Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Epic Post on Ammachi, part 1

I said I wasn't going to be a perfectionist about blogging, so--

I'll just start. Entries from
The Diary of a Devotee appear in italics.

This Amma appearance was attended by thousands and was held in a large hotel outside DC. I overheard some devotees saying that last year it had been held in a way-too-small venue and was "total chaos"...hmm...this was chaotic enough, though in a good way, mostly. Amma is the guru equivalent of The Rolling Stones, and so a lot of people show up. Many, many Indians; many, many westerners--some rational and sincere, like your reporter, of course, and some mad as hatters. We shared the hotel with a teachers' conference on safe schools and some DoD thing that drew camo and plainclothes special-ops types in equal numbers. I kept getting asked who Amma was and why I was there and--I still don't know. And any answer I give sounds completely stupid.

I managed to get to the hotel in time to attend the morning program at 10:00, sat & waited (trying to meditate) for darshan for several hours....Finally, 2 or 3 people away from her in line, I'm really feeling her shakti now, I start giggling uncontrollably--as I did when she first entered the room--now it's getting a little scary, except I'm mediating it (à la de Zengotita) & thinking, "Is this it? I'm really not that high"...making the mistake of comparing this with seeing my guru, with other experiences. --then smacking myself, "Stay in the present! No editorials!"

...then it's my turn and I'm convinced, alas, that this will not be such a big deal. I'm pushed into Amma's arms and it's like--I'm falling. Into Her heart. I'm surprised, a bit startled, scared--I've been pushed off a cliff into a surging sea of love. Nothing can describe Her--she's muttering "Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma" into my ear, I'm crushed against her breast, I'm giggling/crying as I fall, fall; I'm sure she thinks I'm sobbing (so many people do), she lets me up at last and I'm trying to say Thank You, or I Love You, or Something, and all that's coming out is "Oh, Ma." She grabs me again and says "Oh, my child" and really crushes me to her this time. Now she's muttering "Daughter, daughter, daughter, daughter"...was she talking to Laura?? When this ends the sevaks help me up and I need it--I'm stumbling and the main helper guy says, "Stay--sit close by and feel her energy" and I do.

And as I sit and meditate, I'm gasping every so often as if I've stayed under water too long; I'm doing it again while writing this, while remembering Her embrace.


(About that de Zengotita stuff--it figures in a later post. Amma kept coming back to a point similar to de Z when he says, "we are most real, when we are at the disposal of accident and necessity.")

What was the thing I wanted to do the second most while in DC? Oh, yeah, visit the Wall for the first time. I've been trying, for who knows what reason, to reconcile in my mind the light and dark sides of my Mother Kali--pleasure and pain, love and violence, beauty and horror. And--I have this irrational obsession with the Vietnam War, which contained about as much pain, violence, and horror as any human event I know of. I had never been to the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, was always too scared but always felt very drawn there, and after picking myself up and dusting myself off in the darshan ballroom I figured, there will never be a better time. There's no point in describing the Wall, other than--if something this terrible had to happen (and it didn't, but it did anyway so--it did), there could be no better monument than Maya Lin's somber V and Frederick Hart's terribly tender statue. (The World War II memorial, by contrast, is just plain silly--something out of Duck Soup.)

This was all over by about 3:00, and then I realized I'd eaten nothing but a power bar since 4:00 that morning and so I set off up the Mall--miles and miles in the 100 degree heat and 100% humidity--to find something to eat. That's another (very pathetic) story.


  1. Welcome back. That's an amazing juxtaposition: Amma, followed by the Wall. (Not to mention the juxtaposition with the safe schools and DoD conferences.) Extraordinary energies there. I visited the Wall in '87 and was struck by the letters and objects people left behind. And the emotions in otherwise "macho" uniformed men.

    The war was omnipresent during my childhood. Books that struck me particularly were Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War, Gloria Emerson's Winners and Losers, and Denise Chong's The Girl in the Picture (this last one about Kim Phuc, the napalmed girl running naked down the street in a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo that defined the war for so many).

  2. yeah, the war in a sense WAS my childhood...have you seen any of Kim Phuoc's paintings? she is an absolutely brilliant artist--I think she still lives in Vietnam, though I'd heard she might be moving here or to England.

  3. Haven't seen the paintings -- I'll have to check those out!

  4. Anonymous3:25 AM


    I really enjoyed reading your account of Amma. I keep a website of my personal experiences with Amma at I also encourage others to share theirs on the site. Please come by and say hello!

    Reading your words brought back some beautiful memories of my first darshan!