I recently went to see Amma with a few of my close friends and family. If you haven't seen Amma you don't know what you are missing. Here is a brief synopsis of who she is and how she began: "Amma was born in a remote coastal village in Kerala, South India in 1953.
Even as a small girl, she drew attention with the many hours she spent in deep meditation on the seashore. She also composed devotional songs and could often be seen singing to the divine with heartfelt emotion. Despite her tender age, her compositions revealed remarkable depth and wisdom.
When Amma was nine years old, her mother became ill, and Amma was withdrawn from school in order to help with household tasks and the care of her seven siblings. As she went door-to-door gathering food scraps from neighbors for her family’s cows, she was confronted with the intense poverty and suffering that existed in her community, and in the world beyond it.
Where Amma encountered people in need, she brought them food and clothing from her own home. She was undeterred by the scolding and punishment she received from her family for doing so. Amma also began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. Responding to her affectionate care, they began to call her Amma (Mother).
Amma was deeply affected by the profound suffering she witnessed. According to Hinduism, the suffering of the individual is due to his or her own karma — the results of actions performed in the past. Amma accepted this concept, but she refused to accept it as a justification for inaction. Amma contemplated the principle of karma until she revealed an even more profound truth, asking a question she continues to ask each of us today. “If it is one man’s karma to suffer, isn’t it our dharma (duty) to help ease his suffering and pain?”
With this simple yet profound conviction — that each of us has a responsibility to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate — Amma moved forward with confidence in her life of service and compassionate care for all beings, uniquely expressed by the motherly embrace she offers to all who seek solace in her arms.
In Amma’s community, however, it was not permissible for a 14-year-old girl to touch others, especially men. Amma explains, "In India, women are expected to remain in the background. It is said that 'Even the walls should not hear them.' My family could not understand my way of reaching out to people; they had no idea of the spiritual principles."
But despite adverse reactions, Amma followed her heart, later explaining, “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.”
Amma says that love expressed is compassion, and compassion means accepting the needs and sorrows of others as one's own."
I had my first hug from Amma 20 years ago. I felt a strong, loving presence and a blissful peace. Every time I've hugged her since then it has been a different experience. Since the first time I met her I have felt her presence and connection. I received a mantra from her 2 years ago and I chant my mantra every day . This is a prayer she gives you to repeat 109 times a day. It has kept my heart open and cleared my mind and spirit every morning.
Your experience may be totally different than mine when you receive a hug but, the most important lesson Amma has taught me is we are all children of the earth. When I am in her embrace I feel the vulnerability of being an innocent child.
I was recently at a biodynamic cranial sacral class and we all spoke about our clients becoming little babies on the table. At some point as a body worker your client becomes a child and you become the mother or the caretaker. Sometimes we didn't get our needs met as a child and we will get them met on the massage table or in other healing settings.
This was an interesting observation being the child on the table and remembering the embrace of Amma. We are all innocent children of the divine and are all trying to get back to that place. We are all innately good!
Learn more about Amma at EmbracingTheWorld.org