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 Blog Inspirations 

Maya in a Palm Frond Hut



Amritapuri, 1992. After my initial 2 months in the ashram living in the Kali dorm, I was given a palm frond hut to live in, situated where the several skyscraper flats now stand. The five newly built huts sat on a three-foot high cement slab. I loved my hut. It was peaceful there. And washing my clothes there outside the huts was like a meditation.


I'd waken every morning at 4:00 to take my bath, a bucket bath in a tiny bathroom a few feet from the huts. The bathroom was about 4 square feet and included a squatting toilet, a water faucet, and a bucket. I provided my own cup for dipping into the bucket. Haran would ring a bell once at 4:00 and if you heard it, you knew it was time to get up. Archana was at 4:30 AM in those days. Early mornings in India are chilly and the water cold. The cold bath was a bit of tapas, but I found it invigorating. Every morning after my bath I'd head over to the Kali temple for archana. It was still dark. In India, in Kerala anyway, since it's near the equator, the sun sets and rises always at about 6:30.


At one point in my hut life, I knew I would be asked to take a roommate. After 2 weeks or so, the person in charge of western rooming sent me Gitamba, the opera singer devotee from Holland. She was always cheerful and talkative. Very pretty, with Indonesian blood, dark hair and lovely olive skin. The Dutch had colonized Indonesia at some time in history, up until 1941, and Gitamba's father was of Indonesian heritage.  Gitamba was a delightful roommate. Sometimes she would sing a Strauss piece in the Kali temple when no one was around. And Amma would ask her to sing from time to time.


The walls of our small hut were made from palm fronds. Our sleeping mats placed on the cement floor were about four inches from one another; we kept our small suitcases at the foots of our beds. I had a big army mosquito net. Gitamba did not have a net. There were tons of mosquitos because of the small backwater pond just outside, behind the huts. Some told of poisonous water snakes. I never saw one of those. Now and then I would find a large spider dead in my bed. I'd no idea how they passed through my net. I probably killed them by rolling over on them. Gitamba never found spiders in her bed. Amma had told us that they are poisonous, and she gave permission to kill them,


One evening I was meditating alone at our small altar. Soon I heard a rustling in the palm fronds. It was a loud rustling, and so I thought I'd better open my eyes and have a look at what it was. An enormous spider! I'm not a screamer, but I screamed. Loud. That spider was as big as my hand, fingers outstretched. I leapt up, grabbed my chappal to hit it. But it escaped. It terrified the bejesus out of me. Even though the spider had disappeared, I ran out of the hut and yelled "Help!" to Marcus, a German resident who was passing nearby. He was a resdourceful fellow and sure to be able to help me kill the spider. I'm not the kind of person who would ever yell, but I did. I yelled, "Help! Marcus!" He came sauntering over. "What's the problem?" "An enormous spider!" "Is it still there?" "No." "Then why worry about it?" With that he walked away. So much for German resourcefulness.


Don't ask me how I got to sleep that night, but I did. I woke up with a dream of a larger than human size spider, brilliantly lit, all golden and bedecked with all manner of jewels of all colors, up and down its legs and all across the top of it, and with light sparkling through the jeweled facets. I had a feeling I'd been visited by Devi in the form of a spider. From that moment on, I took a vow not to kill any spiders, large or medium size. Ever.


Later that day, I had a talk with Gitamba. Seated in our hut, I told her about the giant spider in our palm frond walls and about my dream vision. "I'm not allowed to kill the spiders," I said, "Is that alright with you?" In her resonant voice, Gitamba said, "Those spiders are your thing, Savitri, not mine." And that was the end of it. My thing, not hers.




Many years have passed since that day in 1993. In 2021, I attended an online Advaita Vedanta class by Swamiji Atmananda. This class inspired me to revisit the spider theme and reflect on it from a philosophical standpoint. The spider's web is a common metaphor for Maya, or the illusory world, or creation which is born out of the Goddess Herself. The Goddess as Creatrix can be equated to the spider who projects out of itself its web, and Devi out of herself creates the universe. 


The spider weaves its web from its inner material, and so from inside itself it produces the threads for its web. Similarly, even in times between worlds (after the Great Dissolution and before the next Creation), the Goddess always contains the power of creation latent within her, and then is actively busy during creation. These lyrics from an Amma bhajan Kali Maheswariye, reveal more about the creation power of the Goddess: "O Goddess of the universe! My salutations to You. This whole world is merely a thought of Yours. O Mother! What an enchanting world! You weave the fate of the universe as You wove the gem-like stars into the sky, O Goddess of illusion!"


Interestingly, Mind and Maya are one and the same. Maya or Mind projects the forms of the every-changing manifest universe as the spider spins out its web. Mind or Maya is Mother of the World: Jagadamba. I learned that one of the reasons Maya is so terribly baffling to us and why we so easily get trapped or caught in her web, is because there are two qualities of Maya: the projecting power and the veiling power.


The second property of Maya, the veiling power in which She conceals the differences between the true Reality and the manifested world, is the common cause of the ease with which we get caught in her web. Again, the Amma bhajan Kali Maheshwariye, describes well the difficulty of the veiling aspect of Maya: "O Mother, what craziness! You turn both truth and untruth upside down! You drink absolute bliss! Can anyone see logic in Your divine universal play Your divine play itself is confusion!"


Another way to examine this second quality, is that she veils the differences between the Absolute (Paramatma, Brahman) and the ever-changing creation—between that which never changes (Paramatma or All-pervading Soul) and that which is constantly changing (Maya or Creation). Paramatma never changes and Maya is forever changing. And it's very hard for any normal person to keep track of what is real and what is not real, what is changing and what is not changing. Those who are wise and know, tell us that we cannot know the nature of Maya or Mind, until that day that we lift our own veil and see all as it is and know Self-Realization, Union with all that is.


And at the same time, as we progress along the path, with the Grace of the Guru we can get glimpses of the never-changing reality behind Maya. To give a sense of purpose to all this confusion and what we can do about it, here are more lyrics from Kali Maheswariye: "O Goddess of the Universe! Your abode is eternal light, abode of peace and ocean of bliss. It is full of sat-chit-ananda and dense with knowledge. I will reach Your divine world and dance with You. Chanting Your name…Until I reach Your world, I will chant your divine name. O my beloved Mother, please grant the boon to have only pure devotion."


My experience with the spider and the subsequent dream of the spider as a luminescent bejeweled and enchanting Devi, caused me to feel a divine love for the spider in my hut. Amma tells us that "spirituality begins and ends with compassion." I can't say I was in a frame of mind in which I saw the spider as myself, as one with me, or even as a friend, or to want to hold the spider in my hand and let it crawl around on me, but it was an illuminating experience nevertheless, with a tiny bit of the veil of Maya lifted for an infinitesimal moment in time.





Photo credit: Carol Gilroy, Ireland




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Irondale Beach Sadhana





O Mother, come like a radiant beneficent cloud,

through the pathway

of the open sky of my mind   


On Irondale Beach on a Puget Sound inlet just a few minutes' drive from where I live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, I often imagine Amma walking with me, or sitting with me on a driftwood log listening to the wavelets lapping onto the shore. It's summertime. Most days are sunny and warm. Sometimes Amma and I play and laugh, splashing water on each other. At other times I stand in awe, seeing Amma's form as a huge ephemeral being rising out of the water. Chanting my mantra with each step puts my mind in a mood of feeling one with Amma in nature—the silence, the exquisite beauty, the majesty of the Douglas fir trees that line the shore.


Herons, seagulls, crows, geese, ducks, and the occasional eagle populate the area. Little birds rustle around in the bushes, chirping and singing. On many days I love to follow otter prints in the sand, most easily visible during low tide. Sometimes I see an otter poking its head above the water and then dipping down again to go fishing. One day an otter was rolling around scratching its back on the sand. While he looked ever ready to dart into the cove, he didn't seem to mind me standing close to him. In addition to the fauna and flora, there are often people walking with their dogs, or now and then two or three children playing together at the water's edge. On one quiet day I was practicing mantra walking meditation, looking down to check the placement of my feet, moving along in slow motion. A bearded man passing by said, "You look like a heron." I laughed and so did he. 




On certain days if I'm upset over a disagreement I've had with someone, a walk on the beach soothes my mind. The sound of the water. Ducks floating peacefully. Gulls soaring overhead. Observing nature calms my thoughts. With a tranquil mind I can then reflect on how I participated in the difficulty and how to avoid such confrontations in the future. Most of all to remember to stay tethered to Amma and to keep a space between my thoughts and my actions.


When I recently returned from a visit to Amritapuri, I found that my experiences with Amma on the beach often deepened, her presence more palpable than before. Additionally, my meditations took me into Amma's heart of silence.


In Amritapuri I'd had trouble getting around and doing chores because of this aged body of mine (I'm 82). I could not detach from my body or change my perception. During my darshans Amma looked worried, "You ok? Tired?" I had no response. Amma knew, and it always brings tears that she knows more completely than I do. When I got home my body was still bothering me, and so it was obvious the aches and pains of old age had nothing to do with India. One day I began contemplating my memory of Amma arriving for the evening programs, walking slowly down the long pathway along the bhajan hall, holding onto Swamini Krishnamrita's arm. With this poignant image surfacing in my mind, I realized I needed to do what Amma does, to move slowly, to respect the body as it is, to take care of it and be unattached to it. To accept. I began to repeat to myself: "I am not the body; Amma, please help me remember it is you alone permeating this body and causing it to move and act." " This self-talk along with Prasada Buddhi  (gratitude for all that comes my way) is quite miraculous and very simple. And it works.


And now back on Irondale beach: One day I was imagining Amma and I are walking along supporting each other's bodies that don't work so well anymore. There is no attention to pain because we are not the body. It was a sweet moment, filled with the joy of a lasting friendship. When the image faded, I headed up a few yards to the area where the Queen Anne's lace is turning brown, and the flowers folding in on themselves in a circle, forming exquisite skeletons of themselves. I watched for a while as the Queen Anne's on their long stems waved around in the breeze. Then, I continued on my way, now walking along the dead grass (it's been a dry summer). I felt I was walking on air, just an inch or so off the ground. You have to sort of pinch yourself when such experiences happen, to believe them. This feeling of walking on air stayed with me. An elderly gentleman was heading along towards me. I asked him, "Do you feel like you're walking on air?" With a big smile, he said, "Yes!" And then he added, "The wind is coming from the south."


Further up from the beach, along where the big leaf maples and firs grow, was a patch of native thistles giving up their seeds in a major display of fluffy down. In the end, just like these thistles, we give up the body. The thistle spreads seeds to sprout anew in the spring season.



Before we give up our bodies, I pray we spread seeds of love through our care and nurturing all of creation, by planting trees, growing organic veggies, leaving space for the wild animals, and giving to mother nature by contemplating her deep silence and exquisite beauty.


If we approach Nature with love, it will serve us as our best friend,

 a friend that won't let us down. —Amma



This article was first published in Amma's GreenFriends of North America Fall issue

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Journal entry from visit to Amritapuri, July 6-21, 2022

Me on an errand mission in Amritapuri



My plane lands in Trivandrum at 3:30 AM. July 6, 2022. After about two hours of early AM night driving in an ashram taxi, it's beginning to get light outside when we cross the bridge over the backwater river and then turn onto the shore road. I know we are almost home. The Arabian Sea is wild and angry. It's monsoon season. Colossal waves thrashing with huge crashing onto the shore, sometimes crossing over onto the shore road. My driver had not been honking his horn at all, but now with the narrow road, with its twists and turns, he's on the horn a lot, to warn pedestrians and oncoming traffic.


After about 20 minutes, we pull up in front of the International Office at about 6:00 AM. I knock on heavy wooden door as instructed by Kripasagar, my person who'd been in charge of my process for entry; he had said a woman from Spain will open it. A long-time ashram resident whom I know opens the door, and I know she is not from Spain but from Chile. She's clearly in a period of distress as she cuts me off every time I try to say something; she is recording a lot of details in her record book. When she's done checking me in, a woman from Spain happens along. My check-in person asks the Spanish woman to help me to my round house, one of the huts collectively known as Nachiketas (all the buildings have names). I hear their Spanish conversation that I'm 82 years old and have very good mind (not quite sure why she thinks that, except I had told her that my contact person Kripasagar had told me she was from Spain and I knew she was from Chile. She'd let me talk that much.) The Spanish woman, in her 50's who speaks English well and ends up checking up on me now and then during my time here, helps me roll my bags to my hut in Nachiketas right near everything—bhajan hall, café, western canteen, and on the other side of the hall, Indian canteen, coffee and pastry stand, and kitchen, and just a few steps away from my hut is the gate to the ocean road. On the other side of it is the shore where we can sit to meditate; it's where Amma on occasion meditates with the hundreds of devotees.


New arrivals were to remain in semi-quarantine for 4 days, during which time we can collect our own filtered water and food and can sit in the back of the bhajan hall for 5:00 evening program which includes all we see on Amma Live—meditation, satsang, and bhajans, and the kids act. And now, after Arati, Amma gives darshan to Indians and Westerners. We can get darshan after the 4 days after we've taken the test to see if we are Covid negative or positive. Meanwhile, I'm establishing my routine for the morning—rise at 4:00 AM with the bell that tolls once only. Take the dreadfully cold bucket bath. I'm sure my neighbors can hear me yelp as I splash cold water on myself. Then I take the brief walk down the stone path to the bhajan hall for archana at 5:00 AM, joining the men there; the pathway to the Kali Temple where the women do archana has become too complicated with all the new gates blocking passage. Elder women are allowed to sit on the right side of the bhajan hall and do archana with the men. There are usually only about 50 or so reciting so plenty of space is available. I'm not sure where everyone else is, as in the evenings the bhajan hall is packed with hundreds or maybe a couple thousand. After archana is chai at 6:00 outside the big kitchen on the other side of the bhajan hall. I'm happy I have my own mug, an insulated stainless steel mug purchased online-- with a lid to boot. I stand in the very short "without" queue. The "with" queue, is a lot longer. "With" means with sugar, and "without" is without sugar. A small Indian woman dips a cup into the large steaming pot of tea and fills each person's cups to the brim.


It's now getting light out, sun not up yet. I sit outside under the trees, near the coffee stand just outside the bhajan hall, to sip my tea; a few people saunter to and fro, swamis, brahmacharis, and a few others. Birds are coming alive, chirping and crows with their ever-present cawing. If it's been recently raining, water drips from leaves. It's monsoon season. Very wet and the rain comes down pelting and suddenly, seemingly without warning, keeps raining long or stops as fast as it began. Because of the daily rains, it's relatively cool. A lot cooler than any other times I've spent in Amritapuri. The ashram is lush with all kinds of plants and very tall trees. This is a new development, as there was very little vegetation other than coconut palms and hibiscus bushes in my days spent here in the 90's.


My round hut is at the end of the huts, the farthest from the hall, nestled with about 30 other huts, all two stories tall, each with 4 very tiny rooms, 2 up and 2 down, and each with bathrooms. After tea, I cross the shore road to go meditate by the sea where Amma meditates with the hundreds on surprise days, as shown on Amma live. The road has a lot of traffic. In the 90's, there was one bus in the morning and one in evening—no other traffic. Now you have to be careful that a motorcycle doesn't run you down. Remember to look right first instead of left! Because they are all coming down the wrong side of the road. The shore which used to have a long sandy beach, is no more. Now huge boulders stop the ocean from taking over the land, at least for now. Amma had said that in 50 years the ashram will be under water. That was 30 years ago. I enjoy the pounding waves. After several days the ocean calms down with monsoon temporarily at ease, and fishing boats can be seen not far from shore. Meditation vibrations are strong here, especially when you remember that this is where Amma grew up and did her sadhana on the beach, and had her vison of Goddess, saw the universe as a bubble inside Herself. Meditation reveals to me an ocean of pale golden light, deep, eternal and never-changing.  


Interestingly, my time in the ashram begins with Spanish speakers and now many Spanish devotees live next to or around my round hut. I struggle to revive that ability of 50 years ago when I was fluent in Spanish. I have a long way to go.  One woman next door to me, Maribel, becomes a lovely friend, and I enjoy many other lively Spanish devotees connections—the Spanish tend to be emotionally expressive and very friendly, loving it that I can speak a bit of Spanish and can understand them fairly well.


Every day I run into western and Indian devotees I know from the past, but the majority of those I see, I've never seen before. But also, since everyone is masked, sometimes it's hard to recognize old friends.


Now the hard stuff—getting around. I have printed a paper with a long list of places, such as several stores for clothing, a gift shop, a "super market" which just means soap and toothpaste and umbrellas and snacks and such, a phone place, a housekeeping place, laundry, 2 pharmacies. They all have different opening times and closing times that do not necessarily match. After about 9:00 my energy level is very low. Napping is a part of my day. I can manage about one errand, maybe two, a day. The most important seems to be getting a fresh coconut opened and drinking the water therein, to stay hydrated. I do that daily. I need clean clothes, but have no soap, and no energy to go to supermarket, and I've not figured out the laundry service. I'd planned to buy used clothing from Ram's bazaar, but they don't want me there even on my 4th day in quarantine. So I wear same clothes for sometimes 3 days. Luckily it's not so very sweaty hot because of monsoon. Additionally, I need Indian SIM card, but the man in charge yells at me because I don't understand the three things he wants. I finally get an Indian SIM and all my emails come pouring through. When nearing the end of my visit I get it how to work the laundry service, and my clothes come back damp. I'm better off doing my best to wash myself and sort of monitor hanging them on a line, hoping I'm in time to fetch them if it rains. But often they get a second rinsing. Cows are tied up daily across the pathway from my hut. They are wonderful and sweet, but leave droppings under the clothesline.






I'm very aware of my body and my inability to become detached from it and all its struggles to manage the necessary here.After about three days of daily errands, I get an idea to check my walking miles as I do when I walk on beach at home—usually one mile or so. At the ashram I'm walking 3 miles on most days, just to get errands done.


Every night in the bhajan hall is a heaven. Sometimes the sound of the rain on the roof is deafening. I sit in the back and find my heart swelling with love at the sound of hundreds of people singing at full voice the response to Amma's call in each bhajan. It's like a Bach choral, or Handel's Hallelujah chorus with hundreds of voices. Everyone knows the bhajans. This was never so in my early years. We used to struggle to find each bhajan in our books and the response sound was weak, nowhere equal to this Divine Amma heavenly sound. Now the words are all up on huge screens, along with image of Amma so that I can join in.


I wouldn't have minded sitting in the back like this forever, But when my quarantine is over, Diya finds me and takes my chair and leads me up to the front. She says Amma guided her to find me and bring me up front. It actually feels very nice to be closer to Amma. Diya choses herself as my helper for the next couple of days. I'm deeply grateful. After Diya, I'm in amazing Grace for all the help various devotees give me—Maribel from Spain, Surabhi and Shubha from my local Satsang, and others.


I get my test clearance of no covid at the little hospital behind the bhajan hall. After bhajans, the guy who gives out tokens who's known me very well since his own beginning days at Amritapuri, gives everyone tokens but me. Finally, he gives me one. He's well-known for being mean. Even Amma pointed it out to him after his own Satsang he gave months ago.


I get in the chair line. Indians first, then Westerners. Amma is taking her time. We're moving up slowly. I get a feeling to say something to the young woman next to me, maybe in her early 30's, as she seems sad. I say, "My physical therapist wants me to do exactly what we're doing now-- stand up and sit down and up and down from my chair, over and again, as part of my physical therapy." This makes the young woman laugh. She's French and soon tells me about troubles with a boyfriend and shows me his photo. 


Meanwhile, she and I get up to the front, ready to walk up the long ramp to Amma. Those in charge see that it's troublesome for me to stand on the ramp, and to move slowly up. My balance is off and one leg does not work well. So, they usher me up past all the others in line, to straight in front of Amma. I'm not quite ready and am not sure what to do, but think I'm supposed to step down into this down place to Amma's right, and I say "Down?" and Amma says, "Not down." So, it was a funny awkward moment. As I get perched to come into Amma's arms she has this look of a grieving mother, Mary in the Pieta, and she says, "You ok? Tired?"  I don't answer. What can I say? She knows. She holds me on her shoulder for what seems like a long time.


After my hug I head down the ramp in a daze. The only time I'd seen Amma in such a face of grief was when she was consoling villagers after the tsunami. Then suddenly I start crying from deep within me, all at once understanding that Amma has seen and known perfectly, more than I, what is going on with me physically. But even I don't know. I still don't. She does exactly the same at my next darshan several days later. Then when my hug is over. I just look at her and she at me.  She tells them to give me a token to sit on stage. Everyone needs a token now, to sit on stage. They forget to take my token and so I also used it on another day as well.


A policeman in camouflage uniform with an R-K 45 or whatever these guns are called, guards the ramp going up to Amma on stage. He sees I need help and helps me. Deeply touching. Sundari Anne, serving as stage monitor, whom I've known since Kali dorm days, ushers me to a chair right behind Amma. There are not many people on stage. Lots of room. After a few minutes the French woman comes into Amma's lap, and she shows Amma the photo of the boyfriend. I see all the attention Amma gives to the photo. Later I tell the young women about Amma's attention, and she is happy I witnessed this. Often she sits with me at meals to tell me about her inner process with the boyfriend, the ups and downs, the inner understandings. We become friends. I think I'm a bit like a grandmama for her.


Meanwhile, my B12 issue is worsening, which means at night a lot of urgent tingling in my left lower leg causing sleeplessness and concern. It's Guru Purnima holiday days and so hospital staff is not inspired to be helpful. Over time the paralysis in my leg increases. Dr. Susheela in Ayurveda is the best help. It's better but still it worsens. No need to explain this further. Just trust me that it's a problem, and I believe I probably need to return to USA earlier than scheduled. One of the several OlyPen Satsang members, Shuba, who is a healer agrees with me that I should go home. I tell Shuba, "But I cannot go home. I'm scheduled to give satsang on July 22." I feel that giving satsang is one of my reasons for being here. I'm quite stubborn about that idea and will not leave until after that, which is three days before everyone departs for Faridabad.


The day I bought my airline ticket to India, a satsang started writing itself in my head. It drove me nuts. "You've not been asked to give a satsang," I tell myself, but the words will not stop coming. So finally I give in and begin to write the satsang. At some stage I realize that devotees visiting the ashram are asking to give satsangs, not waiting to be asked, and that I needed to ask. So I write to the international office to ask and they write back after a few days, "I don't know the answer to this; ask the international office when you arrive." This tells you what it's like sometimes---try to figure it out; you cannot.


I asked Swamiji Dayamrita and he said Swami Jnanamrita is in charge of satsangs. I don't know who he is, and, besides, once I'm in Amritapuri I'm feeling rather shy to explore the idea. Should I give a satsang? I want to give a Satsang, but should I? Then Sundari Anne comes up and asks if I'd like to give a satsang tonight?  Tonight!!? Sure, I say. But, I'm still in quarantine. Who cares, I guess. That idea falls flat and next day again she asks. I don't think to ask her who is sending her to ask, but much later find out it was Swamiji Dhyanamrita wanting me to give a satsang. It was all quite the lila. Anyway, one day I get bold and ask Srinivas (our Amma live Brahmachari who's always in the bhajan hall at his tv screens) who is Swami Jnanamrita. "He's right there." What a coincidence, if we can call it that, that's he's right there when I've finally got the courage to ask..


Now I know who Swami Jnanamrita is, someone I'd always watched when he was a young brahmachari in white. A mystical fellow. Tall slender. Orange robe now. The one whose photograph is often shown on Amma live, of him meditating, and with a monkey picking lice from his head. I approach. He's busy talking. I try to appear casual. Then I ask him. He says, "There's no space for more satsangs. And there's a wait list." I for some reason say, "Ah, you'll miss a lot of good stories from an old devotee." Then I ask him if he wants to hear a funny story about Swami Ramanand. He says he does.  I remind him that Ramandji is a lot younger than the senior swamis and they are always saying how young he is. As he gets older and receives a PhD, still they say "He's so young." He turns 40 and is in charge of Amma DC. Still they say "He's so young." Ramandanji then says, "When I'm dead and in my cremation box, they will say, 'how sad he died so young.'"  It brings laughter from Swami Jnanamrita, so that was a good start. At least I made a connection with this lovely Swamiji.


At some stage, who knows how many days later, a lovely tall, elegant German man, Julius, with beautiful Greek-like curly long hair, sometimes up on top of his head in a Shiva knot, asks if I'm ready to give a satsang. Yes! So he asks me to email him what I've written. He gives me a few very good editorial suggestions and I stay awake late at night to write some more and then submit a final. He'd kept stressing to stay in the 3,800 word limit. I do that (I think many others did not as my satsang was shorter than many). Julius tells me four reviewers have checked my satsang and accepted it. I have to take out the part about the green ghee being so foul smelling that the panchakarma doctor tied camphor around our noses so we could not smell it. And that we were blindfolded while drinking the ghee.


Finally. after several days, Julius emails, "we've temporarily scheduled you for July 22," which happens to be Amma's Kartika Star day. I wait for the assignation of "temporary" to become "permanent," but it does not come after several days. I run into Julius often at tea time. We have a beautiful rapport, brief words, sometimes Satsang related. I don't push about "temporary." Then the chosen Satsang time is very close, he emails me, "please meet Gokulnath on stage at 4:30, a half hour before meditation to get the mic set up." So, this must be IT. This directive has come about 3 days before July 22.


I cannot really describe how that was for me, to give a Satsang next to Amma, except that it felt entirely natural, and I loved that Amma seemed to be enjoying it; She did not give attention anywhere else as she sometimes does during the Satsangs. There is laughter from Amma, and tears and laughter from me. There was depth and pondering. I feel I met my purpose for going to India, but I also needed all that came before, the tapas and the Grace that came with the tapas burning karma, the beautiful people who came to my aid as an elderly person who needed help, the meaningful connections with new people and the reconnections with dear old friends, most notably Dutch Gitamba, a professional opera singer in her day, who had been teaching singing to the Chinese boy Krishna who had to leave the ashram because of visa problems. He had an angelic voice and the heart of a poet with the lyrics he wrote with his tunes'. Amma told him Grace would follow him wherever he went. Being on stage with Amma made it feel like I had never left Amritapuri, but the part that I could not reckon with was the difficulty my body had getting along. Yet, it all seems to get rounded out in that Satsang. I could not have been more thrilled, or deeply touched, or profoundly moved, when Amma clearly and joyfully says yes that she would be with me when I died. And at the end my hug after my satsang, Amma still, again asks me if I am OK with that worried look on her face, coupled after with a jubilant joyful look as a finale.


On July 25, the day Amma and everyone leave for Faridabad, I get up in in the early AM dark hours to see them off. I'm scheduled to fly out that evening. I meander into the bhajan hall, with my mug in hand, and I pour myself some tea, wondering if it's ok, since I'm not going on the buses. A few people are milling about. Breakfast is there for the taking—idlies with curry sauce-- which many save into their tins.  With my tea and umbrella in hand, I head out the gates by the hospital, and there I take photos of the buses. (The buses have Amritanandamayi Math written on them) At one stage it pours down rain and many rush to their buses, including Amritavarshini and her mother who are holding a sleeping mat over their heads. The young French woman leans out a window of one of the 25 buses and calls my name. That I happen to be near her bus is rather inconceivable. I take a photo of her. She looks very happy. I don't know her name, but she knows mine




These kinds of interactions seem to happen with a few people, young and older. With me listening to stories of woe or difficulty, and the beauty in the process. And including philosophical ponderings and how sadhana fits in. Even managing these kinds of talks in Spanish language with Mirabel.


So you can see there are several levels to my Amritapuri experience, all feeling like miracles.


When I arrive in Seattle, USA, Eswar and Vandya, our two local OlyPen Satsang coordinators, pick me up at the airport. What a beautiful feeling of Amma family. Even their two golden retrievers are in the back of the camper pickup truck.  I'm so grateful.

Here in my apartment I find myself still in physical difficulty, with the paralysis in left lower leg the same as it had become in India but at least not increasing. In India all physical movement was difficult. Getting into bed, getting out of bed. Sitting in a chair for very long. Walking here and there for daily errands. Unable to keep my hut as clean as I'd like (Surabhi from our local satsang one day helped me with that). Here it is as difficult as India in many ways. Body not working well. Energy low. Very tired. Sleeping. Not sleeping. In my mind's eye I see Amma's pained face asking me, "You ok? Tired?" I don't respond to Amma, but it's true-- not feeling ok, falling asleep in my chair. It's more or less the same now.


What's the message here? After a couple of days, something—it's always that mysterious "something" that we know is none other than Amma-- tells me to remember how carefully I was watching Amma every evening as She walked slowly and gracefully down the long, long pathway from her room, while holding Swamini Krishnamrita's arm, preceded by the soldier armed with his RK-45, with a swami and a couple of official ones following behind. No one is allowed close. No hand darshans. She walks the full length of the bhajan hall, and then very slowly up the long ramp to the stage, and then the pained look on her face as She sits and then again when she rises from her chair at the end.


Here now in my apartment, I'm contemplating this memory of Amma walking, holding onto Swamini Krishnamrita;s arm. I suddenly realize I need to do what Amma does and move slowly, respect the body as it is, and be unattached to it. I need to ask Amma to manage my body in its old age, just let it be and not try to DO my body. I repeat to myself that I'm not the body and to let Amma DO it. "Amma, this is your body." That's what I do now, in addition to Prasada Buddhi—gratitude for all that comes my way. It's actually quite miraculous and very simple. I've no idea why this hadn't occurred to me in India. It's all Amma's mystery.

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Satsang while sitting next to Amma in Amritapuri, India, July 22, 2022



I bow down to my beloved Amma to whom I owe my life and my joy. Salutations to all my brothers and sisters here and watching online.  I'm in deep gratitude to Srinivas for making sure Amma Live is up and running. I've participated daily since Swamiji Dayamrita invited me nearly two years ago. My life-breath during this time of absence from Amma.


This month of July is my 30th anniversary of meeting Amma. July 1992 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  I had just moved to Santa Fe in late May. A new friend I'd met at a book store invited me to go to Amma. I wanted nothing to do with gurus, but a few days later I called her and said, "Let's go on the first morning of the first of the four days, just in case I like it."


We drove several miles out of town on Old Santa Fe Trail and parked among the ponderosa Pine trees. The big top tent at the top of the hill seemed to float just off the ground. The backdrop of a tall, castle-shaped hill made the whole scene feel like a kind of heaven. Inside the tent, the floor was carpeted with scores of Persian rugs. After some time, a small group wearing white began chanting Om Amriteshwaryai Namah. Then there was a profound silence. And Amma walked in. The vision of Her lit me up with a feeling of holiness.


I sat about 12th in the new person's line, up close to Amma.  I felt I knew Her from before, but I had no idea where or how. It was a sense of deep familiarity. A feeling of comfort. I felt protected somehow in my new person's line to the side of the tent. All else was a chaos of darshan lines. One for the handicapped. One for mothers with babies and one for everyone else, all bunched together down the middle. Amma was peacefully hugging each person as if She had all the time in the world. Just only NOW.


As I'd noted, I had not wanted to meet a guru. I'd lived in an ashram in the Pocono mountains, Pennsylvania, for several years in the 70's. There was a lot of abuse in that ashram, and I never wanted anything to do with this sort of thing again. Yet I still practiced yoga and meditation daily, and had a center where I taught yoga and offered puja to the deities–Ganesha, Krishna, Saraswati, Shiva.  I used to have a lot of faith and had been very devotional, especially in my teen years, but after my experience in the 70's ashram, I'd come to no longer believe in a Jesus or a Krishna or a Buddha. These were just fairy tales, not real. There could be no such thing as Divine in Human form.


But now, after an hour or so, as I watched Amma hugging people, my eyes filled with tears because all at once I knew that I'd met Divine in a human form. I had no explanation other than a profound knowing. A coming home to myself. I could believe in fairy tales again.


After about two hours I found myself in Her arms. She held me tightly and said, "Ma ma ma ma" into my ear. I said, "Ma ma ma ma" in response which made her laugh. And so I also laughed. That was it. I was happy. Amma and I had communicated "Ma Ma Ma" to each other.


Someone had told me that during darshan I only needed to think about what I wanted and Amma would know. I had been planning that moment for my next darshan, but was unsure whether to ask for Realization or for my asthma to be healed. It hadn't occurred to me that I might be able to ask for both.


The four days passed in a joyous blur. During Devi Bhava on the last night, the lights in the tent were low, adding to the sense of mystery. When they opened the curtains onto Amma, I was sure I'd been transported to Devi Loka. There was a great brightness, a glow, an energy radiating from Amma. I sat transfixed amidst the miracle of Amma and the chaos all around Her that also was infused with brightness. I was in bliss. But, I was an early to bed person. And an early riser. Without getting darshan, I pulled myself away from the magic inside the big top tent at midnight.


The next morning, I woke up desperate to be with Amma. I could not stop crying. I had to cancel my clients. I was a basket case. I lay down prostrate in front of my altar and begged Amma to help me come to Her in India. The next day I got a call that my storage shed had been broken into. Two European oriental rugs were stolen. It turned out they were insured for exactly the value of a round-trip ticket to India. I ended my lease. Put everything into that same storage shed. Put a warning sign inside the shed, "Guarded by a Powerful Shaman!!" By October, I was off to India. I had no idea what would become of me at the end of the four months, but I had no concern about it. I just had to be with Amma.


I rode the all-night train ride from Madras, as Chennai was known then, and then a wild rickshaw ride from the Kayankulam train station to the backwaters. And then the peaceful canoe trip across the water to the ashram–all memories etched in my mind.  I was housed in the Kali dorm, right above Goddess Kali's sanctum sanctorum. The toilets, showers, and a long metal sink for brushing teeth, was down a long labyrinthine hallway, at the front of the temple building. The dorm, and the 30 or so of us in bunk beds, was the perfect bumping and stone polishing machine that Amma so often speaks of.


Most of us would get darshan every day in the small Darshan Hut, a rectangular building with walls of palm fronds. Maybe 150 devotees crowded inside. There were two overhead fans beating in the deep silence. Frankincense smoke rising behind Amma.  Swamiji Geetamrita playing the harmonium and singing bhajans to the beat of a tabla. Amma chatting and laughing. Usually, I'd get darshan and leave to do seva of mopping Kali temple floor, wash my clothes, and learn Lalita Sahasranam from a lovely Indian woman who'd offered to teach me.


I'd awaken every morning to the sound of the 4 o'clock bell, take my cold shower, and be ready for archana at 4:30, which is when it started in those days. After archana I'd go up to the roof, which had no rooms or clotheslines at that time, but only a small pagoda with a palm frond roof. I'd do yoga and meditate on the rising of the sun. Sometimes I'd just go up there for the peace of it, sitting and listening to the sound of the waves. At a later time, my birthday was coming up, and I was up on the roof making mental plans to visit Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya. All at once, I heard a loud inner voice that said, "Shankara was born here!!!" I knew the "voice" was telling me that Amma was Shankara. I didn't have to go anywhere. I was already where I needed to be.


Early on in my stay, I passed a note to Amma asking Her to help me with my anger problem. Amma burst out laughing and said, "Savitri!!!"  I began to laugh as well. What a concept to laugh at my serious question. What fun to laugh and accept.  But I wanted help, and so held my hands up in a shrug, "What to do?" Amma told me to throw my Amma doll. I didn't have an Amma doll, so I bought one of the small pillow dolls. I could not bring myself to throw Her. Amma teaches us to see Amma in everyone. I badly wanted to stop hurting others. To any of you whom I've hurt or harmed by my words or actions, please accept my deepest apologies.


Time was coming for me to leave. I'd come to be with Amma with the goal of Self-Realization, and I'd not gotten Self-Realized. So, I'd decided not to return to the ashram. I made my way to the darshan hut to say good-bye to Amma. But when I was in her arms, She wasn't paying a bit of attention to me. She was chatting with someone else and was about to let me go without saying goodbye. I panicked. I grabbed the attendant's attention and said, "Tell Her I'm leaving! Tell Her! Please!!"  At that moment of my greatest desperation, Amma pulled me back in for a second hug. She put my head on her shoulder and said to me, in English, "Come back. Amma says, Come back!" I was stunned in disbelief. Amma  Herself had told me to come back. She cared that much. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I sat in the back of the darshan hut, planning my next visit. I ended up making annual trips to the ashram, for several months each visit, until I ran out of money in 2005. Amma often used to say that man is revolutionary and God is evolutionary. My desire for Self-Realization, I began to understand, was an evolutionary process of gradually destroying vasanas and purifying the mind. And I now knew Amma will not let us go until the job is done.


During my next year in India, I was doing panchakarma with the first batch Panchakarma devotees. It was the first year of that program. The doctor had said the ghee would be an important part of getting rid of my asthma and also vomiting or vamana would help. For the first week of a six week program we were to drink a green medicated ghee in larger and larger amounts over 7 days. By the afternoon on the first day, I was feeling nauseated. Yet at the same time, I felt I was bathed in a golden light. On day three, I'd had enough of feeling nauseated, golden light or not. I went downstairs to tell the doctor I could not go on with it. The panchakarma room was on the second floor off the wing of the Kali Temple. The doctor opened the door a crack when I knocked. I told him, "I cannot continue." He said nothing, nodded his head from side to side in the Indian way and closed the door in my face. I lost it. I started swearing like a sailor, throwing metal cups, throwing anything I could find. Yelling at the top of my lungs. Then I spotted several brahmacharis running towards me.  I got scared and quickly made my way back to the Kali dorm. I'd be safe there. Boys are not allowed. I wasn't sure what to do. Word had gotten around, and Bri. Suneeta (Bri Nirmalamrita) arrived to console me. Amma was in Australia.


As soon as Amma returned, I went immediately to pass a note about what had happened, how angry I'd gotten. I was terrified I'd be thrown out of the ashram. She was holding me very tightly. I could tell she was hearing about the story from a brahmacharini.  I became more and more frightened as they talked for a long time. I tried to pull away, but Amma is strong. Then finally Amma looked at me and said, "Child, you look much better after only 3 days of panchakarma. Continue the program." I'd never experienced this kind of love and compassion. She loved me even with my terrible flaw of anger. And loved me enough to know what was good for me. Continue panchakarma. The doctor said there was to be no more ghee drinking, only in tablespoons-full daily, over the 6 weeks of panchakarma. At the end, I was asthma free and enjoyed the amazing lightness of being from the healing panchakarma treatments.


After a couple of weeks into panchakarma, a woman in the dorm began the program. She was suffering a lot emotionally. I asked Swamini Amma to please find her a room alone as the dorm was no place for her in the state, she was in. In the middle of the night, I was awakened by a flashlight shining on me. It was Amma! She had come to thank me for helping the woman find a peaceful place to stay. From this experience, I knew how deeply important it is to care for others.


From the dorm, we were in the perfect position to get the best seats on the stage on Devi Bhava nights, as the stage was just down the spiral staircase. As soon as the doors opened everyone rushed down. I sat wherever I could. One time I was sitting at the back of the stage, and thinking, "Amma, if you want me near you, I know you will make it possible." All at once a bramacharini came and took my hand to lead me up to sit next to Amma. After a while, an indescribable feeling of Love came over me. Everything and everyone was Love. All Divine Love. When devotees would bump me as they came up for darshan, I felt it as love pats from Amma. I stayed in this state for a few days. Naturally, I told Amma about it and asked Her if I could please stay that way. Amma said in English, "Amma happy." The experience faded. That was nearly 30 years ago. Now, in my older age, I tend to have a little more surrender, and so I can wait to dissolve in that Love. But also I want it badly and sometimes feel impatient. Nevertheless, I believe we all have the destiny to be the Love that is Amma.


I knew that at least part of my anger was due to my time as a fetus and a baby. From Swamiji Dayamrita's Maha Bharata class in the Santa Fe ashram where I lived in the late 90's and early 2000's, we learned that a pregnant mother should be surrounded with peace and beauty. He said that for a baby to develop a healthy mind, a woman who is pregnant needs to stay peaceful and in prayer and listening to bhajans and going to temple daily. Swamiji told how Duryodhana's mother Gandhari had beaten her stomach to cause her babies to be born early, before the Pandava cousins.  Her son Duryodhana could not control his negative tendencies, nor did he want to. In my case my mom had been hysterical while I was a fetus, chasing after my father who was an alcoholic, and who'd often not come home at night. Then after I was born, I'd be in the crib upstairs in a little room all alone. I'd be terrified by their yelling in the middle of the night. This was my karma. By the Grace of Amma,  I am relieved to say that I no longer have rage attacks, and I'm mostly able to hold back reactionary words. I understand that I must be totally free of anger, but I feel a lot of Grace in the evolutionary process of it. I realize that a little poison in the food, is still poison. Equally, the mind has to be completely free of negative reactions.


Amma in Her Guru Purnima Satsang said we should linger in the space between thoughts and actions, that in that space is the Guru and the Light, and that it can grow and grow. I was never able to find that space between thought and action, but I seem to be able to now and will try to practice this. 


All that said, after my father left home at my age 5, my mother raised me and my 9 years older sister with good values. We had a mountain cabin where I was left to wander in the woods. When I was 5 years old while walking down a snowy trail I was suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of a Divine Presence.  Looking back, I know it must have been Amma visiting me at that tender age. Time spent in nature is a sadhana for me. That's where I feel Amma is always with me. I have various blissful experiences in nature. One time I had a sensation that I was space and everything was space, still in form, but only space. I don't know what it meant, but it was a deeply peaceful feeling which came over me now and then.



In the later 90's, I got an idea to write a book that featured Amma and that dealt with the shadow side of our psyches. I asked Amma about the idea and She said "Yes." I was not a writer. I was a fibre artist and a counsellor.  I am dyslexic and so numbers and words can be difficult for me. I was determined and did well enough in school to get into a good college where I was placed in dumbbell English the first year.


Writing a book for Amma was a great sadhana for me. Imagine learning grammar and creative writing while writing a book for Amma. I am a good example of how Amma has us do things we don't seem to be very gifted with, but then something happens, and we become Her instrument in the process. That said, at about ¼ the way through, I had grave doubts I could do it. I took the manuscript to San Ramon. But I did not want Amma to see it. I wanted to know that Amma knew every word, without seeing the manuscript. I kept it behind me as I went up the question line.  My note read, "Blessed Amma, I am ¼ through the book. Please tell me if you would like me to add or subtract anything from what I've written, and please give me any suggestions." I did not say anything about my doubts or if I should continue writing the book. Amma did not ask to see the manuscript. Her answer was this: "It's fine as far as you've gone. Keep writing." She answered both my unasked question of should I continue, and She let me know She knew every word without needing to see the manuscript. I couldn't have known more joy than at that moment.


Then when the book was nearly done, I asked a friend to ask Amma in San Ramon about the book again. Was it ok? She said to him, "I am doing it." To me it meant She was everywhere with me, doing everything through me. I was literally not the doer, just as Krishna counsels Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita–"Be thou a mere instrument, O Arjuna." And surrendering to being a mere instrument was hard for me, as I had a lot of desire to publish that book. And I had a lot of thoughts that I was the greatest doer. Amma was showing me otherwise.


And as it happened, by Amma's Great Grace, in 2000,  The Path of the Mother: With the Divine Guidance of the Holy Mother Amma was published by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House. An Amma miracle for a big publishing house to take me on, since I was not a seasoned writer.


Now fast forward to today. When I reached age 80, I began to feel a bit desperate that I'd not be able to think of Amma at the moment of death. In the ashram I stayed in, in the 70s, before I met Amma, we did not practice mantra japa. So, this was never a sadhana of mine, and it's hard for me to remember to chant my mantra. Amma says to start very young, and I am testimony to that advice. But I was determined, and so I took Swamiji Atmananda's Mantra I & II . Learning how to use japa beads and various techniques of mantra meditation, helped me considerably. But my mind still wanders away. I do a fantastic job of chanting mantra on my daily walks on the beach, as it becomes like a marching song. And Amma is often there at the beach, either walking with me, sitting on a log with me, or huge out in the water. One time on a beach near Ft Flagler where Amma used to give retreats, not far from where I live now, I saw Amma walking down the beach towards me, in the distance. It's so very true that wherever Amma has been, She is still there. In every grain of sand, if we are only aware.


As for older age seva, early on in the Pandemic, I began teaching journaling classes in the library to help people cope and not feel so isolated. I also started an ongoing journaling class with Amma devotees, about 12 of us writing on how our lives are guided by Amma. We still meet on Zoom. I also work with the Japanese translation team for Amrita Silence Retreats. The Japanese translation devotees need the satsangs and classes written out to make it easier for them to translate. Our dictation team serves that purpose. I also write to prisoners under the umbrella of Circle of Love Inside.


 Recently, I started having an urgent longing to be with Amma. I thought maybe I should move into an ashram somewhere, but first I thought it best to ask Amma. She said: "Amma will tell you or give a clear sign when or if you are to move." I felt a deep sense of relief that I'm in the right place right where I was on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, and with a wonderful local satsang group. But this urgent need to be with Amma kept rising in me, so I booked a reservation to fly to India. I had no idea how I'd pay for it. The next day, a dear friend's husband called to tell me my friend had died and she'd left me almost enough money for the airfare. Money from an unexpected place got me to Amma first and now got me to Amma last.  A full circle. And so here I am in Amritapuri for 25 days. I may not meet my dream of dying in Amma's arms and being cremated on the beach, but wherever I am at that time of passing, Amma will you please come to me. And please continue to help ripen my mind into the sweetness of devotion.


Amma thank you for the enormous Grace of giving a Satsang by your side. As little Bodham says, "Om Amriteshwaryai MaMa."





O Mother, come like a radiant, beneficent cloud,

through the pathway of 

the open sky of my mind.



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Japanese Dictation Seva for Amrita Silent Retreats

Japanese Temple

When I was in my early 20's I was drawn to the Tale of Genji, a classic work of Japanese literature written in the early 11th century by Lady Murasaki. Something about the ambience, the beauty of place, the subtly of spirit, and an overall gentile feeling, attracted me, made a deep impression on me. It was almost as if I'd been there. When I was in Kyoto, Japan, in the early 70's, I was blessed to spend time contemplating the painted scroll, a visual rendering of the Tale of Genji. And so why am I surprised to find myself in this beautiful working environment of Japanese Amma devotees translating for the Amrita Silent Retreats?


I'd been praying to Amma for a seva. A Japanese-Canadian from the Amma Journal Writing group, answered my request. She asked if any of us in our group would like to join the Japanese translation team for Amrita Silent Retreats. They needed Westerners to take dictation. I jumped at the chance. As did another member as well.


We were to listen to a video of a talk and take dictation into Word. Then the Japanese translators could more easily translate from a written document. They were not professional translators, but it was a labor of love for Amma devotees. 


Then came the cold feet part of my story. In my older age, it's hard for me to know what I can and cannot do. When it became clear to me that the translators needed our Word documents as fast as possible, in order to meet their deadline, I got worried I'd not manage. I'd not be fast enough, nor early enough, nor anything enough. My Japanese friend suggested I could give it a try. After pondering it and eating my evening meal, I texted her that I would try it.


When I realized how badly they needed us to start early in order to meet their deadline, I volunteered to start at 5:00 AM. Aiya-san was assigned as my translator. We all were given san at the end of our names, as an indication of respect. I was Savitri-san. Aiya-san assigned me to be last on list of us transcribers for a Q & A.  I'd wondered if booking me last was just in case I was too slow. Dirk from Canada on our dictation team, I'd noticed had finished his 10 minutes of dictation of a Satsang in one hour.  The Japanese woman in charge of us, had said that it takes them twice that and sometimes three times that. I decided then and there to set as my bar at 10 minutes of satsang in an hour.


As my time neared, I was feeling a bit like Seabiscuit stuck in the starting gate, not able to take off. Not yet. The suspense of my ability or inability to succeed at dictation became stronger and stronger as my stint approached. Perhaps it's important to note that I'd worked at various times in my life as a secretary. I used to type 80-100 words a minute, maybe more. Now it's probably more like 40 or 60. I knew how to use an old-fashioned dictation machine that had a foot pedal for start and stop. And it automatically backed up a few spaces before going on. For the Amrita Silent Retreat dictatation from the video, I was relieved to learn that we could use a back arrow to do a similar action. But it was no foot pedal and definitely awkward to toggle back and forth between the Word document and the video.


Meanwhile I was seeing all the texting going on on our group chat in preparation for the various satsangs, yoga classes, and zoom sessions for the Silent Retreat. There was so much caring and love in all of it. Each translator would say something very simple and sweet in response to anyone's question. Such responses gave me a feeling of peace and a feeling of love needed for this task. Everyone was supportive of each other, with an open heartedness that was short of miraculous. There was also that gentle Japanese element that lent a subtle, soft energy of caring. My heart was full before I'd even begun. Even with all the love and assurance from the Japanese team, I was terrified that I'd not meet up, that I'd not manage.


And now my time had arrived. My alarm clock chimed, as it always does, at 3:55 AM. Amma Live program was approaching, and I'd be taking dictation during it. I'd prepared my word document so that I could juxtapose it to the Retreat video, with no overlapping. I'd done my practice dictation. There were no more options for getting ready, except, of course to pray to Amma for Her Grace. I sat down at my desk at 4:45 AM, opened my computer and got my word document and the video in position. I waited and prayed to Amma and chanted my mantra. Aiya-san checked in with me to tell me where to begin. Then in my imagination a bell rang, and the starting gate opened. I bolted out of the gate. The race was on. That's how it felt. Not sure why, but I knew the translators were eager to receive our dictation documents as fast as we could manage. They had a deadline. 


As I typed, I was focused. My heart beating. My adrenaline up. I did not look up or around, nor did I get up for a break, nor drink any water. I was totally one-pointed. Typing as fast as I could. Then it was over. I'd reached the finish line. It had taken me about an hour to complete 8 minutes of the Q & A.


I was amped up for more, so I asked Aiya-san if she had more for me to type. I think she didn't want to tax me, and so she just asked me about some phrase a questioner in the Q & A had used, "unasked for," an unfamiliar phrase to her. I told her, and then I asked if she'd like me to type the rest. She let me do that. Then after an hour I was still ready for more. Aiya then asked me about another word in which she'd heard "gold," but it was "goal." We were having so much fun like this. Back and forth. It really felt like two people as one.


Then she wondered if I'd mind typing up a Rama story that had been included, about Rama and Lakshmana at the beach. As the story goes, Rama thrust his bow into the sand and Lakshama noted blood around the bow. So, Lakshmana dug and found a little wounded frog. Rama asked the frog why he had not called out to him. The frog said, "Whenever I'm in trouble I always call out to you, but now you are the one who caused the trouble. To whom am I to call out?!" The frog told Rama he realized that this was some karma he had to undergo. Rama was moved by the little frog's faith in Rama, and knew that faith had saved him.


With the Rama story done, and three hours gone by, Aiya texted, "Please go now and eat your breakfast."  I had a little chuckle about that. She was like an old friend who intuitively knew I was hungry and ready for a cup of coffee with my porridge. I obliged saying I'd come back to check if she needed more help. I'll never know if she needed more help or not, but I had no recourse but to accept it when she said she did not.


My reward, if there should be one beyond the beautiful experience of working on dictation with Aiya, was a complete surprise. On my early morning walk on a foggy expanse of beach on Marristone Island, along one of the many passageways off the Puget Sound, a pod of orcas appeared, swimming along—leaping, tail slapping, and belly flopping. The sound of the deep ocean echo of their breath whooshing through their blow holes as they made their way along the water passage, took my breath away. I was ecstatic. What a gift.


I had two more dictation sessions, each with different challenges. In the last one I was having trouble understanding the German yoga teacher. The team had given me an hour and a half session to do on my own, because they'd seen I could type fast. "It's a yoga and meditation class," they'd told me, "There won't be much talking." But the teacher talked a lot, as if giving a Satsang talk. My Japanese-Canadian friend helped me with some audio difficulty, and I was still frustrated because of how long it was taking me, how hard it was to understand the teacher. "I can't go further!" I texted. Then someone texted, "Just type!" and that made me laugh, so I kept on. Aiya appeared a little later, "I'll meet you in the middle," she texted. What a relief. With her help, suddenly I had the energy to move on. I'm not sure how long we worked, Aiya and I, but probably it was about a half hour, and about 3 hours total for my part.


The feeling of Amma's love throughout the dictation experience, in all three of my sessions, was yet another of Amma's life-changing experiences. There are so many around Amma. Working with a true team was new to me, the experience of team members who truly cared. Whenever I'd needed help with word or phrase I couldn't make out, I'd indicate so by text on our group chat, and there'd be a Western dictation team member who'd show up immediately to help decipher the answer. What was entirely unique to me were the Japanese members, who without me asking, would show up seemingly out of nowhere, gently, mysteriously, with an intuitive subtlety of mind and spirit I'd never experienced before.





** for privacy, names have been changed


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The Archetype of the Virgin Warrior: An Astrological Study





No need to worry! You can be married or partnered and still fall into the archetype of the virgin warrior. Perhaps you know well your forthright and impeccable drive to make a difference. Perhaps you remember childhood wish to be like Lady Marion in the Robin Hood legends. Or of wishing to emulate Robin Hood himself. Perhaps you loved climbing trees, playing at wild horses, running through the woods imagining yourself as a hero or heroine bringing a villain to justice.


As a small child my mother let me run freely in the woods at our mountain cabin. I'd spend hours searching for wolf prints on the trails in the forest and imagining myself as a friend to the wolves. In pre-teen years my friends and I galloped our horses across the grassy hills and explored along creeks and canyons. Rode into the ocean waves bareback. Most virgin warrior women excel at sports and dancing. Perhaps playing an ancient drum for a women's ceremony might appeal. The tom boy or eternal girl (puella eterna) might also describe the virgin warrior.


I began to identify, and then to understand the archetype of the virgin warrior while watching Richard Wagner's four Ring Cycle operas "The Nibelung's Ring." In fact, I was stunned. Suddenly I found myself there in the character of the Valkyrie Brunnhilde, the god Wotan's eldest and most beloved daughter, born of Erda the Earth Goddess. The beautiful Valkyries during their teen years joyously ride their horses through the sky and down into battlefields where they fetch fallen warriors and carry them to Valhalla to join all the beloved heroes who live in eternal bliss in the Norse heaven built at the command of the god Wotan.


Brunnhilde epitomizes the archetype of the virgin warrior—in her life as the Valkryie and later as Siegfried's betrothed. The virgin warrior lives deeply within what C. G. Jung calls the collective unconscious, and for this reason many women will find her active in their lives at one time or another, or at least recognize the qualities in others.


Virgin here refers to impeccable, a tendency towards a sparkling clarity in approach to a task or to life itself. Warrior represents the energetic one-pointed focus towards accomplishing a task or goal. Virgin warrior is the alchemical outcome of these two qualities—and she strives to make a difference in the world


Aries and Virgo will be featured in part or in full, in the charts of women who live with a virgin warrior archetype. If you are Aries or have Aries Moon or Ascendant; or if Mars is prominent in your astrological chart, and you also have the essential Virgo element, you most probably identify well with this archetype.




Aries the first sign in the zodiac, is a cardinal fire sign ruled by Mars. Aries is often known as the adolescent of the zodiac, willing to go off on adventures and invite excitement into their lives, often with little forethought. Given that the head rules Aries, and with the image of the butting Ram, Aries can tend to be head-strong and argumentative, with a clear-cut sense of what is right and wrong, no questions asked.


With all of these firm, yet potentially annoying qualities, we are attracted to the Aries' magnetic and warm personality, overflowing with a joy of life, and a willingness to explore the unknown without fear of consequences. Aries natives are often athletic or enjoy dancing, especially dance with a strong beat. Their bodies usually are strong and lithe. With the Aries people I have encountered, there is often a definite sense of purpose and a nobility of spirit that pervades the personality


Many of us might jump to the conclusion that with Aries's ruler Mars as god of war, that battle and a contentious nature alone will define the Mars-dominated person. To a certain degree, such a delineation is warranted, as most people with strong Mars tend to find themselves in both verbal and/or even physical fights. Yet upon examination there is more to delve into than a mere battlefield nature.


Mars people can usually be depended upon to accomplish just about any mission. They will have a determined sense of a goal and strive for it. They will go about work, no matter what kind of work, with an enthusiastic let's-get-it done attitude, even when the task might be as humble as restocking the fruit and vegetable section of a supermarket. The highest nature of Mars is the ability to zero in and get to the core of an issue or job or concern.




Virgo, an Earth sign with Mercury as ruler, excels at organization, planning, and sorting out details. Mercury assures that they are the quintessential messenger. The kind of writing or communication we might expect from Virgos will be colored by the position of Mercury in the chart and its planetary aspects. On the downside, while being focused on detail, Virgo sometimes misses the larger picture, the proverbial missing forest for the trees. Depending on the other elements in the chart, Virgos can end up in the healing arts. In fact, they will be accomplished in whatever occupation they choose. Virgos have a need to be useful and to help their fellow humans. I've noticed they make good librarians, and in that capacity they serve the public with graciousness and humility.


But what about the Virgin symbol for Virgo? The image alone lets us know that the Virgo personality can be complicated, say nothing of confusing, since they might harbor a secret, or overt, wish to be a nun, and yet at the same time long also to be in loving partnership. (Conflicts of opposites exist in all signs of the zodiac). Vestal Virgins in Greek mythology lend depth and breadth to understanding the meaning of the Virgin image; these "Virgins" kept the temples lamps lit and guarded the sacred space. While Virgos will long for partnership, I've found that they often encounter relationship obstacles. The notion of keeping watch over sacred space sheds further light onto the inner workings of Virgo: "Virgin" implies an expectation of a flawless nature in self and other. Even a secret wish for a marriage with a god. Who can attain it? Who can expect it? But, nevertheless, there will be a deep longing for the impeccable partner. Reminiscent of the immaculate conception.





Dressed in Valkyrie armor, carrying her shield and spear, Brunnhilde bounds onto a craggy mountain ledge with a classical Aries/Mars energy. She calls out to her father Wotan with her battlefield cry: "Heyo ho! Heyo ho!" In her teen years she is very much an Aries tom boy, and in her beauty she typifies Virgo. She is devoted to her father and to her task as Valkyrie, which in Virgo fashion she discharges impeccably. Using their magic spells to insure the outcome of who lives and who dies in battle is one of the jobs of the virgin Valkyries. Now on the mountain top, Wotan instructs Brunnhilde to ride to an imminent battle between Wotan's son Siegmund and his lover's abusive husband; Brunnhilde is to ensure that Siegmund wins the fight.


However, the hand of destiny interferes with Wotan's plans when his wife Fricka, a picky and bossy wife, convinces Wotan that he must support marriage vows and that Siegmund must die in the duel. (Remember: Siegmund's lover has a husband). Wotan falls into despair and seeks Brunnhilde for comfort.

While Brunnhilde sits with her arms around her father's knees, Wotan reveals to her everything about his life—his broken contracts, his uncontrollable desires, his lust for power, his failure with his wife and his lovers, including Brunnhilde's wise mother Erda. During Wotan's confession, we witness a deep emotional relationship between father and daughter. In Virgo fashion we imagine Brunnhilde sees the perfect man in her father. After his confession he orders her to assure that Siegmund's enemy will win the battle.


Brunnhilde is stunned. Her obedient Virgo nature falls by the wayside when with Aries-style belligerence she refuses to follow his command, because it is not his will. He thumps his sacred staff on the ground, causing a thunder-like rumble, and again he demands it. Subdued, Brunnhilde rides off on her horse to perform the nasty deed.


Brunnhilde quietly approaches the lovers who are resting on a flat boulder. Brunnhilde is touched when she observes the sweetness of two people so thoroughly in love, not something she has ever seen. Brunnhilde's half-brother Siegmund asks the Valkyrie why she has come. She tells him that only the warriors who see her, are the ones destined to die. He questions her further, and when Siegmund learns he cannot take his lover to Valhalla, he raises his sword to kill himself and his lover. In Aries/Mars swiftness of action, Brunnhilde thrusts her shield in front of Siegmund's sword. She persuades him by letting him know that his lover is with child and will bear him a son.


Brunhilde, deeply moved by the depth Siegmund's devotion to his lover (the Virgo purity of it), in an act of Aries/Mars independence and righteousness, she resolves to go against her father's command and assure victory for her half-brother.


The battle begins. But just as Brunnhilde is orchestrating the outcome in favor of Siegmund, Wotan arrives and breaks his son's sword. The cruel husband kills Siegmund.


Brunnhilde is in big trouble after disobeying her father. She scoops up Siegmund's lover and in haste the two ride away across the sky to a mountain top. The sky flashes with lightening as Wotan chases after her on his horse. Meanwhile Brunnhilde comforts Siegmund's lover, and she announces that her child will be named Siegfried. She advises the pregnant mother to head in the direction of a dragon's lair and to look for shelter nearby; Wotan will not venture near the dragon, and she will be safe as she brings her baby to term.


Wotan, in a terrible wrath, lands on the mountain top amidst a roar of thunder. He delivers Brunnhilde's punishment: "You will no longer be a Valkerie, no longer be immortal, no longer serve me in Valhalla. I will put you to sleep on the mountain top, where you will be fair game to the first man who comes along and awakens you with a kiss." A punishment that is in total in opposition to the Virgo ideal of purity and grace.


Brunnhilde is horrified. All is silent for some time until Brunnhilde speaks. With Aries pride and Virgo discernment she quietly defends her actions. "What I did was not so bad, Father. I was only doing your will."


With his anger is somewhat subdued, Wotan explains, "I changed my mind."


Another long silence pervades the stillness of the mountain top. In a moment of Virgo brilliance and Mars indomitable spirit, Brunnhilde jumps up and offers a solution: "Father!" she says, "What will everyone think when they see that Wotan's daughter Brunnhilde has ended up as no more than a chattel maid. Please ignite a fire all around ledge where I sleep, a fire that only a great hero would dare pass through."


Wotan embraces his daughter and agrees to her proposal, acknowledging her brilliance. He puts her to sleep and then invokes the Norse god Loki to encircle the area with a magic fire.


After many years the now 18-year-old Siegfried has killed the dragon and retrieved the ring of power and all the gold the dragon had hoarded. (The ring had been forged by the dwarf, Nebilungen, in retaliation against the Rhine Maidens who'd rejected his love advances. The dwarf cursed the ring, saying that whoever owns the ring of power has to forsake love as the price).


Siegfried receives a message from a little bird to go to a certain mountain top. There he braves the fire and awakens Brunnhilde. They fall passionately in love. In Virgo fashion she sees in him the perfect man, and she worries he might not feel the same. He says he does.


Trouble begins when he decides to venture out and explore the world and discover his purpose. (Siegfried was raised in the woods and never knew any humans, only the evil dwarf's equally evil brother who raised him.) Brunnhilde, preferring to stay behind and wait for his return, creates a protective shield on his body (she has her powers back now). Sealing their betrothal vows, she gives him her horse and he gives her the ring of power, the ring he had won after killing the dragon, near the lair where he was born. All the gods and humans who know about it and the evil dwarf, crave to own it.


Siegfried accepts an invitation into a wealthy household along the Rhine. The son of the evil dwarf who forges the ring of power, lives with the family. The Nibelung's son, contriving to steal the ring, manipulates Siegfried into betraying his betrothal vows with Brunnhilde. Siegfried returns to Brunnhilde and because of the drug the dwarf's son gave him, he does not recognize her, but he carries her down the mountain to be married to his new friend.

Now down from the mountain, Brunnhilde expresses her inconsolable grief combined with livid anger (Aries). Seeking revenge (Mars) and to right a wrong (Virgo), she reveals to the power-hungry son of the Nibelung the vulnerable spot in Siegfried's protective shield. The Nibelung's son plunges his spear into Siegfried's back.


Betrayal or not, Brunnhilde still loves Siegfried and eulogizes his greatness and speaks to the beauty of his weaknesses, similar to those of her own father Wotan, Siefried's grandfather. The Rhine Maidens convince Brunnhilde that in order to redeem the gods and free the world from the curse of the ring of power, she must return the ring to the Rhine. At the end, with Virgo perfectionism and Aries one-pointed fiery determination, Brunnhilde tosses the ring to the Rhine Maidens and rides her horse into Siegfried's funeral fire to be forever joined with him in the hereafter.


Her swift action of returning the ring of power to the Rhine Maidens allows for peace to return to the world. No more greed for power and wealth, thus allowing the earth to be restored to balance and harmony. Meanwhile Wotan lights a fire to burn Valhala, the Norse heaven built by the failed power-hungry god. Thus, we witness the end of an era of corruption. The lovers' funeral pyre represents the phoenix bird, transformed and rising from the ashes, and a rebirth of an age of innocence and beauty.



While most of us certainly would never ride into a funeral pyre to join our lover, the archetype of such an act might be felt or seen in other ways. Powerful emotions. Bravery at all costs. Loyalty no matter what. A belief in the purity of love. A commitment to one's dharma. A desire for revenge in the face of betrayal. Crystal clarity when all is said and done. All of these qualities feed into the virgin warrior's sense of purpose.  


I've been pondering archetype of the virgin warrior for many years. In this time when women, with feminine grace and love and nurturing nature of a mother, have attained a visible presence in all fields. Women's voices are being expressed in great numbers all over the world, their input respected in high places of government and through their powerful presence as spiritual leaders.


Perhaps it's time to take notice of the archetype of the virgin warrior. In what ways does she live within us? How can we keep watch over the sacred fire in the temple of our lives? How can we offer our inborn gifts, impeccably, and with conviction in the smallest ways every day? Amma, who has an enormous charitable network that has an impact on the world, says, "Do not be discouraged by your incapacity to dispel darkness from the world; light your one candle and step forward."


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One Christmas Eve When I Was Very Young




Someone had hung ornaments on the evergreen trees down in the fairy woods near our mountain cabin where we'd spent the weekend. I was filled with the mystery of Christmas. How had it happened? One other time there'd been Easter eggs hidden in the fairy woods.


I was five years old. It was Christmas eve. Twilight turning to dark. There was a palpable sparkle in the air on the streets of downtown La Jolla, California, an elegant beach town near San Diego. A hustle and bustle of activity in the village, people scurrying along with wrapped packages under their arms. Folks dashing in and out of the small high-end shops featuring Asian gifts, jewelry, clothing, sporting goods, stationary, and a bakery with delectable holiday smells.


All the stores were lit up with Christmas lights and colorful window decorations. Wreaths with huge red bows hung from streetlamps. My mom owned a store stocked with gifts, toys, Christmas decorations, notions, anything you'd ever need or want during the holiday season and all year around. She'd decorated her shop window with a white tree with sparkling lights, red ornaments, ribbons strewn tastefully about, and an electric train meandering around under the tree.


My mom gave me a 25-cent piece to go buy some candy. That was a lot of money for a child in those days (just after the end of World War II). In retrospect, I'm not sure what she was up to, but maybe something I was not to see. The pharmacy was next door to her store, and that seemed to be where my mom had sent me to buy the candy.


Outside the pharmacy was a Salvation Army volunteer in uniform ringing his bell. It was dark out now and all lights aglow. Now and then you could hear the clink of coins as passersby dropped money into the large donation pot hanging from a tripod. I wandered around in the pharmacy, looking at the possibilities, the candies and the glitter, with my ears always aware the sound of the bell calling people to donate for Christmas. I paused at the Sugar Daddy candy bars, my favorite. My mother never understood why I liked the caramel better than chocolate.


Something stopped me when I started to pick up the candy to take it to the cashier.  All at once I was glowing with excitement—the sound of the bell, the smell of evergreens, the colorful lights filling me with a bubbling joy. I ran outside and dropped my 25-cent piece into the Salvation Army pot. My entire being swelled with pink puffy clouds and a soft light was glittering all around everything. And that was my very best Christmas ever.

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Tornado and Flood Crisis Response

We are all shepherds, caring for one another

The world has been witnessing devastating tornadoes in USA and debilitating floods in India. Many lives have been lost. Many homes destroyed. Food sources hard to find.


My Guru, Amma, in Amritapuri, Kerala, India, has collected tons of rice and wheat—90 tons of rice, 90 tons of wheat. Her devotees have been hand-sewing and machine stitching 300,000 bags made from old clean clothing. Someone created huge funnels that look like elephant trunks, for pouring the grains into the bags. Amma and devotees have been filling separate bags with  90 kg of rice, 90 kg wheat, and bags with sugar, salt and some chilies. 


 "Sharing about Giving," is my new blog theme. My mind was slow to catch on, but today Amma was calling out to the Western devotees to get to work on this project. Suddenly, I wondered what the Amma organizations in USA are doing to help with tornado relief.


So far I do not know, but I knew I had to do something, and they say that the pen is mightier than the sword. At 82 years old, my body cannot manage a lot of physical work. So, I write.


I write as I listen to the swishing sound of rice and wheat pouring down an elephant trunk-like funnel, into hand-made bags. Most of the bags are colorful Indian cloth, pink flowers, lovely designs.


We cannot be in India filling bags with rice and wheat for the hungry. But as individuals, we can ALL do something--no matter how large or small--right here in USA to help those devastated by tornados. Giving to one person or one family or one neighborhood is HUGE.


Find out what local group needs help. Donate to a reliable cause by giving clothing and food. Offer temporary housing. With a little research we could all give something, even if only a kind word to the grieving. Or if they do not need clothing, then ask what they would like you to purchase (usally best to avoid donating funds directly, as these have potential to have a large percentage go to administration). 


Our giving will cause hearts to be united. The human heart is vast.  No divisions exist where there is unconditional love.


There is really nothing as beautiful as giving.

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Glittering Seashells


Amma tells us the mind will steal away your faith and your devotion. Can you believe after nearly 30 years with Amma that I could have even a moment of forgetting? Every day during guided meditation on Amma live, Amma reminds us not to let the mind wander. And every day I find my mind wandering.


She advises us to not go after the glittering seashells that may shine like diamonds but are not valuable. I was aware that this meant not to go after worldly objects, but my mind recalled my daily walks on the beach where I'd been thoroughly examining the seashells, most of them broken and white. None were glittering like diamonds. From a metaphorical standpoint, I thought that if I could only find these and pay them no mind, I'll have succeeded in keeping my focus on Amma alone.


A distracted mind and a reactive mind chase away devotion and the search for Liberation or moksha. The challenge for me in avoiding jumping into action, is that I was born with Aries Ascendant and several planets in Aries, probably the single most reactive sign in the zodiac. Say nothing of arrogance and an "I can do it myself" nature. Aries element is fire, and the planet is Mars. Volatility and clear focus are the negative and positive potentials for Aries. We have the capability of a warrior or an athlete for instantaneous action or response. I could often return a tennis ball no matter where it landed, catch just about anything thrown at me in surprise, return a volleyball slammed towards the corner.


In other words, I was capable of being quick on the draw before the warrior on the opposing side stood much of a chance. Translated into normal everyday life, I lacked the natural ability to wait before acting. For a spiritual seeker, such a reactive nature, coupled with arrogance, is a tormenting problem. For me to develop the ability to stop and wait, often felt like a losing battle. But I kept trying.  And Aries is nothing if not enthusiastic,  relentlous and optimistic in all undertakings. So I had that quality on my side. 


For some reaon I'm reminded that a few years ago, I'd stopped a daily practice of the IAM Integrated Amrita Meditation given to us by Amma. Instead, I practiced another form of meditation. Astonishing as it was, I had given up on the meditation my Guru had given me, without asking her if it was alright to give it up. I gave it up, because I thought I knew best.


Then about a year ago, some health issues came up, and I could not stop clearing my throat or falling asleep during meditation, so the simple form of meditation I was practicing was no longer was possible, though I still got up every day at 4:00 AM to attempt it. Then one day I received an email about Amma's disciple Swamiji Atmananda's ongoing day-long Mantra I Meditation retreat. That was a game-changer for me—if I fell asleep, I'd drop my japa beads and wake up, and clearing my throat did not interrupt mantra meditation. Then Swamiji Dayamritananda Puri invited me to the streaming of Amma live daily. Oh, what a blessing that was. He must have known I needed saving at that point.


What Grace to be with Amma for four hours every day and on Pacific Coast time that meant 3:30 standard time or 4:30 AM daylight time. During the four hours Amma leads the MaOm meditation and White Flowers of Peace. Then an ashram resident or swami gives a spiritual talk. Then Amma leads Bhajans for an hour and a half. After that there is discussion about topics Amma has asked us to contemplate, usually from a scriptural verse. Things were looking up. And my throat was starting to clear up, too.


Simultaneously, I joined Swami Atmananda's Bhakti II retreat. Maybe he could help me transmute my reactionary nature and desire to win, into a longing for devotion. It was not a hard reach, as I've always had a devotional nature along with the warrior nature, and from the start I had an interest in the goal of Self Realization or Liberation.


My other reason to take the Bhakti retreat was to get some guidance about an experience I'd had. On Amma live we had been discussing Maya (Goddess of Illusion or Creation) for over a month, daily. The passage Amma wanted us to study and reflect upon, was from the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7, verse 14, in which Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, Verily, this Divine Illusion (Maya) of Mine, made up of the three qualities of Nature, is difficult to cross over; those who take refuge in Me alone, cross over this Illusion (of Mine).


You may notice the paradox in the passage: that Krishna is saying He created Maya and if you focus on Him (Krishna), you can cross over this difficult and perplexing creation of His. Different ones, including children, would stand and give their take on it. As a result, we all were contemplating the concept of Maya on a daily basis as an intense inner study.


One morning, maybe nearly a month into the probing of the nature of Maya, while opening my refrigerator, Goddess Maya revealed herself in all her glory. All of a sudden the whole world glimmered and shone with a brilliance and vibrancy that was holy beyond holiness, bright like the birthing stars of a supernova. I began to bow down before everything. The almond milk, my porridge, the bowl, the floor, the coffee—everything took on the magnificence of the Creatrix, in constant motion and whirling around me like the Milky Way. This went on for some time and then my body/mind didn't seem to know how or what, and the experience gradually faded.


In the Bhakti II class, I asked Swamiji Atmananda about this refrigerator experience, and how could I learn to contain it. He said I needed to take Bhakti III. I had a laugh over that answer and so did he. No need to go into the contents of Bhakti III here, because all it did was to give me the intellectual understanding that my experience fell into the category of Spontaneous Devotion.


But this intellectual knowledge offered no advice or guidance on how to contain the energy I had experienced. But I was relentless. After the Amrita Silent Retreat Monthlong, I took Swamiji Atmananda's Nava Sadhana class (nine spiritual practices). The least I could do with the no-answer-to-my-question, was to dive more deeply than ever before into my sadhana, and most particularly surrendering my heart into Devotion.


During Swamiji Atmananda's nine sadhanas class, I was amazed to learn that my reactionary nature would arise because of desire and that the IAM meditation was the necessary practice to dissolve negative desires. Astonishing information.


I'd struggled for most of my life to get at the root of my anger tendency. Now I got it that my cravings lay at the bottom of any reactive surge which invariably manifested as anger, and sometimes jealousy and other negative passions. To learn that desire was at the root, after all these 50 years on the path, literally blew me away. So simple.


At this stage in my life, I'm not talking about gross or passionate yearnings like relationship, or sexual urges, or even big professional desires, but more subtle urges, that could have simply to do with wanting my way while trying to get past Bank of America phone robot, or reacting to criticism, or disagreeing with someone about something not really all that important. I wanted to be done with all of it, as I continued to feel unrest over my emotional reactions, no matter how small or large. By large, I'm referring to my earlier years when I would erupt into angry outbursts. I live in fear that this potential might still be alive in me.


That said, I have now resumed a daily IAM meditation practice. My arrogance tamed for the moment. And I'm paying close attention to the ways that my desires get in the way of a peaceful mind. Sometimes I list these negative uprisings, no matter how subtle, into a journal. Keeping track raises awareness. Amma often asks us to make such lists daily.


Now, let me back up to remind you about the glittering seashells and me continuing to be perplexed by the use of this metaphor during the MaOm guided meditation every morning on Amma Live Streaming. I was clear we're not to go after worldly desires.  But, still, I like it when a metaphor works. I want to be able to say, "Oh yeah, look at all those fake diamonds in the glittering seashells." However, this was not what I saw every day as I walked on the beach.


But, on the very morning after I'd resumed IAM, I was drawn to head out early for my walk on the beach, just after Amma live-stream had ended. It had been raining. Everything was wet. The air chilly and moist. The sun low on the eastern horizon. I was walking into the sun, noting the wavelets shining and sunlight shimmering on the swells. Then, lo and behold, I looked down onto the sandy, shell-strewn beach. You won't believe what I saw there—the rainwater on the seashells was glittering like diamonds. Diamonds all over the place. Glittering seashells. I'd found the fake diamonds of Amma's metaphor which were of an extraordinary splendor like the Creatrix Herself. Maya in all its sublime expression. Sparkling. I knew not to go after them. I stood in awe of them as phenomenon of Creation—the Shakti, the active and creative principle of the Goddess Maya that is forever changing. Shiva, the deep stillness that pervades all, and Shakti, the active exquisite beauty and ugliness of the entire range of Creation. Om Shiva shaktyai kai rupinyai namah—I bow down to the form of the Union of Shiva and Shakti within and without, in all Creation.




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Vision for Sharing about Giving

Imagine thousands of sparks shooting out from Amritapuri where our Divine Mother Amma blesses all who come to Her. The act of giving arises from compassion.


Amma tells us that "spirituality begins and ends with compassion." Those who live in Amma's Amritapuri ashram in Kerala, India, often describe it as heaven on earth. From this heaven on earth, Amma's wisdom and effulgence flows out worldwide to devotees and interested souls everywhere. We can create a heaven on earth no matter where we are.


When infused with sparks of love, we often are inspired to respond by giving. The stories in "Sharing about Giving" blog will help to encourage a world culture to regain its way of living that is based on the spiritual principles of Sanatana Dharma, the Way of Eternal Truth, the path of compassion and of the unity of all beings. Sanatana Dharma recognizes that everything is permeated with God-Consciousness.


Through giving, each of us has experienced this all-pervading Divinity, even if only for seconds. The act of giving selflessly takes us out of darkness and into light. When we give, we are filled with Amma's all-encompasing, Unversal Love. The giver and the receiver become One.


In "Sharing about Giving," we tell about the kind of selfless acts that effect a positive change in an individual and thereby a change in the family, the community, the world, and in all of nature. We are all born with gifts or talents.  Our Beloved Amma inspires us to express our individual dharma, our personal pathway in harmony with the universe.Our own dharma leads us towards the Dharma of all human beings—Liberation or freedom from suffering.


Our experiences and our practices of giving are simple but fertile gifts that can inspire others. We offer many sparks from our inner wealth to help make Sanatana Dharma available to everyone. You just never know where this blog might end up, to be seen by someone who needed Amma's love in the form of devotee accounts about giving.


Stories about our spiritual journeys offer a powerful way to give—every one unique, every one according to our essence and our particular life path, our individual dharma. Our accounts arise out of our lives dedicated to a daily practice of Amma's teachings, based in kindness, compassion, and humility.


Amma has asked us to share about our weaknesses, along with our gifts. And then to describe our transformation, how it came about, and how we rose up out of darkness and into light. 


"Sharing about Giving" is about raising awareness and passing these blessings—these sparks—on to others.



You are invited and welcome to submit stories

(see left panel for Submission Guidlines)



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