Amma’s Letter:  April 15th, 2008

Divine Family World Wide:  Namastey!                                                                 

Our six month sadhana drew to an excellent conclusion on March 25th with Guru Dakshina.  A beautiful mellow quiet night concluded a week of more rambunctious activities.  We were blessed this year with soft and sensitive souls who were capable of expressing their love and respect for this Paramparai in daily life actions, speech and attitudes.  It was the best six month Sadhana to date.  Nalini as usual was a great support to me.  She grows in grace, dignity and beauty with every passing year.  The two grand children enlivened the Ashram atmosphere and kept everyone amused with their antics.  We had a busy, fulfilling year and it has been concluded beautifully.  One ending enables a new beginning, and so we look forward to our summer schedule which will include the May Yoga and Dance Intensive at the City Centre, two Dance Arrangetram (debuts) for two young students; our Annual Day of Yoganjali Natyalayam and the Annual Dance Drama.  As well, we have two Yoga Sadhana groups coming one the last week in June from Australia led by Niraimathi and one coming from Berlin led by Leena Elo.  These will be ten-day courses, specially designed for the groups.

I encourage you to sustain the minimum support for Swamiji’s work especially if you feel his teachings have benefitted your own life or if you are reaping any personal rewards from your exposure to this ancient knowledge.  Especially if you are using these teachings professionally as part of a career and means of livelihood, there should be some dakshina in some form back to the Guru.  This is part of Dharma, and without Dharma there is no Yoga!  As I grow older, I understand why the Rishis termed ingratitude as the worst sin of all.  It is the last bastion of the ego, which refuses to acknowledge the debts it owes.  One of our students Jeremy Dixon of UK has written beautifully on this idea.  I quote below some of his thoughts.

“It has taken me a long time in m life to understand gratitude.  In English it can seem such a small, innocuous word, a limp version of thank you.  However, gratitude is not about being coerced by your mother into sending a thank you letter to an elderly, little-seen aunt for her Christmas present of woolly socks.  And gratitude is not confined to nodding a quick thanks to someone for holding a door open as you pass through with a heavy pile of books.  No, to truly understand gratitude means being able to comprehend just what a fantastic, motivating, positive universal force for personal evolution gratitude can be.

I think I only really became aware of the power of gratitude during my last trip to India in August las year.  I had such a fantastic time met such wonderful people and learnt so much that I seemed to feel almost possessed by gratitude from the very core of my being.  I then tried to work out where exactly this gratitude came from and where it should be directed.  Was it to Kalavathy as my teacher?  Was it to Amma and Doctor Ananda for allowing me to stay at the Ashram?  Or was it to Swami for his knowledge?  Of  course I realized that I was profoundly grateful to them all.  But then it didn’t stop there.  I realized I should be grateful to my employers for letting me take a month off to visit India.  I should be grateful to the pilots who flew the planes to take me there.  I should be grateful for the people who built the roads that I traveled down. taking me to Pondicherry.  The answer I eventually arrived at was that I had to be grateful to everyone and everything everywhere.  I needed to be grateful to the Universe for allowing me to experience this life I was living at this point in time  And so, it started to feel to me, that to show ingratitude in any way was almost to deny the Universe, to deny the energies that support us, and to deny yourself and your life.  I think this is why the Gurus would rate Droga (ingratitude) as such a terrible sin. 

If you are ungrateful, then you are externalizing everything you are unhappy with and so don’t have to take any responsibility for it yourself.  You have an awful boss.  All the other car drivers in the world are terrible, your parents didn’t save enough money to send you to the best university etc. being ungrateful allows your ego to bloom, because you are always right and everyone else is wrong.

To grow in Yoga is a process of gradually diminishing your ego.  It has helped you get this far along the path, but you don’t need it anymore.  But of course the ego is not happy with this situation, it wants to continue as it has always been and will fight any attempt to diminish its power.

This is why the ego loves ingratitude because by denying the debts one owes and failing to give the Universe the proper thanks and recognition it deserves, you are blocking your own spiritual growth and are allowing the ego o retain its dominant position.

It we can recognize the gratitude we owe to those things we may have overlooked, like just being able to walk, smell, touch then our capacity for gratitude can grow to encompass all the positive people in our lives and the situations we find ourselves in.  The next stage is to be grateful to those aspects of our lives that seem negative, the bully, the liar, the bad holiday, because all of these experiences have helped us to grow in some way.  And when we grow spiritually, then we don’t need an ego, so it is no wonder the ego loves ingratitude so much, and that the Gurus have such a poor view of it.”

That sense that one has received something of great value,  will in noble souls, be accompanied by a desire to repay the debt and express one’s gratitude.  In Hindu concepts this is called Seva or offering service out of a sense of gratitude.  Ignoble souls will behave in the opposite way, “biting the hand that feeds them.”  In fact that is an old ego trick.  If one can paint the person to whom one owes a debt black then the ego feels justified to hate one’s benefactor and hence escape feeling gratitude.  It is called giving the dog a bad name before you kill it, and part of the ego’s basic arsenal of weapons. 

We are encouraging our students to cultivate an attitude of Seva in order to strengthen the Shakti of the Paramparai.  The least Seva which can be offered to Swamiji is to maintain the annual membership in Yoga LIfe and hence, demonstrate one’s support for his teachings, life and work.  Your support even in this small way encourages us to continue our work.  Many offer other greater forms of Seva, but one must content oneself in this regard by quoting Karl Marx:  From each according to his ability.  To each according to his need.

Below I give a general musing on the uniqueness of the Ashram experience.

Ashram living is a big transition in consciousness, a shift from outer to inner evolutionary work.  An elevation from gross material learning experiences to more subtle inner instruction.  It is a movement away from suffering and learning in the School of Hard Knocks in the worldly life to dealing with the Samskaras directly and internally which have produced the difficult outer circumstances.  Outwardly the Ashram environment is about as Yogically perfect as it can be.  But inwardly each person may be suffering the pangs and arrows of outrageous fortune (past Karmic deeds).  The Ashram is a transition place in which one learns to deal with the cause of the problem (one’s very own self and all its past Karma) rather than the effects of and projections of that Karma (bad relationships, meaninglessness, loss of job, instability of finance, poor health, depression unhappiness etc). In many ways the external life and the School of Hard Knocks is easier, because one can see, hear, taste, touch and smell the enemy.  It is sensually real.  If you don’ have a job.  It is a real problem.  If you don’t have money or your husband divorces you or you are sick or have a accident, it is a real problem.  But what if you live in a lovely, green, quiet Ashram with good air, water, tremendous food, little physical work to do, no juggling of schedules or catching of buses at with good Yogic Sadhana in a natural routine?  And you still feel as miserable, sick and unhappy as you would if you had real problems?  Then, you have to look within and find out what mental impressions are creating all the external problems.  Well that is a tough one.  And that is the crux of the Ashram Sadhana.  The blame game is over once you walk through the door.  The first step is to take total responsibility for everything which happens to you.  Are you sick?  You made yourself sick?  Are you unhappy?  You made yourself unhappy.  Are you poverty stricken?  You have made yourself poor.  You don’t have problems.  You are the problem.  The Buddha said also the same thing “Yo! Ye who suffer! Listen!  Ye suffer from yourselves!”  Well.  This is the real first inward step.  To take charge of our own lives, thoughts, emotions and feelings.  Interestingly enough, Carl Gustaf Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, also realized this.  His explanation is quite Yogic.

Jung the Yogi:  Carl Gustav Jung, the late Swiss, psychiatrist espoused many Yogic truths in his career.  He was highly influenced by India, Hinduism and Yoga though he did not openly admit it.  His insights were expressed in Western terms, but are as old as the hills in Yogic literature.  One of his pet theories was a variation on the ancient karmic idea that mind produces its own world - that each person in effect creates his/her own reality, based on Samskara and karmic circumstances manifest the innate power of nature which forces each individual to pay his/her debt, or reap the fruits of what they have sown.  If one does not root out the impressions of mind, those impressions will create circumstances which force one to deal directly with them externally.  One creates one’s world and the people and circumstances according to the lessons one must learn.

Dr. Jung used the term Shadow to indicate everything in man which is unconscious, repressed, undeveloped and denied.  It has another more cheerful side as it also indicates the positive undeveloped potential within each human being.  another synonym for Shadow is archetype which means an ancient primordial symbol - concept typical in the unconsciousness of all the human race.

In the words of Dr. Jung “The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate.  That is to say, when the individual remains divided, and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and he will be torn into opposing halves.”

Jung said that what is within us will also be outside of us, inner states of consciousness will be reflected in outer situations time and time again.  If we are willing to look at the significance of these repeating patterns, we will see the synchronicity of events and situations.  (From Yoga Life, April 2008).

And last but not least, I add some more general news!

An amazing cluster of events arranged themselves in the heavens of our existence during the last days like constellations in the vast dark nights.  Most of these you can share with us through the pages of Yoga Life.  We have started out February with a big bang as usual, the overnight Aum chanting for the 133rd birth anniversary of Swami Kanakananda, followed in the morning with a very lovely, pure, clean and skillful Homa conducted by Dr. Ananda and beautiful Sanskrit chanting led by Ananda and Devasena.  Then it was - go, go, go into the intense schedule of the annual Yantra Course.  This year we added to the intensity by putting a specially structured Yoga Chikitsa class from 11am to 1pm.  Since the Yantra class was from 4pm to 6pm daily, this led to a back-to-back schedule for everyone.

In addition to the five members of the Six Month course, Sri Devi of Switzerland, Christoph of France, Cathy Davis of UK and Muralidharan of Australia joined for the month.  Some of our local students joined classes bring the number to a comfortable brim-fill feeling.  We designed the Yoga Chikitsa around the format of Patient-therapist chikitsa, Partner chikitsa, Self chikitsa, Mudra chikitsa and mantra chikitsa.  The framework was inspiring and Nalini, Cathy, myself and Ananda pooled our memories and retrieved many old practices long stored away in our memory cellars (cellular memories).  It was amazing what surfaced and how exciting it all became.  We had a wonderfully gifted young artist - Omaru - from Mexico who drew beautiful illustrations of the practices and Sri Devi with her sensitive camera work look many photos.  One of the projects was to construct a Yoga Chikitsa manual at the end of the course, which is now compiled in book form.  It is beautiful and unique.

On top of that so many other events were simultaneously being played on other channels.  We choreographed one entirely new dance drama Gnana Sambandar on the life of one of the foremost 63 Nayanmars (holy saints of South Indian Savism) which premiered at the World Saivite Conference Feruary 18th in Pondicherry.  The five days before that we had a three-hour Bharat Natyam Dance Extravanganza fo a wedding, and the day after that, February 19th another three-hour cultural exravaganza cum buffet feast for 70 persons at ICER, one of or favourite celebration sites.  The February 19th was on request of Thor and Pollina, students of John Mumford, who were leading a group of ten students of Pollina from Slovenia on a tour of India.  Pollinia and Thor had enjoyed similar nights during the Yantra course with John in previous years and wanted to give their students that “Positive Pratyahara Sensual Treat”.  We also invited the ten young university students from the USA who are participating in the Study India Programme through Pondy University with us, so it was a gala grand high evening.  That week took lot of skillful juggling.  It also coincided with the birthday of one of the six month students Bhawana’s birthday, so we had a birthday cake and Ananda (who was on stage presenting a Carnatic Vocal Concert, sang Bhawana (from Morroco, Austria and France) Happy Birthday in carnatic vocal music style.  It was just great and Bhawana enjoyed her best every birthday (her words).

The Yantra course was also very intense this year as Ananda attacked it like a tiger, pouncing on the material and tearing it o bits, so all could digest its treasures.  On February 22nd Devsena traveled to Andra Pradesh for a week of rituals marking the first year anniversary of her father’s death.  The two little grand children stayed at IC”ER with me and they were geat.  We managed them with lots of help from Nalini and Kumar.  On February 25th Ananda flew to Visak, AP to participate in the most important ceremony of Devasena’s father’s ritual .  On February 26th/27th and 28th he went to Delhi to play a leading role in a conference called by health Ministry to standardize Yoga curriculum and accreditation procedure or teacher’s and institutions.  On February 28th, he flew back to Pondy and as he walked in the door at 3am, I walked out on my way to Delhi to participate in the same conference.  So I was in Delhi February 28th to March 2nd.  I played a leading role, and was valedictory speaker for the conference attended by the Union Health Minister and the Joint Secretary health  Important stuff on many levels

Government pays for our airfare axi and expenses for those trips so it is good al around for us.  I returned to Pondy to a big fat mountain of papers on my desk.  I might mention that our Sri Kambliswamy Madam case is now being heard in the Supreme Court of India after 22 years.  So you can imagine all the paper work and consultation which is going on simultaneously with our Supreme Court Advocate.  I have accepted that the verdict given by the Respected judges will be the wish of Sri Kambliswamy Himself - we have done what we could do, and fought the good fight.  The results are not in our hands.  the property is now worth millions of dollars as it is in central Pondicherry and worldly men will nt let go of such an opportunity (golden goose) easily.  Dirty tricks abound on all sides.  guru is there and he must protect himself and manifest his own will.

Now, can you understand why I am a bit behind on al my responses to the loving mail which comes to me from our sweet world wide Yogic family.

The 39th Annual International Yoga Teacher Training Course came to a great conclusion on march 25th, 2008  The students this year have been wonderful and I will say it is the best sadhana I have enjoyed in a long time leading them through these six months.  They have been strong, loving, affectionate disciplined and dedicated and have cooperated wholeheartedly at every moment.  May we continue to attract such great souls in all times to come who can share this unusual experience with the correct spirit.  We held our graduation banquet on March 23rd at Anamalai Hotel and March 25th Guru Dakshina at ICYER was touching, soft, sentimental night.  Such a lovely end to a lovely six months journey together.  Now all have flown the nest, except Nalini and the Ashram is very quiet except for the shrieks of two little monkeys.

All my love to you, as you struggle on the path.  The Sadhana refines itself as the years pass - and life becomes sukham, satwic and sahaj - pleasant, pure and natural  May you be ever happy and at your ease.  May you be joyful and live in safety.  I hope you have been able to find some time in the day, to sit down with a refreshing drink and share this verbal satsangha with me.  We would always welcome you back for a visit sadhana with us in the ashram.

I hope you feel at the end of this long msissive that you had a good dose of the Ashram experience.  Keep us in your hearts.  Keep Swamiji in your life.  when you live his teachings, he lives in you.

Affectionately yours in Yoga,


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