A Life of Service

Hands

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

dedicated to

Amma

my family

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

dungeon-prompts1 This post was written for Dungeon Prompts:  Hard Work:  What Does it Mean to You?

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22 thoughts on “A Life of Service

  1. A wonderful, moving and rather beautiful anecdote, and one which I had always hoped to hear from you at some point Karuna. I very much recognise the feeling of ‘coming home’ when one finds one’s true path in life, and for me this point was accompanied by highly vivid and meaningful dreams, as if my subconscious was expressing relief at my having finally discovered what it had been yearning for, unbeknownst to my conscious thinking. As with yourself, this occurred for me decades ago, and the passage of time has validated the import I gave to those events at their inception.

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  2. Your words mean more to me than you could know. Thank you so much. Thank you also for telling me about your experience. I had some concerns about sharing this material and your response lets me know it was a good thing to do!

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  3. How did I miss this! What an intriguing account, Karuna. As someone outside of this particular circle, I find your experience simply fascinating. I had a similar response (to the music) the first time I heard a Native American spiritual leader playing his wooden flute in a doctor’s waiting office. I’m not one to frequently engage with strangers, but my spirit stirred in such away that made my eyes fill up with tears (but I was trying not to cry given the situation); and I immediately gravitated to where he sat. I know many spirituals and gospels and glorious songs of praise and reverence, but this melody he emitted (while simply passing time to be called in) just tingled my soul. I’ve never felt anything like it since. I guess he could feel my reaction (as his eyes were closed); for once he finished, he looked right at me and began a conversation. The really “crazy” part about it was he ended up asking me about writing a biography of his life and his tribal people and his spiritual leadership. This was years ago and I don’t recall how we lost touch, but your story just brought that back to me. So cool… the things that connect us. I see you’ve posted a schedule and I just may have to check it out. I am always up for incredible spiritual encounters, and this sure sounds like one.

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      1. About an hour north of Los Angeles. I saw the schedule, but don’t know the cost, as they haven’t posted registration info yet. Also not sure I can get the time off from work. I’m already scheduled a week off in July for an event. My son will start two college classes that week as well, but my mom can handle that. I just need to get more info on details. Some unexpected challenges just arose last week which are going to make the next 8 months rather difficult, and I’ve cancelled two trips accordingly. But again, if I can work it out, God willing, I will try to join the experience.

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      2. There will be two days of public programs and a retreat. There is no charge for any of the public programs or the Devi Bhava that follows the retreat. The retreat will have a charge. The information about all of the programs should be online very soon. Feel free to write me at karunap108@comcast.net if you have questions!

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      3. Oh ok, that changes it up a bit then. If the public programs run Sun/Mon, I should be able to get an extra day off. My son and I just spent 3 hrs speaking about spiritual foundation and I would love for us to do this together. I will keep checking back and touch base if I have more questions. Thanks so much!

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      4. I do travel whenever possible, so if I miss this one, I may be able to incorporate a future trip with the touring schedule. Preparing this year for college (son) and both parents aging/health issues, brings about several uncontrollable variables affecting my flexibility right now.

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