Friday, July 08, 2005

Satsang With Ammachi—Part IV, Mommy Smells

File under: Satsang Reports and Amma All-Over-The-Planet

Next up is the meditation program, taught by the swami who “translated” the talk. This is normally the most enjoyable part of a satsang for us, but Amma’s offering is a bit on the lean side. People sit in silence for less than 5 minutes after three Oms and a few words about breath focus.

The swami begins to chant for a bit before he starts praying to Amma, sitting on the stage to his right, as if she were God. And then, finally, we hear the first reference to that other God—the one who created Amma—since we’ve been here.

That pretty much sums up our problem with this satsang. Not enough talk about God, the Self and meditation, but a lot of talk about Amma and her “children.” That pretty much makes her the mommy and drives the whole enterprise. It’s the Mahashakti packaged as a sweet little Indian lady. It’s no wonder people believe that she’s magic, she’s the mother of all creation!

The mystic halogen reignites, signaling the commencement of the hugging. Special needs folks and VIPs go first. We observe the pleasant socializing that has erupted around us. Amma’s “children” might have child-like expectations about enlightenment, but taken as a group, they seem like very decent people. Everyone seemed at ease, with the exception of a few of the helpers.

As some people socialize and others get hugged, commercials for food, chair massages, gifts and books are announced over the PA. We decide to wander around a bit and check it out, but we find ourselves most interested in the Amma dolls and accessories for sale. We’ve seen people carrying these dolls at Kali pujas, taking the concept of being a child of Amma into the realm of the ridiculous. We just happen to have our camera, so we take some pictures. A slightly tense woman wearing an honest-to-God orange roadworker’s safety vest walks up and gently reminds us that only ashram appointees are allowed to take photographs. We thank her and walk back to our seat.

After a few more commercials, a video begins playing on the two large screens that now flank the stage. It’s basically an Amma informercial, complete with network news clips to lend it some more authority. The effect is decidedly Big Motherish as the video drones around the hive of activity that is Amma giving darshan. After an indeterminate amount of time, the video ends and another begins. This one is about Amma’s tsumani relief effort. It begins with quite a bit of tsunami porn shot as it was happening at her ashram in Kerala. Miraculously, nobody was injured. Naturally. The video takes pains to mention that Amma’s org committed 22 million dollars to the effort, which is very impressively beneficent if true.

We’re more than a bit tired and quite hungry as we wait for our number to come up, but the pleasant scenery has a somewhat soothing effect. The room seems to be getting warmer as the wait drags on, and the video is endless. Finally, it's our turn. We immediately get in line, which is a row of chairs leading toward the stage. Every 30-45 seconds we move another seat closer to Amma.

About 10 people away from Amma, the line moves to the floor, where we are asked to wipe our face with a tissue. People kneel or sit and scoot closer as the hugs are dispensed. We are identified as a “single” as we’re not with the person next to us. As we move closer still, the jostling starts, courtesy of the helpers. It’s as if there’s a bit of confusion at the point where people are thrust into Amma’s bosom.

We watch as a red-haired woman directly in front of us gets her hug. As Amma holds her in a semi-headlock, she jabbers away at the four or five Indian people standing around her. Their talk looks casual, and appears to have little or nothing to do with the hugging going on. When the woman is released, she is visibly moved. Amma continues talking to her friends.

Suddenly, we’re thrust into the ground zero of the worldwide Ammachi devotional community. Amma gets us in the same headlock, and still keeps talking to her posse. We’re held there for about 20 seconds. She then shifts our head to the other side of her bosom, and holds us for ten seconds more, all the time still talking. Then she leans toward our right ear and chants a simple mantra, “Ma, ma, ma, ma, ma…” And then we’re literally yanked away by a helper and ejected.

While in mid-hug, we did a self-survey and noted nothing additional in the way of love, shakti or consciousness. It was just being held by the arm of an Indian woman to her bosom while she babbled away about who-knows-what, although we're rather sure it wasn't about us. What we did notice very distinctly was that she was wearing a lot of strong-smelling perfume. It was very sweet, we imagine just like Amma’s love. So even though we didn’t really get to feel Amma's love, we sure did get to smell it.

On the way home, we notice that we continue to smell of Amma’s perfume. Suddenly, we recall another dark goddess encounter with a beautiful and generous shakti who just happened to be working at the Crazy Horse Theatre in San Francisco. As we rode the bus home, we were overwhelmed by the sweet smell of her perfume and the lovely memories it was being associated with in that moment. Now Amma had brought us to the same recollection. The perfect bookend for the evening.

Amma is a rendering of the right-hand Kali. Our Kali is left-handed—all the way. They’re both the same Kali, identical even, but Amma only sells the white sari rendition. Underneath that sari is a leather and latex-clad ultra-vixen, quite ready and capable of chopping off a head or two… or 100,000. If Amma really is Kali, she’s certainly not the whole Kali. But maybe that’s a good thing. We’re pretty sure rubber is not Amma's fabric, anyway.


At 7/08/2005 10:40 AM, Anonymous Sara said...

God, that Amma doll is creepy. Her face looks sort of butt-like.

At 7/08/2005 12:05 PM, Blogger jody said...

It was really creepy seeing those rich elderly ladies carrying theirs around at the pujas, feeding them, changing their clothes and even letting them take naps on their meditation mats.

At 7/08/2005 1:53 PM, Anonymous Sara said...

Oh god. You've got to be joking.

That astral milk is dangerous!!!

At 7/09/2005 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole write-up series has been mucho boring but this one was the worst.

Whydaya bother?

At 7/11/2005 12:53 AM, Anonymous channel null said...

When I found out that Amma claimed to be an avatrix of the Mother, I gave her a little more respect: "Oh, she's not about new age crap, it's like getting hugged by a gorgeous, blood-stained, sexually insatiable woman who's severing your neck." I was imagining old women and dreadlocked hippies experiencing sheer terror followed by love. I guess I let my expectations get to high, based on the high marks she got at Key23.

Well, here's to the next new age love-bombing.

At 7/11/2005 11:56 PM, Anonymous repo said...

I am an "Ammabot" and a lot of what you say about the Ammachi satsang is true, but still you seemed to have missed Amma's intense focus, her charm and her energy through loooong hours of hugging.
I guess you have to find a latex and leather guru! Keep searching!

At 7/12/2005 12:04 AM, Anonymous Choto said...

Hmmm....??? What makes you so certain that your left handed Kali isn't going to cut your balls off and swallow them whole like a couple of oysters in front of the whole room, while you kindly sit down again with your little camera after they herd you away? If you have any sense you'll quit wasting your time trying to be funny about poo poo perfume and how silly adults look with Amma dolls, and then get down to business and do a real hatchet job on the blissful brainless in this money machine. Follow the $$$ jing.

At 7/12/2005 3:41 PM, Blogger jody said...

Regarding Amma's focus at the satsang, she didn't have any for the huggees. All her attention was given to the four or five Indian people she was jabbering away at around her as she was hugging us lowly Westerners.

Regarding the Left-handed Kali cutting our balls off, She got them way back in 1986. Besides, we don't need anybody to proxy between our Goddess and ourselves, including chunky Indian ladies working their ethnicity as a Devi costume for hapless bliss bunnies.

At 7/12/2005 8:02 PM, Anonymous repo said...

I could I guess argue with you about Ammachi's focus even when she is chatting with others, much like the way a mother might be cooking but does not lose focus of the baby at her hip.
I could even understand how you don't want someone between you and the goddess, and that you criticize gurus.
But in your last comment, you show contempt for even the ones who do get something from Ammachi. No doubt you are superior and self-sufficient, but I suppose us hapless ones need Ammachi until we reach your exalted state of independence.

At 7/12/2005 11:46 PM, Anonymous channel null said...

Follow the money? Everybody knows you can practice bhakti in your room for free... Come on, if those "shaktis" will buy Amma's psyops, they're bound to buy anybody else's. All those lonely new age girls... When Amma hits my area, if it's free, I'm going. Maybe I'll chew some mushrooms ahead of time to skry further into Amma's aura and intentions and report back, besides just leer at patchouli-girls.

Jesus Horus Christ, I sound like a creep.

At 7/13/2005 9:10 AM, Anonymous Choto said...

Kali got your balls back in 1986, huh? Only that one time? I guess so. You apparently didn't have the balls to interrupt her or to try talking to her while your face was pressed into her ample Motherhood, did you? Try try again... maybe this time at

At 7/13/2005 9:36 AM, Blogger jody said...

No doubt you are superior and self-sufficient

Self-sufficient, but not superior. I'm just an asshole with an opinion.

And while the hapless bliss bunnies are getting something, what is making them hapless is the fact that they are giving it to themselves by way of a self-suggested subterfuge.

Amma's whole satsang is predicated on it.

Kali got your balls back in 1986, huh? Only that one time?

All it took was once, and it had nothing to do with Ammachi, who is only a facimile for devotees afraid of the real Kali.

And porno Amma (aka Rasa) is a clear case of narcissistic character disorder. She's no more Kali than you, myself or my dog's ass, as is Ammachi.

Kali (as the Mahashakti) is evenly distributed in the universe. She's where you find yourself at any moment, not concentrated in the form of round Indian ladies.

At 7/13/2005 10:25 AM, Anonymous Choto said...

Kali (as the Mahashakti) is evenly distributed in the universe. She's where you find yourself at any moment, not concentrated in the form of round Indian ladies.

Don't you think it is a little odd that you are otherwise appropriating a tradition that seems to be based around round Indian ladies? I suppose the more obvious question might be why you don't see Mahashakti concentrated in all these people and things that you are critiquing? You know? And don't tell me I don't know Kali.

At 7/13/2005 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody: I'm just an asshole with an opinion.

True, and a pretty lonely asshole, who probably got trounced by more legit Kali worshippers in his sorry spiritual search.

Your writings reek of superiority even if you can't see it.

Down boy!

At 7/13/2005 11:32 AM, Anonymous choto said...

No need.

If you get a chance, Google for "Vamakeshwara Tantra"... "Her charming begemned navel is like a stream. The roundness of Her hips is like a precious jewel, She wears a girdle of pearls, and has beautiful buttocks. The circle of Her buttocks is cleft by a line, Her hair like royal elephant goads. Isvari, Her very beautiful thighs are like two beautiful plantain stems. Her two lovely legs are like two charming plant stems. Her unblemished lotus feet are like the crest gem of Brahma.

It also seems that its getting a little thin if you have to flog whipping-boy Andrew Cohen one more time.

At 7/13/2005 3:37 PM, Blogger jody said...

why you don't see Mahashakti concentrated in all these people and things that you are critiquing?

I do. But then, I'm the Mahashakti too, as are my feelings about these things and the expression of my opinions.

Your writings reek of superiority even if you can't see it.

We call that confidence in our point of view. As far as other Kali devotees go, I have many friends in that arena, including the authors of Kali: The Feminine Force (now deceased,) Kali's Child and Encountering Kali, Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshinewar, and Kali's Odiyya.

It also seems that its getting a little thin if you have to flog whipping-boy Andrew Cohen one more time.

It is thin out there. It's hard to come up with material lately. There just isn't that much in Google News, and has been obsessing about Scientology too much to cover anything else.

Help me thicken it back up. Send in tips!

At 7/13/2005 11:21 PM, Anonymous Choto said...

Tips? How about "Mother eats ocean life high on the food chain, Stupid children continue to argue about realization!" There seems to be a lot of this type of thing lately.

At 7/14/2005 9:52 AM, Anonymous repo said...

Well Jody, I enjoyed reading your various Ammachi blogs, even though I am an 'Ammabot', as you put it.

Choto, your link did not show up properly in your comment. Please repost the link.

At 7/14/2005 10:42 AM, Blogger jody said...

Well Jody, I enjoyed reading your various Ammachi blogs

Thanks, repo. While I try hard to be snarky about gurus, you could do a lot worse than Ammachi. All in all, it wasn't a bad experience. A little tedious, and not at all full of the "shakti" that Ammabots say it is; but overall, pretty much AOK. However, the idea that self-realization makes you more divine than the next person is straight up, unmitigated bullshit. These ideas about self-realization do more to prevent it from being recognized than all the sex, drugs and delusion Hollywood has come up with in the last 75 years.

At 7/14/2005 10:51 AM, Anonymous choto said...

Here's the news again: Scientists Raise Alarm About Ocean Health -AP Yahoo!

Well, that news is a little frightening!!!

Thanks for your comments jody. I agree that self-realization does not make one more divine than the next person. There is an entire unfamiliar realm here for most naive western people who begin studying yoga and think everything is wonderful. As you know, it is not, and even the most "realized" or who appear to be so, often have the darkest and ugliest of secrets hidden. Hypocrites and liars then. But it might be bad karma to become the cause of great disappointment to so many people. Unless one is willing to bear the consequence of that action. Could result in insanity. Hard to say.

At 7/20/2005 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody, I love to go get a hug from Amma. Unfortunately, this year I was turned away 3 times so people like you (curiosity seeking newcomers) could take my place. There just isn't enough time anymore. I tried to rationalize that newcomers should get a chance also to get near her, but reading all your nasty comments, I think I'll just refer her organizers to this posting so they will stop putting people like you ahead of sincere people who love her (like me :-)) I can understand that some people just don't resonate with her or another "saint" or sage. But you really do carry on so much about this! Why are you so offended by her? She doesn't seem to be hurting anyone, only doing good, relieving pain of others. That's just my perception. No, she doesn't appear to be "delivering" enlightenment, if such a thing is even possible. But at least she is trying to help people, often, it would appear to me, at the expense of her own health. She is severely diabetic, did you hear that? I understand that she has to inject insulin daily. Yet she never eats or drinks during sometimes 15 hours of darshan. She also never gets up for any reason. I was told (and observed) that she is in a great deal of pain in her upper body from hugging all these people daily. There is something going on there that is way beyond money, I think. Money is always necessary to run anything in this world, but what she is giving is beyond $$$. That's just my opinion. I don't live with her or go to retreats.

At 7/20/2005 8:44 PM, Blogger jody said...

I was turned away 3 times so people like you (curiosity seeking newcomers) could take my place

I'm sorry you were turned away. Maybe you should have arrived earlier. The satsang I attended had plenty of room.

Why are you so offended by her?

There are two things happening here: Amma the tireless hugging woman, and the ideas generated by people believing in her divinity. Amma the tireless hugger is certainly a phenomenon, and certainly a joy for many to behold. But the ideas about her divinity and supposed magic powers are a poison which pollutes spiritual culture with realization-preventing nonsense. That's what I'm beefing with.

I was told (and observed) that she is in a great deal of pain in her upper body from hugging all these people daily.

I observed no signs of pain or discomfort in her. I agree that she has amazing discipline, but so do many other yogis. They just aren't putting it on display. However, her endurance as a hugger isn't proof of divinity, just that she's well practiced and has amazing endurance, kind of like Lance Armstrong. But as God-like he is on a bike, nobody actually believes he is more divine because of it.

There is something going on there that is way beyond money

A satsang is a business. Money is necessary. Nobody asked me for any money when I was there, which is unusual and commendable.

I've said over and over, people could do a lot worse than Amma. I'd contend she's the best of the big time gurus in terms of ease of attendence, lack of solicitation and overall message delivered. The satsang was very short on meditation, and I suspect this is to get people to the IAM retreats, which isn't anything I can blame them for.

But the crazy accumulation of myth and legend, essentially a living hagiography, is just raw, unadulterated delusion. It's what keeps people in the seats, but it's also serving to keep them stuck in limitation rather than liberating them, and that's why I protest.

At 12/21/2006 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jody,

You're commentary above about Ammachi is a total riot. I laughed quite alot. I know Ammachi very well. I have been with Amma since the early days in India when few were there. You don't seem to understand how powerful Amma really is and for this reason you should be careful. Most people are fooled by her Mother in white persona. However she is the full on manifestation of Kali and if you take a mantra from her she will quickly reveal that aspect of herself to you. And it ain't pretty. Keep playing with fire, and sooner or later you may get burned. Keep us posted though. It's quite entertaining.

At 12/21/2006 6:13 PM, Blogger jody said...

Keep playing with fire, and sooner or later you may get burned.

I've been a french fry for Kali since way before Amma came on the scene. Why mess with some pudgy little Indian lady when you can plug directly into the real thing?


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