How are you Londoners and people of the world? 🙂 I hope if you are in London that you are enjoying this heat wave we are lucky enough to be having 🙂
I want to address a question today which people often ask me, or ask me without words. Why Amma? Why do I do this? Why go and pay a handsome fee to work without pay, under conditions which some would consider harsh?
The answer is simple: it’s love. I look at Amma, and I love her. The depth of that love makes me want to support her work, serve Embracing the World (her global charity), and beyond that, to serve life in its entirety. For me, it’s passion; it’s not a ‘being good’ thing. It’s not even spiritual. Imagine being in love…now times it by 500…that’s nowhere near it. This is bhakti (devotion) in real terms.
Everyone has their own particular relationship with Amma, and certainly Amma devotees are all there for different reasons. Some of my friends, clients and family feel put off by the culty appearance of it all, by some of the devotees (who can be far from loving) and by the pretentious ‘holier than thou’ dynamics. Those of you who know me even a little bit, know I am definitely not the poster girl for holiness 🙂 No; it’s a love thing. Pure and simple.
So, what were the physical realities of being on volunteer tour staff, you may wonder. In my particular seva, we were working around 14 hours per day (every day) and longer on a Devi Bhava (the all-nighter). We got roughly 5 hours sleep per night, on the floor, sharing a room and bathroom with between 6 and 40 women. Then, after the long Devi Bhava, we would get on a coach and travel to the next city. Some of those journeys were over 22 hours long. When we arrived, we would sometimes get only a few hours sleep before set-up and work began. We delivered programs in 10 cities, over a 6-week period.
In between all this, I would squeeze my way onto the stage to spend time with Amma. Occasionally, Amma would call the staff to receive Darshan. I would like to share with you my diary entry about this:-
I don’t know how possible it is to put this into words…
* * * * * * *
But let me try.
Amma called us for Darshan in Seattle on Devi Bhava. As I entered the stage in the queue, I decided to make a prayer within. I said something like, ‘Amma, please assist me in focussing on the goal of this life: on realising God. Please help me to remain focussed even during this tour.’
As I laid my eyes upon her, hugging the person in front, tears welled up. I felt this love for her that was beyond anything I had ever experienced, and yet ordinarily human at the same time. I simply rejoiced within, at the sight of her. She moved my head around quite a bit before finally placing it on her heart, while she answered the questions of some devotees to her right. It always amazes me how one never feels left out in this scenario: Amma’s attention is deeply with each one of us simultaneously, which is testament to the sheer depth of oneness she is living. She then kissed my cheek and embraced me, chanting in my ear with a kind of vehemence in her voice, “My daughter! My daughter! My daughter!”, over and over again. I fell into total oneness…….. At the same time, the human being felt her as my teacher and as my mother – somewhere where those two are one and the same. And the experience of trust was overwhelming. As Amma finished the hug and handed me prasad, we drew back from one another and she looked deeply into my eyes. I cannot adequately express in words what I felt pass between us in that exchange: it was simply beyond the beyond. I then felt deep gratitude and expressed it somehow from oneness. Amma’s expression altered to one of such profound compassion….…something just too immense to convey. She embraced me again and then placed a chocolate in my mouth. That was the moment at which my searching gently stopped. My life’s search ceased in that moment. It was, perhaps, what many teachers have described as the end of seeking. Immediately after this I experienced true happiness: powerful, pure, authentic, unconditional happiness. I felt restored, redeemed – completely. There was total and utter wholeness. I’m not talking conceptually here, but actually. The real thing.
As I walked away, I collapsed on the stage in tears beside Amma. I was crying, and then I was sobbing; there was no way to do anything at all, and I couldn’t stop. But I was actually sobbing with happiness. My heart broke open under a force: that of revelation, unconditional happiness, union…Truth. Simultaneously, I experienced a spontaneous healing of my past, which came from nowhere. Dad’s death, the break-ups, the childhood trauma, the fear, isolation, despair, loss, loneliness, lack and doubt – all of these were consumed by something I cannot describe. I cried and cried, wiping my make-up from my face with my sleeve, only to cry uncontrollably again.
When the crying eventually stopped, I sat for a while. When I left the stage, I felt empty in the true sense of the word. Emptied of separation, of that heavy anxious burden. And the very subtle sense that something is missing, was gone. I could rest…finally, I could rest…… The feeling of resting and oneness were beautiful……profound. Paradoxically, there was an abundant feeling of vitality at the same time. But it was vitality without ownership. I realised that rest and vitality are the same thing. Eventually I went about the day, without saying a word about it to anyone.”
I hope you enjoy your day and that I get to see you soon 🙂