MA Center Chicago (MACC)

Karma Yoga Program - MA Center Chicago

“In this age of selfishness, selfless service is the only soap that truly purifies” - Amma

The Amrita Karma Yoga Program was established to create an opportunity for individuals to practice Amma’s teachings of spiritual growth through selfless service. At MA Center Chicago (MACC), Karma Yogis are immersed in an environment where they can deepen their spiritual relationship to Amma and their connection to the community by participating in the ashram’s daily routines and supporting Amma’s charitable activities (known collectively as Embracing the World). 

Situated on 142 acres of beautiful farmland just 41 miles west of Chicago, MA Center Chicago is home to over 60 full-time residents from the US, India, and other countries.

WHAT IS KARMA YOGA?

"Serving the world with love and cooperation, you will find your own true self.  As you help those in need, selfishness will fall away, and without even noticing you will find your own fulfillment." - Amma

Karma Yoga is integral to the sadhana (spiritual practices) prescribed by Amma for individuals seeking spiritual growth. Along with Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Raja Yoga (meditation), and Jnana Yoga (self reflection), Karma Yoga is an ancient path to the expansion of consciousness - i.e., to knowing one’s higher self and realizing one’s connection to all of creation. This is done through performing service without expecting any personal reward. The ultimate goal is that, while performing all actions selflessly and with awareness and love, the mind is purified of negative impulses, and every one of our actions becomes a meditation.

ABOUT THE KARMA YOGA PROGRAM

The Karma Yoga program starts with an initial two-week trial period during which the individual is introduced to the various departments and gets to experience ashram life.   After the two-week period, the applicant meets with the Karma Yoga Committee to determine if the program is a good fit for the applicant and to discuss the possibility of extending their stay for up to two months. 

“As you perform good actions selflessly, true love will blossom, which will purify our emotional mind.” – Amma

PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

The Karma Yogi program includes 6 hours of seva per day in a 5-day week. The remaining two days are free for the karma yogi.

To gain a well-rounded experience of ashram life, karma yogis also participate in the daily ashram schedule, as well as many of the special spiritual and educational programs held at the ashram throughout their stay.

Karma yogis have the opportunity to serve in several different areas, including:

Green Friends Farm and Orchard  - Connect with Mother Nature by helping to implement sustainable agriculture through planting, trimming, harvesting, and caring for an amazing variety of herbs, flowers, vegetables and fruit.

Maintenance and Construction Projects - Let your skills shine. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, landscapers - whether you are a novice or an expert, you will get plenty of hands-on experience helping to keep the ashram buildings and grounds in great shape. 

Event Preparation, Support, and Cleanup – During the year there are many special programs requiring set-up, logistics, A-V, meals, clean-up, and more. The highlight of every year is Amma’s summer tour program at MA Center Chicago, which attracts thousands of visitors.

 

TYPICAL ASHRAM DAILY SCHEDULE: 
(Karma yoga seva hours fit within this schedule according to the needs of the project(s) at hand.)

6:00 am – 7:00 am: Morning archana (chanting)
7:00 am – 7:45 am: Meditation/IAM practice
8:00 am - 9:00 am: Breakfast
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Lunch
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm: Dinner
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm: Evening meditation, followed by bhajans or Gita class
10:00 pm - Bedtime

OTHER ACTIVITIES 

Saturday programs - People from all over the Chicago area and the many suburbs and small towns near MACC visit the ashram on Saturdays for a day of seva, lunch, and our evening program which typically includes chanting, a satsang talk, bhajans (devotional singing), and a delicious vegetarian dinner.
Special Programs and Festivals - Celebrate Indian festivals and holy days from other spiritual traditions at the ashram throughout the year.
Retreats – Full-day or multi-day programs consisting of meditation, seva, chanting, satsang, bhajans, and more.
Satsang and Classes on various topics, including Amma’s teachings, the Bhagavad Gita, as well as others.
Yoga Classes and Workshops - Learn gentle Amrita Yoga, a holistic approach to yoga that is focused on awareness with heart-centered intention.
Amma’s Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique – This is also known as IAM, which karma yogis have the opportunity to learn and practice while visiting MA Center Chicago.

Karma yogis also participate with the residents in the general cleaning and upkeep of the ashram common areas.

ACCOMMODATIONS AND MEALS

Accommodations are in dorm-style rooms with shared baths.  Meals are vegetarian and communal.  Eggs are permitted.

OUR COMMUNITY

The MA Center Chicago community extends throughout the greater Chicago area, including its suburbs and many small towns. Individuals and families come from all over to participate in our programs, help with projects, and perform selfless service throughout the year.

Ashram residents have chosen to dedicate their lives to selfless service and to helping support Amma’s charitable activities. We live together in community, learning and growing from each other under the wings of Amma’s teachings and direct guidance.

As a karma yogi, you will become an integral part of this active community.

"One should see any opportunity to serve as a rare and precious gift...never waste such an opportunity.” - Amma

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

Because of the requirements and commitments of participating in the Karma Yoga Program, it is not feasible or practical for participants to work or attend school while in the program.

No alcohol or drugs are permitted on the property. While enrolled in the program, Karma Yogi Program participants are expected to abstain from alcohol and substance use, including marijuana, both on and off the property. Participants also are expected to maintain celibacy while on the property.

The Karma Yoga program is entirely voluntary, and at any time, for any reason, participants may choose to leave the program, or MA Center Chicago may elect to terminate the participant’s stay.

Please note that submitting your application does not guarantee a placement in the Karma Yoga Program.

HOW TO APPLY FOR THE KARMA YOGA PROGRAM

For an application and more information, email: karmayoga-macc@macenters.org

VISITING MA CENTER CHICAGO

Individuals are welcome to come to the ashram to participate in our weekly programs, to perform seva on seva days, or to attend any of the various programs held at MA Center Chicago throughout the year. More information about programs at MA Center Chicago can be found at chicago.amma.org

GUEST PROGRAM

MA Center Chicago offers opportunities to stay at the ashram as a guest for up to two weeks. Space is limited and based on availability. If you are interested in visiting as a guest, please send an email to: macc.lodging@macenters.org.

ABOUT OUR INSPIRATION, MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI  (Amma):  www.Amma.org

ABOUT EMBRACING THE WORLD (Amma’s Charitable Organization): www.embracingtheworld.org

For questions or further information, please email karmayoga-macc@macenters.org.

"The beauty and charm of selfless love and service should not die away from the face of this earth. The world should know that a life of dedication is possible, that a life inspired by love and service to humanity is possible." - Amma

 

TESTIMONIALS BY MA CENTER CHICAGO KARMA YOGIS

"The Karma Yoga program at MA Center Chicago has been an extraordinarily enriching experience. I have wanted for some time to more fully apply Amma’s teachings in service, and I have been equally keen to further develop my sadhana. Karma Yoga at MA Center Chicago is well-suited to provide opportunities to fulfill these ambitions. By beginning and ending each and every day with group spiritual practices, seva is book-ended with some of the practices that have been prescribed for reaching the ultimate goal. The Chicago ashram residents are a very loving group - the community is most welcoming and highly supportive of personal growth, project initiatives, and each individual's contributions to ashram life. The demographic here, comprised of every generation, from school-aged children to elders, is dynamic and vibrant. The ashram truly is fertile soil for moving forward along the spiritual path. For anyone interested in personal growth and/or seeking a boost in purpose, I highly recommend MA Center Chicago's Karma Yoga program." - Michael

“I came to MA Center Chicago with an open mind (and heart), not sure what to expect. My seva was something I would not have picked for myself, but it was the perfect long term seva for me to grow spiritually. The learning and sharing experience was priceless. From tiny seeds to plants sprouting, fruits, vegetables, and herbs, to shared dinners or handmade soaps and body butters and teas from what we’ve grown...the full circle of life. The kindness we show Mother Nature returns with the kindness to ourselves. I feel so grateful. Since then I’ve been able to participate in many other areas of the Center and continue learning and growing. The residents are some of the most welcoming and beautiful devotees, and I’ve grown to love my “Chicago” family. I’ve returned many times and will continue to do so. It is my home away from home." - Mukti