Amma’s Letter:  April 24th, 2007

Divine Souls - Chicklets and Eaglets!                                                               

April is a quiet month for us, catching up, throwing out and letting go.  This year it was a movement month with all of us moving out on long journeys, all in different directions.  The biggest journey was Ananda’s journey to Italy and back.  That will be reported in June YOGA LIFE.  April is a month when I clean my desk - Yes!  It is clean!  April is the month when I can reach out and pet the little eaglets who soar the skies, looking for a place to nest, to rest, before they exercise their two wings of Viveka (discrimination) and Vairagya (detachment) once again on daily flights into Yogic - Bhogic living!  The month is coming soon to an end - today is April 23rd and back to back activity which bubbles ferociously in our Ghatasha (pot) again, boiling the spirit to make it strong and tough.  Before I get caught up in new whirlwinds and tsunamis, I want to flash out at least one more letter to you all - to encourage you to hold on to your Yoga life - line with us!  You are a kite and I am the person holding the other end of the string as you soar the skies!  You are the boat rocking wildly in the turbulent ocean of Samkara and the teachings are the anchor keeping you fixed to one spot.  You are the sailor and the Guru is the lode - star by which you can ensure your direction!

One of the students wrote me wistfully that sometimes during the course she felt neglected.  Then she realized that I wanted her to be strong enough to stand on her own two feet!  I responded by saying the Guru - Symbol - Figure is not a wall to lean upon. Nor is it he wall to beat your head upon.  The Guru is the wall you must leap over!  That leap is the exercise one needs to create strength, skill, flexibility, the ability to bounce and spring, courage - all the qualities necessary for Yogic living!  I have composed four stories for all you fresh little eaglets (and some who were hatched long ago).  I hope they help out to live!  I know! They helped me! 

Affectionately yours in Yoga,


First Story - The Perils of Foresight

A news item recently reported a tragic accident.  Thirteen Village Officers were traveling by van in Kanchipuram near Pondicherry.  The road ran along side a railway track.  A train was coming from the same direction, and the driver tried to out run the train and go across the tracks at a level crossing before the train reached it to avoid waiting for the train.  He did not succeed.  The train hit the van and all fourteen persons were instantly killed, smashed beyond recognition.  I read the item as I drank my morning coffee and shook my head with a sigh.  Did not even one of those thirteen intelligent community leaders have the brains or guts to tell the driver to stop and wait for the train?  Why did they not speak up at the driver’s stupidity?  Were they embarrassed to correct the driver’s arrogant foolhardiness?  Were they afraid of being seen as cowardly unable to take risks?  Did they feel the driver’s behaviour was none of their business?  Did they just resign themselves to the rest of the crowd’s placid acceptance of the dangerous maneuver?  Whatever happened, the foolish act was committed, ending in tragedy and fourteen families lost their bread winners, husbands and fathers.  Thinking these thoughts on the incident, my mind stepped a foot further back and saw a larger picture.  What if one of the persons in that van could have seen the danger clearly and forced the driver to stop at the crossing and wait for the train to pass by?  The whole scenario changes.  Everyone in the bus fidgets, chafing at the mouth for the ten to fifteen minute delay caused by the passing train.  Some perhaps would have turned on the outspoken person saying, “How foolish you are! We would have been across the tracks and on the road by now!  You are always cautioning us unnecessarily and causing problems.  Why didn’t you mind your own business?  We are now sitting here in the hot sun!”  The driver would be siting behind the wheel, fuming and seething at the insult of his capacities.  “I’ll get even with that busy-body,” he would have thought.  “Just wait!  Who does he think he is?  I have been driving all these years without a mishap.  I know my business!  My judgment is clear!  Wait till I get a chance!  I’ll do him in.”  The train would have passed by, the van crossed the track, and everyone would have returned home safely, in their hearts, cursing the over-cautious fellow passenger who had the courage and foresight to avert a tragedy.  The Yogi has power to ‘avoid miseries which have not yet come’ (Yoga Sutra, V. 16, Ch. II)  But, the real Yogi is the most misunderstood of all men.  That is that he must suffer for his wisdom.  He must remain silent and accept that he will always be misunderstood by the common man.  Yet, the Yogi is still bound by Yama / Niyama / Dharma to act as he sees fit, and be of benefit to a world which will revile him / her as a misfit and a trouble - maker!

Second Story:  Those Who Have a Light Must See

I was riding my scooter about 9pm on a moonless night on the East Coast Highway on my home to the Ashram.  As per my habit I was driving very slowly.  The road lights were off and there weas zero visibility, except for the feeble headlight of my scooter.  I was on my side of the road, driving next to the edge, as usual.  Suddenly, my scooter struck something.  I grabbed my scooter bars and avoided falling over, but hurt my knee as I crashed against the front wheel, painfully.  I caught my balance and stopped.  Loud cursing came out of the darkness as I saw what I had hit, a cycle rickshaw, with a flat board platform to transport various materials.

It was manned by a grisly old grey coolie with a big turban, bare-chested, wearing dhohti.  I had struck the front wheel of his cycle rickshaw.  He was driving without any light, on the wrong side of the road, right at me!  I saw his ignorance and was just shocked at his anger at me, as though it all was my fault  either of us was hurt, and damage was perhaps only a few scratches to our vehicles and to my knees.  I veered to the side, prepared to ride on and leave well enough alone.  But, it was not o be!  He was furious!  He grabbed my scooter steering bars and refused to let me pass!  “What are you doing!  You hit me!  “He shouted in Tamil!  “You pay me compensation for this damage!”  “But,” I sputtered astonished, for he was clearly in the wrong.  “You are on the wrong side of the road, going the wrong direction in my lane!  And, you don’t have a light!  How could I know you were coming?  How could I see you?”  He erupted in volcanic fury!  “You have a light!  You should have seen me!  So!  It is all your fault!”  Fortunately at that critical moment when it appeared he might even hit me, some village men also known to me emerged out of the darkness, grabbed the old man by his arms, and gestured me to go!  Which I gladly did.  But!  It caused me to ponder!  I learned a terrific evolutionary lesson from it all!  When one has an accidental encounter with an ignorant man, one must be extremely careful!  For the wise man, the one who is able to see, is always more responsible for the outcome than the ignorant man who lives in darkness and walks blindly through life.  Those who live in light have more karmic responsibility than those who live in darkness, for they are able to see and the ignorant do not!  Therefore, when moving amongst ignorant men and women, one must be willing to take responsibility not only for one’s own movements, but also for theirs!  After all!  The wise ones have the light!

Third Story:  Chickens and Evolution

  1. Q. Why does a chicken cross the road in front of a speeding car?  A. Because it wants to get to the other side!  This is the sole motivation of the ignorant animal - reptilian brain.  Do not look for deeper motivations.  They do not exist!

An egg had been fertilized and incubated and hatched by its mother hen.  The little chick was trying to poke its way out of the shell.  It pecked and pecked at the shell with its little beak, trying to find its way out of its prison in an effort to be born!  I was hard work!  It pecked and pecked!  A very kind compassionate, loving, sensitive human lady was watching this process.  She felt sorry for the chick, that it was trying so hard to break through its shell without success.  She decided to help it.  So, she took a small stick, and broke the shell and said kindly.  “Dear little chick.  Now you are free.  Come out.”  The little chick emerged, faltered a few steps.  but, because it could not hold its head erect, it stumbled and then, fell down with its head dropping against is chest.  It soon died.  Unable to lift its head, unable to move.  Why so?  Because its neck muscles were not strong enough to hold its head erect.  The neck muscles were weak, because the neck was deprived of its needed exercise of pecking against its shell to break it open.  The well meaning but ignorant lady in her kindness killed it!  Only the wise are capable of truly helping another and sometimes, struggle produces strength.  The best help is often no help at all for without that struggle, the organism is weakened and dies.

Fourth Story:  Since I can’t believe my luck, I can’t believe its True.

Deepika wrote in her sweet parting thank you note:  “I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have stumbled in this incredible lineage (Paramparai) I have to keep pinching myself to make sure its real!  It’s too good to be true”  What a common feeling - we all know it.  Something happens to us - we receive something of great value - unexpected, unearned.  We are having an incredible time.  What do we think?  “It can’t last!  There must be a catch somewhere”  Just why can’t we believe our good luck?  this is a mystery.  There is a Puranic story which illustrates the pit falls of the human negative thought forms.  A man decided to set out from his village to seek the Swayamtaka Gem - the Wish Fulfilling Jewel, which was part of his community’s lore.  The Gem was so potent, it could grant any wish.  He prepared himself for a long journey and arduous search.  The first day out from his village, he prepared himself a safe corner in the forest, under a tree, to sleep.  As he lay down, he saw a radiance shining from under nearby bushes. He pulled back the leaves and what did he see?  A gem of immense splendour, emitting an ethereal light.  Multi-coloured, its overpowering beauty was hypnotic.  “O my Lord” thought the villager.  “It looks like the Swayantaka Gem itself?  Could it be?  How could I find it so quickly, so easily?  Confused and frightened, he backed away thinking.  “It cannot be the gem.  It must be some kind of poisonous material set by a devil to trick and trap travelers like me.  And he ran away from the spot as fast as he could.  After a sleep in another place far away, he rose the next morning and began his search in earnest.  He journeyed over hill and dale through jungles and deserts and dense forests  He braved snakes and tigers, rains and droughts, strong winds and airless places.  After twenty long years, one evening he sat dejected, thinking, “I will give up this mad search.  Let me return home.  Mere mortals can never find that Divine Jewel.  “Just as he thought this, from the corner of his eye he caught an immense burst of light.  He ran to the spot.  There nestled under the leaves, lay a huge jewel of ethereal splendour.  “O my Lord”, he thought  “I have finally found the gem”.  He rushed to the jewel, picked it up, hugged it to his bosom with high, unbounded delight - and promptly- fell dead.  The second stone was a poisonous jewel placed to kill travelers by Rakshashas to enable them to rob the pilgrims.  Indeed.  The very first gem he had seen , just one day’s journey from his home was the real Swayantaka Gem, but he was too foolish, too skeptical to believe that something so valuable could lay so closely at hand.

We think unless something is difficult to get, it has no value. We think the path to the Divine is far away and through a tortuous route, when in fact, the Divine is as close as our own face and the route to that experience is short, direct and straight in-front of us!

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