Three Questions for Amma

Submitted by Anne Katoski

Amma hug. Amma expresses her love for humanity by ritually hugging thousands of people.

Sri Mata Amritanandamayi is a spiritual leader affectionately known as “Amma,” or “Mother.” For the past 30 years, Amma has dedicated her life to easing the suffering of humanity through a very simple gesture: a hug.

Amma’s outreach takes two forms: hugging and speaking with her millions of followers around the world; and the humanitarian efforts she has inspired. Collectively known as Embracing the World, these humanitarian efforts address disaster relief, free homes for the homeless, community care, food and medicine supply, education and orphanages.

Amma has enthused many communities to extend their hands and hearts to those in need. One long-time devotee I spoke with, Raman Johar, has helped to initiate five groups in the Chicago area. These groups work together with neighboring churches to coordinate monthly food collections for the poor and homeless. Along with these efforts, the youth of Chicago are giving back through an initiative to plant trees.

Jobs. At her tour stop in Chicago, Amma sold goods from a community-based vocational group that she founded, Amrita Self-Reliance, Education and Employment. The program provides training and loans to women who seek to start a business.

When Amma’s 2009 North American tour made a stop in Chicago, I could not miss this chance to see her. I weaved my way to the front of Amma’s line in a state of shock and excitement. When Amma answered my questions about her humanitarian efforts, I saw how her message of compassion guides the way for humanity.

Q: What parts of your humanitarian efforts are most important to you?

A: All parts of the humanitarian activities are equally important to me. It all depends on each situation because sometimes people need water and so then that becomes most important. Other times they need clothing or shelter. … Nothing is small as far as I’m concerned. Suppose an engine of a plane crashes and the plane cannot take off because the vital screw is missing. So because the vital screw is small we will never ignore it. Likewise, as far as creation, everything is significant.

Q: What is your greatest hope for humanity?

A: My greatest hope is that everyone across the globe should wake up to a higher level of consciousness so that there will be more peace and love. Everyone should be able to smile, play around, and celebrate like small children.

Q: Amma, we can learn so much from your selflessness. What steps may one take within themselves in order to find the deep desire to serve others?

A: First and foremost one needs the deep desire to serve humanity, and this desire needs to be sincere and honest. Most importantly one needs to look within and discover that there is an infinite capacity inside one’s self. Once we tap into that realm of consciousness, we can keep on giving. We then begin to take only what is really necessary for ourselves and continue to give to others. … The feeling of “the other” disappears and we will see everything as a part of the whole, as oneness. Suppose there are one hundred pots all filled with water up to the brim. You may see one hundred suns reflected, but in reality there is only one sun. Likewise, people may be different with various cultures, languages, nationalities, caste, sect, creed, but the consciousness is one and the same. Once you realize that, you can serve everyone equally.

(Answers translated by Swami Amritaswarupananda.)

Amma: Embracing the World

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