"The first step in spiritual life is to have compassion"
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Mātā Amritānandamayī - Bhakti Yoga
Mātā Amritānandamayī is an Indian guru from Parayakadavu, Kollam District, in the state of Kerala.
Born to a family of fishermen in 1953.
As part of her chores, Amṛtānandamayī gathered food scraps from neighbors for her family's cows and goats, through which she was confronted with the intense poverty and suffering of others.
She would bring these people food and clothing from her own home. Her family, which was not wealthy, scolded and punished her.
Amṛtānandamayī also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. Despite the reaction of her parents, Amṛtānandamayī continued.
Regarding her desire to embrace others, Amṛtānandamayī commented, "I don't see if it is a man or a woman. I don't see anyone different from my own self.
A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering."
Amṛtānandamayī rejected numerous attempts by her parents to arrange for her marriage. In 1981, after spiritual seekers had begun residing at her parents' property in Parayakadavu in the hopes of becoming Amṛtānandamayī's disciples, the Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Math (MAM), a worldwide foundation, was founded.
Amṛtānandamayī continues to serve as chairperson of the Math.
Today the Mata Amritanandmayi Math is engaged in many spiritual and charitable activities.
In 1987, at the request of devotees, Amṛtānandamayī began to conduct programs in countries throughout the world. She continues to do so annually.
Darshan Amṛtānandamayī's form of giving darshana is hugging people. As to how this began, Amṛtānandamayī said,
"People used to come and tell [me] their troubles. They would cry and I would wipe their tears. When they fell weeping into my lap, I used to hug them.
Then the next person too wanted it... And so the habit picked up."
Amṛtānandamayī has embraced more than 33 million people throughout the world for over 30 years.
She stresses the importance of meditation, performing actions as karma yoga, selfless service, and cultivating divine qualities such as compassion, patience, forgiveness, self-control, etc.
Amṛtānandamayī has said that these practices refine the mind, preparing it to assimilate the ultimate truth: that one is not the physical body and mind, but the eternal, blissful consciousness that serves as the non-dual substratum of the universe.
Authors Note: I did met her in Santa Cruz Ca USA, her presence was very deep and joyful, full of infinite stillness.