The feeling closest to our True Self is love. Our lives are meant to be born in love, to live in love, and to eventually end in love. In truth, love has no end; it is eternal and connects every aspect of creation — human beings with each other, with Nature, and with God. Thus, its effulgence is forever within us as our very essence. Tragically, even though most of us spend our lives in search of love, the majority die without finding it. However, we should take heart, for while our true nature may be temporarily obscured from us, it can never be destroyed.
Spirituality is striving to reawaken that love, to reopen our eyes to it. To do this, we need to make a little space in our hearts for others. Spirituality is not against striving for material gains. It only reminds us that, just as we have our dreams, others also have their dreams. Therefore, we should not step on others’ dreams in order to attain ours. We need to help others just as we help ourselves.
In India, at least 20 percent of the thousands of people who come to see me each day are teetering on the edge of destitution and suicide. Seeing the sadness on the face of a woman who recently came to see me, I asked her what was wrong. She said she suffered from chronic kidney failure. After her diagnosis, her husband had left her, leaving her with their two children. Without any education or job, she had to borrow money from loan sharks, who were now harassing her. She said, “Amma, to survive, I’m supposed to undergo 10 weekly dialysis sessions. I can’t even dream of that kind of money. So, I have no choice but to skip some.”
My eyes filled with tears. I told her not to worry — that our hospital would take care of her medical needs and that the ashram would help educate her children. Hearing this, she burst into tears. She then confessed that she had been so hopeless that she had planned to poison her children and commit suicide. “I’d even written the suicide note.”
What would have happened if I had not enquired about her life? There are thousands of such families. To see and help them, we just need eyes and a heart that feels.
There will always be rich and poor. However, currently the gap between the haves and have-nots transcends all bounds. It is like a mountain on one side and an abyss on the other. Unless we reduce this gap, it could result in unrest, even violence. We need to build a bridge of compassion. We need to cultivate an outlook that appreciates the essential oneness of all beings. Although we may see 1,000 suns reflected in 1,000 pots of water, there is only one sun. When we see the consciousness within all of us as one, we will develop an outlook that considers the needs of others before our own desires for luxury.
Once a woman who had the habit of buying lavish things spent a month in our ashram. Later, she wrote me a letter. She said, after returning home, she had become obsessed with owning a particular expensive designer watch. To save the money, she had to work overtime. When she had saved enough, she went to the jeweler. However, in the shop, she suddenly remembered our ashram’s orphanage. She thought, “While buying this watch may make me happy for some time, I could use the money to help so people who lack basic necessities instead. Even a $10 watch is enough to know the time.” Finally she decided to buy a cheap watch and use the money to help the poor instead. She concluded by writing, “Thank you for helping me reconnect with the love within me.”
Such expansive attitudes will dawn if we imbibe spirituality. If our left hand is injured, the right hand will spontaneously caress it. Why? Because they are one. Similarly, appreciating that we are all of one essence should prompt us to act accordingly, serving the poor and needy. This understanding and effort is what is meant by “making space in our hearts for others.” If we can do this, little by little we can come to experience the love that is our True Self.
Remember, we all have something to give. A smile doesn’t cost one cent, yet all too often we forget to give even this to others. We have nothing to lose by looking at people with love and affection. Even our seemingly most insignificant acts can help others.
May the circle of love within everyone expand and gradually come to embrace all of creation.
Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) is a world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader. Amma is the head of Embracing the World, a multi-national collective of not-for-profit organizations dedicated to providing food, clothing and shelter for the poor and needy. Every day thousands of people come to seek her solace, spiritual wisdom and blessings, which Amma gives in the form of motherly hug.