Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri's Message
On Wednesday, July 11th, 2018 in the midst of the excitement of Amma’s Toronto retreat, AYUDH members from all over the Americas and the world gathered with Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri for a special meeting of new and returning AYUDH youth, alumni, and mentors. Anticipating the annual AYUDH Americas youth summit from August 1st-5th, 2018 at M.A. Center Chicago, both the youth present and any interested youth from anywhere in the world between the ages of 14 and 30 are lovingly invited to join the summit in just a few weeks. Please find out more, register, and request financial aid, if needed, at https://www.ayudh.org/the-ripple-effect-2018/ as soon as possible!
The meeting began with a presentation on the collective efforts of AYUDH chapters across North and South America, describing the youth-led initiatives towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the work of these determined young people to engage and make an impact on society. These achievements can be found at https://www.ayudh.org/initiatives-and-progress/ and just a few included serving over 8,000 meals to the hungry across the Americas, providing over 3,500 “Blessing Bags” of hygienic supplies to people in need, and raising over $6,000 to support educational efforts for youth around the world in Embracing the World projects in Kenya, India, the Philippines, and Haiti.
After the presentation, Swamiji began a discussion with the youth on the importance of maintaining a spiritual emphasis amidst all the knowledge learned throughout schooling and beyond in life. For many in the crowd, as Amma says, we are at the midpoint of life. We are neither a child with innocence but no discrimination, nor an adult with a heart colonized by unnecessary things. “You are lucky, maybe you are the luckiest handful of youngsters! You have a connection with Amma. Now how are you going to carry that forward?” he began. Swamiji explained how “this connection with Amma is precious, it is the most important part of your life.” As we go out into the world, in school or professional life, we may be influenced by people from the community and experience peer pressure to develop negative habits. Amidst this pressure, Swamiji posed the question, “How do you remain strong? How do you remain independent within? How do we remain as Amma’s children within and influence them, rather than getting influenced by them?”
Swamiji continued, “The knowledge aspect must have a more spiritual emphasis or you may err from the path.” Warning of the craftiness of the mind and the ease at which just one occurence of a negative habit can overpower our discrimination, Swamiji gave the example of the temptation to drink alcohol, even if just for a day to fit in or just for the company. “The first mistake happens there. Tomorrow the same urge comes. If you’re not strong enough, you are going to fall.”
Swamiji then asked the group, how many of you have a mantra from Amma? Many hands went up in the crowd. He then asked, and how many of you repeat that mantra every day? Several hands went down. And how many of you meditate every day? Just a few hands went up. Swamiji stressed the importance of spiritual practices like meditation, sincere prayer, and chanting the mantra to become strong in the face of such negative thoughts and peer pressure. In order to avoid collecting and building too many emotions leading to mental exhaustion, Swamiji emphasized the importance of processing emotions when recalling problems or facing conflicts in the world. “Meditation is the way to do this,” he said. Meditation helps build the recovery through F.I.R., decreasing the Frequency, decreasing the Intensity, and making the Recovery period from such thoughts faster. For example, if we get angry or confused facing situations in life, it may take us a whole day or many days to come out of it. Getting angry is natural, he said, but meditation will help to slowly, over time, bring the F.I.R. down from many days to just one day to only a few hours and so on. Swamiji explained that meditating will ultimately lead to the experience of relaxation and clarity if done everyday.
Nevertheless, this process is not easy, Swamiji admitted, and requires a lot of discipline. Discipline is very important, especially for those AYUDH members who spend more time in the world or whose professions make it difficult to spend time with Amma. “How do you develop discipline in your life?” In order to process conflicts and emotions with F.I.R., “you have to force your mind. It won’t happen naturally” due to the nature of the intellect and sense organs, forever directed outwards at the ever-changing world rather than inwards. You must tell your mind with conviction, “sit here and pray” and gradually increase the amount of time you spend in meditation each day. “You will experience peace. You will be more relaxed and happier if you do it every day.” Once you get a taste of this peace, Swamiji said, you will want to continue this practice everyday. “Everything starts with conscious effort and then it becomes spontaneous,” he encouraged.
Finally, Swamiji then spoke on how to engage peers in AYUDH’s spiritual and social goals, giving simple examples like sharing value-based posts on Facebook to transform it instead into something that inspires people. “Being an AYUDH member means you have to be different and create an impact on people. How do you become different in a positive way?” Swamiji then explained how there are many youngsters who want to change, who want to do something good for society. If in a group of twenty-five, even just one or two peers want to change, that is enough. Just one person can inspire the world and transform society. “Mahatma Gandhi was just one person. Amma is just one person, though She is the whole universe, but She is just one person!”
Swamiji said, “Amma has already planted a piece of Herself in each and every one of you.” He explained how in life when difficulties arise, sometimes some karma cannot be changed and we may need to go through certain unavoidable experiences in life because each and every one of us is different. However, he stressed confidently, because each of us has a connection and personal bond with Amma, “I am positive that these youngsters who have met Amma will definitely come back, even if they go astray.” Swamiji concluded, “Keep the love within you ablaze! And that happens only when you establish a personal bond with Amma. Amma is creating that bond even if you try to run away. That bond will always remain with you.”
Any interested individuals ages 14-30, AYUDH alumni, mentors, and the young at heart are lovingly invited to the AYUDH Americas annual summit, The Ripple Effect 2018--Live to Love happening at M.A. Center Chicago from August 1st-5th, 2018. In addition to social projects, community building, and lots of fun, there will be personal empowerment activities that include meditation and IAM classes, yoga, reflection, and mindfulness. Please register ASAP to take advantage of discounted rates and apply for financial assistance, if needed, at https://www.ayudh.org/the-ripple-effect-2018/ .