The One Where We Get Accurately Quoted On Salon.com
File under: Amma All-Over-The-Planet
A few weeks ago we got a call from Erik Davis, a chronicler of those sorts of things we find ourselves interested in. He wanted to know what we thought of Amma, so we told him:
As a fan of alt-dolls and vinyl figures, I'd have to say the Amma dolls are pretty cool. But for some observers of the spiritual scene, they incarnate nothing so much as spiritual infantilism. Jody Radzik, a 48-year-old graphic designer who writes the muckraking and funny Guruphiliac blog, calls Amma a "space mommy," which he defines as a guru who fulfills "the function of a cosmic parent for insecure, self-loathing devotees." A "spiritually informed skeptic," Radzik nonetheless considers himself a devotee of Kali and a follower of Vedanta, the non-dualist summa of Hindu thought. "Vivekananda described Vedanta very simply. Everyone is God. That means that a single person can't be more god than any other person. Gurus like Amma pay lip service to the Vedanta while also presenting themselves as special beings who wield magic powers because of their divinity. But self-realization is the opposite of magic -- it's the most mundane thing in their world. It's always right there right on the end of your nose. These gurus have people looking everywhere but the tip of their nose."Actually, we said a whole lot more than that, but Erik did a pretty good job distilling our rhetoric down to the essentials.
But we certainly don't think that every Ammabot is an "insecure, self-loathing" devotee; just those who believe she can solve all their problems with a perfume-saturated hug:
Amma herself seems to wear her robes lightly; she is a cheery woman of little education who makes no divine claims and carries an air of good-humored humility. But the lore that surrounds her -- much of which derives directly from her tight-knit group of core disciples -- is redolent with the miraculous. Many devotees, East and West, believe that Amma's divine shakti can give them children, or fix their marriages, or make them money. One of the first Amma videos that comes up on YouTube shows a reenactment of a young Amma miraculously transforming water into pudding.You can't go back to the womb, folks, and Mommy's magic is nothing more than your own power projected onto a spiritual authority figure. Stand up on your own two feet and make your own way though life. It's what you're all doing anyway, despite your self-inflicted beliefs to the contrary. The Lord helps those who help themselves. Remember that and know that you are every single bit as divine as Amma.
Every. Single. Bit.
Labels: Amma All-Over-The-Planet