Monday, September 27, 2004
Amma’s 51st birthday message
Amma feels very sad when She sees the present state of the world. Everywhere we look we see pictures of bloodshed and people shedding tears. There is no compassion even towards children. How many innocent people are perishing in wars and terrorist attacks! It is said that in the olden days some sects practiced human sacrifices, but still they adhered to certain do’s and dont’s. In the wars fought in the olden times, one was not supposed to attack an unarmed person, and war would not continue after sunset. Today, we have crossed all boundaries. We live in a time where ego and selfishness seem to rule the world.
The world now seems very sophisticated and civilized. But our culture and values are eroding. The world has become just like a beautifully wrapped box of chocolates—infested by worms. We are not ready to share anything and want everything to be our own: be it land, food or the water from rivers.
We are interested in learning more and more languages, which are the means to communicating with people from other parts of the country and the world. But we’ve completely forgotten the language of love and compassion, which, more than anything else, helps us to understand one another. These modern times are marked by a poverty of love. Love and compassion are supposed be our greatest wealth, but today we have lost them. Without wetting our hearts with the tears of love, there is no hope for us or for the world.
The root cause of all destruction is the ego. There are two kinds of egos that create suffering in the world. One is the ego of power and wealth. The second is the ego that believes, “My opinion alone is right. Everyone else is wrong. I will not tolerate anything else. My religion alone is true. The rest are all false. They are not needed here.” Unless these two types of egos are eradicated, there will be no peace in life. To listen patiently to others, to be eager to understand other people, to be expansive enough to accept even those who do not agree with us—all these are the signs of true culture. What the world needs today is such a culture.
We need to accept and imbibe the good wherever we see it. Most human beings have a hot head and a cold heart—a head heated with ego and a heart cold with selfishness. Thus we are full of arrogance and devoid of compassion. But what we need is exactly the opposite: a cool head and a warm heart—a heart warmed with love and compassion, and a head cooled with wisdom.
Our offices, houses, etc. are all equipped with good security systems so that thieves cannot easily break in. But what about our minds? The doors are wide open; thieves can walk in at any time and steal all of our wealth. Who are these thieves? Negative thoughts. Any negative thought can enter our mind at anytime and steal the wealth of peace from within.
To make the mind calm is the pathway to completeness. The problem with modern-day education is that it teaches us to think and to analyze but not how to stop thinking and be still. We also need to know how to stop. When you drive a vehicle, it is not enough if you know how to drive and change the gears; you also need to know how to stop.
Amma has heard that, in care homes for the elderly in Japan, robots are being used to take care of the residents. They are even programmed to give the residents their baths. If one were unable to stop these machines, just imagine the state. We know how to create desires, but we do not know how to overcome them. What spirituality teaches us is how to transcend the desires of the mind and to rediscover the inner stillness.
We have a lot of sorrows in life. One of the reasons for this is that we are afraid of them. There are two kinds of sorrow. The first kind comprises sorrow we’ve created through unnecessary thinking. The second kind comes from our indiscriminate actions. If we are able to develop the right attitude, we can drastically reduce the burden of our sorrows. We should never forget that after every night, there is a dawn. We should never lose our optimistic faith. Life is like a flow. If we are able to remain a witness to the flow, we will not be affected by anything. But if we are caught in the flow, we will experience sorrow.
Pain carries a hidden message. It suggests that a time for change has come. Take physical pain: Suppose we are holding a burning-hot plate but don’t feel any pain; before we realize it, our hand may become charred like a stick. It is the pain that tells us to immediately let go. It is the same with every kind of pain we experience. It is conveying to us something deeper—that it is time for change. What is this change that needs to take place? It is the cultivation of the right attitude towards life. It is becoming more expansive. All experiences provide lessons for us to learn. But the sad thing is that we continually fail to do so.
When we try to find our way in the ocean, we must guide ourselves using the light of the polestar, and not by that on the bow of the ship. Similarly, if we focus on the eternal, we will remain unaffected by the changing experiences of life.
All negativities arise from the ego alone—be it anger, hatred, jealousy, etc. Anger is like a virus that gets into a computer and destroys all the information stored therein. Similarly, when we get angry, it destroys our discrimination and peace of mind, and we lose all self-control. Anger is like a blackout. When the electricity goes off and we try to walk through a dark room, we might stumble on and break many things. Only when the power returns do we realize the damage we’ve caused. When we are angry, we are totally blind to the words we speak and the actions we perform. Only later do we realize our folly. We should never allow anger to become a habit.
Bad habits are like a cosy bed. They are easy to jump into, but difficult to get out of. To overcome them, we need to put forth constant effort.
God’s grace is like sunlight; it shines on all without discrimination. But to experience it, we must open our hearts. Good actions are the means to doing this.
We buy life-insurance policies because we know that death could come at any moment. But we live our lives as if we believe we will never die.
We give physical exercise to the body, but neglect the heart. The exercise for the heart is uplifting the destitute and the suffering. The beauty of our eyes is not in the collyrium, but in a compassion-filled glance. The beauty of our ears is not in our earrings, but in listening to the distressed. The beauty of our hands is not in our rings, but in our good actions.
We should have gratitude in life. We are indebted to the world and to all the beings in it. There is nothing in this world that hasn’t nourished our growth in one way or another, thus bringing us to our present state. This earth is our mother. Nature is our mother. We should not forget our dharma towards our mother. We should not turn a deaf ear to the cries of our brothers and sisters. We should try our best to relieve their suffering in whatever way we can. To be compassionate towards the poor, one does not need a lot of wealth or a very high position. A loving word, a compassionate look, a simple good deed—all these can bring light to their lives, as well as to our own. It is not what we gain, but what we are able to give, that determines the value of our life. If we have been able to give happiness to a soul—even for a minute—it makes our life blessed.
Love gives everything; there is no thought of receiving. Love has no complaints; it accepts all. Love removes all fears; it transforms all ugliness into beauty. Because love is the real refuge, it is the beauty of life. Love is the spring of life; it makes it ever new and fresh.
Love is the expression of the Self. It is the thread on which all beings are strung. When love awakens in a person, the divinity in him or her also awakens—for love is God; it is the manifestation of the divine.
In love, there are never two. We feel a river to have two banks only because of the water in between. If the water of the ego dries up, only oneness remains. When love awakens, the ego disappears. Then, human beings realize their oneness with each other. One realizes his or her oneness with the whole of creation. Divine love is knowledge, liberation and bliss. When we become filled with that divine love, we are able to see God in everything and that itself is the ultimate fulfillment.
May all the thoughts of my children be filled with love. May you all become the light of the world.