Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Sri mata Amritananadamayi interview"

When we acquire knowledge with the wrong attitude, it only creates misery, unhappiness and loneliness.............

Q1: Why do you think love, compassion and peace are becoming rare commodities even as we modernize and globalize at a frenetic p

Amma: People always act according to their intellectual convictions. In today's society, since progress is being equated with the wealth one possesses, people all over the world have come to believe that money is everything that "Without money you are nothing". It's only natural then that the slogan has become: "Make money by hook or by crook". It is absolutely fine to have money. But money should not control man; man should control money. Unfortunately, man has become money's slave. It's like the tail wagging the dog, instead of the dog wagging the tail! In a society where money is king, everything becomes business -- even love, compassion and human relationships like marriage. Why? Because dharma, the fundamental principle of life, has been thrown completely out of the window.

Q2: We are becoming modern. We are becoming techno-savvy. We are getting material comforts that previously we never could have dreamed of. Why are we then growing increasingly intolerant and egoistic?

Amma: [smiling] Due of lack of proper understanding. People think that without ego achievements are impossible. But this is a misunderstanding. Behind all great achievements, including ground-breaking scientific inventions, something beyond the ego and mind comes into play.
Effort is ego, but the right result comes only when we let go of the ego. We must put in effort. However, one should also know how to drop the ego and when. Imagine a kingdom where everyone wants to be king and nobody wants to serve There are only takers and no givers so the intolerance and conflict.

Q3: As we witness this paradox -- scientific advancement, material comforts and modern lifestyles, yet more of unhappiness, loneliness and misery, what does India have to offer to the world?

Amma: When we acquire knowledge with the wrong attitude, it only creates misery, unhappiness and loneliness. Look around and you can see that the number of schools, universities, students and teachers are increasing daily. But is knowledge growing? Right-knowledge brings right-understanding and right-understanding brings beauty, joy, peace and contentment in life. In the old days, our schools imparted true knowledge. Only true knowledge can rectify such problems.
But today are our children acquiring right-knowledge from our schools, colleges and universities? If they are, then why are youngsters today so immature? Why then is there so much conflict, chaos, violence and war in our world? Why are today's wars much more brutal than ever before? India used to not be like this. If we look back, we see that here even war used to adhere to dharma.

The Mahabharata War, fought 5,000 years ago, had clear rules and regulations. Ground soldiers were to fight only with other ground soldiers. Similar was the case with soldiers fighting on horseback and on elephants. Women, children and the sick and elderly were not to
be harmed under any circumstance. The war began at sunrise and ended at sunset, after which soldiers from both sides would sit and have dinner together. That is why the battle of Kurukshetra was known as a dharma yuddha. One should observe dharma even at the warfront. India has the right-knowledge but unless we develop the right attitude it will not be of benefit to us or to others.

Peace and happiness will not come through scientific advancements, education and by increasing physical comforts. If so, why do even people who live in five star facilities commit suicide in their air conditioned rooms? Why do people have to consume sleeping pills to get sound sleep in the midst of all physical comforts? In order to experience peace and happiness we should air condition our minds. That is what the practice of spirituality helps us to attain. And that indeed is the greatest contribution that India can offer to the world.

Q4: We are witnessing the emergence of a globalized world. How important are concepts like nation-states and national boundaries today?

Amma: What is wrong with nations, states and boundaries? Let them be there. What is really needed is the capacity to behold the oneness that is beyond these differences, to see the underlying unity to see the whole world as a beautiful flower. Each petal is a nation. If one petal is infested with parasites, won't the others be affected? We shouldn't allow that to happen. We should accept and love all nations, all cultures, all human beings, all languages... When there is such love and compassion, you'll find all differences disappear and you behold oneness. In fact, compassion is a one-word solution for almost all the major problems our world is facing today.
The different cultures and nations are like the different flowers blooming in a garden -- it is the variety that lends beauty and life to the garden.

Q5: What should today's India be known as: the world's economic super-house, the world's knowledge hub or the spiritual reservoir of the world?

Amma: This ancient country, Bharat, was never against science and commerce. However, we always considered spirituality as part-and-parcel of all areas of life. We never segregated science and spirituality. They always went hand-in-hand. Actually, it is high time that we return to that ethos. Neither science nor spirituality alone can solve all the problems humanity is facing today. Only an integration of both will create the needed miracle. And Amma would say that the only country capable of integrating science and spirituality -- and thereby set an example for the entire world to emulate -- is India. We can create a perfect balance between materialism and spirituality. So, India should be known as a pioneer in both.

Q6: You are a Guru who has brought solace to thousands of distraught people. Other spiritual Gurus, too, are trying to contribute in their own way. How do you assess the role of the state, the media and politicians? How can they all contribute more meaningfully towards people's happiness?

Amma: Whoever you are and whatever be you field of action, follow dharma. Do that which brings the maximum happiness to the maximum number of people. Don't do that which creates maximum misery for maximum people. Try to minimize sorrow, suffering and problems through love, compassion and concern for your fellow beings.

Q7: What is the relation between religion and spirituality?

Amma: You cannot really divide religion and spirituality. They are interdependent. However, for the sake of analysis, we can say that religion is the surface and spirituality is the inner depth. It is like the outer shell and the fruit inside. Religion should culminate in spiritual realization. The real purpose of religion is to go beyond religious barriers.

Q8: Is secularism a Western value or Indian value? How is our idea of secularism different from the one commonly understood in the West?

Amma: Secularism is neither Western nor Indian; it is simply human. Be human and treat everyone as humans -- that's all. Maybe our interpretation of secularism is wrong, even perverted.

Q9: What more can be done to make our education system more relevant to India?

Amma: Education should have two aspects: acquiring knowledge about the external world and understanding the inner world. From this standpoint, there is a tremendous imbalance in today's educational system. We give too much importance to gathering knowledge from the outside world and we completely ignore the inner world. Love, compassion and concern for our fellow beings should become part of our curriculum. It is not enough to teach such values; we must become role models.

In fact, every one of us should become a role model because, whether we know it or not, someone is looking up to us for inspiration.
Unfortunately, today's educational system is entirely based on blind and illogical competition. "Pull the person ahead of you down and climb over him!" This is what is taught. In that process, anything -- any amount of ruthlessness, hatred and revenge is justified. Today's education only teaches how to create desire, but not how to control them. It is like a beautiful car that can run at very high speeds but which does not have brakes -- an accident is imminent!

Q10: Are you happy with today's politics? How can politics be made more humane and spiritual?

Amma: [smiles] As an individual, I am always happy and content because I am only concerned with what I can offer to uplift society. But all the same when I look outside at the world, not only am I worried about politics but about everything happening around us! Is there anything taking place in the world today to give hope to humanity?

Such work is being done by a handful of people alone. Whereas the amount of cruelty, wickedness, violence, war and selfishness is reaching an all-time high.
When politics is used as a way to serve society, rather than a profession it spontaneously becomes more humane and spiritual.

Q11: When the political class raises questions, like the one over the existence of Lord Ram, how should that be dealt with?

Amma: Those who have faith in Rama should continue to worship him. Let their faith intensify.

Q12: Who is a Hindu? How does one deal the problem of caste that divides and discriminates against people?

Amma: Whoever believes in love, peace and selflessness is a Hindu. People who really want to create a change should selflessly and courageously come forward to fight such discrimination. Only when we set an example will others feel inspired and support us unconditionally.

Q13: What is Hinduism? And how is the Hindutva that certain political parties try to espouse different from that?

Amma: Hinduism is a way of living. It is living in accordance with the laws of nature, observing dharma and creating a balance between the body, mind and inner-Self. However, different people have different concepts about being a Hindu. For some, selflessly serving one's nation and its people is Hindutva. Whatever it is, the most important thing is selflessness and purity in word and deed.

Q14: When does religion unite? When does religion divide? With so much religious strife around, what can India offer to the world?

Amma: When everyone accepts love and compassion as the essential principle of life that is when religion unites. And when we reject these values, religion divides. Amma would say that India, with its rich spiritual heritage, is the one and only nation that can show the right path to the entire world. India should show the world how inner and outer life can be balanced and thereby create a world of emotionally and intellectually mature people.

Q15: How do we deal with the problem of religious conversions?

Amma: Only if people change their perspective can the situation be remedied. However, this change must take place in their hearts, the inner world. This should begin with the spiritual and religious leaders. If they change, so too will their followers. Conversion has always been a curse to humanity and culture. It will not bring about any positive and creative change in people. While loving our own mother, why can't we allow others to love their mothers as well? It is simply a question of compassionately considering others.

Q16: What changes can we bring about in the Constitution to make our system more just, humane and spiritual?

Amma: I don't want to comment on this. My path is to love and serve everyone equally. However, experts, the intellectually mature and enlightened people could come together to consider such a question.

Q17: What message did you have for the RSS National Executive when you met them on the eve of Guru Golwalkar Centenary celebrations, last year? Do you think they have done enough to reform Hindu society?

I did not impart anything new. I just told them about the importance of cherishing and revering the lofty culture of our country and the greatness of this soil. Our nation's strength lies in her spiritual culture. It is the cement that firmly holds the country together. A life devoid of spiritual culture is like a building made up of just a stack of bricks without cement. Such a structure will soon collapse.

We should train the younger generation in service to the country based on an understanding and incorporation of spiritual principles in daily life. Only then will there be purity and fullness in service. For this, parents play the most important role. It is their dharma to guide their children along such lines.
As for me, I don't want to divide our society into Hindus, Christians and Muslims. Whatever one section of society does should benefit the whole.

Q17: You recently deputed one of your representatives to a seminar organized by the Global Foundation of Civilizational Harmony that had a host of other spiritual Gurus. Do you think we need more such meetings of great minds, especially on issues like female infanticide, conversion and so on? What can politicians learn from this?

Such seminars will certainly help promote human values and minimize social injustice, like female infanticide, conversion, etc. But aren't there already countless such organizations? Real change will come only when the people are inspired and guided in the right direction by those practicing what they teach. What the world needs are role models. We need a better understanding of people's problems. Such understanding and role models are the real solutions to the many problems we are facing in the social and political scenario.

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