Remember to set apart at least one hour every day to do some service for others. While the food we eat nurtures our bodies, it is what we give in charity that nurtures our souls. If time is not available daily, reserve at least a few hours every week for some worthwhile act of charity.
Let our lives be firmly rooted in Truth. Abstain from lies. In this dark age of materialism, adherence to truth is the greatest austerity. We might have to tell lies now and then to protect somebody or to sustain dharma, but we must be careful not to speak lies for our own selfish purposes.
We should forgive and forget the faults of others. Anger is the enemy of every spiritual aspirant. Anger causes loss of power through every pore of our body. In circumstances when the mind is tempted to get angry, we should control ourselves and resolve firmly, 'No.' We can go to a secluded spot and chant our mantra. The mind will become quiet by itself.
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Children, daily practice of yoga or sun salutations (surya-namaskara) is very good for health and for spiritual practice. Lack of proper exercise is the cause of many of today's diseases. If we can get somewhere in time on foot, always walk instead of taking a vehicle. It is good exercise. Only if we have to go far should we depend on vehicles. Use a bicycle, whenever possible. This will save money, too.
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No matter who causes you grief, take your complaints to the meditation room, where your real friend is. In addition to your husband or wife, you should have a friend - and that friend should be God. Even if your husband or wife makes you unhappy, tell that to God, and not to anyone else. If your neighbor picks a fight with you, go to the meditation room and complain, 'Why did you let him treat me like that? Weren't you with me?' Open your heart and tell God everything. Then it becomes a satsang.
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Pure love is the best medicine for the modern world. This is what is lacking in all societies. The root cause of all problems, from personal problems to global problems is the absence of love. Love is the binding factor, the unifying factor. Love creates the feeling of oneness among people. It unifies a nation and its people. Love creates a sense of unity while hatred causes division. Egotism and hatred cuts people's minds into pieces. Love should rule. There is no problem which love cannot solve.
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We are not isolated islands, we are connected links in a chain. Each kind word, each smiling face, each good action, benefits our neighbor, nation, world. Let us pray and meditate together and we shall reach the shore of peace, spreading the sweet holy fragrance of love and vibrations of unity and harmony. Tuning our minds to the supreme consciousness, let us open our hearts and chant the words, "May everyone everywhere be happy."
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Children, set aside at least half an hour in the morning and in the evening for spiritual practices. After bathing in the morning, a family should sit together and worship. Archana may be performed by chanting the 108 or 1000 Names of Devi or our chosen deity. We can also chant our mantra, meditate or sing hymns at this time.
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What meaning do our lives have if we cannot set aside at least one hour a day out of 24 for thinking about God? Think how many hours we spend reading the newspaper, gossiping and doing various useless acts! Children we can definitely set aside an hour for sadhana if we really want it. That is our real wealth. If we cannot spare a whole hour at a stretch, keep apart half an hour in the morning and again in the evening.
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You can lead a truly spiritual life while remaining a householder. You will be able to enjoy the bliss of the Self, but your mind has to be on God all the time. Then you can easily attain bliss. A mother bird will be thinking of the young ones in the nest, even when she is out looking for food. Similarly, you have to keep your mind on God, while engaged in all worldly actions. The important thing is to be completely dedicated to God or the Guru. Once you have that dedication, the goal will not be far away.
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Religion is the secret of life. It teaches us to love, to serve, to forgive, to endure, and to interact with our brothers and sisters with empathy and compassion. Advaita (non-duality) is a purely subjective experience. But in daily life it may be expressed as love and compassion. This is the great lesson taught by the great saints and sages of India, the exponents of Sanatana Dharma.
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Mental purity will come through constant chanting of the divine name. This is the simplest way. You are trying to cross the ocean of transmigration, the cycle of birth and death. The mantra is the oar of the boat; it is the instrument you use to cross the samsara of your restless mind, with its unending thought waves. The mantra can also be compared to a ladder that you climb to reach the heights of God realization.
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Many of us may have watched the waves at sea. They rise, then fall, then rise again, then fall again... and this cycle continues endlessly. It is the same with our experience of the world and its objects and relationships. We may find happiness, but this happiness will soon turn to sorrow. The sorrow that we feel will subsequently turn back to happiness but this oscillation continues endlessly. In order to maintain inner balance, we need to find peace within instead of depending on the external world.
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Children, we are told to make an offering at the temple or at the feet of the guru, not because the Lord or guru is in need of wealth or anything else. Real offering is the act of surrendering the mind and the intellect. How can it be done? We cannot offer our minds as they are, but only the things to which our minds are attached. Today our minds are greatly attached to money and other worldly things. By placing such thoughts at the feet of the Lord, we are offering Him our heart. This is the principle behind giving charities.
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There is a lot of difference between offering a garland of flowers bought from a shop and one that we make out of flowers picked from our home garden. When we plant the flowers, water them, pick the flowers, make the garland and take it to the temple, thoughts of God alone live in our minds. The Lord accepts anything offered to Him with intense Love. When we buy a garland at a store and place it on the deity it is only a ceremonial act while the other is a garland of pure devotion and an act of love.
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Children, when we go to the temple, do not hurry to have darshan, then make some offering and return home in a hurry. We should stand there patiently in silence for some time and try to visualize the beloved deity in our hearts. If possible, we should sit down and meditate. At each step, remember to do japa. Amma doesn't say that the offerings and worship are not necessary, but of all the offerings we make, what the Lord wants most is our hearts!
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Children, we may go to the temple, reverently circumambulate the sanctum sanctorum and put our offering in the charity box, but on our way out if we kick the beggar at the door, where is our devotion? Compassion towards the poor is our duty to God. Mother is not saying that we should give money to every beggar that sits in front of a temple, but do not despise them. Pray for them as well. When we hate others, it is our own mind that becomes impure. Equality of vision is God.
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Renovating temples does not mean building great gate towers or receptacles for offerings. What we should focus on is the regular conduct of worship according to tradition, regular satsang, devotional singing, and so forth. Our devotion and faith give life to temples, not rituals and ceremonies. Children, we should remember this when we are involved in temple matters.
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It is always advisable to obtain a mantra from a self-realized master. Until then we may use one of the mantras of our beloved deity like 'Om Namah Shivaya', 'Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya', 'Om Namo Narayanaya', 'Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare', 'Om Shivashaktyaikya Rupinyai Namaha' or even the names of Christ, Allah or Buddha.
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Children, we should consider every name as the name of our beloved deity. Imagine that He is the one that appears in all the different forms. If our beloved deity is Krishna, then while chanting the names of the Divine Mother, imagine that Krishna has come before us as Devi. We should not think that since we are chanting Devi's names, Krishna might not like it. These differences exist only in our world, not in His.
Do not get up immediately at the end of the archana. The beloved deity should be brought from the seat in front of us back into our hearts and re-installed there. Seeing the form of the deity seated in the heart, meditate for a little longer. If it is possible, it is good to sing 2 or 3 kirtans. After taking an injection, a patient is asked to rest for a few minutes to let the medicine spread throughout the body. Similarly, to obtain the full benefit of the mantras, we should keep the mind calm for a while after worship.
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To Amma, all are Her children. In Amma's eyes no defect of Her children is serious. But when She is considered as the guru, it is essential for the growth of the disciples that they conduct themselves according to the tradition. Amma will pardon all the mistakes of Her children, but nature has certain laws. That is what brings punishment for our sins. Children, we should be able to take any sorrow or suffering as conducive for our growth.
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