Written by Jenna Shapiro.
Have you ever waited over an hour in line for a hug?
Mata Amritanandamayi, better known as “Amma” (or “Mother”), has devoted her life to embracing the masses through her global charities known as “Embracing the World” and her magnetic message of love and compassion. To be more specific, Amma has physically hugged more than 33 million people. Amma’s reputation as India’s “hugging saint” and as one of the country’s preeminent spiritual leaders explains why lines stretched outside Memorial Auditorium before her visit as people waited to embrace her. On June 2, 60-year-old Amma shared her life experiences and insights with a packed Memorial Auditorium during her conversation with James Doty, the founder and director of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE).
“The main issue is that we believe we’re limited,” Amma said through her translator. “If we think we’re a battery, there’s a limited amount of time to be useful.”
Instead, Amma attributes her energy source to the “higher power and universal energy” to which we’re all connected. Although Amma is a Hindu leader, she said that her religion is love.
“There are many kinds of powers in the world — military power, power of the written word, intellectual power,” she said. “We’ve tried and failed to bring peace with these kind of powers. The greatest power is the power of love.”
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