First, I will tell you how I became introduced to Amrita Yoga. I was among the first of the current Beginner Teachers of Amrita Yoga.
I was staying at Amritapuri and enjoying teaching Japanese to students at Amrita University there. It was fun and life was filled with love and humor. One day, Amma, out of the blue, told me that I should learn and teach Amrita Yoga. From then on I diligently attended the retreats at Amritapuri and loved being a student. I would often think, ‘I can always be a beginner.’ By remaining a beginner, I thought I could escape from having to teach.
Amma was very compassionate towards me. During the two-week retreat, students will go up together one after another for Darshan. Each time I would go up with the other participants ahead between Amma and I and, each time she was very loving. I would end up getting a lot of her attention, which I relished.
After a few years, the main instructors at Amritapuri asked me if I would teach the daily classes at the ashram. I refused and managed to quietly escape having to yet teach. I had no idea then of Amma’s plan for me.
During one of the tours, Amma told me to travel to Japan and start teaching Amrita Yoga. I found this overwhelming and asked my instructors to help me. They did their best. Yet, I was still feeling tensed about teaching. Finally, I gave my first class and people loved it! I felt relieved. With Amma’s compassion and her love and guidance, Amrita Yoga is gradually spreading to many parts of Japan.
Primarily the Amrita Yoga beginner sequence is being taught in many places across Japan. It is generally conducted as a 5 hour session followed by puja, seva and satsanga. This year, cities where Amrita Yoga was taught include Osaka, Nigata, Sendai and Shinjuku.
I most fondly remember Osaka. I am originally from Kyoto which is next to Osaka and I always feel at home there. The class was, as usual, fun and full of joy of laughter – people in Osaka have good sense of humor and they especially enjoy laughing with people of Osaka. Osaka is the second biggest city in Japan and the main city of the west part of Japan. The retreat was held in a small district hall with Japanese-style tatami mats (straw mats).
Sendai was the next place. When I arrived at the railway station of Sendai from Tokyo, joyful memories of Amma flooded back to me. Three years before, Amma had been in this same train station. It is one of my most unforgettable memories. Instead of going west to Osaka, where the next program was to take place, Amma suddenly decided to visit the tsunami affected area in Sendai there, which was the opposite direction.
Amma’s compassion is immeasurable, immense and unconditional. Amma could not ignore the people who were suffering from the tragedy of the Tsunami. Amma wanted to wipe the tears of the many suffering people in Sendai. In Japan, we sometimes “smile on our face, but cry in our heart.” In the refugee camps, as soon as people rested in Amma’s arms, they burst into tears.
Amma walked through the camp giving Darshan and love one-by-one. Then, Amma went to the ocean to pray for the departed souls and for those who remain. Amma bowed down to Mother Earth and Mother Ocean and offered flowers of love into the waves. The waves of the sea seemed to spread like a hand to receive the flower from Amma, who is the universe itself. This was among the most unforgettable and touching moments of my life.
I drove Amma’s vehicle to Sendai from Tokyo. To be honest, I was so scared to drive Amma at that time. Amma’s decision to visit the tsunami affected area was very last minute and completely unexpected. When I was asked to drive Amma, it was just past midnight at the Tokyo program and I had just had a strong espresso to stay up all night. Swamij told me to go to bed immediately, but my heart was pumping fast and I was wide awake from the effect of the coffee and nervousness about driving Amma.
I got up and went up to Amma and told Amma how nervous and tense I felt. Amma gave me a big smile and told me “You? Nervous? No!! Don’t worry!!” and she whispered into my ear “my darling son” in English, Malayalam, and Japanese very loud and long. After this, the tension miraculously disappeared and I slept for sometime.
From the relief camps, I also drove Amma to the train station at Sendai. During the drive, Amma’s compassionate smile and sweet voice calling me “darling son” in 3 different languages was there to make me smile. All the tension I had felt turned to joy. Tears flowed down my cheeks as I was driving. When you overcome fear, great joy is waiting for you.
It is so fortunate that we have someone like Amma who knows more than us about ourselves. Faith in our beloved Amma gives us confidence that we can do it. I did not believe nor did I have confidence that I could teach Amrita Yoga or do puja or homa. But because Amma told me to do it, I had faith in Amma that she could use me as an instrument to serve other people and the world.
Now I just simply do my best and the rest I just leave to Amma. It works very well. People are happy and that makes me happy. It is so beautiful. Life is quite simple. Don’t resist; accept whatever comes with a smile.
Amma is teaching me how to be happy – share happiness and more happiness will come!
I also drove Amma from the relief camp to the Sendai railway station. Since it was a long distance from Sendai to Osaka – about 900km, Amma took the bullet train. It was kind of strange to see Amma walking in a place so public like the railway station. When we reached the railway station, Amma got down from the camper to take the train. Amma was giving so much love to the driver to drive all the way back to Osaka. Amma even held my hand all the way to the platform of the busy station.
All the memories of the relief work we did in the tsunami affected area that time came back very clearly as well. The whole city was recovered very quickly, but I heard that there are still lots of people living in temporary shelters. Even though people are smiling on the outside, deep inside there is terrible pain and sorrow.
I started the class at Sendai by sharing these memories of Amma’s visit and her unconditional love. This continued the importance of maintaining this body and mind in order to serve the world and people. Then only we can get more joy by helping others with a healthy body and mind.
Every day is a new arrival of God’s love to all of us. In Amrita Yoga classes here in Japan, we remember God’s love and have lots of moments to laugh and feel the joy of being together.
I offer my gratitude for having Amma in my life to show me the path, to awaken the innate confidence to walk the path and reach the goal.
Author: Viveka Koichi Kanemastu