23 August 2005, Amritapuri
As always on Tuesdays, this week all the ashramites gathered for a day of meditation, followed by an opportunity to ask Amma questions and to receive a plate of prasad directly from her hands.
When everyone had received prasad, a devotee approached Amma, telling her that she had just scolded another lady because she had approached Amma while wearing her sandals. The woman told Amma that she had sternly told the lady that one should never approach the Guru wearing shoes or sandals, but that one should come barefoot and humble. She asked Amma if what she had said was correct, and if she was in the right to have scolded the woman.
Amma’s response was quick: “The heart is not in the sandals.”
As always, Amma’s focus was on the attitude, not the act. It is better to approach the Guru with humility and a pure heart while wearing one’s sandals than to approach barefoot and full of pride.
After Amma’s answer, Amma and those immediately around her broke into laughter. But, as there was no microphone, no one else knew why they were laughing.
Soon, the group around Amma shared the story with the circle of people directly behind them. Of course, they too began to laugh. Then the circle of people directly behind them wanted to know what was so funny, so they also were told. In this way, the laughter gradually spread, like a single slow-moving shockwave, throughout the temple. By the time the story reached the very back of the hall–setting off a final burst of laughter–several minutes had passed. So Amma asked what they were laughing at. When she heard the reason, of course, she fell into laughter once again.