We all know the expression: giving is better than receiving, yet “giving” isn’t specified and we can give in many different ways. Perhaps you make regular donations to charities or perhaps you donate old clothes and household items to shelters and orphanages. But isn’t it quite a different level of “giving” when we donate our time and effort? In that way, we literally give of ourselves, our personal energy and time, our selfless love and kindness, our compassion and service.
As I wrote in my previous article on Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma), her life’s work is built on the premise of love for all beings and selfless service. Amma offers a flawless example of how to live selflessly, working with all her heart to serve others. Amma says, “Lending a helping hand to a neglected soul, feeding the hungry, a compassionate smile towards the sad and dejected, this, is the real service, a manifestation of true Love. We should invoke God’s compassion in our own hearts and hands.”
Embracing the World is a not-for-profit international collective of charities founded by Amma to help alleviate human suffering and provide those in need with the five basic needs: food, shelter, education, healthcare and livelihood, wherever and whenever possible. Their website states, “We believe that having these needs met is the fundamental right of any human being, and that it is the responsibility of each of us to strive hard to ensure that one day, every human being can live in dignity, safety, security and peace. We also believe that everyone – rich or poor – has the power to make a difference in the life of another, and that no selfless gesture is insignificant. Rather, it is the selfless actions we perform for one another that hold the keys to true peace – peace in the individual, peace in the community, and peace among diverse cultures, nations and faiths.”
Embracing the World is an organization that is involved in many different areas. To name a few:
Empowering Women – through education, employment and microfinancing;
Education – through scholarships for children of farmers in crises, industrial training centers, schools for the hearing- and speech impaired;
Disaster Relief – through the $46 million tsunami-relief project, Hurricane Katrina, Japan Earthquake/tsunami; Haiti Earthquake; Gujarat Earthquake and 2008 Bihar Flood and more;
Homes and Slum Renovation – through durable and sustainable developments and apartment blocks (to date, ETW has successfully relocated 1,600 families from abysmal slums into clean, new apartment blocks);
Care Homes for Children (Embracing the World currently runs two care homes for a total of more than 600 children – one in Paripally, Kerala and one in Nairobi, Kenya);
Fighting Hunger – through distributing uncooked rice, milk and other staples to deeply impoverished communities (Internationally, ETW feeds more than 100,000 people each year, including 75,000 people in 47 cities throughout North America);
Green Initiatives – through promoting environmental awareness and local participation in conservation efforts throughout the world (GreenFriends activities include permaculture, organic food production and beekeeping. GreenFriends also builds eco-friendly dwellings, promotes the use of Efficient Micro-organisms (EM) as sanitizing agents, preserves land and water ecosystems, recycles and reduces waste).
Amma says: “We can never close our eyes to the world in the name of spirituality. Self-realization is the ability to see ourselves in all beings. This is the third eye through which you see, even while your two eyes are wide open. We should be able to love and serve others, seeing ourselves in them. This is the fulfillment of spiritual practice.”
Although it has many of its larger projects based in India and developing countries, Embracing the World is active in more than 40 countries around the world. To learn more about how you can help in your own community, please contact the Embracing the World associate organization nearest you.
Sunanda Jordon is the Acquisitions Editor for the Wellness section of Parvati Magazine. She is a practitioner of craniosacral therapy in Vaughan, Canada, and has also studied Reiki.