Spiritual Workshops Bring Teachings of ‘Hugging Saint’

October 21, 2005

DAYAMRITA Swami arrived in Costa Rica Wednesday on his third visit here to conduct spiritual workshops in an effort to spread the teachings of the guru Amma through Sunday.Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as Amma, has gained notoriety worldwide for her humanitarian acts as well as her custom of embracing everyone she meets. Also known as the “Hugging Saint,” it is said that Amma has hugged roughly 30 million people.Over the years, she has gained a large number of followers; some have dedicated their lives to living as she does. Dayamrita is one of those followers. After meeting Amma in 1984, he was moved by her teachings. Three years later he moved to Amma’s center in South India and is now one of her senior Monastic Disciples.NINE years ago, Amma asked him to head her organization in the United States and Canada.“Dayamrita is a very devout monk in total service to Amma and the spiritual life,” says Iswari, who has followed Amma for 17 years and runs Casa Amma in Puerto Viejo.Now running the Mata Amritanandamayi Center in California, Dayamrita leads numerous retreats and workshops throughout the Americas each year.In Costa Rica, he will be leading a workshop to teach the Integrated Amrita Meditation (IAM) Technique.According to those who practice the IAM Technique, it is meant to integrate the mind, body, intellect and heart, and lead to an integration of the “True Self” with God.IT is not only her hugs, but her dedication to charitable works through which Amma has gained recognition. She has launched numerous projects and charities that help the less fortunate.Working for peace is another of Amma’s causes. In 2002, she was awarded the Ghandi-King Award for Non-Violence, at the United Nation’s Geneva headquarters.A driving force behind her work has been her faith. “When somebody is suffering, we should sympathize with him,” Amma has said in promotional material. “But that is not enough, we should be ready to help him because God is everywhere.”To better help others, the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust was established, through which a number of charities are run.IN India, her larger aid programs include an 800-bed hospital that provides no-cost care and treatment and a housing project that is building 25,000 homes to give to the poor over a five-year period. Soup kitchens, in India as well as the United States, serve tens of thousands of meals each month. Hundreds of other organizations, from youth groups and orphanages to pension projects and GreenFriends, an environmental aid project, are carried out in her name.WORKING to build a better future for the less fortunate is something Amma strives toward.“If there are at least two youths in every village who will set out to serve the world, and disseminate spiritual wisdom, we will be able to build a new world,” Amma has said in her teachings.With this in mind, the Amrita Elementary and Secondary Education program, which establishes schools in remote and tribal areas of India, and the Amrita Vocational and Graduate Institutions, which provide opportunities to people who would otherwise not be able to continue their education, were founded.TODAY and tomorrow from 7-9 p.m. Dayamrita will hold satsung, or spiritual meetings open to the public. IAM classes are scheduled May 8-9 at the Federación Organización Voluntarias in Barrio Tournón, located at Calle 1 and Ave. 13, 125 meters south of ULACIT. IAM courses are free, but pre-registration is required.For more info, call 750-0082 (English), 297-5474 (Spanish) or e-mail casa9amma@hotmail.com. For info regarding Amma and her charities, see www.amma.org or www.amrita.edu (educational projects).

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