Our Lenten Season

May 29, 2008 Kamala Amma's Grace

Dearest Friends and Family,
May 29 marks the day when we moved to San Ramon. This was the last phase of Anni’s earthly life. For us, it feels to be sacred time. Her suffering was so intense. So, So, So INTENSE.

We feel we have to make some small sacrifices. For us, it is a type of Lent. We don’t know who and what is Anni, why she had to suffer so much, what it was all for. Nothing has been explained to us. When we said to Amma last August, that Anni had suffered sooooooooooo much, she said, “Many of the Mahatmas have had to suffer. Look at Ramana Maharshi, and Ramakrishna Paramahansa – they both had cancer and suffered terrible pain. Vivekananda also got very sick and died. ” She also mentioned that when a person has cancer, every pore in their body is in agony.

I don’t know why Anni suffered so much. I don’t know how she bore it. She never even cried out. For everyone else, it was one year ago almost, that she passed. For us, it is still last night. I don’t think that ever changes. I met a dear friend after Anni passed, who lost her daughter nearly 20 years ago. She said, the nightmare never ends.…. As my beloved advisor said, you find those points of communion….we can function when we feel her somehow to be with us in what we do for that we need quiet and concentration, although she is there in activity too.

Anni was totally fearless. She was 100% accepting of what was happening with her life. She had a full surrender. I hear a lot about surrender, but Anni surely lived in surrender. She had no resistance, but in her heart also, she wanted to stay with us. Pema Chodron, a Buddhist Abbess stationed in Canada said: “Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.” Anni did not struggle against the impermanence of her body nor the directions her life was taking her.

I don’t know why the Creator didn’t let someone so good and wonderful air-condition this earth for longer. She wanted to stay and serve, but apparently that’s not enough.  To want to serve is not a reason that we may be allowed to stay here.  Our wishes and deepest desires apparently matter very little.  None of us are here to stay.

When I see the horrendous loss of human life in the last two spasms of Nature – cyclone Nargis and the earthquake in China, I don’t know how those dear people are managing. If they lost family, how they are coping, considering their homes, their places of memory, their communites and entire life is torn permanently apart. I pray their minds will somehow be strong, that they will get the places and spaces they need inside and outside themselves. I saw a photo where there was a city of huge tents, and one made into a school, and a thousand or so survivors of one area were starting their kids in school, so they won’t lose out, and be able to make the exams.

On one hand, I think the routine of school, the hellish stress on exams, will be a place the children can put their minds, and somehow give themselves some sort of stability. On the other, I think its ridiculous to heap that kind of pressure on people who, are human, and therefore, deeply traumatized from the event. They might actually benefit from being allowed to commune with nature quietly….

All our lives are so fragile, none of us will be here long, yet we get so distracted from the only real duty we have. Sogyal Rinpoche, who wrote the Tibetan Book of the Living and the Dead expressed some thoughts I find useful to reflect on:

“Western laziness consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time at all to confront the real issues.”

Another Tibetan Buddhist student, Matthew Ricard, talks about this compulsiveness and self distraction like this:

“Simplifying our lives does not mean sinking into idleness, but on the contrary, getting rid of the most subtle aspect of laziness; the one which makes us take on thousands of less important activities.”

Anni lived without much distraction from her self. Even when she was healthy, she always had a part of her that was tied to and focused on her true self. She had detachment combined with ineffable sweetness. I remember how Anni would spend many moments in a very pensive state – she had complete concentration…She was never ‘out of it’ until the end, and even then, it wasn’t that she was out of it, it was that something had gone wrong in her body and she could no longer master it.

From before my Anni, during Anni and after the end of her physical body, I find I am still trying to find ways to make my life useful to this earth. When the kids were small I used to read them a story about “The Lupine Lady”. She grew up in a small town, and traveled around the world, and had adventures, and became a teacher, and finally retired, and in her retirement, went around and around her country on her bicycle, broadcasting lupine seeds, which, sprouted and made the waysides of the road very beautiful. In her very old age, she was in her bed, looking out the window, and saw the lupines come up in springtime. She sighed, and said, something to the effect of that she was happy she could have made the world a little more beautiful for having lived in it.

Irena Sendler, was a woman from Poland, who during the horrendous murdering of Jewish men, women and children, under Hitler, managed to cleverly sneak out over 2500 Jewish children to countries of protection and safety. The grateful survivors have always sought to honor her. In a letter to the Polish Senate after a lawmaker lauded her efforts, she firmly wrote:

“Every child saved with my help and the help of all the wonderful secret messengers, who today are no longer living, is the justification of my existence on this earth, and not a title to glory.”

We think we have time to spare, time for distraction, no power to stop the social obligations and etiquettes that waste the precious seconds of our lives. In studying Gandhi’s words and Amma’s teachings, I increasingly find, that there is the reality of which they speak, which they say is the purpose of life. I find the de-brainwashing, the de-conditioning that needs to happen can only happen in silence and seclusion, with the assistance of numerous scriptures that can again and again tell the mind – you are not the body, not the mind, you are something else….what is it? In stillness, watching nature, even an ant, we see the fragile life consciousnss….that operates in a totality of harmony…We find it takes great effort and concentration, because everything, everything that exists in this differentiating world of individuality, conditions and distracts us….

It is to convince myself of the Reality that transcends physical life, that is all around me, everywhere, that I have written this, and the purpose of which – my own re-conditioning into Truth, that I write anything.

And, to let you all know that we hold you in our hearts as we make our own efforts towards Truth and Love, and hope that you will hold us in yours.
Loving you,

Kamala Aunty, Anni and Link

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