On her 68th birthday, Amma delivered an address that was webcast globally, as Amritapuri Ashram remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In her message, she spoke about the pandemic, encouraging people to maintain hope and try to use the hardships to become stronger and more alert.
“When a disaster or event impacts the world on a global scale, we should view it as the karmic consequence of the cumulative actions of the world as a whole,” Amma said.
“There is no point in criticizing or blaming one group of people or one country in particular. For global events—be they good or bad—each and every one of us bears a degree of responsibility.”
She continued, “For example, if a person drowns near the shore or way out in the ocean, we simply say, ‘He drowned in the sea.’ We do not put the blame on a specific part of the ocean; the entire ocean is viewed as responsible. The present situation is similar. Each of us needs to shoulder our share of responsibility. Only if we think like this will we be able to begin building a better tomorrow.”
Amma said that it is the poor and needy who are being hit worst by the pandemic, adding that she knew of many people in Indian villages who, out of financial duress, had taken to reducing their prescribed doses of medicine. She suggested this phenomenon be studied and rectified through awareness campaigns.
“During these pandemic times, the government has provided people with rice and other essential commodities. However, many people have illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and thyroid diseases. Many of them don’t realize that they need to take their prescription medicines daily, at the right time, in the right dose,” Amma explained.
“Because they cannot afford their proper doses of medicine, they resort to reducing their medicines. This can lead to strokes. Due to lack of money to purchase their required medicine, many people have died during the pandemic from strokes or have become paralyzed.”
Amma shared that this present period is an opportunity to empower ourselves in order to build our own inner strength, self-confidence, determination and enthusiasm. She also stressed the need for people to cultivate the sense of unity, compassion and service-mindedness prevalent in previous generations. There is tremendous inner potential lying dormant within us—much more than we perceive. To awaken our sleeping talents and use them in the right way, hard times are often more conducive than favorable ones.
“Only when one gets a few blows in life does one learn to look within. It is when we experience tragedy that the wish to learn how to transcend sorrow comes. Similarly, it is when someone rejects our love that we understand the value of love, and we try to make changes in our life and behavior to earn that love,” said Amma.
“Viewing things from this perspective, we will realize that the experiences we consider as negative are not really negative. We should turn these occasions into circumstances to awaken and grow.”
Amma explained that there can be positive aspects hidden in undergoing adversity. By facing such challenges and reflecting upon how they affected us, we can awaken and grasp the wellspring of strength hidden by our weaknesses.
“Then, thousands of doors will open. Only when we face challenges but still move forward does life become successful,” Amma said.
“If we examine the biographies of great people who have contributed to the world, we will see that they all became greater through adversity. In their effort to attain their goals, they had to undergo more adversity than others. Such people had to face slander and countless accusations. But all these only served to increase their courage and their determination to reach their goal.”
Amma described how even the biggest building is built brick by brick, so in the same way, the house of our lives is built with seconds, minutes and hours. Both good times and hardships are a part of life, so it is important to reflect upon both the successes and failures in order to move forward with full awareness.
“Really speaking, there are no failures. These so-called ‘failures’ should be taken as lessons we can learn from,” said Amma.
“Other things to forget are humiliations we have suffered, wrongs other people have done to us, and personal enmities. When the need for revenge consumes our mind, it is we ourselves who are accepting defeat. Only if we reject such thoughts will our life blossom.”
Amma concluded by speaking about the power of love and how there is nothing stronger than that.
“There is no greater happiness than the happiness experienced through love. We experience love when the individual ego ends and hearts unite as one,” said Amma.
“It is time for us to build bridges of love and friendship. In this way, may we be able to realize a world-family of unbounded love.”