Interview with Devadas Chelvam

What motivated you to be a writer?
I started my professional life as a Catholic priest in Sri Lanka. I fully believed in all of the doctrines of the church. Five years later I started having doubts. After struggling with these doubts I ended up in the opposite camp of being a materialistic non-believer. Utterly unexpected were the profound personal experiences that opened my heart to spirituality in all the religions. I wanted to share my new found insights with others. That motivated me to do further research and write this book.
Along the way of writing, did you experience any writer's block?
I had some misgivings about starting to write since I could easily become vain and proud as a writer. Hence I approached Amma, the famous hugging saint, and asked her about it. Amma encouraged me by saying that I should write. The writing came easily at the start. Three months later I could not proceed even though I tried hard. That was truly a writer's block. I told Amma about it. She laughed loud and hugged me twice more. Then I realized that it was her special blessing, and the writing proceeded smoothly afterwards.
How do you wake up in the morning and start the day?
I wake up happily saying "I love you Amma" again and again. I continue talking to Amma while brushing my teeth and drinking a cup of water, thanking Amma or God for everything. Afterwards I say more prayers and meditate for two hours before breakfast. These practices are necessary for me to be peaceful and focused during the day.
You started your life with much devotion to Lord Jesus Christ. Now, do you have more devotion to Amma and not as much to Lord Jesus?
I lost my devotion to Lord Jesus for a few years when I was a materialistic non-believer. After my profound personal experiences my early devotion to Lord Jesus started bubbling in my heart again. My devotion to Paramahansa Yogananda, other sages and now to Amma are not detracting or lowering my devotion to Lord Jesus. Instead it seems to increase ever more deeply within my heart. Love is not something material that decreases through sharing. On the contrary it increases through such sharing. When you truly love anybody at all your love and devotion to Lord Jesus keeps increasing thereby.
Has God ever spoken to you directly?
Once I was at my Manhattan apartment when suddenly I heard the words, "Judge not lest you be judged" deep within me and around me. Though these words are in the Bible and I had heard them several times, at that time I was sure that I was not remembering those words or speaking them myself. It clearly felt as if they came to me out of nowhere, hence from God. I felt that God wanted me to accept the words "Judge not" as a central guiding principle in my life. Any negative judgement of ourselves or others is a false pretension. Why? Actually we do not know enough about all the factors that cause us to act in a particular context. Ninety-eight percent of these factors are hidden in our subconscious mind and are not known to the conscious mind. Hence when we judge we are pretending to know what we actually do not know. In order to be truthful, we should cease judging ourselves or others negatively and cultivate the habit of accepting ourselves exactly as we are here and now.
Are there other words in the Bible that are equally inspirational for you?
The words "Resist not evil" have much significance for daily living. For example when we accept physical pain mindfully and relax into it, we do not suffer as much as when we resist pain. The same holds true for psychological pain as well. Overcoming evil through non-resistance is a delicate art. Mahatma Gandhi was a master of non-resistance. There was no room for bitterness, anger or hatred in his heart. Gandhi was a sincere and whole-hearted follower of Lord Jesus as well as many other Sages.
Terrorism is a serious problem in the world now. How do you deal with it?
Terrorism is not something new. It is a form of insanity that has been with us for a long time. When someone does something to intimidate or terrorize others that act is rightly called a terrorist act. Let us be honest and truthful here. When governments drop bombs and inflict much terror on people, such acts are not called terrorism. Why? There is much self deception and hypocrisy around the problem of terrorism. First we have to solve this problem within us. Then others may follow our good example and learn to act appropriately. When the American government plans to build up its nuclear arsenal and announces it publicly, it is obviously a terrorist act and much more sinister than other common acts of terrorism. Of course it is also extreme insanity. Much love, peace, and wisdom are needed to heal us from such insanity. We are all responsible for each other and all the living beings on this earth.
Then obviously you are not an American patriot. If you do not think of America as first and love this land, why do you continue to live in this country?
First of all I love America very much and appreciate all the man-made wonders and the natural beauty of this land. That is why I take the problems in this country seriously and I am seeking viable solutions for them. Only fear-ridden people do harm to others and to themselves. If we learn to let go of our fears and live happily, being grateful for our very being, we are truly free. Instead of America continuing to exploit and terrorize other lands and people, let America be the first in serving others. Then it is bound to become quite prosperous and a truly free country.
Published 2018-02-15.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

From Fear to Limitless Love Your Path to Finding Self-Worth, Harmony and Bliss
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 79,690. Language: English. Published: February 10, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Inspirational
"This book vibrates with love and joy due to the sages profiled here.They remind us that we too are limitless love," says the best-selling author Jack Canfield. The sages manifest our essential nature as peace, love and joy. Reading about them can set our hearts on fire and encourage us to emulate their inspiring example.