Amma on the practicality of Spiritual practices
1 Feb 2010, Amritapuri
Amma’s walk to the beach is a welcome sign for many ashramites and visitors. Sad faces blossom into smiles, surprised looks turn into glee. Such is the presence of Amma. The very evening becomes a festival.
Last Monday evening the bell rang at 5 pm and Amma walked from her room to the beach. People love to crowd behind her and walk at her side hoping to catch her glance. Amma takes a loving look at them too. It was a beautiful sight.
Amma sat down below a coconut tree facing the sea and with Swamiji translating, Amma led the meditation for all who had assembled around her. After the guided meditation, Amma asked the question “What do you think about the practicality of spiritual practices?” Amma had been very keen to stress the importance of spiritual practices during her recent meditation-Satsang sessions.
Many devotees chose to answer and one by one Amma would listen to them while looking at everybody around her. After a few others expressed their views, an eight-year-old girl said “Everything is in God’s hands. We have to become instruments in God’s hands. The world is so full of desires and there is no use going behind it.” Amma listened to the girl and pulled her closer and after looking at her deeply, hugged her with the fond affection like that of a proud mother and gently pressed her head tilted sideways against the little girl’s.
A person sitting a few feet away from Amma said, “When I sit on the (meditation) mat, I know it is a good practice but I do not know how practical that is. To know that is the reason I am here with Amma.”
Meanwhile, a little Finnish toddler, Amritavarshini, who is less than a year old, helped herself to Amma’s seat and Amma took her up and set her on the extra space near her. The little toddler took some flowers and started giving them to Amma. Amma would receive it gently and would lovingly put it back on the toddler’s head. This went on for many minutes as people spoke. The toddler then took out a beautiful picture of Goddess Kali and gave it to Amma. Amma received it and having blessed it gave it back to the toddler. The little one started offering the flowers like during Archana to that Kali picture after having placed the picture resting on Amma’s seat. Amma smiled lovingly and the little girl turned her cheeks upward to Amma. Amma kissed her and then as she continued, drew a small art representing a leaf on the cheek of the little toddler. The little one immediately turned around and wearing a proud beautiful smile, showed it to all around her.
As the microphone changed hands, another person continued on Amma’s question saying “Amma, when I feel hungry I take food. Whether it is practical or whether it is a necessity I do not know. Your question triggers in me several more questions!”
A lady seated facing Amma said, “I do not know how practical it is to get up for the Archana at 4 am every morning.”
Laughing, Amma answered her saying that “when one has an examination at school, it becomes necessary to get up early in the morning to prepare oneself. Spiritual practices are similar. At present, our mind is not in our hands. Desires take shape in the mind. One needs constant practice to understand the nature of the mind. Such preparation alone will help our mind to keep it ‘air-conditioned’; when facing joy or sorrow, one must not get over-excited or over-depressed,” Amma explained the practicality of spiritual practices.
Amma continued her explanation saying, “Like the tortoise that can withdraw its head and arms into the shell when not needed, the mind should be withdrawn when not needed or in danger.” Amma went on to give another example, that of a tadpole and a frog. When the tadpole has a tail, it remains only in water. Once it transforms into a frog by losing its tail, it can go in the water and on land as well. By losing our ego, one can live anywhere happily. Everyone is the One Self. Love everyone and serve everyone,” Amma re-iterated the goal and the purpose of spiritual life.
Amma’s ever-smiling face carried with it the depth of wisdom of the Vedas.
And then Amma referred to the story of a person who fell into a rapidly rushing river. Amma explained that by constant practice at least one does not fall backward, even if one does not go forward. “If someone has a business loss, one can recover, but time lost is a loss forever. Youth will not come back, childhood will not come back. So one has to create that awareness and put forth effort continuously,” Amma alerted everyone.
The sun was setting in the ocean. Even the last rays had disappeared into the water. Darkness slowly started falling on everything. Amma continued saying that “we must not complain about the darkness around. We have a lighted candle with us. Take each step with faith. That candle will shed light on the next step.”
After singing ‘Mukundamurari Gopala’ and walking back to the ashram to join the evening bhajans, many ashramites and guests were thinking how lucky they were to have Amma with them to hold their hand and walk beside them, instilling love and faith with every faith-filled step.