Monday, June 9, 2008

Amma 2008


I went to Amma in New York City last Wednesday, and I have to admit I’ve been selfish in keeping that experience to myself. An awful lot has happened in the last two weeks, as well, the least of which is that I’ve given my notice on the job. My last day in the office is this Friday, the 13th. I also have a house full of packing to do. It’s a good thing I operate best under pressure, because there’s no shortage of that around here these days.

For those of you who don’t visit my site much, Amma, aka Sri Karunamayi, is a Hindu Holy woman who is revered as a modern day saint. After 10 years of relative seclusion in the Indian jungle exercising meditation for humanity and personal austerities, Amma emerged with a mission. Her life is spent ministering to others in a completely selfless fashion. She is considered an incarnation of the Divine Mother, or the feminine aspect of God, and is particularly revered as Saraswati Ma, or the Hindu Godess of learning, education, the arts, and rivers. Word is that there are more of these kinds of enlightened beings incarnate on the earth now to offset where mankind is in this Kali Yuga Age, i.e., a not great place spiritually, ecologically, and emotionally. We, as a people, are on the verge of a spiritual transformation, and if you look hard enough, you can find all sorts of supportive information to that effect on the internet … and in your heart. I consider Amma my spiritual mother, and after my first visit with her in the year 2000, I’ve written copious amounts on my subsequent experiences.

In a nutshell, before I met Amma, I was emotionally wounded. My heart was “shut down for repairs” and in danger of never reopening for business. Now, with Her installed firmly there, my heart is open for business, perpetually undergoing construction, and always expanding to new frontiers.

I am a work in progress.

As often happens when the enlightened ones are on our radar, a little over a week ago I came across a piece of information that both confirmed and highlighted recent self-queries. A really cool website called Tarot.com has introduced a brand new report called “The Tarology Card Report”. It’s a mixture of tarot, numerology, and astrology, and when mixed with our birth information and stirred, it provides a relatively accurate snapshot of personal archetypes and the personal spiritual journey.

Check it out … My Tarot card is the Chariot, my prime number is 7, and my power planet is Saturn. Here is an excerpt from my report, as follows:

"The message of this Tarot archetype is simple - when it comes to maneuvering a Chariot, there can only be one person holding the reins at any given time. That driver is depicted by a hero-warrior character who manages to direct the harnessed beasts - a black sphinx and a white sphinx representing polarized emotions. This driver has control of emotional extremes, but not the mind or intellect. The charioteer is none other than the higher or divine self within each of us. As Carl Jung writes, "The self uses the individual psyche as a means of conveyance. Man is propelled ... along the road to individuation." … Those born to play the Chariot starring role are here to master the art of higher will. You are learning that your ego is a really bad driver who careens recklessly all over the place. Letting this aspect of self direct your life leads to inevitable wrong turns and dead ends. Instead, you are heroically and bravely giving your conscious self a chance to steer you toward success, joy and well-being … Truth be told (and your life is largely about finding out what is true) you can … conceptualize and comprehend the most intricate of spiritual puzzles. Very often you simplify and communicate this understanding to the world in art, writing or performance … The Chariot, the only Tarot archetype to garner two mistaken identities, swings between opposite character poles. Just like the two polarized black and white beasts that draw your chariot, there are two realms of character dysfunction that you can inhabit -- and during a lifetime you are sure to try out both. These extremes are far from an honest and healthy reflection of your greatest potential. This potential lies at the middle, where you balance the tension of opposites by considering self and other in equal measure.”

There is more, but I’d rather step off the precipice of narcissism. Needless to say, this is very similar to Chiron’s message to me from where it is placed in my astrological chart. This report gave me confirmation on things I’d been thinking about and writing on, and having it come together for me just before visiting my spiritual mother was personally significant.

I started my day with Amma by getting up very early and being on a 6:30 a.m. train bound for Grand Central Station. It’s nice to have a bit of a commute time before seeing Her because it gives me time to think. A commuter train, where people give you the stink eye for talking on your cell phone, is just the place to do that. One of things I needed most from this individual blessing was support on a commitment I made to myself. Oh, I’m really good at being an advocate for others, encouraging the potential in others, but when it comes to supporting myself, I can fall short. The last two years in the state of Connecticut have been all about addressing the past … my parents, old childhood friends, even my grandmother … and I’ve spent considerable time on these things until taking special steps to finally release them into the ether.

Now, I want to make my body a fit temple for the Goddess through consistent meditation, exercise and good food.

In spite of the weirdness I experienced growing up (another story for another day, but you can read about some of it here), I grew into young adulthood dancing my troubles away. Teaching ballet and tap to children, and being heavily involved in children’s theater, I danced almost 4 hours per day, 5 days per week during the school year. It’s just a shame I wasn’t “awake” enough to realize and appreciate the good shape I was in at the time!

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Being true to my Tarot Archetype, up to now I have given myself free reign and indulged my desires in every way. It started out as stress relief, but I’ve gotten in the habit of eating whatever I want, whenever I want, and drinking diet sodas two and three times a day. I’ve noticed that when I try to abstain, my monkey mind jumps through hoops to convince me otherwise. I have this rather uncanny sense of entitlement that runs rings around the rest of me unless I keep it tightly under reign. The result is that I’m heavier than I’ve been before, even when I was 9 months pregnant, and in physical pain enough of the time to notice.

I turn 44 in August, and this isn’t the way I want to stare down my mid-century point.

I refuse to view this commitment through a lens of self-loathing, however. I’ve worked much too hard to regain my self-respect. Oooh, I despise the not so subtle messages force fed to American women through the media … NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers .. all of these are recipes for personal disaster. I joined a Weight Watchers class here at work only to leave a few weeks later because I couldn’t stand the way the women beat themselves up over that one extra tortilla chip. I also have an uncanny feeling that any sort of weight loss surgery would be drastically wrong for me. My habits are so wrapped up in emotional response, I’m pretty sure I’d flip out if I didn’t give myself time to reprogram the existing hard wiring.

No, this is a battle of wills.

This battle is my will, my ego, versus my higher self. My greatest weapons are self-discipline and clear intellect, and the challenge is to make the right decision every time and avoid caving to the happy little pictures of maya or illusion that my mind sends up when it thinks it wants something.

Amma arrived at the multi-denominational church in mid-down at about 10:30 a.m., and she looked very serious. I’ve experienced Her in a playful state and in a motherly state in the past, but She wasn’t fooling around. She had a lot to say right off the bat, yet I couldn’t hear much of it from where I sat in the back. So, I sort of settled in to where I was and knew it would be some time before I got up to where She was. Normal individual blessings type stuff. I concentrated on my index card, which is where we are supposed to right down our needs. You can read more about the card procedure here.

It was almost 1:00 p.m. by the time I got to the front of the Church. There was one woman in front of me, and just as an usher motioned us both off the pew (which, by the way, was excruciatingly uncomfortable), Amma brought the entire affair to a screeching halt. She motioned for everyone to sit down. None of her aids were in sight. The guys who knew how to roll with this kind of thing were either lost in the back near the book store or outside goofing around. Swamiji wasn’t around, and one of Amma’s bhajans was blaring over the loud speakers. Some guy got up and tried to get the mike straightened out for her, but I could tell he was pretty blown away just by being in close proximity. I can relate. She simply waited patiently for her children to get it together … and they did. Mike flew down the aisle from the back of the church, and Swamiji popped in the side door to attend to the sound. It was painstakingly obvious that Bob Madoloni wasn’t present. Word is he’s back in Pennsylvania battling cancer again, and it was apparent the crew missed his attention to detail.

Mother had something to say.

I didn’t overlook that she waited until I was right in front of Her before saying it. It’s not that I think I’m special in any way due to this. Rather, when these things happen and we are there, we must think about why it may have happened and then listen closely to what Mother obviously wants us to hear knowing that everything She does is deliberate.

It can be difficult to accurately regurgitate what Amma says in these impromptu discourses because I spend so much of my time spacing out to absorb her presence. I was less than 10 feet away from her this time.

1) She said that so many of her children are terribly upset about cancer. She mentioned Philadelphia specifically.
2) She said verbatim, “Children, microwaves are killers!” She was emphatic on that one. Need I say that ours is in the garbage can?
3) She mentioned the Saturn influence on the weather and people’s hardships, failed businesses, and the like.
4) She stressed using the Mahamrutyunjaya mantra, which is the power of protection from negativity through sound. She went to great lengths to indicate one of her children had done great research on the power of sound and that this was science, children, science.
5) She brought up the danger of car accidents a number of times, and stressed we can play this mantra when we are driving, while we are eating, and at any time in the house. She stressed it can be played 27 times or 54 or 108 times.
6) She also brought up the Gayatri Mantra, which is energizing, but indicated it is very sacred and should be done in a quiet room when one is focused. She also said it shouldn’t be interrupted.
7) She indicated that spirituality is self-discipline.
8) She indicated women can take a head bath on Fridays (only) to relieve mental stress and anxiety. Use sesame oil on the scalp and sit in front of the Sri Chakra. Men can do this on Saturdays only.
8) She also said something about going to the ocean. She said it is only good on certain days because on other days the ocean can take our energy. I thought this was pertinent, given that I love the ocean, but sometimes feel wiped out after being there. I’d like to find out more on this.
9) Amma said that it is okay to think about ourselves first. This really hit home with me, given what I wrote about earlier in this article. She stated that many religions say first think of God, then family, and then oneself. She shook her head, that way she does that is desperately endearing, cracked a smile, gave a giggle, and said, “No, children, Amma says it is okay to think of yourselves first.” Then, he stated that when we work on ourselves, the positivity we generate goes out into the world around us, and affects our children and our loves ones in a positive way. The group practically cheered.

There were other fun things that happened, too. She blessed a couple with their new baby, and when she touched the infant’s head, it released a loud, lusty cry that everyone in the room chuckled over. She gave Saraswati Diksa to a number of children and that always makes for good fun because not all the children enjoy the honey on their tongue.

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What Mother said just before my blessing hit the nail on the head. As usual, it was as if She spoke to me directly. I took note about the danger of car accidents given that we are driving to California from Connecticut this time around.

More so, however, the time I spent listening to Her discourse was time spent opening my heart to Her completely. By the time I approached her with my card, the tears were coursing down my cheeks. She had broken down more of my defenses, more of the barriers I may have had toward accepting Her love. She read my card in the serious way she does while stroking my head with her right hand. I looked up at Her, took Her in, eager for Her approval. This is the one place where I can be a complete child, uninhibited, and completely honest about my needs. She smiled at what was on my card, and said, “I love you, child.”

Then the damn burst, and I was really crying. It never fails. She wiped my tears with a tissue, always sympathic, always truly compassionate.

Then, she dropped a Hershey’s kiss in my hands, and sent me on my way.

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Note: The photos of Amma are (c) 2008 the SVMA Trust.

1 comment:

Liara Covert said...

What a marvelous series of reflections. I love the image of you as a dancer earlier in life. You are still just as stunning. Inner love resonates through the sparkle in your eyes. Our physical appearance is a superficial thing. Our true selves are revealed in our thougths and actions. Selfless acts remind me of people like Mother Teresa. We can all engage in such activities. Helping others helps ourselves too.

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