Yesterday I traveled outside my comfort zone (now meaning leaving “the city”) for a blessing from the one and only hugging humanitarian known as Amma, or Sri Mata Amritanandamayi. After reading about her in several books and being told about her by several people, the time had come. 25 million people around the world have been blessed by her and I wanted to be one of them. I hopped on the BART with my friend Olivia and off to East Bay we went. Arriving at the San Ramon stop we exited and I quickly spotted the people waiting for the ashram shuttle – it’s all in the pants.
A short ride later and we arrived at the temple quickly becoming crowded by followers and others to receive her dorshan. We recieved our token that would tell us when our turn was up and took a seat. At 10 a.m. Amma entered the temple and I shed an unexpected tear of joy. How wonderful to live in a world where someone such as Amma is celebrated and revered. By the second hour of waiting I was becoming impatient and once we finally got into the line it began moving quickly. Suddenly a group of 30 children came out of no where and got to cut in line. I felt annoyance and anger rear its ugly head in the sea of joy that surrounded me. Why do they get to go ahead just because they are children? They don’t even have tokens? Do they even understand some of us have been here since 9 a.m.?
Then I began watching Amma embrace the children with love, joy, and peace. I had a choice, the same choice we have every moment – I could embrace this experience as it was, the same way as Amma, or I could resist. I chose to embrace and was in awe that even after three hours she gave every person the same amount of time and attention. This woman gives her life fully to love and wishes to relieve humanity of its suffering through a simple gesture. Behind her was a woman massaging her arms and a man providing her with water. Embracing the world one person at a time required help and Amma knew it.
It was my turn and quickly her helpers placed my head into Amma’s bosom. The sounds of music and people talking seemed to disappear and all I could hear was Amma whispering to me over and over again, “My daughter, my daughter, my daughter.” I smelled the oils from the woman massaging Amma’s arms and the softness of her sari on my cheek. To call this a hug is an understatement, I have never in my life received a hug such as this. And then suddenly it was over and I was being moved to the side. I felt dizzy and disoriented then took a seated position on the floor to recover next to Olivia.
We wandered around the compound some more and got a ginger tea, I was still attempting to make sense of it all…using my head. What I am slowly coming to remember is what she awakened in me. By loving me and embracing me as if her own, I was able to see others the same. Those children who got to go ahead of me were Amma’s daughters and sons as well – my siblings. As children of the world, they are also my children. Just like that, with a mother’s touch I headed back to SF ready to embrace the world.
Today I’m grateful for Amma, Olivia for coming with me, and Christopher for reminding me about her visit.