About Me (2)
General Stuff (9)
New York (3)
People I've Met (6)
Preparations and Inspiration (3)
Lurking Around on Travel Sites
In My Own Bed
Pray For It
Seattle and Interesting Uses of Pyrex
Heading to Seattle
Weekend Out of Hippyville
The $330 Trip to the Oregon Country Fair
July 4th, 2004
More Books I've Read
Why Are These People Talking to Me?
There And Back Again
I Wanted To End It All
Summing Up the Gobi
November 08, 2003
There Is No Spoon
I am going to be a guru.
Ant had mentioned our plans of becoming gurus in a prior post and I have to reaffirm that idea after our recent excursion to the ashram of Amma, The Hugging Mother. I had read about her method of giving darshan (physical connection with a guru) in the hysterical book Holy Cow, by Sarah McDonald. Even though I knew Amma would not be in town (she's in the States), I felt I had to come by and check the place out.
Our journey to the ashram was a very pleasant one. We arrived in Alleppey a few days ago to take advantage of the backwater cruises offered between there and Kollam. The scenery was lush and green, and in its own way, a very fragile paradise. One flood or drought could quite obviously bring misery. We enjoyed the quiet ride filled with people waving from the riverbank and silent paddle driven passenger boats slipping through the water taking with the boatmen their fares up and down the canals. The cruise cost allowed for us to stop at the ashram, which is about 25k from our final destination, and pick it up when we wanted to get to Kollam.
We were let off amid pouring rains and ran as fast as our packs would allow us to the first open door we could find. As it turned out, the door we wandered through was Amma's dad's house!!! If any of you Intrepid peeps are reading this, I met Amma's DAD!!! Woo-hoo!!!
After we checked in, we were told we could have an orientation to the ashram at 5 PM at the information center. Being that I wanted to meet and talk to ashram folks, this seemed like a good idea. Ant and I wandered over to the International Visitor's dorm and he picked up our bedding. This meant straw mat, thin mattress, sheets, and pillows, all which go on the floor. After a brief rest, we went off to begin our indoctrination.
We walk into the Info center, and are greeted by Amriti, a white sari clad Swede in her early 30s. She began to tell us about Amma's charities, but then switched to asking us questions.
"Are you on a spiritual journey?"
Me and Ant look at each other not sure what to say because we can't exactly say that we are there to see all the cattle being spiritually herded.
"I was in Rishikesh for a while and I visited a few of the ashrams there," I replied and this seemed to be acceptable.
Then we asked about her experiences and how she found up as an inmate, err, devotee.
She met Amma back in 1997 in Stockholm, where she received her first darshan hug. From there it all snowballed and she now lives at the ashram. When I asked how she could afford to do that, she mentioned that her parents paid for her. This seems to be a common occurance among deep people in India for some reason. Or, it could be that these peoples parents would rather pay for some guru to keep them in line or fix them than to deal with them personally.
Anyway, our friend the starchild showed us where everything was, invited us to evening and morning prayers.
"I am certain you will meet Amma on your journey. I can just feel it, and we will see each other again," Amriti said, and we said goodbye.
We skipped the prayers due to exhaustion, but went to the free communal dinner, where the fare was gruel on a good day.
The following morning at breakfast, we sat around chatting with a recent inmate from Massachusetts and another from southern western France. Both seemed to have their heads screwed on pretty decent, so there is hope that not every devotee becomes a space cadet. They both seemed not to have been around India very much, which I find interesting. Also, the devotees are discouraged from leaving the compound. It seemed a little unnecessary until I recalled the dizzyness of the Swede. She would get eaten alive and I suppose they do need to protect their own.
Here's why I am going to be my own guru. After spending just a day at Amma's, we realized that all you need to do is tell people that everything is just an illusion. Your misery, depression, hunger, pain are all an illusion which prevent you from seeing the "truth." The actual "truth" doesn't matter anyway because no one can find it anyway and are working our their issues in the mean time. Hence, "there is no spoon." I have a bit of a problem with this, but who cares if the money comes in. In Amma's case, she chooses to do good works with her donations and funding (earthquake relief in Gujurat, widows pensions, free meals, educational opportunities, etc.), but not many guru's do. In fact, we heard of one guru who has a solid gold toilet seat and when his devotees asked "Master, why do you have a golden toilet seat?" he said it was an illusion!!!!
Can people really be this gullible???
If so Pinky, I think I've found a new way to RULE THE WORLD!!!!!
Posted by Claudia on November 8, 2003 06:05 AM