Amma at the Vatican
What an amazing experience it was to be able to watch the of representatives of the world’s religions speaking and signing a Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery. (We were able to see a live stream from the Vatican program.) I felt so privileged to be able to witness that event. I pray that their goal of ending modern day slavery by 2020 becomes a reality. And hopefully it will also lead to healing friction between the various religions.
Here is the list of the religious leaders who participated in the event:
- Pope Francis representing Catholic Church
- Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) representing Hinduism
- Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Head of the Anglican Church, Buddhist:
- Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) (represented by Venerable Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Chan Khong);
- Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (represented by Dr. Abbas Abdalla Abbas Soliman, Undersecretary of State of Al Azhar Alsharif);
- Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi;
- Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain al Najafi (represented by Sheikh Naziyah Razzaq Jaafar, Special advisor of Grand Ayatollah); Muslim:
- Sheikh Omar Abboud; Malaysian Buddhist Monk:
- Ven. Datuk Kirinde Dhammaratana Nayak Maha Thero
- Chief Rabbi David Rosen, KSG, CBE, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (represented by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France),
- Rabbi Skorka, the coordinator of the Jewish community in South America.
To read excerpts of their presentations go to
As I watched Amma sitting next to the Pope, I couldn’t help but remember my first trip to her ashram in 1990. At that point, there were people in Oachira, one of the closest villages, who hadn’t ever heard of her. Amma has had international recognition for a long time but to me this event was a pinnacle. I also have so much respect for Pope Francis so it really touched my heart to see them together.
As most of you who know me are aware, I have a love of worms and vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is a process by which worms produce incredibly rich compost which can be used in our gardens.
The ashram has a big vermicomposting program. I have worked in that area for the last two years and have been eager to return. The main facility is now a twenty minute walk from the ashram, but the staff bring buckets of new compost to the ashram every day. We have to separate the worms from the compost, by hand. The worms go back to the facility and the compost is bagged and sent wherever it is needed.
Last year, I did that work at the beach. Now it is part of the area where all the food waste is composted. (I will share information about the food composting in a later post.) I went to look at the worm setup yesterday but only stayed for a few minutes. Today I spent an hour separating the worms from the compost. The view in front of me was the beautiful Arabian Sea. I was, and am, in heaven!
Several months ago, I heard that Amma had asked a brahmachari (monk) who had recently completed a PhD program in Sanskrit to teach Sanskrit to the ashram residents. He teaches three classes a week in Malayalam and three in English. I had been told it would be okay for me to sit in, so went to my first class tonight (9:15 p.m. to 10:00 p.m). I loved it, of course.
This class has a different focus and style than the other two classes I take. Right now they are studying the masculine and neuter matrixes. There are 8 cases in Sanskrit and each has singular, dual and plural components. That means each noun has 24 different forms! It was my goal to focus on learning the matrixes during this trip so I am delighted. It is obvious that he also stresses pronunciation and I need that as well.
Many of the students have been on the European and North American tour since the beginning of October so he is going to offer five hours of make up classes. I plan to attend those too.
Amma returns to the ashram tomorrow
Amma will be returning to the ashram sometime tomorrow. Everyone will be on the lookout for her until her car enters the ashram grounds. So much excitement, especially since she has been gone for more than two months. I am really looking forward to seeing and being with her again.
Chaitanya and Akshay are also returning
My daughter and her husband are returning tomorrow as well. Needless to say, I’m excited about their arrival too. I spent a good part of today cleaning their room. I know they will be surprised and happy. (In India, everything needs cleaning after being gone for two months.)
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