Another intense last week to report here… and I have so much to share I don’t know where to begin. I feel like a scientist gathering huge amounts of experimental data that will take years to sift through and analyze.
What’s becoming clearer day by day is that Amma (or any guru for that matter) cannot transmit her experience to disciples; a master cannot take away suffering from others. I haven’t gone up for a hug and afterword felt magically cured of all ailments and ignorance (although some people here do feel this way). Rather, what I’ve seen is that she helps to create conducive conditions for all of us to transform ourselves by making us face our limitations. I’m beginning to notice that as long as I don’t insist on learning things my way or according to my timetable, it’s inevitable that circumstance will arise to lead me to work on becoming more loving, patient, accepting, and forgiving. Although grace is freely given, it often comes disguised. The spiritual path trains us to open to what seems repulsive and difficult, so that we don’t throw away the potential jewel contained therein.
Case in point: these past weeks have been extremely difficult ones for Giulia and I. There have been numerous periods of conflict, but even when things get difficult, we’ve used what’s arisen to investigate what’s at stake in making us react the way we do. On my side, these situations have helped me see (among other things) how much fear drives my behavior. I’ve also been pondering where my desire to teach and share comes from- something that has brought me to some unsettling conclusions. It’s easy to think that “sometimes we have to pass through the fire in order to be purified” when the going is easy, but when you’re actually in that fire, it’s another matter! In the end, I have faith that whatever is coming up in this environment is indeed coming up for a reason.
I suppose that of all the lessons I’m learning here, the most important is in learning to be humble, and to accept that my judgment of any situation or person comes from an extremely limited vantage point. It’s impossible for my mind to admit it just does not know where everything is going. And this is why the discovery of the path of devotion has been so important for me: it has opened me up to understand that I just cannot walk this spiritual path with my own strength. I need help! I’m not afraid anymore of letting myself fully fall into this path, because I’ve come to see that devotion with knowledge is blind, but knowledge without devotion is numb.
But I don’t put faith in Amma expecting that she can solve my problems; I put faith in her because she is a living reminder of the Truth, who provides the reminder of how far I have to go to reach that state of pure Love, while also providing the inspiration to continue. I had trouble to admit the depth of my own feelings of gratitude and devotion for her because whenever I caught myself feeling “I rely on her grace to purify me”, it reminded me of people who talk about what sinners they are in comparison to Jesus. I always though they were putting together some kind of communal pity-party, getting high off of putting themselves down. Perhaps that’s the case- I don’t know. But for my own experience, saying “I cannot do this on my own; I simply do not know what this universe wants from me” is a way of honestly evaluating the situation. It’s a way of turning myself and all my selfish motives for enlightenment over to something greater, a way to surrender to the working of That Which Knows. By dropping the illusion that I can succeed through my efforts along, I become open to the workings of Love that has no other purpose other than to feel and express itself more clearly. I depend on something beyond me in order to be me.
A few metaphors to share: Amma is the spotless mirror that reflects back all our impurities. But we can only begin to wipe the dirt away from our faces after we stop denying that it’s there. And as the floor gets cleaner, the specks of dirt become more noticeable.
Amma is a vast ocean of love that openly receives and purifies all polluted waterways. Her ashram is a Love purification plant, which helps all of us to remove what is standing in our way of expressing our true nature.
Another 10 more days here (or so I think….). More to come.