Friday, June 17, 2005

Amma, the hugging saint

Arrived in oakland, saw Amma, the hugging saint. backstep, I spent the first night in oakland talking with raphaell,an old friend, all night we talked, for he had to leave for arizona the next day. We left for the airport at 4 am, walking the cold dark streets of san francisco, singing, he taught me some flaminko in the subway station,people stared, but it was not too uncommon, im sure. surprisingly awake, i had to find my way back to 41st and braodway all by myself at about 6 in the morning, got home and slept till noon. woke up, travel mates gone, i go outside and find a nice old man smiling on his porch. i ate breakfast with him and his wife, they live below the place i am staying. they loved me, much to tell, then, in the evening, we, my travel mates adn i, went to see Amma, the hugging saint. she has an ashram/community living here in the bay area, most of the time she sang with an 8 peice band behind her, EXTRAORDINARY indian music, she would throw her hands up into the air and look up, as if a shaman summoning the spirits. then, after her guided meditation, i waited in line to recive her darshan-her famouse hug.

It was i approached, one of her helpers said "put your hands here, and dont get too close." Amma looked up, laughed and repeated with a smile "dont get too close! ha ha ha." then grabed by head, pushed it into her shoulder, then up to her face, she kissed my ear and cheek, then pressed firmly my cheek next to hers, rocking back and forth, she wispered something into my ear, laughing, crying, she repeated "dont get to close, dont get too close." with a laugh so light, she squeezed, then, releaced, and i was sent off, free. (many people left her hug crying or blissed out and spent time in meditation by her.)

she does this hugging deep into the night, into the morning, until everyone is done (there were hundreds of people. the paper a few days ago had a caption "ten hour wait, three second hug." (the hug was more like ten seconds). some people longer. . (usually it takes all night to finish her hugs. then, she goes to the next town and does it again. this saint barely ever sleeps. IN india i hear she spends days hugging thousands of people without any break. she pledged over 22 million to tsunami releaf. she builds hospitals and schools that give services for free. check her out on the web,, please. and see her if you can.

Putting aside the reliougeness of it, that is, she is a "saint" and "guru" and has a following, and putting aside any sort of mystical experince people have while in her presence, just imagine a 50 year old woman taveling around giving hugs to complete strangers. all day, all night, all year. is that not amazing!? The story about her origin is that she gave one girl a hug that really needed one, and another person said "hey, i want a hug too." and then a line formed. i must say that i felt very, very good after i got a hug from her. and watching her effect on others, well, it made me tear up, and know that the path of love is the spritual path, "my religion is kindness" and a true religiouse language is hugs, smiles, and kisses. this world is amazing.

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May all beings be Free and in Love.

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