That’s it, I’m now part of the 39’000 million people around the world who have received Amma’s embrace of love or the so called Darshan which in Sanskrit means ‘vision of the divine’. Today I would like to share with you an article that is a little different from others and tell you about my personal experience with Amma. I say ‘personal’ because I think that no human being will live through this meeting in the same way. But is this not true for all we do?
I’m sure you’ve all heard of Amma – the Indian woman who gives selfless hugs to spread love and compassion around her. In the spiritual world, one will speak of her as a rishi, a sage, who according to the Hindu religion is a realized being. A translation of it in our western world would be ‘a saint’. As to her, she declares that her only religion is love. Universally she is called ‘the divine mother’, and therefore I will call her so later on.
I knew very little about Amma when I had the opportunity to go see her during her annual tour in France. I knew what she was about. It is concept I already was familiar with through studying yoga and I knew it came to life through giving hugs and representing the divine love on earth.
Me being curious on my path of spiritual development as I am, I was very excited to jump on this opportunity and intentionally kept out all expectations of this meeting. All I knew was that she was going to hug me.
Here is my personal account of the 22 hours spent at her side in Chalons sur Champagne.
The location? A big conference center, you know, the kind of complex where all major conventions and big international fairs usually take place. There were three halls prepared for her: the first one was serving as a reception room and the second was like a sorting room where one is assigned his rank of passage in the arms of the mystic. People were patiently waiting, and this for over two and a half hours, among thousands of other spiritual aspirants, or others that were just curious, to finally get their hands on the ‘holy grail’, or as we know it in the mundane world – the ticket. The third hall was THE hall, the room where Amma had been hugging people for 2 days.
There she was, sitting in the pulpit on a podium, surrounded by her swamis -her disciples dressed in orange and volunteers who all helped with the organizational process that, at first glance, may have seemed a bit chaotic but in actuality are highly studied and methodical. So I sat as close as possible to that spot, which to my astonishment was not as difficult as I imagined, and from there I observed what was happening. At first I saw her at length – her gestures, her mimicry, but especially her smile, her eyes. I found her very beautiful indeed. Then I looked around me and I saw people who, just like me, came to see Amma. Those were from all walks of life – from newborns to old men, coming from all religions, all colors, having all styles, from hip-ones with dread-locks to casual city chicks. It was a real treat of to see all these diverse people united for one purpose – to receive a little piece of Amma’s divine love.
A few hours later, and after a 2-hour break between the Darshan of the day and the evening, we were sat in order of passage in the chairs in the lobby and Amma redid her entrance in front of all those thousands of people. Luckily, my turn was amongst the first few hundred, just a bit after the families with grandchildren and people with disabilities, because I’m part of the ‘first hug of life’ and followed the ‘first time of the year’, which represent the vast majority of the great admirers of Amma who will seek all the hugs they can get.
There were some prayers and some singing, and then a long reading session started. Amma spoke to us in Indian at length, we obviously didn’t understand anything but then
Eventually her words were translated by her disciples in French. The scope of her teaching is so fair, so clear, so simple, yet so profound that I believe that every heart in the room was touched intensely and encouraged towards giving a little more love to everybody. At this time of the evening I knew that those 5 hours I spent driving were not in vain.
Let me summarize my story so you can get to the end before tomorrow. After all this came the part where we could get to the podium where Amma was sitting on what looked like a princess’s throne, and she herself was dressed like a princess, or maybe I should say a goddess! When I got to her, she was sitting down and one of her volunteers encouraged my forehead against Amma’s. She put her cheek against my cheek, surrounded me with her arms and whispered into my ears. I won’t be extensive, as I do not want to spoil your first time in the arms of Amma!
And then came 5 seconds of hugging. Perplexed I left the podium. I was happy but not crazy with excitement because nothing extraordinary happened to me. So I wondered, did I want to just leave or did I secretly manage to cherish all of this magical and mystical experience? Was I able to apprehend any experience whatsoever without expectation? Is it not typical of the human mind to have expectations? All that reminds me of one of Amma’s teachings “Always act without waiting for the fruit of the action. Waiting is the cause of suffering. “
Back to the story. At this time it was already 11 pm and we were on site since 10 am. What I did not tell you yet is that we planned to stay with Amma and her festivities, as did hundreds of other people, until the very end which was planned at around 10 or 11 o’clock in the next morning because we were promised a beautiful closing ceremony. So, we all went for a long sleepless night, this time it was not spent with a DJ boosting techno but with a saint, the divine mother. I can’t help but laugh at the past!
And yet here I was, ready to go through all this. We were all like nocturnal wanderers who moved from one mental space to another, from a sitting position to a reclining position on our yoga mats, we jumped from one thought to another, from one though group to another, and were always accompanied by various groups of musicians that talked to us, entertained us and most of all kept us awake until 9 o’clock in the morning.
All this time we spent together and without a break, without getting up or going to the bathroom. Amma continued her mission to spread compassion and love to thousands of people for more than 12 hours through her warm embraces. By this point I was certain that Amma is a goddess and not a human being. How can someone go for 12 hours at a sitting, 3 days in a row, weeks with no end, hugging thousands of people with the same intensity, the same sweet look, the same warm smile with absolutely no expectations, nothing in exchange? I also forgot to tell you that the meeting with Amma and the whole event overall was free.
Amma simply showed us with her own actions what she teaches us through her words:
“Change must begin in oneself. When an individual progresses, all of his family and his social group thrive. Let us try first of all to do good. When we improve, it influences everyone around us. It’s up to us to lead by example. We should show kindness and love to each other. Only selfless love can transform others. We may not see an immediate change, but we should never lose hope or give up. “
The meeting with Amma was a magical moment for me. Through her teaching, inspiration and sharing I will continue walking my path towards a better version of myself with fervor and I will do it for myself first and then for all those around me.