There is a handful of remarkable souls in the world so untainted, generous and loving that I am made to feel truly crap. Certainly, we all revere the Teresas, Mahatmas and sundry human shields of our planet. Yet there is none amongst us plainer mortals who has not momentarily resented the bejesus out of such kind souls for making us feel like relative cosmic waste. Come on! You expect me to believe that you’ve NEVER thought begrudgingly of the Dalai Lama, just once? Personally and publicly I will admit to having many uncharitable thoughts about the charitable. While I am very glad that the selfless stalk the earth clad only in modest robes and munificence, just occasionally a girl might think: could you puh-lease put your sandals up, lay off the Good Works for a reincarnation or so and let the rest of us ordinary folk catch up.
Currently preparing for a visit to Australia is one of those rare and good people who serve both to better the world and cause the less self-assured to remember that we haven’t done anything really nice for anyone in at least a decade. Mata Amritanandamayi, or Amma to her mates, is an untiring healer who charges little or nothing to administer her message of purest love.
Surviving on the merest sleep, Amma is noted worldwide for the blessings she dispenses and her inspirational teachings that come by way of profound affection and faultless example. Admirably, she regards all faiths and people as equal and administers her healing embrace to all within her orbit. She is widely regarded as Saintly and, there is no evidence that she ever whines, pouts or has unreasonable backstage demands for deli-platters and the like at her various public appearances.
In preparation for Amma’s nationwide tour in the first half of May, I thought, perhaps, that I would purge myself of unkind and jealous thoughts. I resolved that I would not judge my own litany of failures in relation to Amma’s remarkable résumé. Such irrational comparison would only end in tears. To wit: Amma was just awarded the Ghandi-King Award for Non-Violence at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. My most recent certificate, if I don’t count the Sex Cheque a smutty mate gave me for my last birthday, (redeemable for an “all night shag”) was a 25 metre swimming diploma.
Not only would I set aside envy and general cynical guffaws, I decided, but I would actually attempt to follow her rousing and model behaviour.
Amma’s main gig is delivering a healing hug. Noted. Despite a distaste for hugging, particularly at Art Gallery Openings, I elected to follow suit. I would hug people. Anyone. Even those to whom I would not consider giving a sex cheque.
Amma has been hugging people for thirty years. In that time, it is estimated; she has hugged in excess of 20 Million people. Obviously, I had my work cut out for me. So, I determined to devote just one hour to reckless, public embrace.
Now, if I was to replicate Amma’s hug rate, calculations were in order. Roughly, 20 million cuddles over 30 years, allowing for two hours sleep, one hour ablutions and eating time and, say the odd average half hour here and there for international travel, award ceremonies etc, equals around 100 hugs to be provided to anyone within my radius per hour. Tender, lingering hugs
With best intentions, I nominated a site for my hug-frenzy. Taking Amma’s cue, I acknowledged the equality of all persons and, indeed, venues. It did not seem untoward that I chose my most regular drinking hole as the site for my enlightenment.
And so, I trod to the place of my karmic improvement. No matter that The Ramones blared rather than raga. No matter that the air was more weighted with cigarettes, bourbon and sweat than incense. No matter that my initial hugging subject answered my tender and lingering embrace with, ‘come back later when I’ve sunk more piss, love.’
Thirty minutes into my experiment and I had only copped three hugs. Only one of which approximated ‘lingering’. And that, it must be said, was not in the least bit tender. Furthermore, it actually came at the price of (a) my dignity and (b) a Double Seabreeze.
Amma is now famed as a hugger. Yet, surely, it was not always so. There was a time when she too must have confronted suspicion and incredulity when snuggling up to the unsuspecting. But she did not quit. I downed tools at the 45 minute mark.
I have resigned as a hugger. But I will not, it is vital to admit, ever resume my scorn for those who do good. Being nice is a hard gig. Props and peace to you, Amma.