Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 11 17. Tuesday.

There's a young French woman (Surya Devi) who teaches at a nearby Amma grade school. Its a big school with about 1,800 students. Surya Devi is very interested in environmental issues and she invited me to give talks to many of the classes about the compost project. There's a small compost area they're just starting behind the school and we brought the various materials needed to demonstrate compost. Each hour a new group of students arrived and I showed them how to make compost by mixing food waste, woodchips and cow dung. I talked about why its so good for the environment and how compost works in nature. For the most part they listened pretty well. The boys would laugh and joke around some and the girls were very quiet and attentive. I got the usual response of a loud "Eewww!" when I showed them the cow dung that's an important part of proper composting. I liked that part. For a few seconds I had their full attention.

Surya Devi, with her blond hair, really stands out. I think she's the only westerner who teaches at the school. She was a student at this school for a number of years and speaks very fluent Malayalam. Tomorrow I'll do the same thing all day for other students. Feels wonderful to get the students aware of composting and how valuable it is for the environment. I'm definitely not a natural at working with kids. I always have to stretch myself to do it well. It can be kind of draining for me, but today it went pretty well. Especially nice when some of the kids who had real genuine interest hung around afterwards to ask more questions. For the younger kids I tried to be more expressive and funny (hopefully not too silly) while keeping the topic simple and basic. For the older kids I asked them lots of questions so they could demonstrate how much they know about biology.

This evening I had an interesting talk with Yathran. While Amma's been away in Europe and Asia he's been traveling around India visiting different saints and gurus. It was totally wonderful to hear him share about his experiences with them. I'm always fascinated to hear people share their spiritual experiences. He used to live at Sai Baba's big ashram in Andra Pradesh. For many years there's been a big controversy surrounding Sai Baba. Some people allege that he had sex with some young boys. Yathran is a smart and no-nonsense guy so it was interesting to talk with him about how he reconciles the controversy with his feeling that Sai Baba is a true incarnation of God. He spoke about it with refreshing thoughtfulness and subtlety. Based on some research and inner guidance, he came to the conclusion that Sai Baba did what He did to help remove very negative old karma from the boys and to remove old karma from the world. And he accepts that many other people came to a different conclusion. Numerous other highly respected spiritual masters (including Amma) have said that Sai Baba is a true incarnation of God and all of his actions only benefit His disciples and the world.

My conclusion: I don't know any details about the controversy, so I can't say one way or another. However, Sai Baba's followers (just like Amma's followers) are doing a truly amazing amount of selfless, effective work to help uplift the poor and needy and humanity in general. They've built countless schools, hospitals, clinics, homes, etc to help all of society. And Sai Baba has inspired millions to lead a more compassionate and conscious life. I've really felt that in the different Sai Baba groups I've been to.

Yathran asked me not to tell anyone about his travels because, as an official Amma renunciate, he's not supposed to visit other gurus or spiritual teachers without Amma's permission. As you can probably guess, Yathran is not his real name.

On a related note, when looking at the life story of many gurus and avatars, its often the case they'll do very controversial actions in order to test the faith of their disciples. A while back an Amma devotee told me that Amma Herself said that someday She'll be the center of a large controversy which will test the faith of Her followers.

My love and devotion to Amma is so deep I don't think there's anything She could do to shake my faith. Well, maybe there is one thing; I think I would have to leave Amma and the ashram if She ever canceled morning and afternoon chai. I'm willing to suffer for enlightenment, but there are some things no human should have to endure.

No comments: