October 26, 2007 Kamala Amma's Grace

Dearest Friends and Family,

For Anni, Link and I, a rustic lifestyle, very close to Nature, is how they grew up. Although the house the children were in was finished and modern, we had created spaces and places on the property in the woods for rustic living. While we were not dependent upon our gardens for food, they were sources of learning and joy. These are people who are comfortable with themselves, and anyone coming into their orbit experiences the same. In essence, we feel right at home, in what appears to be a far corner of the earth on a map…a former guest, felt the same and wrote this on the bottom of Link´s bunk:

Run and never look back
until you find a place like this
peace, chaos, love pervade the air
propagate it so it never dies

I don´t think anyone will ever understand how much courage it took for us to come back to the ashram and face all the hearts….At least it was hearts, so it was do-able. But the super-abundance of paining hearts, whose memories and sympathy were re-awakened whenever they saw us made it difficult to even come out of the room. Until there is re-union, or at least, the promise of reunion, there can be no solace. We had to deal only a few heads, meaning, emotionally exhausting encounters with rabid intellects or people who approached us and the loss of Anni´s form from our sight through their minds. Most were all heart. The ashram can be a loving place, after all.

I know, that, all things considered, as a mother, I am fortunate to have been able to be with my baby throughout her sickness and death. To see her body before the cremation, swollen and blue. All of that is important to process the Truth of what is happening, for death and decay are part of life. I feel infinitely sad for those mothers who, fleeing the war in Lebanon, had their precious and beautiful children killed in their sleepers, in daycare centers, bombed to death away and in front of them.

Now it is nearly a week later. It is so easy to be here, so refreshing at every turn, that time, priorities and compulsive schedules, seem things of a mad lifestyle…here, all actions include the whole-ness of the day in some way…the food we eat, the toilet, the system of bathing and washing dishes, keeping warm, getting cool, everything is based in relationship to the wholeness…there have been wise decisions based upon loving humility to the Great Creator, so easily perceived here – on how to live here, and do it with the least damage to the earth, with the greatest inclusiveness of all that is here…we see and feel this in Indian village life…which is, however being eroded with the bomb-blast of modern civilization, population, resource depletion and the cramping clinging to roles based upon incorrect understanding of the varna or caste system and gender placement and potentials…

One thing that has always struck me in Indian social life, is the role of the ‘big man´. Its something to think about. Part of the ‘big man´ concept is leadership. The other is what is called “guanshi’ in China, “well-oiled relations”. The acceptance of the caste system as is socially prescribed necessitates the evolution of the “big man´. Yet, in a natural life, close to reality, to the elements and earth, the concept of a “big man´ is ludicrous and ridiculous….well, I just touch on this for now…its something I´m still thinking on…As one little one said when his Mother asked him where he had been the other day, “Well, I was pondering and wandering.? It´s a great pity that all children do not get the freedom to know themselves in Nature as part of their family and themselves….anyhow.

Before coming to here, Link and I went to Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, It is the first ashram community that Gandhi started in India after a short stay in a bungalow, called Kochrab Ashram.. After 7 or 8 years at Sabarmati, he took a vow not to live in the ashram until India had regained independence. He disbanded it 18 years later, tired of the petty politicking, corruptions, immorality, power struggles, etc. He kept in touch with it, and later it became “Udyoga Mandir” a site for village industrial development, then “Harijan Ashram” devoted to the upliftment of untouchables, then ” Sarvodaya Ashram” devoted to the Welfare of All. It is now a National Museum, with a huge library…wonderful photographs, and walk through room displays, emphasizing different aspects of his life – as the Satyagraha campaigns, etc. So much time has passed since Gandhi was alive, the only people there who actually met Gandhi did so in their first decade of life, and are now well into their 80´s.

All the way and time there, we were blessed with contact with Nirali and Karthu…who helped us to get airline tix, train tix, etc, and fed us one huge meal a day while there of incredibly sattvic food. It was amazing and fortuitous that Nirali lived one block from Navajivan Press, the Publishing Co, and Press that Gandhiji started. For buying Gandhi books cheaply, Navajivan is a good place to shop. For all that I can see, Gandhi´s ideas are more deeply relevant to the world than ever before. I see no separation in the Principles that Amma has espoused that I know of, and Gandhi´s ideas. Everyone has the right and duty to grow and change – Gandhiji´s life is a great record of willingness to grow and change and to become wholly good. Anni also, I always found, embraced virtues, relinquished pettinesses. We should at least want to become good. This, the desire to be good, is something that is being educated out of children today.

Since time is short, we have put up many of the photos for Sabarmati on the photo gallery. While we were there, we got a “kitab charka´ which is a book sized portable spinning wheel for hand spinning cotton into thread and learned how to use it at Prayag Samiti, which is now a national center in Khadi research for production and propagation throughout India. I hope that the relevance and issues of organic farming will soon become part of their work. Prayag Samiti is up the road from the museum, and part of the original ashram. It is an ecological oasis in the burgeoning urban conditions that have overtaken the formerly rural area. Instead of japa mala, or the use of rosaries, Gandhi was to make hand-spinning khadhi the symbol of the unification of the mind and heart with the urgent necessity to revitalize village industries. In the simple act of spinning is found the principle of “swadeshi” or ” Own country” which is akin to swaraj, or self rule…it is the genesis of thinking globally and acting
locally…it is still the best way for India to solve her problems of unemployment, pollution, exploitation, etc. It is the only means that can possibly bring equitable and liveable conditions for the 900 million suffering deeply there. It means that Indians should support the work of Indians in India. Unfortunately, this has now come to mean supporting Indian multinationals that are on the same agenda page as other multinationals….Working for selfishness and greed of a few….As far as I can see, it is a myth that India is progressing into a “developed´ nation when 350 million out of 1.3 BILLION are securing educations and jobs in companies that continue the ravaging rape of the earth, nature, waters and air. National and multinational companies are seizing the land and resources for their dubious deeds from the poor, whose voices are being drowned by the angry roars of those who will be rich at their expense… That India´s cities and towns are stinking holes of pollution and poverty, is because She
has turned her back on the ways of reverencing life and living which is her own heritage…How can we truly help Her? When spinning, I found I felt an immediate empathic response in my heart for the nearly billion now suffering, with each movement of the arms and hands. Gandhi´s ideas, their means and methods are so urgently needed now. While there, we also learned to our pleasant surprise, that Kerala, of all India, buys the most books on Gandhi, and produces the most Khadi in the nation!

India´s village industries have for centuries produced useful goods coveted by the world at large: silks, brocades, wagons, wood carving, inlays, jewelries, metals, rugs, mats, you name it…the human hand has had its finest education in India through these useful, beautiful crafts….just the running of a home in village India entails an exhaustive knowledge of food production, processing and preservation skills, etc. I remember as a child growing up in the US, and seeing the hand of a young girl from India who had come to study there on a full scholarship. I remember observing even then how her hand seemed well used and informed, in comparison to mine, which was learning only to push buttons and hold pencils….In her short life, Anni was well on the road to educating her hands – sewing, making jewelry, hand weaving bracelets, making mosaics, gardening and cleaning of all sorts, our small cooking efforts…the variable uses of the human hand are really lost to western education methods, which are no
longer confined to western countries. In India, sadly, now, most people race after western education schools…at this time, the schools run in Amma´s name regrettably follow those models, this type of education is the colonial legacy that has not left, the new colonizers are the multi-nationals…..

Anyhow, take good care of yourselves, we are always loving you,

Kamala Anni and Link

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