The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Amma, the loving giant

Had a fascinating experience Saturday night.  A dear friend took me to see Amma an Indian holy woman with the reputation for being a genuine Saint.  I am always interested in such things…my experience with Sri Chinmoy opened my mind and gave me visual proof of certain extranormal phenomena such as the human aura.  I wondered if I would experience anything similar with Amma.

She was out at the LAX Hilton, right next door to where I was conducting the PATH seminar, and I took that as a spiritual nudge…I was supposed to see her.

So I went, despite my fatigue after a gratifying, intense workshop.  The Hilton was filled with pleasant, happy people, the entire atmosphere peaceful and kind of “buzzy” with anticipation.  Amma is a love avatar, dispensing simple wisdom and healing hugs, sitting on a stage without moving, eating, sleeping or otherwise acknowledging physical needs for days at a time, greeting her followers with infinite warmth…or so I had heard.

There are thousands of her followers in Los Angeles, and it seemed they were all at the Hilton.  I had to take a token to get in line to see her…and from the slowness the line was moving, I intuited I wouldn’t actually get to interact with her until the wee hours of the morning.  THAT wasn’t going to happen.  I’m no saint—I need my sleep.  But I thought I’d see the space, at least, and have a chance to feel her presence.

I was finally admitted to the central room.  There were hundreds of chairs, where devotees sat.  At the back of the room were a series of tables where books and CD’s were sold.  The room was, again, buzzing with anticipation.  Up at the front was a stage, with people lined up at the side.  And on that stage sat a giant.

Now, I was in the back of the room, so I was darned curious about what I was seeing.  If I stared at the giant, she seemed to slowly shrink back to human size, but if I looked away, and then toward her…she looked like an 8-foot tall Samoan football player, not a 5-foot tall woman. Her head looked HUGE.  Yes, she was wearing a crown of some kind, and that doubtless created a bit of optical illusion, but that didn’t explain it.  I CAN’T explain it.  Amma, this tiny little spiritual woman who was greeting her followers with an indefatigable heart and body, simply didn’t compute in my visual field.  I was looking at a phenomenon that was similar to, but very different from, my perception of Sri Chinmoy’s aura about 12 years ago.

I remember that one of Chinmoy’s followers said that my perception of his aura was a gift from Chinmoy to me.  Another of my teachers said, no, that was a measure of my own sensitivity and perception.  I don’t know, I really don’t.

But if I was to guess, I would say that I was indeed blessed, given a momentary glimpse of who this tiny, blessed woman actually is.  I can’t explain it, and won’t try to.  I’d like to think it was a reward for giving everything I had to students who had traveled across the country to meet me.  Perhaps a hint of what we are if we only get out of our own way.  But whatever Amma is is way beyond my conscious understanding, that’s for sure.  I don’t want to theorize about it too much. I’m just happy right now, and especially happy for my friend, who has accepted her path.

Finding the Light in your life is one of the very finest things in the world.

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