What if Ammachi was Texan Man Claiming to Be the Divine Father?

Via Julian Walker
on Aug 24, 2012
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A new Rolling Stone article begins like this “A guru named Amma has drawn 32 million people into her embrace – spreading a message of love, compassion and overpriced merchandise…”

From the article:

“Her devotees believe she is the rare being who has achieved full enlightenment on her own, a divine soul in a human body. “

“she acquired a $7.8 million mansion in Maryland, once owned by the Shriver family”

“There is jewelry Amma has blessed ranging from silver bracelets costing $800 to a silver crown for $5,000.

One of the most sought-after objects for sale is the Amma doll: a stuffed, handcrafted replica of Amma whose design seems inspired by the Cabbage Patch Kids. It comes in small, medium and large – $45, $90 and $180, respectively – and the idea is that it provides a kind of cosmic hotline to Amma when not in her presence.“Sometimes, I need a hug from her, and that same feeling of all-accepting love and softness is there,” a nameless devotee says of the dolls on the Amma Shop website. “It is as if she is my little piece of Mother.”Inside the temple, a number of people take to clutching their Amma dolls while staring at Amma, as if trying to double the dose of enlightenment, and seeing them it is impossible not to be reminded of how the line where devotion blurs into obsession, where faith morphs into fanaticism, can become so thin and porous that you can cross it without ever knowing it.”

 

 

phoot by pari dukovic

“Amma’s staff is made up not merely of those willing to volunteer their time but also of those willing to pay to volunteer their time. This year’s cost to be a staff member is around $2,000, not including airfare to Seattle, where the tour began.”
 
‎”Amma pulled her to the floor by her hair and kicked her. “That kind of thing was not uncommon.”
 
‎””Spirituality is not a form of escapism; it is courage,” she says. “The dog chews on the dry bone, thinking that it is getting flesh, but in reality the taste it is relishing is coming from the lacerations ­inflicted by the bone upon its
own gums.” She does not deny that some may come to her for less than pure reasons, but, somewhat jarringly, she seems to avoid any responsibility in this, deflecting it all back onto her followers. “Someone who does not know how to swim will drown if he tries to swim in the ocean waves,” she says. “Someone who knows how to swim enjoys it. That is the difference.”

 THE THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

I want to invite you to try a little thought experiment:

Think about this for a moment – keep all of the details here the same, but instead of an Indian woman who appeals to our love of yoga and trust in mommy energy, what if it was a Texan man claiming to be an incarnation of Jesus?

Picture a 50 year old white guy in a cowboy hat with long grey  hair and beard up on a throne.

Imagine him:

* hugging people all day,
* selling action figures of himself as a way to pray to him
* having a “stargazer” who sat at his feet in rapture every time he gave blessings to masses of people weeping
*charging $2k for the privilege of volunteering to work in his organization
* selling $5 K crowns he had “blessed”
* rumors of him being physically and emotionally abusive behind closed doors and a story of his closest disciple fleeing under cover of darkness hidden under a blanket on a car floor only years later to recount the underlying dysfunction.

What would you think then?

Bear in mind this is an exact summary of what the article above says about Amma.

Is it possible that our critical thinking and reasoning ability gets blinded by some of the cultural details and a part of us that wants to believe that an enlightened holy person from India might really exist?

Is it possible that built into the very structure of belief in magical gurus is the injunction not to question, not to think critically —because these are manifestations of “ego” and not “being in your heart…..”

Therein lies the rub.

 

APPEALS TO EXPERIENCE & LOVE..

I know many of my yogi friends will repsond by saying they have gotten a hug from Amma and it really was Divine Love (really and truly, without a doubt!) —and that these sorts of things can only be experienced first hand etc…

But here’s the thing:

Providing state experiences of big heart opening and group hysteria is not uncommon. Many gurus have done this, megachurches do this, and most people who study cults are familiar with the technique called “love-bombing” in which new potential members are given as much “love” and validation as possible in order to form a bond with the group.

Large and powerful successful cults also always have most of their followers, donors, and members in an outer circle who receive enjoyment, meaning and even growth from the events and services offered publicly. This PR routine also makes a big show of promoting a perception that the organization is charitable, nobel etc – and in fact that there is not really any organization making millions of dollars – just an extraordinary figurehead who is doing god’s work in the world.

Behind the scenes there is usually a well oiled business model, a network of almost enslaved and obedient devotees, tons of money being syphoned away in covert ways and an ordinary but charismatic person who has been treated like a god so long that they are grumpy, reactive, entitled, agressive, and often addicted to drugs, sexual power, adoration etc…. it is usually not a healthy scene.

But we buy the act and just because she is claiming to be holy (in a way we idealize because it is related to yoga)  and hugging people we don’t draw parallels between political frenzy, rock star groupies, religious hysteria and the deep psychological manipulation that vulnerable seekers are prone to. The dedicated followers in the article sound like lost addicted deadheads following their new mommy from town to town like little ducklings who have imprinted on her hug.

Inducing powerful altered states that:

a) tap into deep childhood psychological needs (I have finally found my divine mother and sacred family)
b) overload our social and emotional centers so that our critical thinking is disabled
c) perpetuate a belief that this woman is a holy divine being
d) encourage people to part with their cash and donate their time and energy to a huge organization

is impressive but perhaps not something we should embrace unquestioningly.

If Amma’s story illustrates anything it is the power of our deep need to feel loved and to reconnect with the archetype of a perfect and all-accepting mother.

But it is a show – it is spiritual theater. Like going to a well-made movie, the feelings are real – but the source is artifice.

No one is literally divine. No person hears your prayers. No doll gives you a hotline to god.

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About Julian Walker

Julian Walker is the founder of http://www.yogateachergradschool.com/ where he supports new and established yoga teachers in living their dreams through business development. He is a writer who has been teaching yoga since 1994, and co-teaches the Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind Yoga Teacher Training in LA with Hala Khouri.Julian's writing is featured in the book 21st Century Yoga available on Amazon.com. www.julianwalkeryoga.com

Comments

105 Responses to “What if Ammachi was Texan Man Claiming to Be the Divine Father?”

  1. FishyFinances says:

    Part 2 of post:

    When one Analyzes the date These reports it can be seen at the bottom of each report under "Receipt During the year – Total 'she has declared a total of 5533064070 Rs or U.S. $ 121.35 million based on each year's Rupee / $ exchange rate over this six year period.
    But it is When one looks at the "Utilized" columns That the true picture begins to emerge.
    One Should Also add the "Cash In" and "In Kind" together. The "In Kind" Represents non-cash Contributions: such as high-tech medical equipment Purchased for her profit making Kerala AIMS hospital each year.
    When the "Utilized" she declared areas of what are broken down:
    Activities other than Those above Rs 302663942 5.5%
    Other Expenses 0 0.0%
    Relief / rehabilitation of victims of natural calamities 201556813 Rs 3.6%
    Construction / Running of hospital / dispensary / clinic 983713346 Rs 17.8%
    Construction and running of hostel Rs 169423297 3.1%
    Construction / maintenance of schools / colleges 410663220 Rs 7.4%
    Not Utilized 3465043452 Rs 62.6%
    The hospitals / clinics with 17.8% of Contributions are generating profit (the Governments of India and Kerala actually pay for the small amount of care These hospitals give to the poor). As are the schools / colleges and student housing, Which charge high fees, accounting for another 10.5%.
    Despite the heavy PR about Amritanandamayi's relief efforts, natural calamity relief These Utilized only 3.6% over six years. This leaves 5.5% of foreign Contributions for all of Amritanandamayi's other "Embracing the World" projects.
    A total of 9.2% of Their Contributions actually going on humanitarian works.
    It is believed to the 62.6% "Not Utilized" is probably contributing to her ever swelling foreign banks accounts.
    Then When one looks at the item under the institutional donor list where her income from foreign bank interest is declared THIS is where it REALLY starts to get interesting.
    In the 2011-12 FCRA returns foreign bank interest is listed as Rs 205,169,556 or U.S. $ 4.27 million (based on rate of Rs 48 to U.S. $). For 2006-7 this amount was $ 2.17 million ($ 45Rs to then). I know the amount of bank interest has doubled in this five year period indicated Which would in large Increase in the bank deposits, Given That global interest rates have actually fallen.
    The best annual interest rates on bank deposits are currently in the USA, 1.5%.For Euros in Germany, 1.2%. And for the UK 1.6%. When I know one does the sums and works out the capital based on a global average of 25.1% on this amount declared for 2011-12 of $ 4.27 million one comes up with a figure of $ 342 million!
    And let us not forget That Also we are only talking about income FOREIGN here.And what about Amritanandamayi was FORCED to declare.
    Swamini and her former personal assistant of 20 years, Gail Tredwell, Already has stated in Rolling Stone magazine in April 2012 That it was a common practice in the '90s for her on several occasions to deliver bags of gold and cash to this woman's relatives in the backwaters of Kerala!
    Amritanandamayi is now amongst the top 15 recipients of foreign charitable donations in India. In 2008-9 she was the third highest recipient for the whole of India, surpassing Oxfam and many mainstream westerner based donor organizations. This can be confirmed by the Annual Report of the RFCS for 2008-09, Which can be seen here-http :/ / mha.nic.in / fcra.htm
    The current report for 2011-2012 is not available as yet.
    The MA Math Their returns have not posted for 2012-13 so we have no way of knowing what her current status is wealth. But Given the huge numbers of westerners now attending her foreign tours the amount of foreign donations alone has probably greatly increased.
    We are a group of determined based Western ex-devotees and Concerned members of the public committed to exposing this woman to the world.
    Most of Us Have Been forced to hide our identities Because of the real fear of recriminations from this woman's organization. Activists based in India have had threatened Their Lives When They attempted to expose her.
    We seek to expose the Lies That she is perpetrating on her devotees and how she falsely uses the plight of the poor and needy Within India to solicit massive amounts of foreign donations when in fact this money is NOT being Utilized for this purpose.
    This small window into her foreign currency donations via the FCRA does not even take into account longer available areas as her vast foreign property portfolio. All the foreign centers and ashrams Having been Purchased / donated in the name of her MA and MA Math Math Trust Centres, of which she holds the controlling interest. A That property portfolio includes the iconic former Kennedy-Schriver mansion in Washington DC, valued at $ 7.8 million.
    This organization has NEVER published an annual report or an audited financial statement. The rank and file of her devotees NEVER have any financial information disclosed to them the king her organization.
    We can not understand That blackberries people of integrity and influence Within India have not re Expressed outrage this situation and believe That this woman MUST as under investigation.
    We urge all media outlets to do as we have done, These reports examine and expose this woman who is hoodwinking so many.

  2. IDrankTheKoolAid says:

    Referring to first Comment: And like, Jan Crouch, Amma has said (in India) that homosexuality is a sin against nature. She won't say that in the West because it would interfere with people projecting all their dreams and fantasies on her.

    I've heard she's in tight with right-wing Hindu politicians. This is funny because most Westerners who run after her are ultra-liberal. They don't have a clue what she really supports.

    She makes one speech at the UN in support of women, but no one notices how she treats women like crap who are in her own care–malnutrition, contaminated drinking water, inadequate healthcare, sleep deprivation, no real exercise (she thinks menial labor will cure all their ills), and of course they are totally dis-empowered and are treated less than second-class citizens in her own ashram.

    But then of course she wouldn't want any competition. She's the Alpha (Purusha) and even the men are lowly women to her. She cares about control and power. Everything is about becoming the number one guru of India and amassing a huge empire of for-profit businesses in the name of charity, while stashing $100s of millions in foreign bank accounts. It is hard to tell if she really cares about anyone other than her own family members who have become famously wealthy.

  3. Kripa says:

    How wonderful it would be if there could be someone of the immense heart and vision as Amma in as many different types of body as possible – even a Texas cowboy?

  4. yogijulian says:

    the fact that you would presume to speak of my innermost psychological issues, claim knowledge of my relationship with ana forrest and try to "out" me in such a personal way, using both my name and hers slanderously, whilst hiding behind a fake name to preserve you anonymity should tell anyone reading their comments all they need to know about you and your intentions.

    i have never written a word about ana forrest being abusive in my experience, though i had my own concerns about some of what went on in her community 20 years ago. regardless, the argument in the above piece and the examples used stand on their own without either rationalizations, appeals to love and special experience or ham fisted amateur attempts to inappropriately psychoanalyze publicly me using an incorrect take on privileged and private information.

    they also stand in spite of what is a tangential, condescending, presumptuous ad hominem attack.

    the fact that organizations like amma's rake in billions of dollars and create a figurehead treated as superhuman to do so. the fact that her close personal aid has written a book exposing the organization and the abusive behavior of the "god woman," the fact that people like you equate pointing this out with "not being spiritually open minded and vulnerable" is the reason an article like this needs in my opinion to be written!

    it is precisely because wounded spiritual seekers are vulnerable to being abused, mistreated and robbed blind of their money that the oldest con in the world should be exposed for what it is.

    it is precisely because the vulnerable inner work of real growth and healing is so valuable and sacred that these kinds of circus side shows that prey on people's gullibility and are perpetuated by this ludicrous notion that to be spiritual is to disengage critical thinking and believe whatever you are told that i spend the time writing an article like this and responding to your inane comments.

  5. Jai Ma says:

    i just have to laugh at how ill informed the writer is…just a negative view of a beautiful soul.