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Br Shantamrita identifies a common
theme through all the problems the
world is experiencing now as a lack of
awareness of the interconnectedness of
all life. "Selfishness is leading to many
of the problems the world is currently
experiencing. We need to become aware
of the interconnectedness of all life. When
we hoard wealth in one place, we create
poverty in another. A tree cut down in a
forest can affect a seal in Antarctica."
Amma puts it differently. "She says that
if you are lying on your back and you spit in
the air, it falls down on you. Gravity cannot
be denied -- it is real. Wise people don't
argue with fact."
He continues: "The interconnectedness
of life is so subtle it escapes most of us for
the duration of our life. And we don't get
the results immediately. If I live selfishly,
it's not like the results are going to happen
"But Amma says that we are just sowing
the seeds. Some may germinate in an hour,
some may take 50 years. But they will
germinate eventually and we're certainly
giving a lot of sunlight and fertiliser to the
soil."In response to my suggestion that if
there is a positive outcome from all the
chaos and despair of the past months it is
that people are becoming aware they can't
continue to live their lives in the way they
have done in the past, Br Shantamrita says
he sees this happening in varying degrees.
"Once that dawns on you with a sense
of urgency you come to understand it more
deeply." It leads to lifestyle changes and the
pursuit of more interior wisdom through
practices like yoga or meditation.
"We've seen it in the past year or so
and will see in the future more and more.
People are trying to understand that
interconnectedness and live their lives in
harmony and accordance with that reality."
The sense of helplessness in the face of
climate change, exacerbated recently by the
failure of the Copenhagen climate talks, is
something that he experienced keenly as
a young man -- and his words are deeply
"I did my Honours thesis on
environmental problems. I understood only
much later that I was basing my fear for the
environment on a false notion, that it was
within our capacity to destroy the planet.
Amma questions whether we have
that power at all. Says Br Shantamrita, "We
tend to indirectly flatter ourselves that we
have this enormous capacity to destroy the
planet, along with ourselves. We may have
created the missile, but whether it's within
our capacity to launch the missile is another
"There is a divine power that pervades
the universe that transcends our limited
capacity. We are simply a reflection of that
power. And it is a higher intelligence than
whatever is reflected in us because we are
only reflecting a portion of it."
His meeting with Amma removed the
doubts and panic that had beset him because
he gained a more profound understanding
of the natural order around us.
"She understands that the planet is, in
fact, much more powerful than we are. It
is our mother and we are on the end of
the umbilical cord. It's like saying the baby
inside the womb is going to kill the mother.
It's ridiculous -- the baby is at the mercy of
He continues: "Not only does the
mother have power, she is being patient
with us. She has been putting up with
these kicks inside her womb for a long
time." But, tellingly, that endless maternal
patience is wearing thin and the result is the
disturbances to the earth's structure that
are manifesting in the form of earthquakes,
tsunamis and more severe storms.
If any one event can be said to have
changed the world's perception of Amma
and her organisation, which had largely
concentrated its immense energy on India
and other developing countries -- tragically
of course where its attention was most
needed to cope with one crisis after another
-- it was her response to the Boxing Day
tsunami in 2004.
There was a sense of awe that she could
mobilise such an immediate, practical and
over-arching response to the desperate
need of so many people when long
established humanitarian organisations
appeared mired in red tape. The sheer
scale of her efforts to aid victims in Kerala
demanded the world's attention.
And people everywhere have been
influenced by Amma's composure in the
face of such crises. It is her realisation of
the oneness of all creation that compels
her to feel nothing but compassionate
action, explains Br Shantamrita
"The tsunami response was a beautiful
manifestation of that truth. It stems from a
deep feeling of oneness with all beings on
"Amma maintains her composure
even within crisis situations because she
understands the whole crisis is taking
place inside of herself. It's not like some
external force that's attacking her. And
once I realise the whole planet is part
of me, there's nothing to be afraid of, it's
something to respond to."
It's no wonder then that UN
peacekeepers sent to the most dangerous
combat zones in the world are seeking
out such affirming guidance. To be
guided by compassion rather than driven
by force seems such an empowering, and
Our conversation turns to the idea of
the Golden Age, the age of transformation
that is the subject of much discussion and
hope in the world today.
While Br Shantamrita himself is
increasingly in demand as a speaker on
quasi-spiritual subjects to corporate and
international bodies, a trend he finds
"interesting", Amma takes a broader
perspective. She agrees with the traditional
Indian view that we are still in the Age of
Materialism -- and even a cursory look
at our surroundings and our media
preoccupations would seem to back that
up. "So it doesn't give us a cosy feeling that
the Golden Age is coming any time soon."
One important reason Amma is loathe
to jump on the bandwagon is the risk
of encouraging complacency and even
smugness. As Br Shantamrita explains,
"She understands that people need to take
things with proper awareness, to live with
deep awareness. If we tell ourselves that
the Golden Age is right around the corner,
it can lead to us living with less awareness.
The mahatmas are aware of this and don't
want to make these pronouncements."
In fact, in Amma's view, it really doesn't
matter when the Golden Age may dawn.
As Br Shantamrita explains, "Talking about
its coming takes my attention away from
what I have to do and my own spiritual
What is important is that some qualities
are permanent and enduring, namely truth
and righteousness: "They are forever, they
are indestructible." And the only difference
between the last Golden Age or the Vedic
Age and today is not the "the existence or
non existence of truth and righteousness.
The only difference is that those qualities
were made more manifest in the Vedic Age
and now they are less manifest.
"But we are being forced to manifest
It's a thought provoking, yet powerfully
hopeful, idea to take away with us. ●
For more information on Amma's Australian
tour, go to www.ammaaustralia.org.au
from previous page
"When we hoard wealth in one place,
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