Happy Birthday Mama

MY MOTHER IS 88 TODAY. She is in good physical health but has full-blown Dementia and is cared for in her home by a wonderful person who is on hand 24/7. As her daughter, I feel extremely blessed and supported that I have this help, and I still have her.

The EmW work is not only about flying free in ultimate liberation, but is most certainly about grounded practicalities of everyday life. I cannot emphasise this enough. Anybody who thinks that to be liberated is to be free from life ought to return to Start, and think again. I am currently reading a book by a known swami from India and I find myself shaking my head in absolute disagreement. Chasing after ecstatic states and mind-blowing visions is NOT awakening or final liberation. How useful are these when dealing with family emergencies, hospitals and the bank-manager? A truly liberated man can perform all family functions as any other and much more efficiently; a flying yogi might have difficulty with landing gear in bad weather trying to get to the hospital. Granted he might use bilocation, but you get my point. 

EmW is for the Everyman – you and me – and not for pseudo-elitists who believe they are closer to God by swanning around in ochre robes offering mantras with a dollar gleam in one eye. I can recall that experience very well – many, many times. In one of the EmW tweets I wrote that a woman sewing quietly can be closer to God than 100 yogins in Savasana. And I say that as a Jnani. I tried the ochre thing and felt a fraud somehow – who was I trying to kid? There is no need to tell the world who you are by dis-identifying yourself from the mainstream – isn’t that a kind of spiritual arrogance? Who thinks he is free and separate from others?

Of course, this is in the culture in India. And the family structure is completely different from how we live in the west. Often, men who have raised their families are freed by their wives to run off and find awakening with a guru, so you understand why it is the men who achieve guru status and adoring followers by the bullock-cart load.The wives stay at home and deal with family matters while their husbands escape the humdrum with some sort of divine permission for ultimate reward. Women are not released by their husbands to fly free, you see. It’s not ‘done’.

It also explains the idea of the feminine aspect of God in India, Mother God. It is my belief that because male spiritual liberation dominated India’s spiritual canon that the idea of Mother God arose. A man reaches and acknowledges the compassion and benevolence of the Mother – in gratitude and honour – either for his own mother or wife (or both) as the fertile vehicle to bring forth offspring. Women do not have this wonderment about maternity, spiritual or otherwise. I doubt whether the concept of Mother God would have arisen if men and women had both partaken equally of the search for liberation. I know more than a few cases of Indian women who have found spiritual freedom within the family unit after visiting the temple or the guru with their husbands, and have kept it quiet, because never could she abandon her duties to sit in immaculate emptiness in the mountains.

Releasing husbands to find Nirvana when the kids have gone to university is not going to happen in the west. When the spiritual search is resolved by westerners, it is not necessarily apparent, and remember that permanent awakening understands no gender. You are stripped of any notion of sex. For the Mukti, male and female concepts become just form and function as incredible as that seems.

But women love and honour their mothers too in spiritual sorority, if not shared femininity. I was explaining to a young man recently that women together can be extremely funny within an impenetrable gaggle. Eye-watering descriptions of the birth process, stilettos and what-happened-with-the-doctor-at-the-clinic can be paralytically hilarious. The ageing mother is however very beautiful in her wisdom; when she has let go of life’s drama and is simply present with the radiant Light that she truly is. I told my mother last year that she was unsurpassed as a mother, and her blue eyes lit up with gratitude and humility even through the Dementia. I reach her to hold her within my presence every night and thank her for staying with me still. Love is our language well beyond the verbal.

Happy Birthday, Mama. Thank you for your unwavering and devoted love of me, and for your bravery to raise me in the savage racism of London in 1956. I promised to look after you as a little girl, and I will never rescind that. You and my father gave me everything in terms of love, honour and the deepest respect, and I return that majesty multi-fold. I built my life from your kindness, softness and supreme goodness. I remember your words to me once upon a time:

“Your father used to say a happy family is a ‘Temple of God’, although life made many difficulties. I was, after all, a convent girl who bridged a huge divide between East and West, especially at that time when prejudice ruled. When I read his letters, I know what we meant to each other; letters which will be buried with me, please. My love to you, blessed girl – with you, our life began.”

I know you are waiting to leave, I can see it in your eyes, but please don’t go yet. You are giving me the privilege of a slow goodbye so I can get used to the thought of your physical absence. I avoid thinking about it, but wish you your ultimate freedom because you have so earned that liberation. You can’t go anywhere so we will be together for eternity anyway. 

You sweet, pure gentle woman.

 I love you, love you more than words can possibly say.

I am forever your,


Selima Gurtler is a spiritual writer, philosopher, poet and Jnana yogi.

Her modern teachings to Self-Realization and Liberation are uniquely flavoured through the perceptive eyes of her Indian and European heritage.

Free copies of her books are available for download here:  https://www.emwpeace.org/publications/

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Grace Archbishop Desmond Tutu are patrons of her work.




Title image: For Mama © Selima Gurtler 2019



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