I first met Mata Amritananda Mayi, affectionately known as “Amma, the hugging Saint” in 1988 in Wisconsin. My friend Radhika had lived with Amma for many years in Amritapuri, India where Amma had her ashram.

“Jani, you must go meet Amma”, Radhika would tell me. “She is a true Saint”.

Radhika is one of those friends that you know you have to listen to or you’ll be sorry later. So, when I found out that Amma was coming to the U.S., I went to meet her.

At first glance I was a little disappointed. It was clear that Amma was much younger than me. My first thought was, “how can she know as much as me, she’s a baby!”

Of course, after spending many hours watching Amma with all of the hundreds of devotees that had traveled from around the world to see her, I knew that Amma definitely had something to teach me.

For hours and hours, I sat mesmerized as I watched as Amma would just sit in one place, never getting up to go to the restroom or to have lunch. One by one Amma would hug each of her devotee’s, leaving each one of them after receiving their precious hug to either start crying, start laughing, or walk away with a totally new and improved glow on their face.

This went on for at least 20 hours a day for no less than 4 days, and then Amma and her devotee’s packed everything up, only to arrive somewhere else in the world the very next day and do the same thing all over again.

Yup, Amma definitely had something to teach me. It was a “watch and learn as you go” experience!

Amma says that through her hugs she awakens the spark of divine love that is lying dormant within each of us. This was definitely my experience every time I received a hug from Amma!

In 2002′ Radhika informed me that Amma had just given a talk to the United Nations Assembly in Geneva and received a standing ovation. In 2004′ when the sunami struck India, Amma donated no less than 24 million dollars.

I was never surprised whenever I heard of her latest heroic feat. After all, to me it had become crystal clear over the years that Amma was the Divine Mother in human form teaching all of us what unconditional love looks and feels like.

In 2004, when I was filming my DVD series, “Dialogues with the Masters”, in India and Nepal, I went to Amritapuri to film Amma. Even though it was obvious that Amma was now a world presence and had many more millions of devotees and hundreds of active non profit programs from when I had first met her, Amma, miraculously, still had time for me. This small, but larger than life woman definitely broke my boundaries of what I thought was possible for any human being!

Just this month I was in Iowa and again Radhika informed me that Amma would be in Iowa City and just maybe, if I was lucky, she would grant me another interview for my magazine, Healthy Wealthy n Wise magazine.

This time I thought Radhika must be absolutely out of her tree, for I had just returned from India where Amma had held one of her famous “hugfests” and no less than 1 million people had showed up.

Amma was now the most famous and beloved Saint in the world. With the thousands of charities and millions and millions of followers from around the world to attend to, it was crazy to think that this time, Amma would somehow have time for me.

Sure enough, when I approached Amma for an interview, to my amazement, even though Amma had thousands of people waiting in line for their hug at the time of my request, to my astonishment, Amma said yes once again.

To the readers of Healthy Wealthy n Wise, I ask you to consider and contemplate Amma’s words below very carefully. Her heart is as big as the ocean and her wisdom comes from a mother who truly loves and cares for all of her children, and to Amma,
every being in the universe is her child.

Janet to Amma: What is your message to the world?

Amma: In today’s world we need role models, examples of individuals who practice what they teach and actually not teaching us.
In a ways, everyone, every single individual should become a role model.

Consciously, or unconsciously, someone looks up to someone else for inspiration, because people blindly imitate. They imitate sports stars and movie stars, they imitate their perfume, their hair, their clothes, etc. Children look to their parents for inspiration, a younger brother looks to his older brother for inspiration, etc. All of us should become role models in today’s world.

God doesn’t need anything. God is the giver. When we think God needs something, it is like a candle to the sun saying, “here is the light for you so you can see”.

What God expects is that we should go down to the level of the poor and uplift and serve. That is real service to God. In today’s world, we have become so unnatural. Like putting make-up on a mask. It is high time to realize that Mother Nature is in a very agitated state. Nature is almost becoming like a cruel animal due to negative actions of human beings. It is time to awaken and do whatever is needed for a change to occur within us. Once we change, everything will change.

Janet to Amma: Are you concerned about the present state of the world?

Amma: yes, truly concerned. But being concerned will not solve the situation. Do something and change will take place. Put forth the effort to do something practical. What is also needed is divine grace. Human effort will not help achieve goals. We have received the message from Mother Nature for such a long time and we have not listened to her.

Janet to Amma: What do you feel, if any, is the answer to solving the world crisis?

Amma: I think compassion is the one word solution for all problems that exist in today’s world. People talk about compassion. It’s the attitude of compassion that needs to be practiced and needs to be part of our life like breath and blood circulation. Compassion should become our life.

People should realize their dharma (duty). So many things are unnecessarily wasted in this world. Too many cars, too much food, too much energy being used. Conservation means conserve one’s energy first. The consciousness that you are, realize that and awaken to the truth. Just as we observe traffic rules, nature also has rules, and they are subtle rules. This is what spirituality teaches, take what you need and share the rest with others who have nothing. Just as we fasten the seat belt while driving in a car or an airplane, it is time to fasten your seat belt. Plant as many trees that you can, take care of nature, pray, serve and take care of others.

For more information on Mata Amritananda Mayi go to www.amma.org

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