Some people become devotees because of a strong devotional connection that gets built between them and their Guru or God. Some become spiritual in their beliefs and ideals because of the elevated words of wisdom and knowledge that they find in sacred texts or hear from their Guru. A smaller number have the rare Grace of combining both: devotion (purity of heart) and knowledge (clarity of mind)… For this to happen, interaction and sharing life events with a living Guru who embodies the practical aspects of both devotion and knowledge, is essential.
Two beautiful events that took place in the last part of the recent North India tour with Amma, brought me to the above conclusion. They masterfully touched my heart and inspired my life zest. Each of these events holds in it the highest message of practical spirituality and exemplifies what the wholeness of life is about. The combination of the two events, bring about the clearest picture of what Amma wants us to grasp and practice: the wholeness of life in its optimal fullness…
After the Japan earthquake/tsunami catastrophe, the group traveling with Amma had an evening bus stop with her for dinner, bhajan and satsang. When all were gathered around her, Amma shared that when she was watching some of the news scenes from the disaster, little 6 year-old Siddhart came next to her and asked what this was about. Upon hearing from Amma the dramatic news, he followed her request and started praying for all the people who died, those who lost loved ones and those that were harmed or injured. A few moments later, Amma asked all of us to pray for one minute for all the victims. The silent prayer went on for about 5 minutes and you could see in the faces of one and all, how strong the generated energy was.
Then Amma asked what were our views and thoughts about that tragedy, and how we should respond to it, offering each one of us the chance to ponder deeply on the matter.
A few gave their answers: First, the main element was feeling for those killed, hurt or harmed and offering our prayers; then, it was about the help that we should provide to them and the willingness of some to volunteer in whatever relief work Amma would undertake; then, strong criticism was blasted on human beings’ greed and selfishness that is causing all these violent reactions from nature and is about to cause major nuclear disasters…
Mother showed appreciation for all the answers, but one could sense the depressed and negative energy that had been generated by the sadness enveloping the dark event and by the fault-finding and complaining trend that had built up from the answers. Maybe at other times, Amma would have left the energy as is, satisfied with the heart opening attitude that her children were showing… But today, the Master of fullness was on for a big one: As all were starting to get up and move towards the buses, She grabbed the microphone and said: “The most important element to make us succeed in our actions of relief and prayers is to keep our positive enthusiasm alive!! Amma would like all now to sing along, be happy and clap their hands with the person next to them!!” And she led us all into a highly enthusiastic and energetic bhajan, filled with optimism and uplifted morale!
The lesson? In the darkest times, be watchful not to fall in a depressed mood, or a negative fault-finding energy. Keep your positive and enthusiastic energy alive! In the midst of misery, connect to joy!!
The night prior to Amma’s departure from Delhi to Singapore was Holi night. Amma asked everyone to meet on the roof of the Amrita Vidyalayam for dinner. It was a cool pleasant full moon night, and everyone was in a happy and relaxed mood. Expectations for Amma to sing happy and joyful Holi bhajans were very strong. Expectations for her to flush everyone with liquid Holi colors were even higher: A big water pistol and two big buckets of pink and orange colored water were set by her side… After the usual serving of food, and a brief question and answer session, Amma took the microphone and sang a joyful Holi bhajan with everyone happily singing along, clapping hands and some dancing. But Amma did not guide the bhajan to the peaks of the expected festival moods, and she didn’t use the water pistols. As she was about to start a second bhajan that everyone anticipated as being ‘The’ one, Amma looked at the moon, shining in the sky and said boldly: “Nature is upset. Humans are full of anger…” And she started the next bhajans which was ‘Shrishtiyum neeyee’! Yes, she had chosen a rather melancholic and philosophic bhajan, instead of an upbeat enthusiastic Holi festival one that all were waiting for!? Talking to the moon and the open sky Amma was repeating the lines of this old bhajan that she had composed herself many years back, and during which she would often shed tears of sorrow:
“You are the Creation… You are the Creator… All the energy of life is You… Truth is You… The destiny of all the galaxies is You… All the five elements of life are You… The essence in the atoms is You…”
Waving her hands and fixing her gaze on the open dark sky, she was fully tuned to the melancholic melody and philosophic words… The bhava of the bhajan imposed itself on everyone present… Amma slowly ended the song, closed her eyes and silence enveloped the place for a few moments. Then Amma opened her eyes, reached for the water pistol and gave two quick rounds of flushing that reached those closer to her. She put the pistol back, stood and left… !!?
The lesson? In the happiest times, remember the reality of life. Remember the substratum of all things. Look beyond the illusions that superficially fill our outside life. In the midst of outside joy, keep your eyes on the deeper layers of our existence!!
We might read in books about developing the attitude of connecting to Joy in the midst of sad events and the attitude of not forgetting the deeper reality of Life in the midst of outside joyful moments, but to live these in the presence of a guiding Master will bring about a much more powerful effect… A memory and a lesson that will get carved in our being. Lucky and blessed are those who have such a grace in their lives. May we all open up more and more to Amma’s practical lessons and teachings, and move closer to enjoying the Fullness of Life:
Optimism and joy in the midst of tragedies; Realism and detached wisdom in the midst of utterly joyful moments.
Aum Tat Sat