This is a letter written to Amma by an ex-resident of the Mata Amritanandamayi Ashram.
My dear friend,
Even though I address you in this way, to me you are beyond that. I recall, more and more, what you said to me when I left the ashram and when I spoke so many negative words about the ashram. You told me that if one sees what is sweet as bitter instead, it is because one’s intellect has become diminished. I did not understand that at the time, but today I recognize myself; I recognize my Guru.
At that time, I was critical of everyone except me, one by one. I didn’t evaluate myself, didn’t see or hear myself. Today, I am married and I have two children, and it is only now that I have started viewing my Guru and the ashram from a spiritual viewpoint – only after I recognized myself, to be exact.
My Guru shed tears when I left the ashram. When I went around maligning my Guru and misrepresenting the ashram, that Mahatma smiled. I couldn’t comprehend any of that. Yet today, the truth of it all is coming forward and filling my mind as it is beginning to expand. I am asking myself questions and finding answers on my own.
Why does one join a satguru’s ashram? Purely for spiritual gains: to eradicate vasanas, to set aside likes and dislikes, and to practice renunciation. It is for nurturing patience, forbearance and compassion. It is to get the ego eliminated gradually, the ‘I’ nullified, because it is the ‘I’ that is the cause of my suffering. If there is no ‘I’, then how can I have sorrow? If the ‘I’ goes away, then sorrow is left behind as sorrow. That sorrow becomes a common property. That sorrow can be eliminated by compassion, and it will be possible to realize through one’s own experience that a change in one’s state of mind is a more desirable way to eliminate sorrow than a change of surroundings.
A satguru’s ashram is a school designed to help us achieve this goal. The examinations one needs to write, to come out of this school successfully, will not be trivial. The guru sets up the circumstances for that. They will be severe; they will be very bitter.
When I was near my Guru, I didn’t think of the values of that life. I came because of an attraction towards the Guru; there was no awareness of the reason for that attraction. I misinterpreted the attraction I felt towards my Guru as love, because of my Guru’s spiritual eminence. As I started living in the ashram, I had to be in contact with people who came from different countries, cultures and backgrounds. At that time I noticed the contradictions that existed in all of them, instead of gathering knowledge from them. It was myself that I loved.
When my likes and dislikes were not being met, I failed to recognize that my Guru was training me in renunciation, which is the first lesson in spirituality. Only one thing occupied my mind – the unhappiness that I had to undergo; so much abuse even though I had come there leaving everything in life. I had, in fact, come for my own sake; my Guru didn’t need me, I needed my Guru instead. This fact had slipped away from my awareness.
When disrespect and denials wounded me, my mind had not acquired the
expansiveness needed to realize that these constituted the next lesson in spirituality. Instead, I disparaged my Guru in my mind, as I was weighed down by a feeling of inferiority, my value in my own eyes was going down. At the same time the ‘I’ inside me began to bring out and display another side of myself, to show that I was not so worthless.
Seeing the wounds in my mind, my Guru began to show great compassion in order to heal them. A high position in an institution run by the ashram was bestowed on me. I didn’t know myself then. Only today I have a better understanding of the ‘I’ of that time, because I accepted that position then with the feeling of pride, that I was finally given a status that I deserved. I did not understand that the Guru sent it my way to actually quell my ego.
As I held that position, my feeling was that I was not so bad – the Guru had, after all, entrusted me with management responsibilities. My mind began to drift into a more ‘modern’ viewpoint in an effort to bring glory to that position. My attire changed to fit that outlook. I began to try to make a good impression on others. This became paramount. I gave more importance to the ways of holding on to that position than to truth and justice. The only things that mattered were myself and my status.
While keeping me at the same place, the Guru sent me the next lesson in spirituality. Since I was holding a lofty position, I shouldn’t have to work too much; so a staff was added – that is how it appeared to me then. As I started to interact with the others, I failed totally in that essential aspect of spirituality – the lesson of eradication of vasanas. The thoughts raised in my mind by the intoxicating dance of vasanas was over-powering. I forgot where everything I had really came from. As I was perfect in every way, I was accountable to no one. I didn’t have to heed anybody’s instructions. I was fully gripped by the madness that life was here to be enjoyed, that there existed only life’s pleasures and desires. Why should I spurn all these and bear the deprivation and keep on struggling? I came away with the false notion that I had wasted my life until then.
When I left, there was only one thing in my mind. I had gone in for a life of sannyasa, so now everyone will make fun of me. My mind searched for ways to save myself, to justify my steps. Spirituality and values became foreign to my mind. I went very far from the Guru and the ashram. In that state of mind, I portrayed the incidents and circumstances the Guru had designed for my spiritual progress as forms of abuse.
In this way, I tried to save myself from being ridiculed as someone who had forsaken sannyasa. Whenever someone asked me directly, I captured their sympathy by describing the perceived faults of the ashram. I successfully stood my ground, but now I realize that that success was indeed the greatest failure of my life.
It is clear to me why all this has happened to me. I did not deserve to be a disciple. The reason was nothing else: I was not a spiritual person.
Now, having brought up two children with love and affection, and having realized that I have the responsibility to lead them to the path of their future, I understand one thing – the meaning of love and sincerity. When struggling the whole time to achieve my modest goal, I was thinking about and understanding my Guru.
When you look at the struggles the Guru goes through to fulfill each disciple’s goal of many life times, look at the dishonor, bad name, and the barbs of pain the Guru has to endure when working hard amongst us, for our own sake. Having come down from the bliss of the plane of the Supreme Self – who is it that is really subjected to abuse? None other than the Guru. All others can say whatever they want and leave the place if they don’t like it, but the Guru has come down with nothing but spiritual values, purity, and love for the disciples. We cannot imagine, from our level, the pain we give when we cause damage to those treasures of the Guru. We should see that it is universal pain, just like universal love. It cannot be measured.
I was told by many people that my Guru shed tears thinking of me when I left the ashram. But it is only today that I recognize what the pain of a mahatma is – even though I cannot measure how deep it is.
For my Guru, from a disciple, rehabilitated by repentance.
Source: Amritapuri Ashram Diary