Amma’s Effortlessness—Understanding From a Yogic Perspective
Sage Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, insists on “Sthiram Sukham Asanam”, which means that the final yogic posture should be firm, yet comfortable and relaxed.
When we practice yoga, our efforts in doing a yogic posture should result in effortlessness; this is the essence of yoga. It sounds contradictory, but the secret lies in understanding this effortlessness.
Effort and effortlessness are not contradictory, but complementary. How does this happen? Through yoga. When we perform an action fully established in a yogic mind, then our efforts will lead to effortlessness.
We walk with ease today, but behind this effortless walking was much effort. Recall our efforts as a small baby to crawl, standup, take falter steps, and then walk, run and jump.
It is the same with our every action, be it swimming, dancing, cycling, writing, eating or sleeping. The initial effort and practice lead to effortless ease in performing the action. But we don’t think that these actions can be yogic.
In normal circumstances our breathing does not require any effort; it is a natural and effortless process.
Some can sing effortlessly; some can paint effortlessly; some can swim and dance effortlessly. We call these people talented with a God-endowed gift. But behind the talent, there may have been efforts from many previous births. What we are today is the result of what we have done in the past. Tomorrow depends on what we do today. We have to take care of now, the present moment, forgetting the past and future.
But the yogic way of doing things effortlessly is different and requires understanding and awareness. One can master effortlessness in a particular action like swimming, painting etc., but a yogi can do every action with ease and effortlessness. Complete awareness of our every action is yoga. To understand this awareness, we have to be in the presence of a Mahatma like Amma and learn. When we are in the presence of a Mahatma and Mahayogini like Amma, we can understand the dynamics of yoga, that is, Amrita Yoga.
Amma sits for hours and hours giving darshan completely with ease—the best example of effortless action. The people who serve Amma during darshan take turns or seek replacement after two or three hours of seva, but Amma continues to sit at the same place for hours and hours without any tiredness or fatigue.
Amma listens to thousands of people, their problems, desires, pains, and joys, while physically hugging them too. Apart from this, Amma multi-tasks while giving darshan. Yet Amma is not tired. How is this possible?
With one hand Amma hugs people, with another hand She receives the prasad and passes it to the devotee, all in a nanosecond. At the same time, She transmits dvine energy to the people who are sitting around her; and concurrently she allocates substantial time for institutional and personal issues. All these actions happen simultaneously while She gives darshan.
Amma performs every action with complete awareness and detachment, whether it is giving prasad to thousands of devotees every Tuesday, singing and recording a new bhajan, answering a complicated question during satsanga, taking a decision which involves millions of rupees, or making a fabric painting. As She is always one with universal consciousness, the ease, effortlessness and grace flows into Her actions.
Amma is one with universal consciousness and energy. She is always connected to the Source, so She never gets exhausted. As Maharishi Patanjali says, Her posture is sthiram sukham asanam while giving darshan. This is possible when we discover our connectivity with the ultimate Source. This is Yoga. When we watch Amma and learn from Her, it is Amrita Yoga.
We have to learn three things from Amma to perform an action in a Yogic way:
Complete awareness: Awareness in every action means focusing our mind and energy on the action without dwelling on the past and future. As we observe our thoughts that trigger actions, we obtain the skill of a witnessing attitude. When we witness every action while performing it, doership dissolves and so does success or failure; good or bad becomes irrelevant to us. We work for work’s sake.
Detachment: We are pulled by our likes and dislikes, which create various desires within us that result in bondage. When we do work with a desire in mind, we cannot call it a Yogic action. Desireless action leads to detachment. Lord Krishna says that when we shun desires we connect to universal energy and consciousness. When we work for work’s sake, we obtain detachment. The sun shines because it is the dharma of the sun; the river flows because of its essential nature. Everything in nature is assigned a cosmic duty.
Connecting to universal consciousness and energy: A yogi should always connect to universal energy, shunning his or her individuality. This is the purpose of yoga. How to stay connected to this universal energy? There are many ways taught by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita: knowledge or self-enquiry (jnana), practice and effort (abhyasa—which includes Ashtanga Yoga by Maharishi Patanjali), surrendering our actions to the Divine (bhakti), and working for work’s sake without attachment (karma yoga).
When we obtain the maturity to accept the good and bad results of every action with detachment, then effortlessness flows into each of our actions. We work with grace; we are established in yoga. This is what Lord Krishna calls Kaushalam (meaning that Yoga is skill in action when performed with an equipoise mind). We understand that we are not the doer, but a sheer observer. Our mind and body are just instruments that express the cosmic plan and action. Then our efforts appear to us as expressions of the Divine, which become egoless effort. This is effortlessness.
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