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Friday, February 12, 2010

Touch and Be Touched

While living in Japan, I was privileged to be in the presence of a great teacher, a Mahatma named Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, better known simply as "Amma" or "Ammachi," meaning Mother.

Seated at the back of the room, I watched as the "Salary Men" and "Office Ladies" that I saw on the train every day underwent an amazing transformation.

Stripping themselves down to basic clothing--removing watches, glasses, rings, etc.--they would approach Ammachi with a gift of flowers, then experience her unique gift. Coming away, they would be in tears, reduced by the simplest of human interactions.

What was Ammachi's gift?

She hugged them.

Yes, Ammachi is known as "The Hugging Saint," and by enveloping devotees in her ample arms, she brought about a transformation in their souls.

Unfortunately, I had arrived too late to receive a "hug ticket." Nevertheless, I was witness to the power of touch.

It is not unusual to see two men here in China holding hands as they talk (even two men in security guard uniforms!). They seem to have a different sense of body space. Overall, there is a warmth in interaction that belies the old "inscrutable" stereotype.

Have you touched someone, or been touched, in a comfortable way today? It seems a basic human form of communication, something we share with our mammalian brothers and sisters.

So touch, and be touched by, someone you care for.

You'll be happier.

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