The following is a talk given by Kannan at Amma’s San Ramon ashram, April 2017, weeks before Amma would arrive for her US tour.
Om Namah Shivaya Sisters and Brothers
One of the perks of living in the ashram for many years is that you get copied on many emails whether you are part of it or not. I was going through them about 5 or 6 weeks ago when I noticed an email from one of our events coordinator – Gayatri detailing all the events of April. I browsed through the email to check whether there were any interesting events. My eyes fell on the last official meeting date. I noticed Dayamrita Swamiji was scheduled to give a talk on that day. Even though I was happy that he would be giving the talk, I was thinking in the back of my mind that if my memory serves right, Amma is still in Australia on that day and I am sure Swamiji would be with Amma. Why not? I would be. You would be. Right? Anyway as we all know, everybody who is doing seva here are all juggling. Juggling with their personal life, work, seva, family and so on. So there is plenty of room for mistakes or oversights. I wanted to help, so I immediately wrote an email to Gayatri and copied Swamiji stating that this might be one of those oversights. Swamiji diligently replied back and said THANKS for your concern, BLA BLA BLA.
Long story short he confirmed that HE WILL BE HERE. Right… I even jokingly told Gayatri that he is not going to be here as he will be with Amma. We laughed. Guess what- I was right, he is not here. Guess where he is? Correct you got it. Australia. Last week I get a WhatsApp message from Shyam, Gayatri’s husband, asking me if I can give a talk today as Swamiji cancelled due to unavoidable reasons. We know what those reasons are. I agreed. I barely had a week to prepare. But if you think about it – that is not true – Amma had given me the grace and awareness to notice 5 or 6 weeks ago that Swamiji was not going to be here and I could have prepared starting then. But like I said – I didn’t. Amma tried to help, but I didn’t want to take her help.
I always remember the following when I think about awareness. Swami Paramatmananda Puri used to narrate this story. As some of you might have read from his books, the On the Road to Freedom series, Swamiji was not only in charge of this ashram in those days, but he also was our book design guy, photographer, archivist, videographer, computer guy, IT person and so on. He always said, “I can’t blame anybody, as I am the one who got all these things into the ashram.” So when things broke down, everybody went to him to get it fixed. He had the patience to take the effort and learn how to fix them. It was not easy. Sometimes it was very frustrating for him. He admitted it. When things got extremely frustrating he always had something to rely on. You will not guess what it is. He would take a break, leave the broken things as is, and go for a walk. As some of you might remember, only one creature was allowed to walk with him when he went on his morning or evening strolls: Kali the cat.
Usually Kali would lead the way; sometimes she would be following him, but mostly leading. So, when he was dealing with these extremely frustrating situations, he would avoid talking to anybody and just go on his walk. Focusing all his attention and awareness on Amma or Mother Nature, the birds, wind, sound of a gentle breeze, leaves, plants, trees, our pond, the swans, etc etc. He would try to be extremely attentive, focused and be aware of each and every step along his way. On returning from the walk he would go straight back to the problem, and voila, immediately he would be able to fix it. He’s told that he’s experienced this pattern 10 out of 10 times.
Here is another story. There was this guy who was climbing a tree when suddenly he slipped grabbed at a branch and was hanging there. After an hour or so had passed, he felt himself getting exhausted and looked up to the heavens and cried out: “God, help me, please, help me.” All of a sudden the clouds parted and a voice boomed from above: “Son, let go; Let go son!”
The guy paused and looked up to the heavens once more and said: “Is there anyone else up there?”
We are all like this guy.
As I said earlier, I had that moment of awareness, but I didn’t follow through. So here we are, 5 weeks later.
So, what is the topic of todays talk? Amma, of course. Right now Amma is in Australia. Beautiful Gold Coast. It is the morning program of the last day of the retreat. Devi Bhava is tonight. It’s the last program day in Australia. The exciting part about that is that Amma is going to be in the US in barely 5 weeks. We will welcome her, or to be precise she will give us her, Darshan in 38 days.
Now when Amma is here in San Ramon, from May 31st to June 6th, it won’t be just us in here like it is right now. People from all over the world, all different walks of life, religions and faiths, will come to see her here. Different people have different thoughts and beliefs about who Amma is. Some consider her a pure soul, some a special person, some a saint, others a Mahatma or a realized soul and some consider Amma to be an incarnation of God. There are some folks who are curious and just come to see what this HUGGING SAINT phenomenon is all about. But, it doesn’t matter what you think. What’s very important is that you are here. Darshan is happening. Many of you must be thinking that is not true. Darshan can happen when you are not here too. Yes, I’m not going to question that thought.
Swami Ramakrishnanda Puri explains in his book The Timeless Path: different types of people come to see Amma. Swamiji explains the 3 main types are Arthas, Artharthis and Jijnasus. Arthas are those people who want Amma to rescue them from their physical and mental problems; Artharthis are those who want their material desires fulfilled by Amma; Jijnasus are those who are seekers of knowledge. Nothing wrong in falling into any of these categories. Everybody starts as an Artha. Irrespective of which person-type you may be, what I will strongly stress upon is the importance of your physical presence right here when Amma is here physically.
There is a beautiful bhajan written by Swami Turyamritananda Puri and sung by Swami Amritaswarupananda puri and I am taking the liberty to sing a few lines of the bhajan here:
Amma Yennullora Namam Orthidave Romancham Aakunnathenthe
Amma Than Then mozhi kelkumbol en manam ellam marakkunnathendhe?……
We will get to the meaning of these bhajan verses a little later.
Just like we identify people as teachers, engineers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, etc., Amma’s identification is with her rue self. She is not inherently a guru, neither is she inherently a Mother, Humanitarian, Saint etc. Inherently she is Eternal Blissful Consciousness or SATCHITANANDA. She is established in that concept. Out of her endless compassion and kindness, she takes the bhava or the form of a Guru, Mother, Saint, Humanitarian, Friend, and God. Whenever required and whatever it takes. The child in us invokes the Mother in Amma, the devotee in us invokes the God, the disciple invokes the Guru, and the one seeking a heartfelt companion invokes the friend and so on. This is why it is important to understand Amma’s statement: There is no guru, if there is no disciple.
When I first met Amma I had no clue about who Amma was and why I had met her. My parents told me we are going to meet a special person. Since I was a semi obedient son, I just followed. Initially I thought Amma was just a nice person, then she became a nice soul, then I realized she is kind, then I realized she has a beautiful voice, then I realized she has a piercing voice, then I realized that her singing could make me cry for no reason and so on. It was endless. I am sure if you look deep within, you will see a similar pattern. Amma was and is the same. It was me who had changed. My feelings towards her have evolved over time. Because of that she changed for me.
What I’m trying to say is that whatever you think about who Amma is, Amma will be that for you. So let us not contemplate on that aspect. Once you are physically present when Amma is here, Darshan happens. Again, for Darshan to happen what is needed? Amma of course – and YES she is HERE. May 31st to June 6th. Done. – Next, you are here. Done. Now we need a venue or a place. Some of you might have heard what Amma has said about our San Ramon ashram. Amma has said to one of my sisters who used to live here that San Ramon ashram is one of the conducive places for spiritual realization. OK. Now I am not sure whether Amma has said the same about Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. I don’t know. Maybe. But at least Amma has said that about San Ramon ashram. So the place is set – it is ideal, conducive. So again Amma is here and she is the same and she will be who you want her to be; place is set and it is ideal. You are here and you are coming here with some thoughts, like Swamiji said, Artha, Artharthis or Jijnasu. That is the available data. Now what is the result – Darshan.
My Dad once told me about the time he got Mantra Deeksha from Amma. Just as we all have received mantra from Amma, some devotees have received Mantra Deeksha from Amma directly. I won’t go into the difference and details. It is basically a longer process; getting mantra from Amma is an initiation; and receiving mantra deeksha moves you along the spiritual path further. Maybe. I don’t know. I know it is very special. Anyway my parents were lucky in the late 80’s to get deeksha from Amma. My Mom likes to meditate. I have seen my Mom meditate for an hour or so on most days. But my Dad was not into meditation. He was into chanting. He chanted loudly. Annoyingly loud, sometimes it was even embarrassing. Subha will relate to what I am talking about.
Anyway the day came when they were getting the Deeksha. They were nervous. Swami Ramakrishnanda Puri explained what they should bring and details of the process. Amma gave Deeksha. As per Swamiji’s earlier instructions, after Amma gives Deeksha they were to sit there silently and meditate. So they both sat down and closed their eyes. A little later my Dad opened his eyes and my Mom was sitting there. Her eyes were open by then. Nobody else was in the room. Amma and the Swamis had left. My parents came out of the room and to their surprise, it was daylight. Amma had given them Deeksha around midnight and now it is daylight?! They were confused, thinking something was wrong. But nothing was wrong. They had sat and had been meditating for hours during the night into the morning. They had forgotten everything. My Dad always tells this story- that Amma can instill that in anybody. Just like Amma did it for my Dad.
I am sure if you all think and go deep within, there are moments in your life where you have forgotten everything else in Amma’s presence.
I consider myself to be a rajassic person. I don’t beat myself up for that; at least I am happy that I am not a tamassic person. Maybe I am not Satvic, but at least I am not tamassic. But even me, when I am playing tambourine for Amma during her bhajans, I go through a similar smaller phenomenon like what my Dad had experienced. As you all know, during Bhajans, Amma is sitting on the center of the stage, facing all of us. I usually sit on the front right side of the stage facing Amma sideways. I can see her perfectly. Her curly hair, the swinging of her whole body while singing, her hand movements and gestures, her mudras using her fingers, her whole being moving along with the bhajan. Everybody is attached to some bhajan or other. I also have my favorites and during those bhajans I forget everything and suddenly realize, oh we are on the next bhajan or that the bhajan is finished. So, I was there and I played tambourine for the song, but I forgot everything else around me. I am sure it can happen to any one of us.
So even though we come for Amma’s Darshan with pre-conceived notions and personal baggage, the moment we step on this Ashram land we must try our very best to do just one thing: Try to forget about all the baggage and preconceived ideas. It is not easy. But we must try. Then at some point when grace is flowing it will happen: the Perfect Darshan, where you are with Amma. It is just You and Amma. Not your mind and its baggage. Everything else ceases to exist.
Now lets go back and take a look at the meaning of the bhajan verses I sang earlier Amma Yennulloru….
“Why is it that my hair stands on end when I remember the word AMMA. Why am I forgetting everything else when I think of AMMA? Thirst and hunger have left me; I have also forgotten to take my daily bath. I know not what is the day or date. I have forgotten everything in the thought of AMMA.”
So in these verses, Swamiji is explaining a very high state of being. Forget food, bath and everything else including ourselves when we think about Amma. I am hoping and praying that we all get at least a small glimpse of that state.
Let us pray that we all experience that sweet blissful feeling and get that PERFECT DARSHAN by Amma’s Grace.
Om Amriteshwariye Namah
Amma is presently touring the US. You can find information about her tour dates at www.amma.org.
Living the dream – though
I might forget that point