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Win the Spiritual Lottery

BY Parvati

This week I move from putting the final touches on my I Am Light EP, to deepening my meditation practice, spending time in meditation and seva (selfless service) with my spiritual teacher Amma. When she lands in North America from India twice a year, I take every opportunity I can to spend time in her presence.
Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Devī, better known as Amma (mother), is a spiritual leader and humanitarian from South India who welcomes people from all walks of life, ages and religions into her warm embrace, known as darshan. Loving everyone and all things equally in a balanced state of equanimity, Amma has displayed the saintly qualities of a fully realized master since she was a child.
Amma compassionately teaches by example, showing those who are willing that spirituality is also practical. Her vehicle often seva, or selfless service, Amma inspires us to see ourselves as interconnected with in all and realize our true self as love. While tirelessly receiving thousands of seekers for hugs for often up to 20 hours a day without a break, Amma simultaneously advises political leaders, and heads of state on crisis intervention, disaster relief and general council. She also runs Embracing the World, her own network of charity organizations to provide food, housing, education, and medical services to the poor.
I encourage everyone to go and see Amma when her tour comes anywhere near your city. All dates are posted here. Her blessings are profound and life-changing, and her selfless service to the world is inspiring. The opportunity to be in the presence of a fully realized master is like winning the spiritual lottery.
Some may say they don’t need a spiritual teacher. I can only refer to my own experience as one who wilfully tried to rush to enlightenment without the proper guidance. As I explain in my upcoming book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie: A Revolutionary Life Makeover for the Sincere Spiritual Seeker, it almost cost me my life. For this reason, I would like to share in this week’s blog about the grace of being guided on the spiritual path by a realized master. If you are in North America, there has never been a better time to seek out such guidance.
We don’t think twice about going to a doctor when we have aches and pains, or consulting a lawyer or an accountant when we need financial or legal advice. We need specialists to help with specific areas of our lives and support our overall well-being.
A spiritual teacher, or guru, is someone who knows the ways of the spiritual path and can lead us to wholeness. Just as we would seek the most qualified medical doctor for our physical health, so it is best to find the most evolved being to guide us on our spiritual path. There are many people who claim to be realized beings and are ever willing to hang up a shingle as a self-proclaimed guru. But from my experience, those who claim to be realized are most definitely not. In the unified state of enlightenment, there is no ego left from which to toot one’s own horn.
I feel the relationship with a spiritual teacher is the most profound relationship one can have. A realized master, one who is beyond ego and rests in non-duality, sees, knows and loves us infinitely. When we accept them as our teacher, they commit to guiding our path with wisdom and care far beyond the understanding of our ego. A master highlights our strengths and weaknesses and gives us tools to grow into the fullness of who we are. Just as with a doctor, we must do our own healing work, but we are guided by an expert in the field.
The Sanskrit word “guru” is made up of two shorter words, “gu” meaning darkness and “ru” meaning light. The guru literally leads us from the darkness of ignorance to the light of pure consciousness. We are born with a distortion in our mind, which some could say is like an illness: that of ignorance. In this way, meditation, and the path of mindful living is like a medication to be taken under guidance that cures us of our ego’s distorted perceptions that cause suffering. The guru leads the student out of such pain to eternal truth and light. A Satguru, literally a “true guru”, is a fully realized master who can guide the soul on its journey back to the One.
We do not look to the guru to save us, as though we were helpless victims crying to mommy and daddy to make it all right according to what we want. Any satguru, any truly realized spiritual master, would not support such doting or wanting. The relationship with the guru revolves around the release of our attachment to our ego. It is not based on worshipping something outside our self, or on reaching for an external sense of the divine. It is a relationship rooted in the reflection of the eternal steadiness within our self that exists beyond “me”. Just as step one in any abstinence-based addiction recovery program is to admit that we are powerless over our addiction and our life has become unmanageable, accepting the grace of the guru into our life is not a throwing in of the proverbial towel, but a letting go of the egoic perception that we are separate from the divine. In so doing we turn our attention towards our true nature, our inherent unity with pure consciousness, and away from our self-imposed pain.
I feel very blessed by the grace of a satguru in my life. My guru, Amma, is the embodiment of unconditional love, the primordial shakti, or divine life force. Her teachings are clear and simple, practical and 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.”
Here are a few of Amma’s guidelines for spiritual growth and expansion. They have become points of regular contemplation for me. As with most spiritual truths, there is a profundity in the simplicity found within them. In each of these points, we can find deeper and richer jewels to guide our way along the spiritual path. May they inspire you as much as they continue to inspire me.
AMMA’S GUIDELINES FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH AND EXPANSION
When thinking about what to do, consider how each of your actions will be of service to humanity.
Progress is being made when you can retain evenness of mind in the face of praise and shame, honour and dishonour.
Communication begins when you fully understand the other person’s point of view.
If you cannot speak with love and respect, wait until you can.
When you harm anyone, you harm everyone, especially your own 
self.
If someone is doing something you find really offensive, check to 
see whether you are doing something similar to someone else or 
yourself.
Make an appointment with God each day and hold that as your highest priority.
Practice withdrawing the mind from sense objects.
Balance your life with jnana, karma and bhakti yoga.
Excessive talking increases mental turbulence, drains your energy 
and drowns the subtle voice of God within.
Read a passage from the Guru’s teachings each day.
Establish a sadhana plan and follow it as sincerely as possible.
Take advantage of the stillness of the early morning hours for 
meditation and prayer.
Don’t just apologize for hurting someone. Make the firm resolve 
you will never again do that painful act to anyone.
”The goal in life is God realization. Strive for That!”
I look forward to updating you next week from the meditation retreat with Amma as we near the second annual International Day of Yoga.
Until then,
Love yourself.
Love others.
Love our world.
We are one Earth family.
Namaste,
Parvati