New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is always an evening of festivities. It was different than normal this year in that the day fell on a public darshan day. The crowds were big so even though she was moving fast, Amma didn’t finishing giving hugs until just before midnight. That meant the evening entertainment program started around midnight. There was a play that was mostly in Malayalam and some other entertainers as well. Then Amma gave a New Year’s talk and led several high energy songs.
I want to give particular emphasis to her New Year’s message. She talked about how to deal with all of the suffering we are witnessing in the world and also identified five things to keep in mind if we want to live meaningful lives. I have no doubt I will be reading this talk multiple times after I get home. To read the speech go to.
It was a tough evening for me because I was so tired, and my back problems make it hard for me to sit for long periods of time. I knew I couldn’t sit in a regular chair for so long, so I decided to sit on the side portion of the auditorium. Many of the brahmacharinis (female monks) were sitting on top of tables there. I sat behind them so I could get up as frequently as I needed to. I moved several times over the next hour trying to get a better view.
Then someone put another table in front of me, one that was too rickety for a lot of people to sit on. Soon, a woman and her son sat on top of it. He was very young so slept most of the evening. Because that table was there, I was able to lean forward and put my weight on it. That took the pressure off of my lower back. An major added bonus was because the child was lying down, if I looked slightly to the left I had a clear view of Amma. If I looked slightly to the right, I had a clear view of the big screen that showed the performances and close up views of Amma. I felt grateful and blessed.
Amma stresses the importance of avoiding chemically treated food whenever possible. Ashramites took her words to heart last year and started planting vegetable plants in every spare space of the ashram. I’ve seen tomato, spinach and okra plants, but I’m sure there are a lot of varieties of vegetables I don’t recognize. You can see seedlings and small plants growing both at ground level and in pots on the roofs.
There are also small and large gardens not far from the ashram. I had hoped to visit them after the play was over but haven’t tried walking that far yet. I still hope to see some of them in the few days I have left in Amritapuri. Amma’s Grace Gardens are apparently located 10 minutes from the ashram, but I don’t know if that is 10 minutes by foot or by rickshaw! They have also started a huge garden in another part of Kerala (the state I am in), one that will eventually meet all the needs of the ashram. To read more about that project go to.
Here are some pictures of the vegetable plants in the ashram. (All photos were taken with permission as we are asked not to use cameras on the ashram grounds.)
Speaking of my back, know that I am doing much better in that arena. It improved remarkably the day after it “went out.” I still have a bit of trouble sitting or standing for a long time but walking is easy. I do have some concern about the long trip home though.
This year, for the first time, I decided to take a flight that will give me a 21 hour layover in Dubai. At the time, I believed it was to help with my transition home; the effect of jet lag is getting more difficult as I age, but now I think it was also guidance to do something that would help me deal with my upcoming back issues. Being able to lie down, and sleep, for much of that day will be invaluable.
I occasionally buy ice cream or milkshakes at the juice stall in the ashram, but twice on this trip I have stopped by the bakery when I go to town. Both times I have ordered an ice cream sundae! The sundae I discovered this year is called “Chocolate Fantasy.” I love the name of the bakery as well as the sundae.
I stopped working in the vermicomposting (i.e. worms) area when I needed to focus on sewing for the play. I intended to go back to the vermicomposting as soon as the play was over, but then I injured my back. The last few days I have once again been able to sort the worms from the compost.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have noticed that the creatures which live in the India compost are different than the ones that live in my worm bins in Seattle. In Seattle, there are abundant centipedes, potato bugs, occasional slugs and all sorts of other insects. Some of those are in the compost here too, but there are also other creatures. Two days ago the compost I was sorting contained six or more very large, green ants!
Hariod at contentedness.net wrote a post last week reflecting on how the world is not always as it seems to us; that our notions of what is reality are often wrong. I have had several experiences since I read that post that have highlighted his point.
The one that comes to mind right now happened two days ago. When I looked out my window that morning, I saw two suns. Needless to say, it was quite a disconcerting sight. I investigated further and discovered that I was seeing one sun through the window glass and the other one I was seeing through a space between the window frame and the window – so I was not seeing it through the glass. Somehow the true sun was being reflected in the glass and it created the illusion of there being two suns.
I wonder how much of what I perceive as reality is inaccurate. I would bet the statistics would be shocking. After that happened, I also thought of one of the acronyms for FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real. So much of what we fear is based on assumptions or awarenesses that aren’t even true.
My last public darshan day (for this trip)
Amma will be leaving for her South Kerala tour on Wednesday or Thursday. I leave for Seattle on Friday. That meant that Sunday was the last day she would be giving darshan before her tour.
My Sunday was full of events, too numerous to mention. In the evening, as I entered the auditorium I heard drums. They were drums I think of as ceremonial drums, plus a gong and cymbals. I listened for awhile and then discovered that a Kathakali play was about to start. The play consisted of instruments, singing and dancing. The costumes were amazing. The pictures below came from Amrita Chimes.
Then came the highlight of my day, my goodbye darshan. You might remember in an earlier post I mentioned that I love being in Amma’s arms when she is laughing. Well, once again, I was given my heart’s desire.
When you go to Amma for darshan, the line monitors ask what language you speak. Amma then generally says “My daughter” or “My son” in your ear as she holds you. She says the phrase in each persons’ native language. This time Amma said something completely different to me. That was intriguing and was fine with me.
When she looked at me as I stood up though, she looked startled. She looked at the line monitor and said “English” and started laughing. She said some other things to the line monitor, but the only word I understood was Chaitanya (referring to my daughter). Amma kept laughing and then brought me back in for another hug and gave me a second prasad packet of sacred ash and candy. (I later discovered the words she had originally spoken to me were in French!) It was a joy-filled ending darshan.
I still have four more days here. I wonder what adventures and experiences they will hold!