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The Grace of the Satguru

BY Parvati

Hello friends,
It is another packed week as we prepare some new treats for you to see and hear. In the meantime, for those of you who are in North America or who may be travelling there in the coming months, I wanted to make sure you were aware of the upcoming North American tour of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Amma, who is often referred to as the “Hugging Saint” and who is my Guru.
As I have written in the past,

I feel very blessed by the Grace of a satguru in my life. They say the teacher comes when the student is ready. I stumbled upon and met Mata Amritanandamayi Devi in Kerala, South India in 1993 when I was internally called to go to India to deepen my yoga practice.

Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, lovingly known as Amma, or Mother, is the embodiment of unconditional love, the primordial shakti, or divine life force. Her teachings are clear and simple, practically relevant to our busy, modern lives. Her focus on selfless service as a means of God-realization provides straightforward guidelines on spiritual living. She says, “Fill your hearts with love and express it in all you do.”

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The ancient Sanskrit word “guru” comes from two root words “gu” (darkness) and “ru” (removal of such). The classical Hindu text called the Guru Gita refers to the meaning of the word “guru” as being the one who leads us from the darkness of ignorance to the true light of pure consciousness. How easy it is for our limited ego-mind to project a wish for such liberation upon a human being who is not fully realized, and as such, cannot support our spiritual journey through its perils and promises. Because of our projections, we end up disappointed, feeling misled, coming to believe that the word “guru” refers to one who abuses power or behaves scandalously.

A Satguru, however (“sat” in Sanskrit meaning true), refers to a fully awakened master. The Guru Gita says that a true guru is one who is neither bound by his senses nor limited by form, as “gu” refers to “beyond the qualities” and “ru” to “devoid of form”. Anyone who truly seeks true guidance on the spiritual path must be sure that the person in whom they place their trust in is indeed a fully awakened master. We are taught through sacred texts that those who are fully realized are those who love all beings equally and see all beings equally. In the case of the vast majority of us, we easily fall short of those very crucial qualifications. These qualities are indeed very rare.

Though I would love to see fully realized masters fill up every football stadium across the globe, those beings are not drawn to the limelight for its own sake, but quietly live their lives in humble service to humanity wherever they may be and in whatever way they may best serve. Crowds may draw, but that is not their motive. I am so grateful to realized masters like Amma and the Dalai Lama who do happen to draw very large crowds, and are also willing to give private audience to their devotees. 

If you would like to get a further sense of Amma’s teachings, check out these spiritual guidelines of hers which I have shared in the past. You can also read through her website at amma.org or amritapuri.org.

Even if you do not feel you wish to have a guru at this time, you can still benefit from spending time in the presence of a fully awakened master such as Amma, and from receiving her blessing.

If you are near one of the tour cities, I invite you to consider making travel plans this spring/summer to meet with Amma. There are free public programs at every tour stop. Some tour stops also offer a retreat option allowing you to deepen your experience. By Grace, I have been fortunate to experience many of these retreats over the years, and I look forward to spending time with Amma again this summer.

The header image for this post is from Amma’s official Facebook page, where you can find many other images and aphorisms to inspire you.