In union there is strength

We believe that Indian guru Mata Amritanandamayi known as the “Hugging Saint” is Embezzling The World. Help us to spread the truth about her.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

ETW II : Motherhood

The acronym ETW has several meanings. It can stand for "Embracing The World" or "Embezzling The World". In this post, it stands for "Empowering The Women". It is the second of a series, aiming at taking a closer look at a speech entitled "The Awakening of Universal Motherhood" that Amma gave in Geneva on October 7th 2002, when she received the Gandhi-King award. We would like to give our personal point of view about it. This speech seems to be seriously regressive.

Amma's speech is full of contradictions, maybe to fit each and everyone's specific conditions of life. But there is one point which remains absolutely the same from the begining to the end of the address. This point is mentioned in the title : Motherhood. She keeps on saying that the only way to salvation goes through motherhood and it is not an option for the women :
"no external power can possibly obstruct woman or her innate qualities of motherhood"
"The greatest strength of women lies in their innate motherhood"
"Women are essentially mothers"
"what is the ABC of women? What is the very fibre of a woman’s being, her existence? It is her inborn qualities, the essential principles of motherhood"
"Just as ABC is the beginning of the alphabet, the quality of "motherhood" is the foundation of a woman"
"woman should take extra care that her qualities of motherhood — her essential nature as a woman"
"The more a woman identifies with her inner motherhood, the more she awakens to that shakti, or pure power"
"Women everywhere have to actualise the qualities of motherhood within themselves. This is the only way to realize our dream of peace and harmony"

On some occasions she sounds a little bit universal :
"There is a man in the unconscious of a woman, and a woman in the unconscious of a man"
"The essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who have given birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men"
Does she really ask both men and women to unfold their inner motherhood? So why does the terms "woman" and "women" get used 178 times in her speech? The unfoldment of universal motherhood essentially targets the women. What does motherhood means fot Amma? In her view motherhood is two-fold.

There is a spiritual part :
"The love of awakened motherhood is a love and compassion felt not only towards one’s own children, but towards all people, animals and plants, rocks and rivers — a love extended to all of nature, to all beings. Indeed, to a woman in whom the state of true motherhood has awakened, all creatures are her children. This love, this motherhood, is Divine Love — and that is God."
There is a social part :
"Even if she has to divide herself, and do many different things simultaneously, a woman is gifted with the ability to carry out all actions with great beauty and perfection. Even in her role as a mother, a woman is able to bring forth many different facets of her being — she has to be warm and tender, strong and protective, and a strict disciplinarian."
There we are! It is about developping the society in the hope of unfolding women's spiritually. It is about reminding that men don't behave, so women must be perfect for the world to go round anyway.

Men don't behave? No they don't, Amma provides several instances :
"The primitive customs invented by men in the past to exploit and to subjugate women remain alive to this day"
"Men have forced women to become like potted plants, stunting their freedom and development"
"Men try to make women into tape recorders, which they like to control, to stop and start, fast forward and rewind, according to their whims and fancies"
"Men consider themselves superior to women, both physically and intellectually"
"This is the attitude of men in general. It lies in their nature to belittle and condemn the achievements of women." 
"The arrogance of men’s mistaken attitude — that women cannot survive in society without depending on men — is obvious in everything that men do"
"women are pushed back when it comes to sharing political power with men" 
"Is it this way because women are incapable, or is it due to the arrogance of men?" 
"They were in all likelihood invented later by men who belonged to the higher classes of society, in order to exploit and oppress women" 
"Yet no one considers the injustice of women being ruled by men." 
"If there exists any rule that oppresses women, it must have arisen from the selfishness of men" 
"Statistics show that men — not women — commit by far most of the crime and killing in this world"
"The ancient teachings of the sages have been distorted to fit within the narrow frames of men’s selfish desires."
"In general, today’s women are living in a world fashioned by and for men" 

She reminds us that the world is in a very bad situation :
"... everything is being contaminated and made unnatural ... men’s lives have become fragmented, often painful ... Wars and conflicts, all the suffering and lack of peace ... conflicts, violence, and war ... oppression and violence against women... war zones and areas of communal strife ...  female foeticide and infanticide ... Child labour ... dowry system ... child trafficking and the sexual exploitation of young girls ... rapes taking place all over the world ... lack of education and poverty ... "
What can men do to make a better world?
"Men and women have to support one another"
"Men, too, have to awaken to their feminine qualities. They have to develop empathy and understanding in their attitude towards women, and in the way they relate to the world."
"Men should move out of her path; nay, they should prepare her path, to make her forward movement smoother."
"What today’s world really needs is cooperation between men and women, based on a firm sense of unity in the family and society"

Is that all? Yes, that's all. Men would like to do more than that but they can't because they are impeded by their natural inborn qualities :
"A man’s mind easily becomes identified with his thoughts and actions. Male energy can be compared to stagnant water; it doesn’t flow. The mind and intellect of a man usually get stuck in the work that he does. It is difficult for men to shift their minds from one focus to another. Because of this, the professional life and family life of many men become intertwined. Most men cannot separate the two."
Poor little babies. How sad to be born this way. What can women do to make a better world? Everything! Women can do absolutely everything. They are so gifted! So great! They are so brilliant, so pure, so intelligent, so skilled, so clever, so full of energy, so resistant, so caring, so loving, so soft, so selfless, so kind, so powerful, so... They have so many natural inborn abilities that they must turn into supergoddesses to save the world :
"Women, on the other hand, have an inborn capacity to do this. It is a deep-rooted tendency of a man to bring his professional persona home and behave accordingly in his relationship with his wife and children. Feminine energy, or a woman’s energy, is fluid like a river. This makes it easy for a woman to be a mother, a wife, and a good friend who provides her husband with confidence. She has the special gift to be the guide and advisor of the entire family."
"A woman has the ability to divide herself into many. Contrary to men, women have the capacity to do several things at the same time." 
"The power of a woman’s innate motherhood helps her to find a deep sense of peace and harmony within herself. This enables her to reflect and react at the same time; whereas a man tends to reflect less and react more. A woman can listen to the sorrows of other people and respond with compassion; but, still, when faced with a challenge, she can rise to the situation and react as strongly as any man"
"The greatest strength of women lies in their innate motherhood, in their creative, life-giving power. And this power can help women to bring about a far more significant change in society than men could ever accomplish"
"Women can perform all tasks just as well as men — perhaps even better"
"Women have the willpower and creative energy to do any type of work" 
"Whatever the form of action, women can attain extraordinary heights, and this is true especially on the spiritual path. Women have the purity of mind and intellectual capacity to achieve this"
"Only love, compassion, and patience — the fundamental qualities of women — can lessen the intrinsically aggressive, overactive tendencies of men"
"it is the patience and tolerance of women that create the harmony that exists in the world." 
"Women are the power and the very foundation of our existence in the world" 
"Woman is the creator of the human race. She is the first Guru, the first guide and mentor of humanity"
"The responsibility of a mother, when it comes to influencing and inspiring her children, cannot be underestimated" 
"There is much truth in the saying that there is a strong woman behind every successful man" 
"Mothers are the ones who are most able to sow the seeds of love, universal kinship, and patience in the minds of human beings" 
"Today when competition and anger are the norm everywhere, it is the patience and tolerance of women that create the harmony that exists in the world" 
"A woman, on her part, should think of what she can give to society, rather than what she can take" 
"It should be underscored that a woman doesn’t need to receive or to take anything from anyone" 
"Women have a duty to the world and to themselves" 
No one else can do what women do. Needless to even thank them for their dedication because they don't "need to receive or to take anything". They humbly remain in the background, behind the "successful man", like obedient servants. If they refuse to fullfill all these expectations then the world will be destroyed :
"Rarely do we see this kind of confluence of qualities in men. So, in fact, women have a greater responsibility than men in society."
"Women hold the reins of integrity and unity in the family and in society"  
"When women lose touch with their real selves, the harmony of the world ceases to exist, and destruction sets in" 
"It is therefore crucial that women everywhere make every effort to rediscover their fundamental nature, for only then can we save this world" 
"If women themselves turn their backs on the feminine principle, this will culminate in the utter failure of women and society. Then the problems of the world will not be resolved, but only aggravated"
Let's not forget that life is sometimes hard. Therefore the women must also become strong and acquire a few masculine qualities in addition to motherhood, remembering to remain pure at the same time, while avoiding to go too far into freedom :
"woman should take extra care that her qualities of motherhood — her essential nature as a woman — don’t become contaminated and distorted"
"for shakti, or pure power, to awaken and arise in a woman, she first has to become aware of her own weaknesses. She can then overcome those weaknesses through her willpower, selfless service, and spiritual practice"
"there are women who need the qualities of men, so that their goodness and purity don’t immobilize them"
"they should remember the real meaning of freedom. It is not a license to live and behave any way one likes, regardless of the consequences for others; it doesn’t mean that wives and mothers should run away from their family responsibilities"
"If women reject their feminine qualities and try to become like men, cultivating only masculine qualities, the imbalance in the world will only become greater" 
"The real need is for women to contribute all they can to society by developing their universal motherhood, as well as their "masculine" qualities."
"In a sense, women are responsible for narrowing their own world. By giving undue importance to attire and external beauty, women are inadvertently selling themselves into the ideas that men have of women"

That's what her whole "spiritual" speech is all about. Woman, sacrifice yourself for your family and for the society if you want to unfold spiritually! Amma doesn't only says it, she proves it. She gives darshan for hours, pretending it's a piece of cake. The example of her life goes further than her speech : Woman, sacrifice yourself totally and you'll be a worshipped goddess, able to raise an international empire, even if you come from a poor family!

But according to Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri things are not as smooth as she claims them to be :
"Including the morning darshan, She will be seated for about 22 hours. The only thing She gets in return is the physical strain and pain. Is there any better proof than this of Amma’s love?"
Radhika Nair tells exactly the same thing :
" Time and physical strain are of no hindrance to Her. Even here in the West after a long Devi Bhava, She often stays to help clean up"
"Feeling helpless at seeing Amma put Herself through this strain, I had no choice but to accept it and I went to bed" 
Seetha doesn't deny their testimonials :
"her love flows in spite of her extreme bodily discomfort and strain"
Does pain necessarily prove love? Beaten women often remain with their partners, sometimes death ensues is it love? Prostitutes often suffer with their clients, is it love? Enduring pain proves mental strength or weakness but it doesn't give any clue regarding the motivations. It is widely known that beggars earn more money when they are inflicted with impressive deformities. The religious processions harvest more donations when they perform mortifications of the flesh on a volunteer. Seeing pain deeply moves our heart.

Amma's hug reminds us of love. It provokes emotions. When we see the dark scar on her right cheek  and when we see the brahmacharinis massaging her feet and shoulders, we know that she has extreme pain. Our emotions double. Do we open our wallets twice as wide?

Displaying infinite divine love in public has a finite human price in private. Amma wants to prove that it is possible for a woman to meet the exacting demands listed in her speech. She looks like the perfect loving mother on stage but according to Gail Tredwell, the bill is huge and it is paid behind the curtains. Why trying so badly to look like a surreal mother? We'll try to guess the answer in our next post.