Healing the Mother

My first exposure to Amma, hugging Ammachi, was not very remarkable.  I took 3 hours off work in Manhattan to see if I could go get a hug or darshan.  As I sat in the large hallway with thousands of people around me waiting for a hug, I thought to myself, “I really don’t need a hug that badly.”  And at that time, they gave out tokens with your number on it and mine had 1649 or something like this.  My three hours off work would not cut it as she had just gone through a couple of hundred people.

So I watched her hug people, one after the other.  And then I began to cry.  There is really nothing like watching anyone hug thousands of people with great love, joy and affection.  Nothing like it.  So I didn’t get a hug that year, but for years after, I made sure to get darshan with Amma.

But before I made sure to take 3 days off instead of 3 hours for a hug, I wondered at needing another teacher, Amma, as I already had a Guru.  Guruji, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D., is and was, for all intents and purposes a very powerful Guru to me.  Indelible teachings.  He is not in his physical body and I realize I have confused many people by explaining that Guruji “left his body” in 1993 – which is another way to say he attained Mahasamadhi.  Oh such fun to explain the inexplicable.  But true to Guruji’s way of teaching from the formless, the unmanifest, one of my fellow Guruji devotees decided to put me aside and tell me a story.

It’s a personal, mystical story.  So breathe in and out a moment before you read this.

She told me that she thought about getting initiated by Ammachi and decided against it because, well, she already had a Guru in Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati.  While driving away from the hall that housed Ammachi and her programs, she heard a very loud and persistent voice repeat, “Do you not think I cannot come to you through woman Guru?”

Ah.  When she told me.  I smiled.  I knew that one.  It’s only happened to me once or twice, but suddenly a message enters from nowhere and repeats itself for an hour or two in a voice so unique and so loudly in my being that I can only ascribe to Guruji.  And so I heeded the telling of the story to me as a nudge from Guruji to go to the two women Gurus – Ammachi and Amma Sri Karunamayi – so that I may…now that I look at it all, heal the archetype of the Mother.

Healing the Mother archetype.  Mind you.  We have to be careful in healing and consciousness communities about our language.  Because, ahem, the Mother is quite fine, intact and all-powerful.  Mother Nature will always win, as I am fond of saying.  And I write this on the advent of Navaratri, the 9 day festival of worshiping the Devi, the Goddess, the Mother archetypes, the almighty Durga.

But what I needed to heal and I believe, we all need to heal, is our own relationship to the Mother, not just our own biological Mother, but Mother Earth, the Mother of Mothers, the Mother of the Universe, the divine lady who gives birth and opens up her body so that we may all live.  I knew this quite consciously when I decided to spend some time with the Amma(s).  Amma simply means Mother.  And I knew I needed to face my own challenging patterns with my biological mother, with my parents, with my partners, significant others and ultimately with myself.  If Guruji was behind this relationship, I knew I would be in for a ride that would rock me to the core of my spirit and back.

And certainly, this is what I have been on.  And continue to be on.

When you get darshan from Ammachi, they ask you for your birth language.  And the reason for this is that she actually repeats this word in your ear (if not other mantras, I’ve had some pretty profound Devi names whispered in my ear as I get darshan from Amma – but I can’t disclose these as they are between me and the Mother).  As I was born in a polyglot family that spoke a few languages to me from birth, I just say whichever language comes most freely to me each year.  One year, they asked me where I was from and I said “the Philippines,”  which somehow got translated into “Portuguese” – and I had to explain to the frantic volunteers around Amma that I didn’t say Portuguese — but they just couldn’t hear “the Philippines,” as they were all so anxious that year, so Portuguese it was!  But true to Ammachi’s divine nature, another year, she did say to me in very plain Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, again and again: “anak kita” — which means “you are my child.”

Goosebumps.

Historically, I have had a very difficult relationship with my biological mother. And I must say that being with the Amma(s), my daily yoga practices and my work in resonance re-patterning therapy has truly healed my relationship to my mom.   What I have learned in therapy is that the ways in which we are parented is often repeated in our significant, most intimate relationships.  In yoga, we have a term “samskaras” for negative patterns that we naturally flow through because we are accustomed to them.  These samskaras set us up for failure, defeat, addictions, difficulties, suffering beyond the inevitable pains of life.  And when we learn to re-pattern them through therapy, yoga, healing modalities, spiritual work, we learn to stop repeating negative wound cycles that keep us without power, motivation nor drive.

I marveled at my most intimate relationship thus far – as it lasted many years and was full of love – but repeated negative patterns similar in the ways he and I were parented.  We had similar parents in terms of what they did for a living and where we grew up.  I’ll say no more than this as I don’t want to get into much intimate detail.  I respect his privacy and my own.

Enter Amma Sri Karunamayi.  I first met Sri Karunamayi in 2007 or 2008 in Woodstock – I honestly can’t remember the year – sometime before I moved back to Austin, Texas from NY in 2009.  All I remember was going into such a profoundly deep meditation with her that I felt like my whole insides turned into a blank screen, deep emptiness, the void and I was energetically cleared.  It was a bit frightening as well.  I bought quite a few of her books and CDs and did not feel called to see her again until 2015.

In 2015, Sri Karunamayi came to the Austin Hindu Temple and I can only say that I went into samadhi and was there physically, but quite beyond at the same time.  I asked her for some things, quite personal.  And true to Amma’s way, she gave me the answers and what I wanted.

The lessons thus far:

  • Be careful what you wish for
  • When you believe you are given what you wish for, know that behind that wish is an even greater wish
  • I remembered that behind my wish and the reason Guruji sent me to the Amma(s) was to heal the Mother archetype within me
  • Once I remembered the deepest core wish from the child within me, I could see and learn from all of the lessons from both of the Amma(s) more profoundly
  • These lessons are indelible, the ways in which they are changing me for the better are energetic, spiritual, causal and immaterial
  • The changes making themselves manifest on the material plane are the effects of deep transformation in the spiritual, energetic and causal planes
  • Energetic lessons have ripple effects from the core of one’s being and outward that are difficult to fathom in linear time
  • I understand that healing my relationship to the archetype of the Mother means that I have a greater knowing of how Mother Earth and Mother Nature work within the framework of her infinitely mysterious ways
  • For clarity into the lessons with the Amma(s), I sit with Guruji, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, the great Father archetype
  • And in my highest essence, I see Ardhanishvara, the Mother and the Father as one, both in my Self and in all beings
  • And even as I write this, I am all the more humbled at what I do not know and have yet to learn.

Amma will grant your every wish.  Amma Sri Karunamayi reminds us all that she can give us anything we want, anything, but that the most profound and beautiful wish is for moksha, or liberation from even having the need for endless desires.  It is a profoundly mysterious teaching.  I can only tell you that I have heard again and again from students and friends on the spiritual path of yoga – well, what if we have no desires?  What of goals?  Will I attain anything in this world?  This is not what we mean by desirelessness.  In Sanskrit the words are many for non-attachment, non-grasping including “aparigraha, vairāgya.”  Yet these do not quite equate to the words in English for desirelessness.

When we ask Amma (the Mother) for anything, realize that She can give us anything in the world, but we must understand that in Her giving is always a lesson of deep liberation and healing.  We cannot take from God without receiving everything, everything in what He/She is giving.  Let’s see if I can give an example to help illustrate what I mean by this:

“God, give me a million dollars.”

God grants you a million dollars.

And you realize that a million dollars can mean a lot of things to taxes, greedy people, the world, etcetera.  And you wonder if you should have asked for “a million dollars and a great financial advisor whom I can trust.”

So then you go back to God and say, “Oh oops, I wasn’t so precise God, about my asking.  I meant a million dollars and a great financial advisor whom I can trust.”

And so God grants you this.

So then you get a great financial advisor and few more million dollars and still it’s NOT QUITE what you want.  You then laugh – hopefully –  a hearty laugh.  And perhaps, you realize that you can have a million dollars and be liberated – attain moksha – at the same time.  And you giggle with Amma and say, “Oh yeah, you told me to ask for moksha and everything else will be revealed.  You gave me the cheat sheet in the first place, but I asked for a million dollars anyways…”

Amma taught me a grand lesson in healing the Mother of all Mothers.  It is a lesson on unconditional love.  And I do mean this from the standpoint of my Self, being a great Mother, giver and receiver of unconditional love to myself.  She gave me the lesson in the form of a friend.  And in my seeing into the Maya, the illusion, the great projection of non-reality we place into all friendships/relationships, I was relieved of it.  Liberated from my own desire for what I believed to be “love” into an even more satisfying and soul-freeing love.  

The idea that a fruition of a desire (God granting me my desire when asked) equating to love from God has ended.  In other words, God’s love is beyond the child – parent relationship of the child endlessly asking and the parent endlessly giving.  We’re all guilty of transactional prayers to God, and to a certain degree, to our parents.  “God (parent), if you give me this and that and that and this, I will be forever grateful.”  Just be grateful.  Ah.  Just be grateful.

I see desire-less-ness as going even beyond our greatest desires.  And into the Heart of the root of all desires.  And from this place, we attain everything and give it all back from where it all came again and again.  It’s a magical Leela, a great play.  The Mother gives birth endlessly and takes it all back.  When we participate in the offering back to the Mother, well, we finally “get it” instead of constantly wanting so much.  No more hungry ghosts.    

Behind the questions, “What is all of this play?  What is this maya / this leela?  What is this mystery?” 

I am given an abundance of joy and love.

May the mysteries continue to unfold and may love reign supreme.   

Infinite blessings.  Love everlasting.

Om shantih om,

Sumukhi

 

The Guru and the Koan

Guruji – Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D. – has a booklet on how to choose a Guru.  If you can’t find it at Ananda Ashram’s store: http://www.ashramstore.com/ – you can always call the ashram and buy a copy.  It’s a good one.

  • The key takeaway?  If you want a living Guru, you must first awaken the Guru within.  Without the inner Guru, there is no outer Guru.
  • Guruji writes this to caution us around the wild fanfare around Gurus.  Much like rock stars, a fan is awestruck by the force around such a being, but if there is nothing else but awe — well, the being may simply be someone to admire.  A Guru is not just someone you admire, a Guru is someone you learn from.  And in Yoga, a Guru is someone you not only learn from and admire, She or He is someone who helps you awaken and transform into Your very Self.

It’s struck me again and again that a Guru rarely teaches literally.  And what I mean is that whenever a Guru says something to you, they are usually giving you a few million lessons in a few words.  As a trained disciple, I understand that I must follow what the Guru tells me to do, but my practices have shown me to NEVER be attached to an outcome.  Why?  Because the outcome a Guru has for you is usually better than anything you can ever imagine, wish or desire for.  And that the teaching is never very obvious while it is happening, but is as lucid as your very own hands in hindsight.

When people ask me to translate what a teacher is saying – I usually say, “I would be careful about interpreting it too literally.  Gurus often teach in Koans.”

What is a koan?

One day as Manjusri stood outside the gate,

the Buddha called to him,

“Manjusri, Manjusri, why do you not enter?”
Manjusri replied,

“I do not see myself as outside. Why enter?”

  • I bow to the infinite lessons of all of my Gurus and most recently, Amma Sri Karunamayi
  • She heals with a few words, a few glances and deep sadhana
  • Gurus can change the course of your history and your being in one glance
  • A student must simply be at attention
  • And always in LOVE
  • Attention.  Attention.  Here and Now.

Namaste,

Sumukhi

The Merits of Spiritual practice

The merits of spiritual practice are infinite.  I’ve observed a behavior within spiritual communities (in all of them, doesn’t really matter which faith or religion or yoga studio) —  of just never ever doing enough. The pressure is in the community pushing for more, more, more seva or service, practices, mantras, asanas, etcetera.  And not stopping to look, and just appreciate what’s in the dharmic, karmic, bank account from previous years, lifetimes of spiritual practices.

I get why we do this.  It is never enough, until it is all enough.  And we see so many great spiritual leaders fall from grace, left and right around us.  We see the high achievers reach the highest hilts only to fall into the darkest disgraces.

When is it enough?  Right now, actually.

Bastante bien

Suficiente.

The cup overflows, brims with goodness.  And the Yogi sits in this grace.  In the deepest darkest pits of hell went Christ and from his descent, he then ascended into Heaven.  The world could fall apart and be split asunder a billion times over. But the merits of spiritual grace are infinite.

Infinite means:

Non-ending.

Never expiring.

And then we figure out, that we do everything by doing nothing at all.

atha yoga-anushasanam ||1||

अथ योगानुशासनम् ॥१॥

atha yoga-anuśāsanam ॥1॥

Now, Yoga begins.

Namaste,

Sumukhi

Know your Self

If I can summarize yoga in as few words as possible, it is a system that ensures that we know our selves, or the Self.  I have watched my own relationship with what this means change, grow, expand, shrink, in proportion to whatever emotions, thoughts and feelings are dominating at a certain point in life.  But at the end of the day, with all the accumulated years and practices of yoga, there is something that I can see, Witness, from the larger vantage point beyond thoughts and emotions – and it is that the glory of the Universe wishes to express itself through this individuality – call it ego, as we have so few words to call it – and all egos in the most unique way given to each one of us.

It is the fact that each of us is so different, physically and mentally that makes the expression so unique — and yet, the shakti, the bliss and the energy are the same, essentially.

If we can simply move past the fleeting thoughts, emotions, memories, current world affairs, relationships for a few minutes, in meditation, in yoga, we are able to tap into the Self, free of all obstructions, creative, wild and free.  And when we train the body, mind in the techniques of yoga and meditation, the expressions become, simply: art.  Divine music.  Joy.

May all beings know your essential nature as bliss.

Ananda.

Om shantih om,

Sumukhi

Temple Tour with Amma Sri Karunamayi, January 2017

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Amma Sri Karunamayi with students at her school in rural India, Andhra Pradesh. Her Education for Life initiative is a tremendous way to break the cycle of poverty and provide opportunities for children they would not have access to otherwise.

The world we live in can be such a mystery and seem so rife with conflict.  How do we see God?  And live in this force of Love?  I believe that one way is to follow in the footsteps of great masters like Amma Sri Karunamayi.

I get asked a lot about how to find a Guru.  And I seem to only be able to answer with the old adage:  “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.”  Guruji, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, has been a great teacher of mine for many lifetimes and has made it very clear to follow Amma.  And I have heard Amma call me, deep in my heart.  I hear Amma’s call most profoundly in meditation, in silence, in her glance, in deep energetic embraces, in absorption, in love, in the Shakti she pours into this being and in so many small and even large gestures that I sometimes feel unworthy of containing.  But I work on this self-worth and sit, receive and relax in her boundless love.

A lot of you ask me if Amma talks to me.  Yes, she speaks to me in words, but the calling is deep in the soul.  I sit with Amma and beautiful awakenings happen, things so indelible, all words seem blunt and sharp to explain them.  What does the call sound like or look like?  Indescribable.  And any attempt to even explain it seems foolish.  The truth is, I actually believe She is calling everyone.  I just happen to be listening.  As Guruji says, “God sits in a corner waiting for you.”   When we are ready, the Teacher comes.

tumblr_nk0dcxGtqd1ru322to1_1280I believe that the dormant forces of kundalini within us can be so intimidating and daunting that we need Gurus and avatars like Amma Sri Karunamayi to help us withstand the magnitude of awakening possible for each one of us on this planet.  Miracles, power and beauty are everywhere around us on earth, but in order to take the lens of the ego off, we need Amma’s help.  And then magic is revealed.

The temples of India are magical, yet hold more than magic.  Magic can conjure up something fleeting and temporary while temples hold infinite, non-ending and boundlessly empowering energy.

 Amma took us to three cities earlier this year – Amaravati, Vijayawada and Kottapakonda – where we visited temples and she hosted programs at multiple sites.  Amaravati is the capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh.  The first temple we visited was the Amaralingeshwara Temple on the banks of the Krishna River – which houses a very tall Shiva lingam at its center.  In order to get to the temple from Amma’s ashram in Penusila Kshetram, we drove for eight hours.

This is a simple note for folks who wish to come to India and attend Amma’s temple tours.  I believe it is very important for women to wear saris and men to wear dhotis while we are out and about in India as well as with Amma.  The reason for this is deep respect for Mother India, for the gods and goddesses of each temple and for Amma Sri Karunamayi.  I must admit that because I don’t wear saris everyday, my own sari was a bit helter-skelter after an 8-hour journey.  But triumphantly I had a sari on! (Unfortunately it was falling off but I had to ignore this as typically my saris are wrapped and pleated a billion times in order to fit this tiny body and unwrapping and unraveling is not easy.  I have been told by some off the best sari drapers I have worked with that I am the most difficult person to wrap a sari on because the body I house is so small.  All of this to say that the average body size is much bigger than mine so I’m sure you all will have an easier time about putting on a sari at 2:30 am.)  The other choice for Westerners is to wear all white – which is sweet for a thousand reasons including the fact that it reflects light and keeps you from absorbing the hot sun.  When I weigh wearing all white to the challenge of wearing a multi-colored sari, the sari wins as it has multi-fold purposes and stays much cleaner than white does.

amaravathi

Amaravati Temple and Shiva Lingam

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