a mockery. We see mothers and fathers completely unable to discipline their children, and children totally forgetting their dharma to their parents. If we don’t awaken and act now, there are grave dangers waiting for humankind. Currently we are acing as if we are in a hurry to embrace these dangers, rushing straight towards them.
If you probe into the source of most of the problems in the world, you will find only one answer: lack of love and compassion. A lot of effort is being put forth to find a vaccine to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, which in some African countries has become like a nightmare, destroying thousands of lives. However, currently, a much more dangerous virus is at large—a virus that is devouring countless lives every day. This is the virus of hatred. We need not search far and wide to find a cure for this virus. The vaccine is readily available inside each and every one of us: love and compassion. Love and compassion not only provide us with strength and vitality, they also uplift everyone around us. Love is the divine medicine and compassion is the mrita-sanjeevani—the remedy for death.
We very often hear people ask, sadly, “Why is our world in such a state? Why has our country declined in certain areas?” We are forgetting an important truth: The world includes us as well. Thus, we should see that we are also playing a role in making this world better or worse. Consequently, if we try, we can make this world a better place. One of the reasons for the current state of the world is that many people are ready to take whatever they can, even if it means harming others, but when it comes time to sacrifice for the general social good, they run away from their duties.
One of ancient Bharat’s valuable contributions to the world was the invention of number zero, but now our country needs to add a few things to that zero: zero-poverty, zero-illiteracy, zero-waste, zero-crime, zero-violence against women, etc. If we can make strides in these areas, India can become a role model for many other countries.
Thinking about the current state of Bharat, one of the things that comes to Amma’s mind is the increase in crimes against women. Statistics say that the incidents of these crimes have increased by 27 per cent in the past year. Some of us see these as “women’s issues,” but this is something of concern for the entire society. Why? Because women are the very foundation of society and the very foundation of the family. A nation can only truly be called advanced when the security and wellbeing of its women are ensured. Boys should be taught from a young age to respect and support girls. Along with this, women need to awaken and arise. This is the need of the hour. The time when woman were viewed as weak and helpless is over. The progress of the world rests in the rise of knowledgeable, self-confident, capable and compassionate women. Women have the power to create a new world now, while working side-by-side with men.
Just as we hear of alcohol addiction and drug addiction, today there is also Internet addiction. Misuse of the Internet is one factor contributing to the increase in crime against women. No doubt, the Internet has caused a technological revolution in all spheres of life. We cannot discount all the achievements that have come through it. However, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the negative effects that have arisen from its misuse. So many relationships and lives have been destroyed due to this addiction.
Another thing that we need to be aware of is the preservation and protection of Nature. Natural disasters like the recent landslide in Maharashtra and the floods in Jammu-Kashmir are constantly haunting us. When these tragedies take place, it isn’t God that needs to be cross-examined in the witness box, but man. In reality, every natural disaster is a warning from Nature that we need to rectify our ways. We should not ignore these warnings.
In today’s world, life has become very mechanical. Two people living under the same roof often live devoid of love and happiness, unable to understand or truly acknowledge the other. In the olden days, it was different. While there were no mobile phones back then, the communication that happened through love was perfect and transgressed all barriers of time and space.
We need to enjoy every moment of our life, aware of how precious it is. Life does not become meaningful by chasing after sense pleasures like an animal. It only becomes meaningful when we spread happiness to others. It is this understanding that makes a human being truly human. No one knows how long he will live. Therefore, as soon as possible, we should complete all the good actions we are supposed to. Let’s not postpone anything for tomorrow.
Devotion and compassion towards the poor and the needy go hand in hand. They are like two sides of a coin. We should look around us and reach out to people who need our help. If we are able to help even just one person, we can bring about a big change in their life. If my children can become ready to share their lives with the poor and the needy, that would be the best birthday present Amma could ever receive.