Thousands of people from all over the world filled the Bhajan Hall in Amritapuri to join Amma in welcoming the new year. At the stroke of midnight, Amma’s message ushered in 2024 with prayers for those who are facing extreme hardships in many nations. She also shared a vision for how humanity has the freedom to choose positive intentions and actions that can ultimately bring joy, peace, and prosperity to all. This is possible through the serenity of compassion and selfless love.
Excerpts from Amma’s message
We are now standing at a precious point in the endless stream of time—bidding farewell to 2023 and welcoming the arrival of 2024. Each new sunrise blesses the horizon with a beautiful array of colours. In the same way, may this new year shower all of you with the vibrant beauty of joy, peace, love, prosperity, good fortune and other material and spiritual wealth.
Today, we have just finished writing a page in the book of our life. We are now turning it over and starting a new page. To some extent, we have the freedom to choose what to write next and how. Let us try to make it meaningful with positive intentions, actions and exemplary life lessons.
Many countries across the world are experiencing extreme hardship due to wars, earthquakes and other calamities. May the year 2024 bring peace to these nations. Amma prays to the Paramātmān [Absolute Self] that divine grace makes this wish come true.
New Year’s is celebrated all over the world every year. Homes and streets are decorated with lights. There is dancing and singing and greetings of “Happy New Year!” However, on January 2nd morning itself, humanity resumes its frantic race. Everyone withdraws into themselves. Selfish, hateful and vengeful thoughts plunge humanity’s mind into darkness. This is how our New Year’s celebrations have been so far. If we continue in this manner, the world won’t be benefitted. On the contrary, it will be harmed.
There is no one who doesn’t appreciate novelty. A new calendar, a new diary, a new pen, a new phone, a new computer—all bring us joy. This is because we always desire change. This reveals the basic underlying defect of all objects in the material world. No object in this world can give us long-lasting happiness or peace. Once caught in this cycle, life will never be fresh, new and joyful. The ever-new, ever-fresh factor is selfless love. If selfless, unconditional love is present, we will always remain fresh and happy, wherever we are.
Many people annually make New Year’s resolutions. It may be to start a new business or to expand an existing one, or to buy a new home with more rooms and amenities. Some resolve to buy a more expensive car or to travel to new places, or to increase their bank balance… But when New Year’s dawns, how many reflect and resolve to reduce their selfishness? To become a better human being? To try to love if not everyone, at least some, equally? To show compassion to the sorrowing? To love and protect Nature? To correct one’s own mistakes rather than blame others? Such resolutions are what really brings “newness” to life.
We may find ourselves attracted to many objects in the material world. We expect them to give us joy and satisfaction. However, the happiness they produce is short-lived. Their glamour soon fades, and we begin to desire something else. When we get the next thing, that joy also soon fades. Soon we tire of the new thing as well. The same object could even become a source of misery. Even the most luxurious car can get into an accident; we could break an arm or a leg. Without truly comprehending this, we desire material objects, one after the other. Yet, all that we are finally left with is sorrow and disappointment. Finally, we realise that permanent happiness can be found only within, for which we need to turn inward.
When we grasp spiritual principles, we imbibe the knowledge to perform each action with wisdom. When we perform actions with right knowledge, we realise that we find more joy in those actions, and that this joy is not dependent on external factors—that it is our inherent nature. Moreover, we will give joy and happiness to others.
Be ready to look back at the past year, to identify your mistakes, to correct them and to accept new positive beginnings. Imagine a beautiful garden full of flowers. There will be many leaves on the ground. If the gardener declares, “I’m not going to rake up a single dead leaf,” the garden will eventually become filled with rotting leaves. Their foul odour will overpower the gentle fragrance of the roses. Fragrant flowers are within each one of us—like lotuses rising from dirt. So, definitely we can manifest the goodness within us.
It is our inner love and our readiness to forgive and forget that keeps our lives fresh, new and beautiful. Preserving the virtues of the past, we must remove its decayed elements without hesitation. Removing the impurities of hatred, jealousy and competition, we must try to establish the qualities of love, faith and cooperation within our hearts. Then life will become like a river that flows unimpeded in its course.
We have to set an example for our children and make them understand these things from their childhood itself. No matter how many cars or motorbikes or expensive clothes we may buy for them… no matter how many foreign vacations we send them on… if we fail to teach them spiritual values, they will continue to want more and more. When we teach children to work hard and give them spiritual values right from childhood, they will be able to have gratitude to everything and to not waste time.
We don’t know how long we will live. As long as we are alive, we must love one another and make our lives blessed. Forgiving and forbearing each other’s mistakes, we must remove the burdens from our mind. If we have hurt anyone, we must ask for their forgiveness. If we do all this, our sorrows will fade away and our life will become full of joy.
For our hopes to flower and bear fruit, we must navigate each day with alertness, attention and discernment. In reality, there is nothing new about New Year’s. It is just another day. Its newness and importance arise from our own resolve. Thus, if we want to, we can make any day new and beautiful. It is our own mind that makes our family, office and our life beautiful, hateful or ugly.
Managing a company with 500 employees is to manage 500 minds. If we do not learn to manage our own mind and thoughts, the entire company will be at risk. Just as we manage the external world, we should learn to manage our own internal world. If not, our personality will not fully develop.
Amma would like to list a few things that could possibly help us to improve our lives:
- Be grateful towards life. Be grateful towards every life experience and towards everyone who helps you in your life’s journey. Show gratitude towards this Earth and Nature.
- Good habits give our life direction and steer us away from the wrong path. At the same time, we should try to stop bad habits. List your bad habits in a diary—such as overeating, laziness, excessive use of cell phones, or craving for tasty food. Observe your progress in conquering those bad habits.
- Face all the challenges life prepares for you with serenity. Develop the mindset to accept all life experiences. Light the flame of faith in the candle of the mind. Even when going through a hurricane, maintain the highest vigilance and keep the flame alight.
- We must develop the habit of laughing and smiling. Laughter is the best medicine for physical and mental health. Laughter is also infectious and soon spreads joy to others.
- We should bring awareness into our every thought, word and action.
- Maintain faith in your chosen path, in God, in Guru, and in your own Self. This will give you the strength to overcome any challenge life may throw your way.
- Take responsibility for your failures and unhappy experiences. This will help us to correct ourselves.
- Take care of your health. If necessary, bring changes in your lifestyle and food habits.
- Practice meditation every day to quieten the mind.
- Be compassionate towards everyone, including birds and other animals and plants and trees.
In this new year, may our mind become serene, free from fear, from distress, from hatred and from anger! May the smile of love ever play on our lips. May compassion fill our heart. May the sun of discernment shine in our intellect. May everyone succeed in making the new year blessed with actions that spread the fragrance of love and compassion. May divine grace bless all my children!