Śrī Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Devī (Amma)

The Eternal Truth

Amma teaches that the divine exists in everything, sentient and insentient. Realizing this truth is the essence of spirituality – the means to end all suffering. Amma's teachings are universal. Whenever she is asked about her religion, she replies that her religion is love. She does not ask anyone to believe in God or to change their faith, but only to inquire into their own real nature and to believe in themselves.

Quelle: Amṛtāṣṭakam - A Vedantic Inquiry Into Supreme Devotion, Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, M. A. Center, 2016, S. 6


Self-realization is just that – a realization, a permanent shift in understanding. It is the firm knowledge that we are not the body, emotions or intellect but pure blissfull, eternal consciousness. This is something that Amma tells us every day. She even begins every public talk by saying, 'Amma bows down to everyone whose nature is divine in love and the Self.' Many of us have heard or read such statements regarding our divinity thousands of times by now, yet we still remain the same grumpy, irritable, frustrated people. If this knowledge really liberates, why are we still suffering mentally? Amma herself gives us the answer. She says, 'Children, what you lack is not knowledge, but awareness.' What does Amma mean by awareness? She means the ability to never – not even in the most stressful, action-packed, potentially fatal of circumstances – forget the truth of who we are. As said in the Bhagavad-Gīta:

naiva kiñcit~karomīti yukto manyeta tattvavit |
paśyañ~śṛṇvan~spṛśañ~jighrannaśnan~gacchan~svapañśvasan ||
pralapan-visṛjan~gṛhṇannunmiṣan~nimiṣannapi |
indriyāṇīndriyārtheṣu vartanta iti dhārayan ||

"Even while seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating,
going, sleeping, breathing, speaking, emptying, holding,
opening and closing the eyes, the sage remains centered
in the Self, knowing, 'The senses are moving among the
sense objects, yet I do nothing at all.'"
Bhagavad-Gīta, 5.8-9

This is the awareness that Amma is telling us we need to cultivate. Most of us can intellectually understand Vedānta but when the body experiences pain, we forget the truth 'I am not the body.' Most of us can intellectually understand how we are not the emotions, but when someone wrongs us, we forget this truth and lose our temper. Most of us can even understand that the center of who we are is beyond the intellectual ideas popping in and out of our head, but how many of us can maintain a deficiency in our power of awareness – our inability to remain focused on this teaching as we conduct our lives.

It is through our various mental spiritual practices that we hone our power of concentration. When it is properly developed we can the use that power to maintain awareness regarding our true nature throughout our daily lives. In his comentary on Chāndogya Upaniṣad, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya defines saguṇa meditation as 'establishing a continuous flow of similar modifications of the mind [i.e. thoughts] in relation to some object as presented by the scriptures and uninterrupted by any foreign idea.' Śaṅkara then reveals that Self-realization is also continuance of a mere mental modification – the knowledge that one's true nature is blissful, eternal consciousness. He says that the only difference between this mental modification and other modifications is that when we constantly abide in thoughts of our true nature, it demolishes all sense of division between us, the world, the people around us, and God. With the demolition of these divisions comes the demolition of all the afflictions springing from them, such as anger, depression, loneliness, jealousy and frustration.

This concept of honing the mind through saguṇa meditation and then using that refined mind to focus on the scriptural teachings is explained in Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (2.2.3-4) through a metaphor involving a bow, arrow and target. In essence, the upaniṣad advises us to sharpen the arrow of the mind through saguṇa meditation and then, using the mighty bow of spiritual wisdom that is the upaniṣads, make it merge in the target – imperishable, all pervading, blissful consciousness. The  Gīta also clearly defines the role of saguṇa meditation along the same lines:

tatraikāgraḿ manaḥ kṛtvā yata~cittendriya~kriyaḥ |
upaviśyāsane yuñjyād~yogam~ātma~viśuddhaye ||

"Sitting there on his seat, making the mind one-pointed
and restraining the thinking faculty and the senses, he
should practice yoga for self-purification."
Bhagavad-Gīta, 6.12

Saguṇa meditation is a stepping stone – the 'sharpening of the arrow.' Just like karma yoga, it purifies our mental equipment. Even though karma yoga and saguṇa meditation do not directly bring about Self-realization, one would have to be foolish to say they are not important. They are essential. Without them, we will never be able to attain the goal we are seeking. Our favorite part of Pūja [worship] may be eating the prasād [consecrated offering], but unless we go through all the preceding steps – the invocation, the offerings, the prayers, the ārati, etc. - the prasād in fact is not prasād at all, but just food. Similarily, the fruit of knowledge will only come if we've done the preceding steps. Amma often compares these steps to cleaning the vessel (i.e. the mind) before adding the milk (wisdom). 'If we pour milk into a dirty vessel, the milk will spoil,' Amma says. 'We have to clean the vessel before transferring milk into it. Those who desire to be spiritually uplifted should first try to purify themselves. To purify the mind is to eliminate negative and unnecessary thoughts and to reduce selfishness and desires.'

Some people say they are not interested in performing saguṇa meditation. They say that they will refine their power of concentration using thoughts regarding their true nature. However Śaṅkara says that, at least in the beginning of spiritual life, it is better to improve our power of concentration through these saguṇa meditations. This is because contemplation on something without name or form is extremely subtle and, therefore, all the more difficult. Unless the mind is properly refined, attempts at contemplation on the formless reality often result only in sleep or stupor. On the other hand, saguṇa meditations – concentrating on a form or name of God, on the breath or locations in the body, etc. - are relatively easy. Thus until our power of concentration is perfected, we can use these types of meditation to improve it. […], when one is ready, nirguṇa meditation [meditation on the formless Self] is supposed to be done constantly – even while walking, talking, eating, sitting, etc. With this in mind, it is very relevant that Amma instructs us to not only set aside some time for formal mantra japa (i.e. seated with eyes closed), but also to try to perform it 'with every breath.' In fact, this is preparing our mind for that constant nirguṇa meditation, which comes as the ultimate spiritual practice.

Śaṅkara also says that as our minds become more and more refined through saguṇa meditations they can come to provide us with 'a glimpse of reality of the Self.' Such glimpses will fill us with inspiration to preserve in our practice with more and more intensity and enthusiasm.

The Timeless Path - A Step-by-Step Guide to Spiritual Evolution, Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, M.A. Center, 2014, S. 130-134


Buchtipp: The Timeless Path

Spirituality is often referred to as a path. But where does it begin? Where does it end? And where does it take us? Is the seeker himself the trailblazer--hacking through the jungle with his lone machete? Or is it laid out before us? Are there multiple paths or just one? In The Timeless Path: A Step-By-Step Guide to Spiritual Evolution, Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri elucidates the spiritual path as presented by India's traditional scriptures, showing it to be the one and the same path taught by world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma). Drawing on more than 30 years of experience as one of Amma's senior disciples, and with his own characteristic wit, in The Timeless Path, Swamiji lays out the spiritual journey from beginning to end in clear and simple prose. Simultaneously shattering common misconceptions about spirituality and handing us the building blocks to construct a solid and practical spiritual life, Swamiji brings even abstract spiritual concepts down to earth, creating a book capable of inspiring and guiding spiritual seekers of all levels. © Bild und Text M.A. Center. The Timeless Path - A Step-by-Step Guide to Spiritual Evolution, Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, M.A. Center, 2014

Buchtipp: Amṛtāṣṭakam

Using the quintessential vedantic commentary of Sri Adi Sankaracharya and his own lifetime of living under Amma's tutelage as a guide, Swamiji takes the reader on a heartfelt and insightful exploration of these verses. It is a journey that touches on every aspect of spirituality and, ultimately, drives home the truth that supreme devotion is only possible when the misunderstanding that the devotee and god are two is eradicated. The Bhagavad-Gita is one of the core texts of the indian spiritual tradition. Its 18 chapters present the very essence of spirituality. As Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) says, "The Bhagavad-Gita is verily a distillation of the vedas. It has flowed down to us like the Ganges through the grace of god. Miraculously, even though it is a distillation, it retains the depth and expansiveness of the original. It has thus become regarded as the very symbol of Sanatana Darma." Here, Swami Ramakrishnananda analyzes eight verses from the 12th chapter of the Gita that are referred to collectively as the Amṛtāṣṭakam. In these "Eight Immortal Verses," we find a presentation of the qualities, characteristic and mental attitudes of an individual who has attained to the peak of Spirituality, what the Gita refers to as supreme devotion. Published by the disciples of Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, affectionately known as Mother, or Amma the hugging saint. © Bild und Text M A Center. Amṛtāṣṭakam - A Vedantic Inquiry Into Supreme Devotion, Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, M. A. Center, 2016


Science of Compassion
 Documentary on Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi
ilm von Shekhar Kapur

Conversations on Compassion: Amma @ Stanford University


Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri

Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri is one of the senior disciples of Amma. With characteristic wit and lively examples, he has a captivating way of sharing his experiences and profound spiritual insights, gleaned from nearly three decades of life as a disciple of Amma. He met Amma in 1978 and soon after came to live at Amma's ashram. He has been traveling around the globe with Amma since her first world tour in 1987. Currently, he spends most of his time visiting Amma's ashrams and centers around the world; leading retreats, giving discourses, conducting yoga and meditation classes and organizing the many disaster relief and charitable activities of the organization. Swami Ramakrishnananda is a warm and inspiring presenter who has dedicated his life to sharing Amma's message of love and service to humanity. He has written many books about his experiences with Amma. "Racing Along the Razor's Edge", "Eye of Wisdom", "The Blessed Life", "Ultimate Success", "The Secret of Inner Peace", and "The Timeless Path" are some of them. © Bild und Text M.A. Center


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