Mata Amritanandamayi was born in a remote coastal village in Kerala, South India in 1953. Mata Amritanandamayi is known throughout the world as Amma, or Mother, for her selfless love and compassion toward all beings. Her entire life has been dedicated to alleviating the pain of the poor, and those suffering physically and emotionally. coque iphone pas cher Throughout her life, Mata Amritanandamayi has embraced and comforted more than 34 million people. coque iphone 8 Amma inspires, uplifts, and transforms through her physical embrace, her spiritual wisdom and through her global charities, known as Embracing the World.® When asked where she gets the energy to help so many people, she answers: “Where there is true love, anything is effortless.” While Amma is widely regarded as one of India’s foremost spiritual leaders, Amma says that her religion is love. She has never asked anyone to change their religion but only to contemplate the essential principles of their own faith and to try to live accordingly. Even as a small girl, she drew attention with the many hours she spent in deep meditation on the seashore. She also composed devotional songs and could often be seen singing to the divine with heartfelt emotion. Despite her tender age, her compositions revealed remarkable depth and wisdom. When she was nine years old, her mother became ill, and Mata Amritanandamayi was withdrawn from school in order to help with household tasks and the care of her seven siblings. coque iphone pas cher As she went door-to-door gathering food scraps from neighbors for her family’s cows, she was confronted with the intense poverty and suffering that existed in her community, and in the world beyond it. Where Mata Amritanandamayi encountered people in need, she brought them food and clothing from her own home. coque iphone She was undeterred by the scolding and punishment she received from her family for doing so. Amma also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. vente de coque iphone Responding to her affectionate care, they began to call her Amma (Mother). Amma was deeply affected by the profound suffering she witnessed. According to Hinduism, the suffering of the individual is due to his or her own karma — the results of actions performed in the past. coque iphone 7 Amma accepted this concept, but she refused to accept it as a justification for inaction. Amma contemplated the principle of karma until she revealed an even more profound truth, asking a question she continues to ask each of us today. “If it is one man’s karma to suffer, isn’t it our dharma (duty) to help ease his suffering and pain?” With this simple yet profound conviction — that each of us has a responsibility to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate — Amma moved forward with confidence in her life of service and compassionate care for all beings, uniquely expressed by the motherly embrace she offers to all who seek solace in her arms. coque iphone 8 In Amma’s community, however, it was not permissible for a 14-year-old girl to touch others, especially men. Amma explains, “In India, women are expected to remain in the background. It is said that ‘Even the walls should not hear them.’ My family could not understand my way of reaching out to people; they had no idea of the spiritual principles.” But despite adverse reactions, Amma followed her heart, later explaining, “A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering.” Amma says that love expressed is compassion, and compassion means accepting the needs and sorrows of others as one’s own.
Fully Present by Sue Smalley & Diana Winston
Fully Present: The Science, Art and Practice of Mindfulness by Sue Smalley, PhD and Diana Winston Mindfulness — the art of paying attention with an open and curious mind to present-moment experiences—has attracted ever-growing interest and tens of thousands of practitioners, who have come to the discipline from both within and outside the Buddhist tradition. coque iphone pas cher In Fully Present, leading mindfulness researchers and educators Dr. coque iphone Sue Smalley and Diana Winston provide an all-in-one guide for anyone interested in bringing mindfulness to daily life as a means of enhancing well-being. Fully Present provides both a scientific explanation for how mindfulness positively and powerfully affects the brain and the body as well as practical guidance to develop both a practice and mindfulness in daily living, not only through meditation but also during daily experiences, such as waiting in line at the supermarket, exercising, or facing difficult news.
Making Your Body Your Temple
Author: by Susanna Harwood Rubin
Think of your body as the temple in which you do your spiritual practices. So instead of simply rolling out your mat or getting to the studio, make the process a part of it. The walk or drive you take to get there, the organizing of your time in order to make it happen, the delaying of calls and emails so that you can squeeze some asana into your overcrowded day — think of these activities as preparatory. Dressing for the temple, walking toward the temple, entering the temple. It is all a slow move inward.
From the minute you decide to practice asana, decide that that moment is where the practice begins. Even if you have a full day of work to get through or a commute to the studio, when you think, “In four hours I’ll go to class,” let that thought initiate the practice itself. Then everything you do between that initial thought and your body moving on your mat is a gathering up of materials, a bathing, a dressing, a lighting of candles, an integral preparatory part of a greater whole.
Let this shift in thinking infuse your daily activities with intentionality. There is a reason why we set an intention at the beginning of our practice. We want our movement to carry meaning. We want more than simply, “Step your right foot forward for Warrior I.” When movement carries conscious meaning, it becomes far more than simply movement.
I went through a dramatic life shift last year due to unexpected knee surgery that overturned my physical practice as well as necessitating a reconfiguration of my approach to teaching yoga asana. Since my practice was severely limited as I healed, I took the time in which my body was so unusually constrained to refine my verbal instructions so I could just sit while teaching, as I ironically invited people into their bodies through my words. I couldn’t say, as I usually did, “Oh, just do it like this,” then kick out a quick demo.
As a friend of mine observed, for the first time asana was actually difficult for me. I had to pause, plan, and think in a new way. I learned a lot from the experience and have written and taught extensively about it. But its relevance to what I’m writing now is the fact that everything was very slowed down for me, since my days had to be in service to my knee. So parts of my day I had not previously associated with my teaching practice now had to become an integral part of it.
I could no longer dash out the door of my apartment and speed walk down to Virayoga, where I teach weekly classes, giving the studio manager palpitations as I bounced into the studio my usual five minutes before class. I had to leave early and walk slowly and make the getting to the studio a part of my personal ritual. I spent a year learning a lesson about slowness, thoughtfulness, and intentionality.
I regularly ask my students, “Can you think of your practice as prayer?” Think of each asana as a bead on a mala, each an opportunity to touch something you love. Your breath is the thread connecting pose to pose, stringing together the beads of your practice so that you can hold your intention in different ways, in different containers, seeing which form offers the most meaning for you today.
Choose to make every thought, movement, and gesture toward your practice a part of your practice. And here’s a thought: Even if you don’t get to your mat, you are still engaged in your practice. It’s a much more compassionate way of thinking, and that should be part of your process as well. Try it.
Make your body your temple.
Make your asana your ritual.
Let your breath be your prayer.
Originally published in Elephant Journal
Becoming Christian Mystics Again
Author: Matthew Fox
Albert Einstein was asked toward the end of his life if he had any regrets. He answered: “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” This is a significant confession, coming as it does from one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th century, a man who moved beyond the modern science of Newton and ushered in a postmodern science and consciousness.
In the West, the modern age (meaning the 16th to mid-20th centuries) was not only ignorant of, but actually hostile to, mysticism. As Theodore Roszak has put it, “The Enlightenment held mysticism up for ridicule as the worst offense against science and reason.” Still today, both education and religion are often hostile to mysticism. Fundamentalism by definition is antimystical or distorts mysticism, and much of liberal theology and religion is so academic and left-brained that it numbs and ignores the right brain, which is our mystical brain. Seminaries teach few practices to access our mysticism. This is why many find religion so boring — it lacks the adventure and inner exploration that our souls yearn for. As St. John of the Cross said, “Launch out into the deep.”
This launching into the depths — into the deep ocean of the unconscious and of the Great Self, which is connected to all things and to the Creator — often gets stymied by Western religious dogma, guilt trips and institutional churchiness. The mystic gets starved. Patriarchal culture by itself is unable to tap into the deep feminine aspects of Divine Wisdom and Compassion and the heart. But the mystics, male and female, do not present a one-sided reality, as Patriarchy does. The yin/yang, female/male dialectic is alive and well in the mystical tradition. God as Mother is honored along with God as Father. Through this, mystics seek wisdom, not mere knowledge.
The West remains so out of touch with its own mystical tradition that many Westerners seeking mysticism still feel they have to go East to find it. While this can work for many brave and generous individuals, it cannot work for the entire culture. Carl Jung warned us that “we westerners cannot be pirates thieving wisdom from foreign shores that it has taken them centuries to develop as if our own culture was an error outlived.”
Is Western culture an “error outlived”? Or is there wisdom deep within our roots that can be accessed anew and that can give us strength and understanding at this critical time when so much is falling apart the world over, when climate change and destruction of the earth accelerates and so many species are disappearing, while our banking systems and economic belief systems, our forms of education and forms of worship, are failing?
I believe that there is great wisdom in our species and in Western spiritual traditions, but that this needs a new birth and a fresh beginning. As a Westerner I must begin where I stand within my own culture and its traditions. This is where the Christian Mystics come in. We in the West must take these insights into our hearts on a regular basis, allow them to play in the heart, and then take them into our work and citizenship and family and community. This is how all healthy and deep awakenings happen; they begin with the heart and flow out from there.
The crises we find ourselves in as a species require that as a species we shake up all our institutions — including our religious ones — and reinvent them. Change is necessary for our survival, and we often turn to the mystics at critical times like this. Jung said: “Only the mystics bring what is creative to religion itself.” Jesus was a mystic shaking up his religion and the Roman empire; Buddha was a mystic who shook up the prevailing Hinduism of his day; Gandhi was a mystic shaking up Hinduism and challenging the British empire; and Martin Luther King Jr. shook up his tradition and America’s segregationist society. The mystics walk their talk and talk (often in memorable poetic phraseology) their walk.
For instance, this being the season of Earth Day, we might listen to the 12th century Abbess Hildegard of Bingen who was an amazing musician, painter, healer, writer (she wrote 10 books), scientist and poet. She posits an erotic relationship between the Divine and nature when she says: “As the Creator loves his creation, so creation loves the creator. Creation, of course, was fashioned to be adorned, to be showered, to be gifted with the love of the creator. The entire world has been embraced by this kiss.”
Fr. Bede Griffiths was an English Benedictine monk who spent 50 years in India living and building up an ashram that was Christian and, in many respects, Hindu. He wrote a number of books on the coming together of Eastern and Western mysticism.
“Perhaps this is the deepest impression left by life in India, the sense of the sacred as something pervading the whole order of nature. Every hill and tree and river is holy, and the simplest human acts of eating and drinking, still more of birth and marriage, have all retained their sacred character. … It is there that the West need to learn form the East the sense of the ‘holy,’ of a transcendent mystery which is immanent in everything and which gives an ultimate meaning to life…”
Thomas Berry was an American priest in the Passionist Order who called himself a “geologian.” A student of world religions and of contemporary science, he was a great ecological prophet as is clear in his books, The Dream of the Earth and The Great Work, where he warns of the work we must do to reinvent our educational, economic, political and religious systems if we are to be a sustainable species on this endangered planet.
“The human venture depends absolutely on this quality of awe and reverence and joy in the Earth and all that lives and grows upon the Earth. … In the end the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration. It is all an exuberant expression of existence itself … A way is opening for each person to receive the total spiritual heritage of the human community as well as the total spiritual heritage of the universe. Within this context the religious antagonisms of the past can be overcome, the particular traditions can be vitalized, and the feeling of presence to a sacred universe can appear once more to dynamize and sustain human affairs.”
Deep down, each one of us is a mystic. When we tap into that energy we become alive again and we give birth. From the creativity that we release is born the prophetic vision and work that we all aspire to realize as our gift to the world. We want to serve in whatever capacity we can. Getting in touch with the mystic inside is the beginning of our deep service.
Matthew Fox is the author of 28 books including ‘Original Blessing,’ ‘The Reinvention of Work,’ ‘The Hidden Spirituality of Men’, and most recently ‘Christian Mystics,’ of which this post is an excerpt.
Robert Thurman Video Interview
Let’s Talk with Dr. Gail Gross (episode 210). Dr. Gail Gross interviews Robert Thurman, former Tibetan Buddhist monk and author.