What is it like to live with the Master? It is simple and joyful. It is deeply fulfilling and sweet. It is full of little practices that keep our focus on peace and gratitude throughout the day.
We eat simple, delicious vegetarian food, full of colour and vitality. At mealtimes we sit silently on the floor together in a rather zen style, quietly giving thanks for the nourishment we are receiving with every mouthful of food.
We call this the Gratitude Practice and it evolved from the stories that Sri Avinash shared with us of his journey as a spiritual seeker. I cannot express how much we adore hearing the stories he shares of his journey to enlightenment, of all the things he used to do, of how his mindset was and all the situations that happened to test and strengthen him along the way. They are just magical and help us tremendously on our journey too, as we have taken to adopting many of his traits.
One such story was when he was serving his Master, Amma, he would generally take his meals and eat in quiet contemplation of the blessing it is to serve a Master. His heart would overflow with gratitude to Amma and God for taking such good care of him, for providing the chance to live his dream in serving humanity and for nourishing him with every breath, sip of water or mouthful of food. He would tell us of how tears of gratitude would well up in his eyes every time he thought about how much God loved and cared for him.
All of us living with the Master were so inspired by this story that we all do the Gratitude Practice now at mealtimes. Slowly, we raise the food to our mouths and hold a feeling of thankfulness at the forefront of our minds with every bite. It is absolutely incredible what this simple practice does. It has opened up my whole world.
Let’s say we are eating a stir-fry. Well, with the Gratitude Practise all of a sudden I can taste the sun in the vegetables, I can also taste the clouds and the rain. I can feel the earth that held the vegetables and the farmer’s hands that tended them. I can hear the bees that pollinated the flowers that became the food I am eating. I think of the truck driver that transported the vegetables and the shop assistant that displayed them. I can feel the love of the Sister that cooked the meal and the love of the Master with his extraordinary care for every single aspect of my life, nourishing me on all levels of the mind, body and spirit.
With this practice, it doesn’t conceptually seem like we are all one and that God is loving and supporting us. It is impossible for me not to tangibly and concretely know with absolute certainty that the entire universe is tenderly and lovingly nourishing me, that the light of all the stars is in me and all around me. And when I feel this way, I feel the deepest love of God. After all, who else but God is responsible for everything that I just mentioned, who else but God could arrange an entire universe to support and nourish me, from the sun in the sky to the bees in the trees, where would I be without them? Ohh, how my own eyes well up with gratitude at the thought of how loved and blessed I am.
And so, a meal is no longer simply “eating,” it transforms into communion with God, a space of prayerful thankfulness and overwhelming gratitude for my life, my Master and the Lord. Every moment in that space of gratitude makes problems seem minuscule and helps to find literally thousands of other things to be grateful for in this life. Walking in the footsteps of my Master, life unfolds more and more as a glorification of life and of the ultimate giver of life, a truly beautiful way to live.