We snuck in for another hug the day before yesterday. The bloke giving out Darshan tokens didn’t look too impressed as we turned up again, but he said he’d make “a big exception” for us this time and let us in. God’s Will in the mix again. This time I approached the Darshan queue differently. I didn’t have the energy or desire to muster the sort of concentration required to resolutely fix spiritual questions in my mind and repeat them continuously to Amma, so I people watched through the entire process instead. It was a good experience.
When it came to my turn to be hugged, I was surrounded by Indian men babbling loudly at Amma before having my head shoved into Amma’s chest by one of the multitudinous assistants hovering about. I started to laugh out loud. Saint or no Saint this was hilarious and reminded me of being on an Indian bus. Bizarrely, Amma hugged me for ages. I found that ironic. All my previous attempts at sincere and concentrated spiritual aspiration had resulted in a 30 second hug before being quickly whisked away by assistants. Now I wasn’t thinking about anything lofty and I got 5 minutes worth of hug. Perhaps there is something in that. Perhaps not.
Every Darshan attendee is asked what language they speak before receiving a hug. This information is relayed to Amma by the attendants. I’m not sure what the purpose is for so doing. Every time Amma has given me a hug she has whispered something in my ear that sounds like gibberish. It is the same every time, and sounds like “moodooli, moodooli, moodooli”. It certainly means nothing in English that I am aware of. Perhaps she misheard what the line attendant said and heard “He speaks Malayalam” ;) Maybe it is not meant to mean anything and works instead on a vibrational level. But if that’s the case it would negate the need for her to be told that I speak English. Possibly we create the meaning ourselves. Then again, I don’t suppose it matters a great deal one way or the other.
A the hug finished Nix and I were asked to sit behind Amma. We remained there for a couple of hours. Nix sat with her eyes closed meditating as I had done before. This time I watched the play unfold before me with great interest. I noticed that Indians get to talk to Amma as much as they like and are not forcibly dragged away. This is not the case for Westerners. I have no idea why that is, and it doesn’t really matter. I simply found it interesting to note the difference. I also observed that all eyes were firmly fixed on Amma. I could look at everybody without being noticed at all. Some people waiting in the queue looked extremely tense, some looked expectant, and others looked ecstatic. One woman was breathing really fast whilst rolling her eyes and head. I think she was having a panic attack. Or perhaps she was being overcome by Bhakti. Who knows.... It didn’t look pleasant though, so I sent good vibes in her direction. I am not sure they helped much as her demeanour didn’t change, but it’s the thought that counts eh?
It struck me that everyone on the stage wanted something from Amma, including me. I had basically been praying to her before and during the previous Darshan to help me move forward. Today that felt wrong. The thought came to my mind that she cannot do the work for me, no matter how hard I pray. I have to do it. I know what I need to do, it is just a question of applying myself and doing it. Another thought arose that all Amma can do is point me in the right direction, inspire me and perhaps seed a train of thought and support me along the way. The rest is up to me. It also occurred to me that Amma is not God any more or less than the rest of us, so praying to her seemed like the wrong direction to go. Perhaps I am completely mistaken and she can in fact act as a wish fulfiller, but my feelings and experiences (limited though they be) tell me otherwise. If she could fulfil everyone’s wishes and take them all to the next spiritual level there would be no need for them to keep coming back for more Darshan. She has hugged a lot of people all around the world over the past 30 years or so. I have not heard of any getting enlightened through the process. All the Saints and Sages who have gone before could show us the way, but none could make us walk the path or generate a mass enlightenment. This clearly indicates that we all have to go through our own process, a process which might take many lifetimes - there is no fast track and there are no magic tricks that can be performed to change this. The idea that we are all one with God strongly resonates with me, and I spent much of my time on the stage looking at the faces there reminding myself that each and every one of them is Ram and that I should show them as much respect as I do Amma. There is no point in my having respect and devotion for a Saint if I treat other people as substandard or unworthy. Sameness of being with all is monumentally challenging for me but where I feel essential work needs to be done. All are Ram.... Even if they are sometimes a pain in the arse. It’s all for my benefit to encourage me to grow and move beyond myself....