Tag Archives: saint

“Hugging Saint” Amma on a Quest to Embrace the World

Amma, also known as the hugging saint, is one of India’s many examples of tolerance, selfless service, and unconditional love. For those who don’t know her, she travels around the world and hugs people. This may seem like something that just anyone can do. At least this is what I thought when a group of friends first suggested we travel together to see her. But once we arrived at the hall where she sat, a thousand people were lined up waiting quietly for her to hug them for a few seconds. “So what’s the big deal?” my little mind thought. Then I stood along with the others and watched as Amma hugged every person and sometimes whole families together at the same time.

“So what’s the big deal?” The answer is that she embraces everyone. I watched her embrace people of all races, all ethnic backgrounds, all religions. The people who came to her included big, burly men, tiny old women, children, teens, and adults of all kinds of backgrounds. Many of them – like me – probably didn’t even know why they were there. The more I watched, the more I saw an example of divinity. Who else could embrace absolutely everyone and turn no one away? Who else could have the energy to hug literally a thousand people and still look fresh and vibrant, and give a discourse on spiritual practice after that?

Amma says, “A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering.” Her watch words are about love and service, and Amma is often found with her devotees working to move bricks or clear garbage. For years she has served India’s poor and asked for nothing in return. When asked how she does it she says the energy to do the work comes from the Divine Source. Though she has been doing her work since childhood, she recently appeared in the New York Times, and I have written about her in my book, Awake in the World as well. As the world searches for extraordinary examples and meaning, people like Amma are being revealed in public for their powerful messages through example. It has been a few years since I was embraced by Amma, but it’s an experience that is not to be missed. Even just witnessing the gathering or hearing her speak is a treat. She’s on her annual North American tour this summer and you can find out more at amma.org.

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Join Debra at her workshop at Esalen Institute, Journey into the Secret Garden: Writing from Dreams and Inspiration.                            

Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. She is devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAwakeintheWorld

In the Name of Love: A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

HF - Valentine'sLove is in the air. If you’re in a part of the world that celebrates Valentine’s Day then you most likely can feel it. Whether you anticipate the day with joy or dread, this yearly celebration marks the time for chocolate and roses and heart-shaped cards, all in the name of love. But where did the tradition come from?

In this week’s episode of “Holy Facts” on The Chopra Well, Gotham Chopra explores some unusual expressions of love across cultures, including the murky origins of the biggest contemporary love celebration in the west: Valentine’s Day. Named after at least one of three early Christian martyrs by the same name, this day has come to signify something very different than what it originally may have been.

The Saint Valentine most likely connected with the holiday was a priest in the 3rd century Roman Empire. Emperor Claudius II had outlawed marriage for young men, believing that unmarried men made better soldiers than those with wives and children. Valentine – still in the minority at this point as a Christian priest – felt the injustice of the decree and continued performing marriages for young lovers in secret. He was soon discovered, though, and executed for his disobedience. To add insult to injury, it was also rumored that he tried to convert Claudius to Christianity during his interrogation.

The placement of Valentine’s Day in the middle of February may be associated to the anniversary of Saint Valentine’s execution. But many believe the Christian church established Valentine’s Day in order to “Christianize” an early Roman pagan festival, Lupercalia, which was celebrated at the Ides of February. In this bloody fertility festival, men would sacrifice a dog and a goat, then strip the goats’ hides and use them to gently slap the women. Women apparently lined up for this yearly hide whipping, believing it would increase their fertility in the upcoming year. The day ended with a random pairing of couples to…well, test the magical strength of the goat hides.

Once “Christianized”, and with the help of authors like Chaucer and Shakespeare, Valentine’s Day became more of a celebration of romance, exchanging animal sacrifice for letter writing, whips for poetry and chocolate. Sounds like a healthy evolution. Today, Valentine’s Day sales approach close $20 billion, what with the candy, roses and a bit of expensive jewelry thrown in the mix.

Love itself, however, is free. And nothing says “I love you” better than a homemade card and a big hug.

How are you planning on celebrating Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments section below!

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A Huge Miracle

Manu is back in class and he is back with his long lost smile. For all of us at pwhy it is a huge miracle. For many months we feared for his life though we kept a brave face. His body had almost given up as he suffered multi organ failure: his liver and kidneys had almost packed up with the potent TB medication and we were at a complete loss.

His frail and emaciated body was devastated but his spirit held on, and held on strong. It refused to give up no matter what. He just lived on and slowly began to heal proving beyond doubt that mind is stronger than the body.

He still cannot walk on his own but when we told him that he could come to class he was thrilled and accepted to be carried down two flight of stairs in spite of the pain. He spent the whole day in class with his long lost friends who were thrilled to see him.

When he felt a little tired he simply lay on Prabin’s lap to rest for a while and then was all set to carry on his activities of the day. It was nothing short of a miracle and I could only watch him with clouded eyes and a huge knot in my throat. What a journey it had been for this saintly soul who had suffered the worst ignominies in his life and yet who accepted it all with dignity and grace. A blessed soul whose life touched each and every child of project why and above all me. I feel humbled and in awe.

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