My absence from blogging may signify to some that I am losing hope, but this is not the case. Hope is a thriving attribute in my heart and mind, so much so that at times it begins to eat away at my insides. Is my hope counter-productive I wonder? It can be a dangerous thing to latch onto. It can drive us to splendid creative efforts, and achievements many may say is impossible. On the other hand, hope without proper direction, can lead to a fall of rock-bottom proportions, leading to despair and depression. So, what path do I travel? Will I achieve the impossible? Or will I crash and burn? The impossible is my answer, because my hope is not just hope alone, but hope along with effort, intention, and faith.
This path I have been on for nearly 8 years now has certainly not been an easy one. As I held my breath in that swimming hole, knowing that I was paralyzed but continuing to fight for my life, I had no idea what was ahead of me. My friend fulfilled his Dharma (duty in life), and saved me from drowning that day, but shortly thereafter I went from complete relief, to utter despair. “He should have just left me down there” I thought. My worst nightmare had occurred. Yet my survival forced me to face what happened to me, and find a place deep inside that was capable of handling reality, and to this day I continue to discover the power behind my tragedy. The power in my path is not unique only to me. I believe there is power in each and every one of our paths in life, as it contains everything that we need to discover who we are, and fully realize the love that dwells in our hearts.
At the moment my path has had me living in Austin for a bit over a year now. Ever since my injury, my hope for recovery has always been attached to time frames. Over and over again, I envision recovery by a certain point in time, and when that time comes and goes I am forced to accept that my desires have yet to come to fruition, and once again it’s time to surrender. However, that surrender unfortunately always comes with another timeframe which inevitably has led to another emotional downfall. Having been in Austin for as long as I have, I cannot help but admit that I had hoped to be further along than I currently am. The energy flowing through my veins is strong, and every fiber of my being is telling me that I will one day rise from my chair and walk. The moment is going to be magical, beautiful, and beyond words. It is going to be a catalyst for my life and the lives of others, and I will be fulfilling a destiny that is etched in stone. In the meantime, I continue to have amazing experiences that without my injury would never have occurred.
This past week I visited a woman in Dallas, who is commonly known as Amma, the hugging mother. She happens to be the most radiant, compassionate, and loving being I have ever met. She is a supreme being of epic proportions, and it is absolutely impossible to describe my experiences with her in any sort of fashion that may do it justice. I saw her for the first time in 2011. Francis and others told me about her, and many were planning a trip from Austin to Dallas to see her. My father and I decided to open the door of opportunity, and also go. We arrived the night before her first darshan, or blessing, and woke up the next morning so that I may get my hug and then go home. I was only expecting a nice hug from a pleasant woman, but instead she filled me with the most radiant and splendid love that I have ever felt in my life. She grabbed me and pulled me close, embracing me as a mother would her child with the utmost unconditional love. She then sat me up and rubbed my legs, arms and heart. As I was pulled away from her, tears began to flow from my eyes, and for the first time in my life, I truly experienced God’s love. The kind of love that we are all searching for, that drives us to never give up and yet in our efforts, we often feel lost and alone. At that moment I knew I was never alone and that there was someone on this planet, in a physical manifestation, that loved me completely and unconditionally, and her name was Amma.
A couple hours after I got my hug, my father and I had to go back to Austin. I was immediately filled with depression and sadness, as I was leaving a love that I had never experienced, and I could barely stand to pull myself away. I promised myself that the following year when she came back in 2012, I would fully commit to being there the entire time, and fully get the Amma experience. This past week, I fulfilled that promise, and for two days and two nights I was with Amma and the eclectic assortment of people who also came to see her. I connected with loving, beautiful people, meditated in the darshan Hall, sang to the best of my abilities praising God, and received three beautiful hugs from Amma. As she embraced me for the first time, I could feel the love pouring into my heart and soul. She kissed my hands and rubbed my arms and legs once again. Electricity flowed through my body as she looked up at me. Not speaking English she then looked over to her helper and asked her something. The woman then looked over to me and asked, “What do the doctors say?” I looked at Amma and told her, “The doctors say there’s no hope.” Tears filled her eyes as she looked at me. I was so caught up in the moment I went silent, not knowing what to say. I finally managed to squeak out, “I have faith”, but she had already looked away.
I contemplated over this first hug for quite some time. What did that look mean? I wondered. Does she not know that I’m going to walk again? When you watch Amma giving people hugs, it’s as if she is taking on their pain and suffering, releasing it, and then fills them with love. You can see it on her face, tears streaming down her eyes as if she is feeling every bit of suffering that person had ever experienced. Yet her tears do not look like sadness, but exemplify the purity of her compassion and love. It is possible that when Amma looked at me with tears in her eyes, she was simply mirroring the pain that I was feeling in my own heart. While I talk about my faith and hope for the future, I cannot deny that deep down there is a tremendous amount of fear and doubt. For the moment, Amma has dispelled that doubt. She has shown me that there is nothing to fear, for love is always there and can always be found if not through your own efforts, then in the open arms of Amma.
The rest of my time there was absolutely magical. I received two more hugs, each unique and beautiful in their own way. Approaching Amma for my final hug, I felt as if I was approaching an old friend. I looked up at her as a volunteer pushed my chair towards her. She looked up at me and smiled, and opened her arms as if to say, “Come my child. It is so nice to see you again.” Same as the first and second hug, she sat me up and rubbed my arms and legs, then also my heart, and then pulled me towards her a second time, whispering in my ear something I could not understand, but did not care. I was surrounded and immersed in the love of God, and that was all that mattered.
Now as I sit back at home in Austin, digesting and recovering from the experience, there is no doubt in my mind that she has done some sort of powerful energetic work with me. I feel a strong and vibrant energy flowing through me, and exhaustion has set in as my mind, body, and spirit adjusts to the shift. I’m not sure what she has done, but I’m grateful and filled with optimism concerning my future. My efforts will not go unrewarded I am certain of that, and I will do my best to open my heart and continue to feel the love that Amma has graciously allowed me to experience.
God bless all of you who continue to follow my story and God bless all of you who happen to stumble upon this blog for the first time. My life has been difficult, but the spiritual growth I have gained is priceless, for that is the one thing that I will take with me when I die. I will not take my money, my material possessions, or my body. Once you fully understand this eternal truth, that we are all here for self-realization and spiritual growth, life takes on a whole new meaning. Then, when you fully experience God’s love, as I have in Amma’s loving embrace, all you desire is to embody that love and express it every single second of every single day.
Learn more about Amma at http://amma.org/