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Two Days at Amma's Ashram in India

December, 2018

Tuesday was Amma-feeds-us day.  We all gathered in the main hall (which is really a big fancy roof and open on all sides) at 11 am.  We began with a guided meditation which lasted about 40 minutes.  Then Amma asked if there were any questions.  A woman in attendance was handed a microphone and she asked how she could improve her connection to the Divine that is within her so she could better “channel” information from the “source” in order to help others with this channeled information.  The woman used the word “channel” a number of times.  Amma talked about this for quite a long time.  She said that unless one is Self-realized we should not try to channel information from the core of our being.  The reason is that we have too much noise and static in our minds and mostly what we are going to hear are the many voices in our heads.  She explained that these voices are the result of our many likes and dislikes; attachments and aversions.  Only one whose mind has become completely still can really hear the voice of God with that kind of clarity.  Amma didn’t talk about mediums but I would assume this line of thinking would also apply here as well.  Also getting information from spirit guides and other subtle beings.

After the Q&A, Amma sat at a table and workers funneled plates of food to her from both sides and she pushed them forward to the front of the table where other people gathered them and they were passed back into the crowd.  After about 30 or 40 minutes of this, everyone there (I am guessing a thousand people) had a plate.  Prayers were said and we all ate.  This food is considered to be prasad (blessed and imbued with shakti) offered to us by Amma. It is therefore of great benefit to us to eat this prasad.  Then we disbanded and at 6:30 we gathered in the main hall again for bhajans led by Amma and this concluded about 8:15.

The next day, Wednesday, was one of four darshan days.  The other darshan days are Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  She starts hugging at 11 am.  Westerners (which includes Europeans and really everyone that is not Indian) get tokens and we have to wait until the Indians have worked through which takes until about 8 pm. 

During the day while Amma is hugging, westerners can do prasad seva (prasad we talked about and seva means a task or a work).  Only westerners get to do this.  We just show up and get in line.  Bruce and I did this at about 1 pm.  After about 20 minutes we make it up onto the stage area where Amma is hugging.  From there we are in a short line of 2 or 3 people leading up to the left side of Amma’s chair (Amma’s left side).  When she hugs people, she gives them a packet of sacred vibhuti ash (made according to ancient vedic formula) and some sort of candy which is usually a small hard candy wrapped in cellophane.  This is a tradition all over India.  This packet is prasad from Amma and we use it to apply to things that need healing and also, we take a little of it by mouth once a day to get the benefit of the vibration that is in the vibhuti ash. 

So I am at last sitting next to Amma and other helpers are handing me the packets which i then hand to Amma.  As she is hugging and talking to people, she will turn the palm of her left hand up and we put the packet into her hand therefore one has to be very alert and constantly watching her hand.  My opinion about why Amma has us do this is that it gives us an opportunity to serve the guru which, by cosmic law, allows Amma to flow more grace to us.  It used to be in ancient times, a person had to serve the guru for years before the guru would grant visions, insights and enlightenment.  But Amma is the incarnation of the Divine Mother and she is much more lax about this – she wants to grant happiness, peace, bliss and enlightenment to all her children.  Also, it is the age of Kali Yuga, the age of dark materialism and a little effort by us goes much further.  Amma said this once about the Kali Yuga.  We get more bang for our buck doing spiritual practices of any kind in the Kali Yuga because it is so much more difficult to do so.  The gravity of Maya is constantly pulling us down into the meaningless minutia of our daily lives causing us to forget completely about the Divine.  It is very difficult to overcome this and do spiritual practices.

Bruce and I chop veggies from 2 to 4 pm.  Just before that we get a token for darshan (to get a hug).  Earlier they were giving tokens to westerners only if they were leaving the ashram or were new to Amma.  Based on how many fit that category, they open the tokens up to all other westerners which they did.  After chopping veggies, back to our room for a spell then about 6 pm we go back to the hall to see if they have opened the darshan line for westerners.  First, we eat in the Western Café both of us having veggie burgers which are made at the ashram including the buns and they are absolutely the best veggie burgers I have ever eaten anywhere!  Then we are able to get in the darshan line. 

After about and a half we make it to Amma’s lap.  I have three books I had written which I offer to her – this is my custom.  She takes the books and presses them to her forehead and passes them to a stage attendant without bothering to read them or even look at the covers – lol!  The hug is over and an attendant hands the books back to me.  I am up from my hug and about 10 paces down the way heading to the edge of the stage when they call me back.  Amma has requested that I sit by her.  They put me in a spot that is dead center to Amma’s right and my nose is 12 inches from the edge of her chair.  I can’t believe my good fortune!  My mind has two rogue thoughts – 1. I need an overhaul and Amma is working me over (my self-loathing) or 2. She is so happy with my progress she is rewarding me (my grandiosity)!  Number 2 dominates for a bit and I am thinking everyone is noticing how special I am to be asked to sit by Amma and I see some people I know and I am like cruising the drive-in in high school in my new Corvette – lol!  I recoil and apply the antidote of I-am-a-child and allow the innocence to consume my delusions. 

I am sitting cross legged on the floor next to Amma and it is about 8:15.  I am wondering how long I can do this as my body will soon begin to rebel.  Amma could easily hug for another 4 or 5 hours.  I am watching Amma closely and every so often she looks down at me and also to the lady sitting to my right and then to a few others sitting behind me.  In my mind I think, “She is looking to see if I am still paying attention.”  I imagine that if I wander off into the catacombs of my mind, lost in delusions and fantasies, she will ask me to leave so that someone who is able to pay attention can have my spot.  Also, one never knows when diksha will occur!  Diksha is spiritual transmission by touch, a look or silence.  Amma says one occurrence of diksha can give as much spiritual progress as 10 years of meditation!  For this reason, she explains, we should never pass up the opportunity to sit in the presence of a Mahatma.  So I don’t want to miss it if she looks at me and there is eye contact which catapults me into the cosmic.  Alas there is no diksha this night but most certainly I am affected positively by simply sitting in her presence in the same way that sitting in the sun will warm our back. 

I am watching all of the hugs with great interest.  Some are laughing with Amma (Indians that speak Malayalam), some are weeping because they are so moved to tears, some are telling Amma about their business problems or how a wife or husband has left them.  Amma responds completely to each and every person.  After awhile I begin to notice how physically beautiful everyone is.  I think this is not normal because there are naturally some people who are not born to be attractive.  But all the men and women are beautiful.  Then I look at all the attendants on stage helping Amma.  They all have it too!  The features of every face have this chiseled look of “fineness” like fine china or a fine painting.  I am thinking they are all aristocrats.  Then I am thinking they are all gods and goddesses!  Then I am thinking I must be stoned on Amma’s shakti. 

Since I am occupying a very prime piece of real estate, there are several people, all men, who want to talk to Amma and I am in their way.  They are aggressive in their attempt to unroot me but I resist having long learned how this works.  I sit immovable like a stone statue figuring I was asked by Amma to sit there and I have as much right to this space as they do.  I think maybe I am being selfish but so be it.  One does not often get the opportunity to sit this close to the incarnation of love itself; the incarnation of the Divine Mother of the Universe.  The last fellow that came, a young swami in orange, caught me with my right knee up with my hands around my knee.  He quickly occupied the ground I so carelessly relinquished do to my preoccupation with body pains that were starting to manifest.  I had been sitting there for about an hour and a half.  He is talking to Amma about something and Amma seems to be expressing concern and even seems to be scolding him in a nice way.  She talks about whatever is the issue to the other attendants and they are smiling.  Then Amma just absolutely cracks up laughing – guffawing is maybe the right word – just having a great big laugh and she is saying things as she laughs and she is tweaking the young swami’s cheeks and everyone else around that understands Malayalam is also having a big laugh. 

Amma laughs and jokes quite a bit as I watch her hugging humanity.  She seems to be having soooooo much fun with all of it.  This is what is really striking.  She has been hugging now for 9 hours and she is still having so much fun!  This is why her name Mata Amritanandamayi means Mother of Immortal Bliss.

Finally, she motions in a nice way to the lady sitting next me that it is time for her to vacate her spot and she has someone else put into it.  At that point I realize I will not have to endure the pain of sitting cross legged for another 5 hours – and I darn sure would have done it no matter the discomfort.  Sure enough, about 10 minutes later she motions to me also to vacate. 

We spend our share of time meditating with Amma and Amma says meditation is like gold but Amma is also a God Intoxicated saint.  It is always a joyous celebration around Amma.  Dancing in the streets so to speak, drunk on the wine of the Beloved.  The Mother of Immortal Bliss and bliss it is.  An ocean of bliss. 

There is a very high subtle cosmic divine vibration that permeates the entire ashram.  Once, experienced, one can easily go to it.  It is like tuning the radio of our heart to a channel.  When that comes into focus a dramatic shift occurs in how one experiences the daily activities and life in the ashram in general.  Otherwise one can become bogged down in things like standing in line, sand in our sheets and the absence of hot water in the shower.  When our radio is tuned to K-AMMA radio station, everything is good and nothing is a problem.  This is bliss. 

I am in bed by 11 and we have our alarm set for 4 am to attend the morning chanting of the 1000 names of the Divine Mother which starts at 4:45 am. 


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