A radical life changing story of how a woman walks away from her 'norm' seeking ancient knowledge first from the Aboriginal Australians and then finding her path being steered towards Tibetan Buddhism.
Today I went to see Amma, a Hindu spiritual leader and Guru also known as the HUGGING SAINT. I didn’t know much about her before – except that she is a woman hugging her way around the world giving blessings to many.
When I first arrived at the location I was greeted by many volunteers guiding me in the right direction into the hall, given a ticket number to receive Darshan (blessings) from Amma and allocated a seat. At the back of the hall are tables selling books, cds, t-shirts and many other things blessed by Amma.
Arrival begins 1 1/2 hours before Amma arrives so there is plenty of time to wander. I saved my allocated seat by putting the Amma Program Guide on it and this apparently (and quite successfully) saved my seat for me. I wandered around the tables looking for items I could take home with me that would inspire my practice.
Ten minutes before Amma arrives an announcement is made for everyone to find their seats and to tell people that no pictures or videos are allowed. (As you can see I’ve taken pictures of other random things such as the crowd, the program guide and my ticket.) I WAS hoping to take a SELFIE of me and Amma when I went up for my hug and blessing, but found out that this is not allowed.
Before Amma arrived I decided to “grow” a pink lotus in my heart and offer that to her – rather than buy something for a donation – I had already bought 2 books, a t-shirt, pictures and was yet to buy lunch. Many people bought flowers, chocolates or fruits to give as offerings so I wanted to give something from my heart. So, I imagined a pink lotus flower opening in my heart chakra and put a touch of my sacred silver on the petals. Next, I imagined expansive love emanating from the inside to outside the lotus and expanding throughout my whole body and the world.
At first I thought a lotus flower “just came to me” but then I realised how she has lotus flowers in the poster hanging behind her. Huh. Must have picked that up in my unconscious mind. So, I was ready to give Amma a pink lotus flower intended to offer love and surrender my service to God or Higher Self…. which always has been.
When Amma arrived we all stood in silence and fascination. Here is this enlightened being entering into the hall. The emotions in the room were of fascination, surrender, overwhelming devotion and love. I got swept up into this wave of emotion as she walked in and had tears.
Next, the local Indigenous Australians performed a welcome to country. I was fascinated to see that they flew in Miriam Rose from Daly River, Northern Territory to be there with Amma. I met Aunty Miriam in Daly River during my travels.
Then Amma led the crowd through a meditation. During the group meditation the lotus flower came to me again but this time Amma face appeared in the centre. At first she was meditation cross legged in the lotus flower and then I saw just her face, larger, in the centre of the lotus flower…. and next, the lotus flower was in my heart chakra – and she still sat in the centre. Then, she became many tiny lotus flowers throughout all my beingness, DNA and molecules. She permeated everything. As God would. The group meditation felt very personal, as if she was seeing me personally.
Tickets are given to arrange when you go up on stage to receive Darshan (blessings) from Amma. You are called in alphabetical order. First you line up along the side roads changing chairs getting closer and closer to the stage. Then you are welcomed to be on stage and sit in a chair getting closer and closer to Amma – the line on stage is not so long.
Amma’s volunteers on stage were wearing green scarves and told us what to do. I wanted some books I bought blessed by Amma, as well as my crystals and a piece of paper on which I wrote many of my friends and family’s names. On the bottom of the paper it says, “And everyone whose lives they touch”.
The lady in front of me was elderly and she was shaking after her hug. She received an abrupt “Stand up now” command and her legs and arms were shaking so much I thought that she would not stand or be able to move. Yet, she was shuffled on quickly to a chair on the stage to sit as everyone else had.
I had this little pile in my hand and am told take my glasses off and kneel in front of Amma. She doesn’t speak English but has a routine whereby she took my little pile and handed to a volunteer and as she drew me into her chest I heard someone say ‘put your hands on the chair’ but my hands just landed on her back… there’s not much I could do… and her arms gather me closing while she chants blessings in my ear. I think I could have stayed there forever lost in her expanded beingness, but it ends abruptly when someone says “stand up now” and I’m ushered away. My legs are wobbling and I wonder to myself how on earth would I make it down the stairs and then a volunteer guides me towards the chairs on the stage and welcomes me to sit near Amma for awhile. (I think I know why they do this now: 1. people legs are wobbly afterwards and 2. people love to sit near Amma and adore her).
For me, the hug didn’t feel as personal as the meditation. Strange, huh. During the meditation Amma was me and I was her. She was throughout my entire being as God. The hug happened quickly. I estimate that she had 400-500 people there that day and she intended to hug everyone. No pictures are allowed and no lingering either. She doesn’t speak English so there is no talking. You kneel, experience a warm embrace as she chants in her language in your ear and then are shuffled on. During my hug I remembered to visual the lotus flower offering I created before, and to ask for Samadhi (I quietly stated that in my mind).
What did I feel being hugged by an enlightened being? Some people give warm hugs, while others feel like you’re hugging a hard tree or wall. Amma’s hugs are sudden. She draws you into her chest and hold you tight. It was unconditional love…. and she didn’t even know me.
After receiving Darshan I wandered downstairs to have a delightful Indian meal.
On my way home I thought to my tired self how that experience was not like one I read in the Cave in the Snow book. When Tenzin Palmo first met her Guru there was an immediate knowing of eachother. Their meeting was deliciously described. Although I felt much love and peace in Amma’s presence I did not feel like she was my Guru. Though NOW I feel this inner knowing inside that when I meet my Guru the empty space inside myself which craves to be known or seen (meaning your true Guru can see through you, knows your past incarnations and where you soul is on its path of enlightenment) by my Guru. I didn’t realise it before, but I have this inner craving for that. I also know that I will receive Samadhi when I find my true Guru. Perhaps that is the gift that Amma has given me today.
Interesting to note that in the book I purchased Smiling Within by Swamini Krishnamrita Prana that Amma stresses the importance of developing AWARENESS first as a SPIRITUAL SEEKER. Then to develop devotion and next faith. The story in the book depicts the reason why the HUGS are quick and ordered. Devotees without awareness have done some strange things to reach Amma including pushing other people out of the way, trying to pull her out of a moving car… they’ll do anything to get physically close to Amma. With AWARENESS you realise that Amma is God and pervades everything, as God does – and you are able to discern the situation and are aware of your emotional state. So, now I understand why a HUG WITH AMMA is done in an orderly fashion with volunteers helping people and moving them on quickly. Sitting people near Amma in chairs on the stage must satisfy their needs to be close to her. For me, Amma is a supreme being and hence is permeated throughout all energy vibrations as we are all one. I take her with me every where as I do Shirdi Baba and Meher Baba.
Oh, yah, and I bought these Indian sweets to take back to my daughter. I’ve seen these beauties recently on the LION MOVIE and I was really curious to try them.
Also, to further note, in Reiki we write down people’s names on a piece of paper and then give Reiki Blessings to that person/people. Today Amma blessed all the people on my piece of paper and I feel so blessed to have given this gift to many people.