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.


6,464 views

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. philip says:

    Thanks Julian. This is an important article for the people who practice yoga in the US and start to equate the practice with magical thinking and also become obsessed with the notion that if something or someone came from India it means it has a better chance of being divine (whatever that means). Amma really is no different than Jan Crouch. Thank you.

  2. Jill says:

    Thanks, Julian, for being a voice of reason in the yoga world. The prevalence of all the made-up stuff had me wondering if I really wanted to be a yogi at all. I’m doing the asanas, breathing, and meditating, and, “eureka,” it’s indeed possible to do and enjoy and find fulfilling without believing in any hocus-pocus.

  3. yogijulian says:

    EXACTLY! thanks jill…

  4. yogijulian says:

    thanks philip!

  5. deleted3199113 says:

    First we turn Jesus into a white European and remove all his Jewishness. Now he is a Texan. In truth, I like him better as a Texan. I would like Amma better if she were a Texan. Instead of dolls she could sell used pickup trucks that get 11 miles to the gallon. That's a saint I could believe in.

  6. Chispa says:

    Glad I haven’t encountered this person in real life. She rather meets the snake oil salesman image in my imagined view of that role. Male or female, yoga or cowboy/redneck, the facade and purposefulness of her business game has nothing to do with yoga or even cowboy-dom. I also don’t doubt that people have felt total love and acceptance from Amma. But that doesn’t move me to support and appreciate such a performance. I do feel a bit sad for those who had to go to her for such attentions.

  7. Suri_k8 says:

    Maybe it is time for yoga to go secular. I think yoga is great exercise but the rest of the package is bs …what can be more ridiculous than the tipical "ancient tradition" argument that people [specially here on EJ] use in order to validate all the nonsense that comes with yoga….the purists are angry because a lot of people do yoga for the yoga butt , right, and then a lot of people really do yoga for the yoga butt …so I say split yoga into regular Yoga, the kind with all the magical thinking bs some people like and the work-out kind or Woga ..for those who are not really into universal love, energies, vibes and stuff…. Just a thought ..

  8. Ed Spyhill says:

    The one thing I learned from 12-Step meetings is the value of hugs. Why was it so hard to give a hug and even more difficult to accept a hug. Hugs will heal us.

  9. Leslie Gore says:

    This is slander, pure and simple. Where did you get this rumor about Amma being abusive? Look, the proof is in the pudding. Unlike most non-profits, no one gets paid to volunteer for Amma's charity. She spends billions each year building hospitals, housing, and schools for the poor. She is so well recognized that she has addressed the UN. Who do you think you are? What do you do?

  10. I apprecitat this post and your point! I'm sure you'll be flamed by the 'lovers' because they know only that, and you've threatened it.

    I am very cautious around the Amma followers I've encountered… they really do seem to have taken the hugs, 'drank the kool aid' and bought the t-shirt, even at $1K or whatever. And they can only justify their experience as their experience.

    What would have happened if you had positied that Amma was a white male with a little paunch belly who went by the name of John Friend? Aren't we all prepared to stare this 'guru' thing down, or will folks still just continue to give away power to those who artfully and skillfully make them feel good while doing it??

    Thanks, Julian, the candor is appreciated!

  11. oops, "appreciate" – sorry for that…

  12. jpsurfyogi says:

    So sad that a life devoted to serving others, which her life has been, can be so disrespected by a synical ROLLING STONE journalist who would rather tear something down than get behind something beautiful that seems foreign, hard to understand, or "too good to be true". We have become such cynics. "I" have been such a cynic! But not when it comes to this woman. She IS the real deal. Look up her resume. See what she has done. The proof is one's actions, and her actions speak volumes.
    Don't be too eager to believe "scandalous reports". Sounds more like rumor mongering than factual reporting to me.
    And, PS, I was at one of her events, and I SAW the times she had blessed for sale, and your prices are WAY off amigo. All inflated. AND, at whatever price they sell at, all proceeds go to the "embracing the world" foundation, a NOT FOR PROFIT with plenty of cred. Check out who they are. Check out what they do. http://www.embracingtheworld.org/ and then, if you feel so inspired, send Rolling Stone a quick message sharing your thoughts on their "fine journalistic practices". [email protected]

  13. Jpsurfyogi says:

    Just because something is from India doesn't make it "divine". However, it IS a culture that has been BUILT around their exploration of spirituality, in contrast to OUR western culture which has been built on expansion, domination, and the pursuit of "getting more", seemingly, the OPPOSITE of most spirituality. So, naturally, it would be more likely to find an enlightened being coming from that culture of spirituality, as opposed to Texas, a region of the world whose wealth is founded on the oil industry.

  14. Anna Forrester says:

    Julian: It's true that our psychological childhood needs can make us vulnerable to abuse. It's also true that our psychological childhood abuses can make us vulnerable to adult abusers. Early in your yoga life, did you perhaps connect with an older female teacher who you trusted too much? Is it possible that that abusive relationship has made you overly closed minded when it comes to spirituality? I am really trying to be helpful here, Julian. You are swinging too hard in one direction, and what you're protecting yourself from (and trying to protect others from) is a good idea from a normal, sub-yogic perspective, but because true spirituality is unavailable on that level, you're cutting yourself off from the heart of yoga practice. To do yoga, you don't have to follow Amma or any other supposedly "divine being." But you do have to be vulnerable. You may be right about some things. Being right in the way that you're being right isn't the answer. It will cut you off from spirit. Please deal with your unresolved psychological issue before you take another wild public swing.

  15. __MikeG__ says:

    Wow. I have never seen this many ad hominem attacks in one paragraph. You should be proud of how you have taken failure of logic and informal fallacy to dizzying new heights. Why argue for or against the article when you can just attack the author on a personal level? An author who you obviously have no clue about. Congratulations on creating a post that has reached an Olympic gold medal level of bullshit.

  16. __MikeG__ says:

    This article correctly points out that the Amma phenomenon is just another cult using typical techniques employed by all cults to fool the gullible and desperate.

  17. Leslie Gore says:

    There are plenty of pseudo gurus to expose out there. Amma is not one of them. The article is not only incorrect and misinformed, it defeats it's point by using an inappropriate example.

  18. Thaddeus1 says:

    Mike, while I might appreciate that the above comment is overly personal and at the very least unsolicited advice, which will always get one in trouble, there is no way that you can label the above an example of an ad hominem. Ad hominems are, as you know, informal fallacies. Fallacies apply only to logical reasoning, i.e., arguments. The above is not an argument, thus, it's not an example of an ad hominem. It seems to me that you like to throw this notion of ad hominem around quite a bit. However, since I know you value and appreciate the structure of argument, I would suggest being more selective with the label.

  19. Anna Forrester says:

    Anna Forrest was Julian's teacher, Mike. I know from first hand experience that she's abusive. Maybe that info will help you understand what I wrote. I was not attacking Julian. I was pointing out that his attack on Amma was motivated by the same psychological issues that he notices in Amma's followers. Is it possible that your attack on me is motivated by something similar. I know you, so I couldn't say. It does seem likely, however. And since you might also be the type who decries the use of psychology when it comes to dealing with the human condition, let me save you the trouble of writing something silly about that. Psychology is like math. Whether we recognize it or not, we all use it, and we all should use it. I don't mind Julian using it. I just want him to know that it swings both ways. And, Mike, when it comes right down to it, what isn't personal?
    Thaddeus already explained the other part of what went wrong with your comment.

  20. Anna Forrester says:

    Sorry, Mike, there were a couple typos in what I just wrote. I meant to write that "I don't know you, so I couldn't say." Maybe the omission was "Freudian." I don't know what it means even if it was. I also left out a question mark. Sloppy of me.

  21. Pankaj Seth says:

    "Cult' is a descriptive term, not perjorative unless specific beliefs and actions within a cult bring a negative connotation to a particular cult. There are 1001+ cults in India, Bhakti cults.

    Cults with strange beliefs are not uncommon… consider all those who believe that the universe was burped up, and the tiny bits thus coughed up then self-assembled due to mechanical forces, into this wonder we now see before our eyes.

    There's no shortage of cults. That by itself should be no cause for concern. Given that Amma's cult gives so much vis a vis social welfare, and offers a direction to so many vis a via self-development (Hinduism), what exactly is the problem except that one cult might not like some other cult?

  22. Anna Forrester says:

    Good point, Pankaj.

  23. __MikeG__ says:

    Sorry to disagree, T.

    Quote "Please deal with your unresolved psychological issues" , "You're cutting yourself off from the heart of your practice".

    These are but two examples of personal attacks in the post.

    I also think she was making an indirect argument by attacking Julian personally. I grant that you probably do not agree with that statement. So, if I am correct it is ad hominem. If you are correct in that she was not making an argument then her post is just an ordinary, everyday personal attack.

  24. Thaddeus1 says:

    Yeah, sure…if the above were an argument, then it would be fair to say it was ad hominem in nature. I think you would be hard pressed to marshal an argument, indirect or otherwise, out of the above though. It's clearly a personal plea and a statement of opinion by Ms. Forrester and not even directed to you or I, so really none of our business.

    The only reason I responded is because I know you value the art of argumentation and I thought it worth mentioning that you by default almost always label claims contrary to your position with an "ad hominem" or two. Also, just because things are personal doesn't make them an "attack." This would imply you having access to the intention of the author, who is kind enough in this case to state the contrary. It's obvious, whether or like it or not and whether you agree with it or not, that she sees what she is doing as offering help. So, again…unsolicited yes. An "attack," dubious at best.

    That's just my two cents.

  25. __MikeG__ says:

    Sorry, to both you and thaddeus but your arguments have fallen short again.

    First of all, my attack was not at you as you falsely claim. I attacked your post. I called your post bullshit because, IMO, your post was bullshit.

    I'll try to make this simple but when you attack Julian based on your perception of his psychological issues are are attacking him personally.

    When you imply my posts are motivated by physiological issues similar to Julian's you are now attacking me personally. When you imply I might be "the type who decries the use of psychology" you are attacking me personally.

    Your continued use of personal attacks, whether ad hominem or just old fashioned insults, are why I called out your post (now posts) as bullshit.

    BTW, good argumentation is not personal, and good argumentation is not the insults you so casually throw around.

    Maybe I came on too strong, but I am sick of insults and name calling. Especially here in the US where public hate mongers get rich and thoughtful debate no longer exists.

  26. __MikeG__ says:

    Amma is a perfect example of the pseudo guru. Selling dolls because the believers feel owning an Amma doll brings her/him closer to Amma is simple hucksterism. Charging "volunteers" is simple hucksterism.

    Guru belief is just a facet of magical thinking which plagues us all. Amma is just an ordinary, albeit extremely wealthy, woman who excels in fulfilling the mommy issues of her followers.

  27. Dolan says:

    regardless of who it is people feel loved. yes with the wrappings of an indian guru it is much easier for some people to open to the love but it is just a gateway for people to experience love. as for the monetary elements to this, well who knows it set the prices and came up with the idea to charge people and create "x" products. i have seen the behind the scenes of a guru's world and movement and there is a lot of people making decisions and doing what they feel is right and should be done. My thoughts and feelings are this. Regardless it will take a seemingly "outside" experience to have feelings, that is what this world is. wether it is touch, taste, sight or hearing. this experience gives us the inspiration to than reflect internally. so whether it is amma, a song by U2, a yoga class, a hit of drugs or a sunset…just feel the love and feel the connection to all regardless of the label

  28. __MikeG__ says:

    How about this. Why not support social welfare without falsely portraying oneself as a semi-magical being. The hospitals still get built but the money is raised based on a message of truth instead of a message of lies.

    My question to you is why support falsehood and some good works when we instead can support truthfulness and good works? The lies espoused by Amma and her ilk are not necessary. They are a distraction which in the long run causes only causes pain.

  29. Anna Forrester says:

    Mike: "I'll try to make this simple" is an implied insult. You are implying that I am not intelligent enough to understand the way you would prefer to communicate. Thanks for dumbing it down for me, but you are the only one who has been insulting. I brought up questions similar to the ones in Julian's piece. I was simply reversing things to make a point. You disagree with the point. That's okay. But now you make false claims about making false claims. Julian made the psychological points. I asked him to turn the mirror on himself in order to help him see how overly aggressive he was being. My aggressiveness was ironic. I cop to the aggression. What are you willing to see in yourself? Since you were so defensive, it stands to psychological reasoning that you may have similar issues as the ones I pointed out. Things that get under our skin are meaningful. They point to things. Again, it's basic psychology. Again, Julian's piece included some, so I responded in kind. And everyone has issues, Mike. That was in sense what Julian was trying to say. We all have vulnerabilities. If you don't want to look at yours that's fine. But you are human and therefore, you have the same human issues that we all have. Pointing that out is not an insult. Again, what you wrote was the only insult in these comments and if you think that's a bad thing, you should stop doing it yourself.

  30. Pankaj Seth says:

    Mike G, there are genuine cultural differences between India and the West. The underlying metaphysics are very different leading to different sorts of ways to get things done. Its not a matter of having the one true way to move forwards. Just as you can critique other's worldview, so yours can also be critiqued, as I have done above (not sure that you subscribe to the burping view, but many do and consider themselves 'rational)… LOL.

    Many ways in this world, MikeG, but your critique is noted.

  31. Thaddeus1 says:

    And, if I might be so bold…it is raining after all today, if you are tired of bad arguments, then try moving beyond tautological arguments of the variety, " I called your post bullshit because, IMO, your post was bullshit."

    They really don't say anything. But, hey, I guess we all fall short from time to time.

  32. Smarky says:

    Thank you for that. Well said! This guy is obviously very burned out and empty. He does not realize that we are all divine, but in Amma's case, she works her energy by giving love. I am not a devotee of Amma, but I have been in her embrace once, and that was beautiful, because she does not HAVE to do this. Her social work all around the world is direct and purposeful, and she uses those millions to rebuild lives, villages, and peoples hopes. Maybe she is not a living saint, but just maybe she is, and who am I to say for certain? All I know is that she works tirelessly. She once sat there for over 23 hours without a break just giving….giving and giving. Hugged a crowd lately? Try hugging thousands in a matter of 3 days. This poor little world is starved for love, if it were not, we would not be in the dire straights we are presently in. More Amma's need to come onto the scene in any form, be it Indian or Texan. If it is real let it be.

  33. @Suri_k8 says:

    Dude , you are like the thought police, i totally agree wiyh Mike G , if you disagree with what someone is saying it would actually be more productive for the discussion if you said why , instead of hiding behind the logic teacher mask you seem to like so much …..

  34. @Suri_k8 says:

    Newsflash , Hinduism (and its similars and variants) is just one of the hundreds of religions that exist today, there is nothing intrinsically special about it … You think it is special precisely because of all the fuzz westerners make about it…. So saying that "naturally it would be more likely to find an enlightened being coming from that culture of spirituality" because western culture is materialistic is just absurd.

  35. @Suri_k8 says:

    And exactly how can you tell if it is real or not?

  36. @Suri_k8 says:

    I have never received an ad hominem from Mike even though we have totally contrary views (about veganism specially) and we have disagreed on other subjects several times… And I usually check out his comments , and they are usually interesting and/or fun so what you are saying is totally false.

  37. Anna Forrester says:

    Well, Suri, this is about thought. We're not practicing asana here, and Julian isn't throwing stones at someone like Rajneesh or John Friend. People should check out the documentary called "Darshan" before they jump to any conclusions. It's fine to question, but Julian threw some psychological stones. He threw them first, and while MikeG was fine with that (as long as the stones were being thrown at people he thinks deserves it) that was okay. But when the tables were turned, he didn't like it. Then he had to use the oldest borderline defense in the book. "I'm so sick of how poorly everyone else argues." Well, that's "deflection." People who truly argue well and effectively don't become exasperated with the arguments of others. They just deal with reality.

  38. Thaddeus1 says:

    Ohh…I've missed you guys. Where have you been?

    But seriously. I couldn't care less about the article. Although I think Ms. Forrester has made some keen observations. Beyond that, I've said exactly what I thought. I think Mike uses "ad hominems" incorrectly and too liberally. And if you spend the time lamenting the lack of "thoughtful debate," then you should have something more to offer than tautological statements.

    And I get help but marvel at the irony of someone claiming I'm hiding when she comments under a nom de plume and cute kitty avatar.

  39. \mb says:

    >People should check out the documentary called "Darshan" before they jump to any conclusions.

    After watching 12 minutes of "Darshan", I jumped to the conclusion that my high school French wasn't good enough to follow the narration. This is the version currently available streaming on Netflix. Either the filmmaker was French or the target audience was the French-speaking public or the budget was low enough that they couldn't afford to add English subtitles. In any of these cases, checking out this film was an absurd exercise for me, an almost entirely visual experience combined with the sensuousness of listening the to the French narration being spoken by the director, without actually understanding much. And I can't get a good "fix" on Amma by being language-challenged! I'm sure the ideas being discussed throughout the film provide much context…

  40. \mb says:

    Never mind. I just found out how to turn on subtitles from Netflix. I would like to delete the above comment now, but I don't know how! I will come back after I've watched the film (w/English subtitles) and offer commentary then…

  41. \mb says:

    Never mind my "never mind" above. The English subtitles provided on the Netflix version consist entirely of the following:

    FEMALE SPEAKER 2 (OFFSCREEN):
    [SPEAKING FRENCH]

  42. \mb says:

    Oh my god, it gets worse. When Amma speaks the subtitles say:

    [SPEAKING MAYALAM].

    When the bearded gentlemen next to her speaks, the subtitles say:

    [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

    My high school Mayalam is really really rusty, let me tell you.

  43. @Suri_k8 says:

    If you dont care about the article, why read it then? Why did you bother to comment?
    This is the internet , even posting with your full name is meaningless as you [or me or anyone else] are just another dude , somewhere in the world posting stuff. Unless someone knows you personally, otherwise totally meaningless and irrelevant.

  44. A lot of misinformation in this (and the RS) piece. I'm one who has volunteered (and yes, paid) to serve on Amma's tour staff numerous times over the last 14 years. Devotees who have been around since the earliest tours can tell you about how in the beginning people signed up for tour staff so that they could basically get a free bliss ride around the country with Amma, and a place to stay in a devotee's home in every city. Some of these people didn't actually help out with the cooking, cleaning, and other sevas necessary to produce a program, and Amma quickly put a stop to it. She wants everyone to pay their own way on the staff, and $2000 is about what it costs to spend a whole summer on the road, with travel, food and lodging factored in. You do the math. People do this because they are inspired by her example of selfless service to humanity and they want to give back. It is very common for wealthy devotees to sponsor staff members. Anyone can be on the staff if they inquire. It is totally open. Staff members are asked to do about 8 hours of seva each day. Money that is donated to Amma goes to the charities, period. 100%. Amma lives and travels in complete simplicity. She usually sleeps on the floor, flies coach and has the takes the least amount of personal time/space of anyone I've ever seen.

    Yes, many people experience profound healing in Amma's presence. My opinion is that many people are in deep need of love and validation. Very human need that we can all relate to on some level. Amma just expresses love for everyone. Some people are changed forever, some not at all. She does not make any claims about her own divinity. Never has.

    People create all sorts of crazy fantasies about what Amma says and does. I used to do that to. Now I feel that it's really very simple—Amma is just doing what is natural to her. We might interpret it to mean many things but in the end a hug is just an expression of love. Yes, it is profound, even though it's not complicated. There's nothing dysfunctional about it.

    I have an Amma doll. In the early years, I felt very sad when I was away from her and the doll made me feel closer. Was I working out my mommy issues? Maybe. Probably. But I outgrew that phase and now the doll is just a sweet, handmade doll that sits in the lap of my old teddy bear, which I keep because it is a nice piece of my childhood.

    In spirituality we all go through phases of development as we mature and draw closer to the truth. In the beginning we might have infantile fantasies or imagine that everything is wondrously significant and brimming with rainbow chakra unicorn angel energy, and that we were someone famous in a past life. We grow out of it when the time comes. I've learned so much from my time with Amma and she has helped me tremendously in my life. I guess at this point I am not so dependent on being near her all the time, but I still spend a few weeks out of every year working on staff and paying it forward. I really enjoy it, and I learn a lot every time. It's money well spent.

  45. @Suri_k8 says:

    It really doesnt matter who is he throwing stones at , Amma is not different from John Friend, she is not special, there is no reason why her motives and M.o shouldnt be questioned… And I think that is the point Julian is trying to make.

    When I see her in Darshan I see nothing but a woman giving hugs and there really is no evidence that she is other than that…a woman being treated as a rockstar that gives hugs .

    India is ranked 147 in the world's education index so it is to be expected that there is a lot of ignorance and gullibility in its people, which facilitates the proliferation of this kind of fenomenon , what is really sad is that westerners, that supposedly are better educated buy all these stories and actually fail to use their critical thinking skills .

    What you say about Julian is just your interpretation, and does sound like cheap psychology , there is no way you can know where Julian is coming from unless you know him personally …. If you read his other posts you will notice that he is all for questioning the validity of absurd beliefs.

    As for Mike , well, he is entitled to his opinion.

    Btw, I think he was right, the meaning of ad hominem acording to dictionary . Com is:

    ad ho·mi·nem   [ad hom-uh-nuhm ‐nem, ahd-] Show IPA
    adjective
    1.
    appealing to one's prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one's intellect or reason.
    2.
    attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument.

  46. Thaddeus1 says:

    So, let me get this straight.

    You check out Mike's comments.
    You've never received an ad hominem from him personally.
    So, therefore, I'm wrong in my opinion, (as in the above instance) that Mike labels a personal view and/or plea an ad hominem, when neither a personal view or a plea is an argument.

    You know, Suri, with that kind of logic, you can pretty much get anywhere you want. Good luck.

  47. Thaddeus1 says:

    I read pretty much read everything under the yoga section.

    You'll notice I didn't bother to comment on the post itself, because it doesn't really amount to much more than Julian's personal opinion and he is entitled to it. I mean sure there are the typical arguments from assertion, but those are fallacies just like the one's you are so quick to reject, so I don't really feel a need to address them.

    My comments were specifically directed to Mike and from what I can tell, he and I disagree about whether what Ms. Forrester offered is an argument. So, I guess I could ask you the same thing. "Why did you bother to comment," to me? I don't remember saying anything to you.

    If "This is the internet , even posting with your full name is meaningless as you [or me or anyone else] are just another dude , somewhere in the world posting stuff. Unless someone knows you personally, otherwise totally meaningless and irrelevant," then why would you take issue with me "hiding" behind some mask?

    C'mon Suri, this is silly.

    And, oh…If you're going to reject the views of an entire sub-continent on the basis of their "educational" ranking (setting aside the questions about how in the world such a thing could ever be quantified, not to mention the cultural imperialism inherent in such a "standard…BTW, you should read Gould's "The Mismeasure of Man" if you are interested in science and it's "objective" approach to calculating intelligence), then you are going to have bring your "A" game when the debate is over the nature of argument. Because, I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure the above statement about India might be a version of ad hominem abusive's lesser known, but equally offensive cousin, ad hominem circumstantial.

    Always a pleasure.

  48. Anna Forrester says:

    Thank you, Prajna, for making the point that really needed to be made here, and for doing it so thoughtfully.

  49. __MikeG__ says:

    Come on, you can do better than getting into an technical argument based on whether we think Anna's hateful post was an "argument" or just a hateful post. That is pathetic. You can do better than that. Ok, fine. Anna's post was not argument. It was just an attack. Happy now?

  50. __MikeG__ says:

    Come on Thaddeus, this is what you want to argue about? Whether I used ad hominem correctly or not? I thought Anna's ridiculous post was an argument. But that doesn't matter. As your pointless posts don't matter either. You can do much better than this.

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