I went to see Amma this summer. She is known as the hugging saint and she travels the world hugging all who wish to receive one from her. She has devoted her life to improving the world through love and compassion. She grows organic food to give away; she founded a university and a hospital. She teaches love and compassion to all who will listen. Receiving Amma’s embrace is liked nothing I have experienced before. And I think there are no words that can describe it.
I have been reading ‘The Voice of Knowledge’ by Don Miguel Ruiz. He says
“You are dreaming your life in this moment… You react and try to make sense of what you perceive. You explain it in your own way depending on the knowledge stored in…your mind. You live in the story you create, and I live in the story I create. Your story is your reality – a virtual reality that is only true for you.”
As a young man he had an experience that changed how he perceived everything. While he was in the Sonoran desert one night he was looking at the vastness of the night sky and he says
“I saw the infinite, the force of life in action… I realized that I am perfect because I am inseparable from the infinite, the force of life that creates the stars and the entire universe of light. This was my encounter with love….I recovered my authenticity…In that moment of inspiration everything made sense to me without thinking at all. I was pure awareness. I was perceiving with my feelings and if I had used words to explain what I felt, the experience would have been over.”
This was what it was to be embraced by Amma. Pure love flows from her and it is bewildering, expansive, heartfelt and strangely, wonderfully, completely impersonal. No one earns this love. It is the love that is the animating force of all that we know and don’t know.
I brought my children with me and was amazed at their reaction also, especially my eight year old son. He is a boy who generally comes to new experiences slowly. He likes the familiar and has no use for religion or spiritual stories. He likes the tangible, the logical and the practical. His only comment on the way to see Amma was “Who goes so far to see someone they don’t even know to get a hug?” (It was a two hour trek on public transit.) It was said with great disdain. I wondered if he would even agree to go up to hug her. But once we were there, he not only went willingly for the hug, but went up on the stage to sit near Amma (children are invited to do this).
While we were there he found out we could go on another night and he begged me to let him go. The second night was described as a ‘party’ and I thought that was the main reason he wanted to go. I really didn’t want to go for the second time because I had to work that night and my oldest son (who is 25) would have to take my younger children (8 and 4) earlier and I would join them after work, getting there after 10pm. Finally, after a lot of begging, I agreed. That night it was almost 10:30 by the time I got there. I had to run to get my place in the line to receive my hug. My children were all happily waiting for their turn. My second hug I can only say was more. Whatever I felt at the first embrace, I experienced again, but more. I don’t know what it would feel like to meet God, but perhaps this is close. Something was lifted from me that night, a softness enveloped me, anger I had held for years was softened. The sharp edges I have developed to protect myself were shaved off. Something in me opened.
According to Don Miguel Ruiz
“Love and respect are what we should teach our children, but the only way to teach them love and respect is to love and respect ourselves.”
And of course we pass down from generation to generation some wonderful things and also some terrible things. It is not always easy to tell the difference between the beliefs that we have that help us and the beliefs we have that harm us. Amma says
“A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering.”
I definitely experienced this love and I believe that everyone who is able to come into contact with a wonderful conduit of love like Amma will benefit from the experience. As we are able to more fully appreciate love in our lives, we will also pass this quality to our children. In this way, children are able to benefit doubly from Amma’s embrace. They benefit by receiving the love that flows from her directly and again by the changes that receiving the love generates in the parent.
“The only way to really know love is to experience love, to have the courage to jump into the ocean of love, and perceive it in its totality.”
says Don Miguel Ruiz. Being embraced by Amma will help you find that courage.
For more information about Amma, her schedule and her work go to Amma.org.