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Teacher focuses on motherhood qualities.

Byline: FROM HEART TO HEART By Bhavia Wagner and Arun Toke For The Register-Guard

When we celebrate Mother's Day, we are reminded by Amma, a living woman saint from India, of the contribution of mothers. Amma tells us, "Whenever you see happy, peaceful individuals; wherever you see children with noble qualities and good dispositions; wherever you see people who possess a great measure of understanding, sympathy, love and compassion towards suffering, and who give of themselves to others - you will usually find a great mother who has inspired them to become what they are."

Mata Amritanandamai, known as Amma or Ammachi, has devoted her life to relieving suffering. Amma means mother in the Malyalam language of Kerala, India, where Amma is based. She travels around the world as a spiritual teacher, giving motherly hugs, awakening spirituality in people and promoting humanitarian projects. Amma says that to create peace, we need to wake up and bring forth our innate qualities of universal motherhood: patience, tolerance and unconditional love.

Amma comes from a Hindu tradition, but her teachings are universal. Amma encourages her students to live from the heart and to follow the path of devotion to God as a spiritual practice, which includes devotional songs, prayer, selfless service to others and seeing God in everyone, everything.

We can learn much from Amma's extraordinary, exemplary life. Full of compassion and humility, she consoles and counsels, cleanses minds and touches hearts and souls. Her charitable projects include establishing hospitals, schools, homes for widows and orphanages in India.

"Serve God by serving the poor," Amma says. Her students in Eugene have recently begun to cook and serve free lunch to the homeless twice a month at the Eugene Service Station on Highway 99, run by St. Vincent de Paul.

In October 2002, the United Nation's Gandhi/King Peace Award was given to Amma. In her keynote address in Geneva, Amma said that the world is out of balance, dominated by aggression. To bring peace and harmony into the world, women need to take their rightful place in society, and men and women need to work in cooperation with each other.

"Women need to wake up and arise! This is one of the most urgent needs of the age," said Amma. "The love of awakened motherhood is a love and compassion felt not only towards one's children, but towards all people, animals and plants, rocks and rivers - a love extended to all of nature, to all beings. This love, this motherhood, is Divine Love - and that is God," Amma teaches. "The essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who have given birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men."

Amma comes to Seattle once a year as a part of her world tour. This year, she will offer a free public program on Thursday and a spiritual retreat from June 6 to 8. For more information, call 343-3782.

Bhavia Wagner is the author of "Soul Survivors: Stories of Women and Children in Cambodia," and Arun Toke publishes Skipping Stones, a multicultural magazine. Amma's Eugene Satsang meets weekly, and all are welcome. Information: 342-4589.
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Title Annotation:Religion
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 31, 2003
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