May My Hands Be In Service
I met Amma, a spiritual leader from Southwest India, in 1989 when she was leading programs in Seattle, Washington. A friend had invited me to go with her. I had no interest in attending, but when I was asked “Yes” came out of my mouth. As the music started that night, I burst into tears. Even though I had no previous experience with Indian music or Eastern spirituality, I had a strong sense of being “Home.” I cried for hours. Later in the night, I received my first hug from Amma, who is known as the Hugging Saint. Her hug felt good, but I was much more interested in the music!
I was intrigued enough by my experience to go to the programs the next day and to the last day of a retreat she was leading on Orcas Island. Afterwards, I was invited to be part of a group who was seeing Amma off at the Orcas Island airport. As she prepared to board the plane, I started crying as if my heart was going to break. I found my behavior extremely bizarre since I barely knew her and I saw no reason for my intense emotion. Six weeks later, I was at Amma’s programs in New Hampshire and six months after that I was with her in India.
Over the next few years, I continued to experience huge separation grief whenever I was leaving Amma, even if I was going to be seeing her again days later. My grief was particularly intense whenever I left Amma’s Indian ashram. At times, I wondered if I was going crazy. As I struggled to find some explanation, I remembered that Amma had said that those of us who are attracted to her have been with her in previous lives.
I knew Amma generally didn’t answer questions about past-life experiences, but I decided to present her with my theory at the next opportunity. When that time came, I told her I believed I had lived with her in an ashram before and that I grieved to return to that familiar “home.” I added that I thought my “job” in this lifetime was to be in service in the world and to learn to feel connected to her when I was not with her. It seemed to me that it was fine for me to come to the ashram every year, but that I should not live there.
When my comments were translated, Amma responded, “I recognize you.” I looked at the swami (monk) who was translating, puzzled. “She is telling you, you are right,” he said. My eyes filled with tears. She had said she knew me! I experienced the joy of being known and the relief of having my reasoning validated. I was not crazy. There was a logical, albeit unusual, explanation for my overwhelming grief.
My life had been focused on service before I met Amma, and it has continued to be. I have visited Amma’s Indian ashram almost every year since 1989. I feel connected to Amma when I am with her and when I am not. I also feel connected to the ashram when I am there and when I am not. I am so grateful for all I have learned and experienced in this lifetime.
a life of service
my friends and clients
becoming a better person
leaving the world a better place
hard work? …… maybe
what could be more fulfilling
Amma’s 2015 North American Summer Tour schedule can be found at http://amma.org/news/ammas-north-american-summer-tour-2015
This post was written for Dungeon Prompts: Hard Work: What Does it Mean to You?