Dedicating Ourselves to Serving Others
Some years ago, a psychologist published a study on human happiness. His research showed that we have no idea what will really make us happy. We often believe that a certain thing will give us bliss, only to find that when we get it, we are not moved. And things we thought would not give us much happiness give us deeper satisfaction.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna says as much to Arjuna:"What tastes at first like nectar is usually poison, and what tastes like poison is usually nectar." We believe that to be truly happy, we need to spend as much time fulfilling our own personal desires as possible. But it is only when we forget ourselves in the service of others that we begin to experience real fulfillment and happiness.
In Amma's presence, this process unfolds naturally. We find ourselves working closely with people we never would have talked to otherwise. We find ourselves doing things we never would have done. As one of my colleagues told me, "I once made a vow that the only thing I would never do in my life is work in an office." Another devotee recently commented, "If it wasn't for Amma, I'm sure I would have remained the same person I was at 18 for the rest of my life."
There are many spiritual teachers who will tell us, "It's all good -- do whatever you feel like doing. Your only job is to express yourself, to manifest whatever is inside you." But this is not Amma's message. There are problems in the world, and Amma wants us to be part of the solution. That is why she encourages us to reduce our unnecessary spending, and to work an extra half hour a day to raise money for the poor. That is why she says that wasting food is a form of violence. When we are watching TV and we see people suffering in the world, our first instinct may be to change the channel. But Amma says we shouldn't turn a blind eye to the problems in the world. Instead, we should try to do something to solve them. This is not only the right thing to do, it is also the secret to a happy and fulfilling life.
Once, while talking to a reporter, Amma commented that she came to this world to fulfill certain goals that are beneficial to society, and that she has complete faith that she will achieve them. This gives me tremendous hope for the world. But recently, it occurred to me that maybe I should not feel quite so comforted. Amma said she would accomplish what she came for, but didn't say the same thing about us. Whether or not we will accomplish what we came for remains, for most of us, an open question.
Excerpted from Immortal Bliss: Issue 1, 2011