[This article has been written by Amma's devotee, Laura Merwin.]
For six or seven years, I visited Amma during Her public programs when She came to Boston. I came back year after year, not really knowing why. I started doing seva in 2006 when I attended my first retreat. I realized that just sitting near Amma did not seem to be very productive for me. While my ego thought it was the best thing to do, in reality I wasn’t accomplishing anything.
It’s not like I could sit for hours and delve deep into meditation. I could only keep my eyes closed for so long before they would pop open again. Anything would cause my eyes to open; something I heard, someone stepped on me, my leg fell asleep, or I would have a suspicion that I was going to miss seeing Amma do something really sweet. When my eyes were open, they would start to wander. I would look at all the people in line for darshan. I would look at the people sitting close to Amma and wish I was them. I would watch the devotees’ interactions with Amma. I would judge the prasad givers because they didn’t reach Amma’s hand quickly enough. I’d scoff at people for blocking my view of Amma. I would even get angry with Amma for not looking at me! Etcetera. So something that was supposed to be a deep, enlightening experience quickly turned into an “ego-fest” where my mind just completely took over.
As I became aware of the sad reality of the ego, I decided I should do something worthwhile. I started off small at Amma’s programs and I began to respond to the seva requests on the white board. I did things like bookstore security, helping in the snack shop, and chopping vegetables in the kitchen. As the years passed and the desire to imbibe Amma’s teachings became stronger, I started attending local Satsangs throughout the year. As I became part of the Amma community, I soon realized that seva isn’t something to do only when Amma is in town. There is a ton of work to do in preparation for Amma’s annual visit. It takes months and months of planning and labor on the part of ordinary devotees. Not only that, but Amma’s teachings are so universal that they can be practiced at any time throughout the year. For example, Amma’s teachings to care for Mother Nature and feed the hungry can be practiced on a regular basis at Mother’s Kitchen and Greenfriends’ projects. Slowly, I started to become involved in year round sevas and eventually took on coordinator roles for Amma’s visit in Boston. I also seek seva when I travel to other program cities.
I find that doing seva year round really brings me closer to Amma. I’m not sure if my connection to Her is stronger, or if it is just being around “Amma people” more often. Maybe a combination of the two. Regardless, I feel Her presence when I am engaged in seva, and to me, that makes my life complete.
Today, while my ego still rages on, I have found an outlet for my antsy tendencies. I try to stay busy through seva. (It also keeps me awake during those long sleepless Devi Bhava nights!) Doing seva keeps the mind off myself and puts the focus on Amma and Her children. It is a true spiritual practice.
Amma wants us to be active participants in this world, spreading goodness and love to all creatures. Seva is a wonderful way to do this!
Image Source(s): istockphoto.com